Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
St. Claude Neighbors Wary of Healing Center Plans Some fear developer Pres Kabacoff is running an end-around to open a neighborhood bar. POSTED: 10:13 AM Friday, June 17, 2011 BY: Richard A. Webster, Staff Writer @ City Business http://neworleanscitybusiness.com/blog/author/richardwebster NEW ORLEANS -- When developer Pres Kabacoff announced plans in 2008 to create the Healing Center at 2372 St. Claude Ave., the community cautiously hailed it as an important step in the revitalization of the long depressed corridor. Lord David, a local artist and musician, was one of the first on board, writing blogs in support of the project that combines businesses, nonprofits and social services. Now, as it moves closer towards completion, David said he was duped, that the Healing Center was "predicated on a lie." Its true mission is not healing the neighborhood; it's opening a 4,200-square-foot nightclub called Café Istanbul, David said. Standing on a porch off his second story apartment, overlooking the Healing Center, David points down to a 55-car parking lot. "Have you ever gone to see Kermit (Ruffins) at Vaughan's on a Thursday? Imagine that but 20 times bigger, 60 cars worth of drunk tourists pouring out of this parking lot into a residential neighborhood at four in the morning, every Friday and Saturday night, forever. The only thing they're healing is their own pocket books." David and others in the community aren't necessarily opposed to someone opening a live music club in the area. What bothers them is the feeling that Kabacoff and his partners concealed the true nature of Café Istanbul to sail through the city permitting process. It was initially billed as an intimate theater for musicals and plays, that wouldn't stay open past 10 p.m., David said. But a post on the Healing Center website described it as a club where musicians would jam into the "late night hours." An additional post, later removed, described roll-up doors that would allow expansion into the parking lot. The final straw for some came in January when a flier was posted in the window of the Healing Center announcing that the owners applied for a liquor license, something that wasn't included in the project's original plans, said Paul May, director of the city's Department of Safety and Permits. Café Istanbul will be owned by Chuck Perkins, a local poet, and Suleyman Aydin, who used to own Café Istanbul on Frenchmen Street, now the Blue Nile, and Mona Lisa restaurant in the French Quarter. Peter Horjus, who lives 100 feet from the center, said Perkins and Aydin told him they intend to sell alcohol during non-performance hours. Café Istanbul is in the process of changing zoning for the property from a theater of performing arts to an amusement place, which identifies it as a venue for adult entertainment. Under both designations, the sale of alcohol is only allowed as a concession during performances, said Nicole Webre, legislative director for District C Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer. Selling alcohol at any other time would qualify it as a cocktail lounge. Horjus fully supports the Healing Center and is not opposed to a nightclub concept, or even a bar. But he said he wishes the developers had been up front about their intentions. "A lot of what they've done makes them look fishy and if they want to have the support it seems like they should be bending over backwards to solve these problems," Horjus said. "It makes me worry when people say they're opening a theater when in fact what it's going to be is a full time music venue slash bar." Perkins recoils at the accusation that he is opening a bar or a nightclub. A prospective third partner wanted to do just that and was turned down, Perkins said. His goal is to open a space that will accommodate all of the performing arts including theater, dance, poetry and music. It will also be used to show documentary films, hold fashion shows and present guest lecturers. The second floor, which consists of a wrap around balcony, will be reserved as a gallery for the visual arts. Kabacoff insists that plans for the Healing Center, including Café Istanbul, were presented to and approved by all affected neighborhood associations. But as of three weeks ago, the presidents of Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association and the Faubourg St. Roch Improvement Association said they had never heard of Café Istanbul. Perkins, who admits they could have done a better job explaining their project and intentions, later made a full presentation to the FMIA board and reached out to FSRIA President Reggie Lawson, who said he will support the project as long as it obtains the proper approval. Jason Patterson, owner of Snug Harbor and a member of the FMIA board, called the board's response to Perkins' presentation positive overall. "There are rowdy clubs that stay open late in the Marigny, so it's no surprise some neighbors may be concerned. But I have complete faith in Chuck Perkins," Patterson said. "If they do what they say they are going to do, it shouldn't be any problem. It should be a great benefit to that area." John Hartsock, owner of the Hi Ho Lounge