Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dixie Brewery: Still in Limbo

A brief update today says the structural integrity review will be concluded by June.

Interestingly, even a majority of the normally vitriolic and hateful commenters at the site note that it's very much a landmark building that should not be torn down.  That's telling.

The VA will  have some true outrage on its hands if it demolishes the red-brick tower portion of the building.

All assurances I have heard from folks associated with the project seem to indicate a genuine desire to use the building.  While trust is not something that comes easily in any matters that swirl around the Footprint, I'm glad that there's a publicly stated intent to retain the tower portion of the building.  Note that the lower loading dock portion in white and green wood, as well as some dun color brick in the back, is not set to be retained even if structurally sound.

I think the bottom line is this: the VA, if it is smart, will commit to build within the Dixie Brewery tower even if there are some structural integrity issues to overcome.  Get creative and demonstrate the will to be innovative.  Public support for the iconic building is strong enough that fundraising and grant-writing efforts could overcome any gap, should it be necessary.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Why is Dixie Beer still alive?" asked Joe Bruno rhetorically. "It's an anomaly. Did I ever say I've had enough? Many, many times. But we've got heritage, a hometown beer. Dixie never closed its doors except for an act of God.
"One day we're going to reproduce beer at the brewery, with some other goodies to come. Dixie has so much to offer." (Times-Picayune, 17 February 2006)

Some time between March and July of 2007, the Regional Planning Commission proposed to "jump" the biomedical footprint to Rocheblave Street. Until then, post-Katrina planning had envisioned medical facilities more thoughoughly utilizing lands already being used for biomedical purposes and surface parking below Galvez and on the North side of Tulane Avenue. The UNOP Plan shows such a configuration and contains no indication that the area bounded by Canal, Tulane, Galvez and Rocheblave would be clearcut and offered to the VA.

In May 2007, the Industial Development Board pulled from its agenda a proposal for Domain to purchase Dixie and convert it into mixed-income housing. (Times-Picayune, 19 May 2007)

On November 1st, 2007, Dixie owners Joe and Kendra Bruno appeared on a local evening newscast on either WWL or WDSU and spoke of plans to re-open the iconic brewery, perhaps on a somewhat smaller scale, at the same site in Lower MidCity.

In mid-November 2007, the City of New Orleans and the Veterans Adminstration sign a Memorandum of Understanding in which the VA footprint is misrepresented as vacant and non-residential land rather than a recovering and largely intact residential neighborhood. The City promises to clearcut the site within one year, The MOU is quickly followed by ordinance 22,944 m.c.s. which prevented residents and small businesses from rebuilding even through the hospital site was "officially" not selected until late October 2008.

Media reports from 2006 and 2007 made it quite clear that the Brunos were hoping to re-open Dixie at its existing site. When did plans change? Did the owners encounter, like their residential neighbors, physical or bureaucratic roadblocks to their return and recovery? Were the brewery owners offered the same tax incentives as new developers and city partners in the Tulane Avenue corridor?