Bywater residents fighting to keep hotel out of their neighborhood

Bywater residents fighting to keep hotel out of their neighborhood

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Bywater residents are fighting to keep a proposed hotel out of their neighborhood. At a City Planning Commission meeting Tuesday, there was heated exchange over the project.

Carrying signs that read "No," neighbors didn't mince words at the meeting about the proposed boutique hotel called the Sun Yard.

If developed, the hotel would be built at the corner of Montegut Street and St.Claude Avenue. That's the former home of the Truck Farm and Chazfest, a popular neighborhood music festival. The project would include an outdoor pool, a restaurant and 37 rooms.

"This was rezoned recently to a commercial corridor. It's a U.S. highway, it's an area that deserves some commercial development, and this development is a sensitive redevelopment or re-purposing of those historic structures into something that's not anywhere around there," said Justin Schmidt, an attorney representing the Sun Yard developers.

Schmidt says the hotel would be sensitive to the neighborhood because it would be built at a lower height and would be a quiet place to stay. He adds they've had several meetings with neighborhood associations along the way.

"There have been individuals that we have certainly tried to reach out to. I think some have been more cooperative than others. Some have an agenda. When you just get a comment from someone like I did walking out here, do I sleep well at night, that gives you some indication as to where people are on this. I sleep perfectly well at night. This is a good, sound development, and this is the kind of development that I will stand behind," said Schmidt.

But, neighbors see it differently.

"They really haven't had much of any community involvement. They haven't changed much of anything on their plan. All of the intrusive stuff is still in everyone's backyard," said Bywater neighbor Michelle Fristoe.

"Our residents are leaving in droves. And for what? So tourists can come into our neighborhoods? No. So, we're here to stand up and say No," said Bywater neighbor Megan Kiefer.

The developers of the Sun Yard were asking the Planning Commission to change the zoning of their property from residential to commercial. And they're also asking for a conditional use permit for the hotel. A vote on that issue was deferred until March 13.

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