Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

The condo plans were controvercial to begin with, the number of stories were reduced and it required fill. The state said no to it.

A controversial proposal to build a new condominium building in West End on the New Orleans lakefront was given a thumbs down by the state Department of Natural Resources this week because its developers did not adequately address flooding concerns. The concerns involve whether the project could limit the flow of water from a Lakeview pumping station and cause flooding within the hurricane levee system. The Pearl condominiums, proposed by Oceana USA LLC, originally was going to be a 15-story facility that would include a parking garage and condos on South Roadway Street, adjacent to the Municipal Yacht Harbor and on a segment of the New Basin Canal just north of the Sewerage & Water Board’s Pump Station 12. The project would be outside the lakefront hurricane levee. Oceana had received a coastal use permit from the natural resources agency in 2019, but that permit expired in May 2021 before work began on the project.

Artist rendering of The Pearl condominium, which developers proposed to build on the Old Basin Canal on the lakefront in New Orleans. The state Department of Natural Resources on Friday turned down a request to allow construction of the project to move forward, citing potential flooding concerns in Lakeview.
(Image courtesy of Oceana USA LLC)

In March 2021 the company asked for a two year start delay. Then other changes began.

In March 2021, the company submitted a request to extend the time allowed to begin construction by another two years, but that request required a public hearing and new review. That extension request triggered a flurry of objections by nearby residents and businesses, who questioned whether the plan to build part of the condo on fill placed in the New Basin Canal would limit its flow, potentially raising water levels when rainstorms required the pump station to dump rainwater in the harbor. In June, the company revised its plan to allow construction of a much smaller building with only six floors of condos, parking and amenity space. At the time, agency officials said the revision couldn’t be acted upon until the permit renewal decision. The revisions did not include a change in the amount of canal that would be filled, however. In the decision memo, natural resources officials said they repeatedly asked the developers for a comprehensive report on water flows in the harbor with the new project in place, pointing out that in its original permit request, the developers failed to mention the pump station’s flow into the harbor.

The company came to the S&WB for input and got two answers.

The agency also had asked the developer to get more information on the pump station from the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board. At one point, the developers said the pump station’s flow was a maximum 1,000 feet per second, and later said it might end up increasing to 1,200 feet per second. When asked by agency officials, SWB officials said they were in negotiation with the Army Corps of Engineers over increasing the capacity of the pump station, part of a plan to reduce flooding in Lakeview, and did not know yet what the pump’s ultimate flow would be. In its memo, the agency also cited 17 different types of concerns raised by neighbors, businesses, environmental groups and local governmental agencies. They included concerns the U.S. Coast Guard was not consulted about potential navigation and marine safety issues involved in narrowing the canal, potential issues of emergency vehicle access because of the new development and its tenants, and the ascetic impact of the high-rise building “located in a beautiful recreation area like West End Park.”

This Google Earth satellite view shows the narrow strip of land along South Roadway Street where the Pearl condominium would be built. The building would extend over part of the canal now used as docks by yachts and houseboats.
(Image courtesy of Google Earth)

The comments were answered but the deciding factor was the effect of the construction on the water pump flow.

While those comments were taken into account, the extension ended up being turned down because of its potential effect on the pump station flow. “The applicant has not provided sufficient information to assess the potential for increased flooding to the residents in the drainage basin of pump station #12, therefore, the project cannot be found in compliance with the Coastal Use Guidleines,” the memo said. An agency spokesman said the decision does not block the developer from again applying for a coastal use permit for the project in the future.

Would you reapply? Considering the shrinkage of the plan it might not be worthwile.

No condo at the West End
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