Vieux Carre Commission Approves Change of Use Request

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The Habana Outpost Bar & Restaurant is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The Vieux Carre Commission has approved a change of use for the proposed French Quarter site.

WGNO News Reporter Darian Trotter has details and reaction.

“I just want to say how thoroughly and strongly I support this project,” one neighbor said.

It was like an assembly line of overwhelming support for the Habana Outpost.

“There is absolutely no way you can deny an opportunity for this development to occur,” another neighbor said.

Developer Sean Meenan wants to build a large Cuban-style bar and restaurant, with outdoor seating, at the corner of N. Rampart and Esplanade; where a dilapidated gas station has been an eyesore for years.

After months of wrangling through red tape, the issue has come before the Vieux Carre Commission for a vote on the requested change of use for the proposed site.

“As a resident of the neighborhood I’m all for this project and I want it to happen. For many of the reasons you’ve heard time and time again,” neighbor Charlotte Piper said.

Those reasons include, commercial redevelopment and more jobs.

“And I’d feel much safer with something being there with more foot traffic being there,” Piper added.

But not everyone supports the project.

The current design would seat up to 200 customers.

Skeptics are worried about noise and traffic, and that’s not all.

“It’s too big for this spot, it’s too big for my neighborhood,” one neighbor said.

“Too intensive, and too out of character,” another neighbor added.

“In another location, I think it would be a great restaurant and I would love to frequent it,” another neighbor said.

Several design changes have been made to make the project more appealing to neighbors; but ultimately the change of use request was up to the commission.

It was approved 7 to 1.

“I’ve worked with the commission now for a long time and we really worked hard to get the project to the place that it is now and having the change of use approved is a great one,” developer Sean Meenan said. “Feels good.”

Wednesday’s approval gives the developer the go ahead to  finalize design plans, which will later be presented to the architectural committee for further consideration.

The New Orleans City Council will have the final say.