directly across the street from the Healing Center, said the new club will cement St. Claude Avenue's growing reputation as a place to see live music. In addition to the Hi Ho, the area already includes the AllWays Lounge and Siberia. But if Kabacoff sails through the permitting process and secures a liquor license, despite being within a few hundred feet of Colton School and a church, it will raise troubling questions, Hartsock said. "It will make me wonder how much the buddy-buddy thing has gone away from city business and politics," he said. City law prevents a bar opening within 300 feet of a church, school or playground unless, after public hearings, the City Planning Commission, City Council and mayor award a conditional use permit. Kabacoff describes Café Istanbul as one of the most important pieces of the Healing Center because it is the only one likely to turn a profit. "None of those other things make money. What makes money is the entertainment part of it, and in order to operate it you need that music piece, what we're known culturally around the world for," Kabacoff said. "The intention is not to run a neighborhood bar. The intention is to have cultural performances in all aspects of the arts. But let me just say, if you can make a dollar, you don't want the place sitting empty." ------------------------------------------- Please Note: When the 'Healing Center' project was first declared, I was told there was opposition to it, because it was alleged that Kabacoff & Glassman, who run the place, would turn away from their proclaimed mission of 'healing' & uniting the neighborhood in terms of leasing retail space and doing "whatever it takes to make money." Yet, today, they are doing exactly that. Foolishly, I took Ms Glassman at her word that these things would never happen, and that every measure would be taken to include the immediate neighborhood in changes to this program. This, to date, has never happened either. In fact, many others, living within sight of this building, have never been contacted, have been told false and/or misleading information, and all of us have been told that we "should pay attention to the Healing Center Website if we want to know what's going on in our neighborhood." I am not alone, by any means, in finding it offensive & ridiculous that these people would place themselves in such a position of authority, while in truth, they are unelected, uninvited and have little or no interest or clue as to what the needs, wants & opinions of those around them may be. Further more, in my very first meeting with Pres Kabacoff, after trying to intimidate me by walking up and stopping no more than 4 or 6 inches from my face, he began to demand to know who my landlord was, how long I'd lived there, and how much rent I paid. I openly asked him if he intended to run me off. His reply was; "I certainly do have the might." No clearer threat could have been made. NOTE: I AM NOT OPPOSED TO LIVE MUSIC & PERFORMANCE ART IN THIS LOCATION. I am, however, totally opposed to liars, threats, big business disguised as 'healing', and those with large amount of both money and contacts, side-stepping the laws that the rest of us must obey. While the Blue Nile Bust and other attacks on the art community cost many local artists their Mardi Gras income under our current administration, and, in fact, many local artists still struggle with the permit maze of City Hall, ask yourself this; Is it truly an end to corruption in our local government when Pres Kabacoff, developer under the Nagin Administration, can side step the entire process that has held these others back, simply because of his connections & cash flow? I, for one, call foul. My answer would be a simple, 'Not on your life'. Lord David Skull Club in Exile New Orleans
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Thursday, June 2, 2011
This just in.
It needs no introduction, except perhaps a shot of something strong before you see the bill.
"New Orleans Police Department’s Office of Public Information
NOPD Proudly Presents Custom-Made DWI Bat Mobile
(June 2, 2011) - Tomorrow afternoon, the NOPD will unveil its newest tool to take drunk drivers off the road. The NOPD DWI Bat Mobile has been a long time coming—plans to secure such a vehicle have been in the works since 2008. The Bat Mobile was purchased this year through a grant provided by the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. Sticker price: $350,000.00.
Officers Michael Eskine and Melvin Howard basically created the blueprint for a vehicle that best suits NOPD officers’ needs at DWI check points around New Orleans. The vehicle is 38 feet long and 12 feet wide. Two officers can test a drivers’ sobriety in the rear of the vehicle, while as many as 4 other drivers can wait to be tested in the front of the vehicle.
Officers Eskine and Howard will walk the media through the vehicle and demonstrate how the equipment works after the press conference.
Who: Louisiana Highway Safety Commission officials, NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas
What: Unveiling of the NOPD DWI Bat Mobile
Where: Special Operations Division Warehouse, 1899 Tchoupitoulas St.
When: Friday, June 3, 2011, 2pm (CST)"