Community groups form coalition to fight relocating City Hall to Armstrong Park

The group held a meeting Wednesday night
Published: Jun. 9, 2021 at 10:24 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 10:25 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The opposition to moving New Orleans City Hall to the Municipal Auditorium in Armstrong keeps growing, even as the city scales back plans.

Frustrated neighbors packed a meeting at the Broadmoor Community Church Wednesday night.

The message was loud and clear, the Municipal Auditorium is not a place for City Hall, its a place for culture, life’s milestones, and celebrations.

The coalition of over 20 community groups also made clear, they don’t believe this will stop with Armstrong Park.

“We are here to save the soul of the city, we believe Treme is the soul of the city,” Reverend Gregory Manning said.

Those who know and love Treme feel the move will only destroy the neighborhood and that sentiment grows as more people learn what is in the works.

The biggest affront to residents is that Treme was not brought to the table.

“We’re all here because she [Mayor LaToya Cantrell] has not sought adequate input from the community,” Amy Stelly with the Claiborne Avenue Alliance said.

On Monday, Vincent Smith, the Director of Capital Projects, said the project would be scaled back, only renovating the inside of the auditorium, no additional buildings, or a 2,600 car parking garage.

However, residents say they don’t buy it.

Stelly, a planner, and designer, says she saw no adjustments to the official 700 page RFQ in the online portal.

“They haven’t scaled back or people haven’t been properly notified,” Stelly said. “The Mayor said this was strictly conceptual. Conceptual drawings lead to the final thing more often than not.”

Stelly also points out that zoning changes that would open the door for other developments that would fundamentally change the area.

“We won’t be left alone,” Stelly warned.

It’s not just about the building, it’s about a deep reverence for Congo Square, which the auditorium was partially built on.

“You cannot allow the city to put an office building on that sacred ground too,” one concerned citizen said.

It’s not even just about the park either, it’s about all the sacrifices Treme has made, like when over 150 families were displaced by building Armstrong Park in the first place.

“That park cost us our elders, I don’t want it changed at all,” another resident said.

Councilmember Kristin Palmer has been speaking with residents and says it’s necessary to have everyone at the table.

“Because it has not occurred, I cannot support this concept of moving City Hall to Municipal Auditorium.

Many talked about the displacement short-term rentals have caused. Former State Senator, JP Morrell said that began the war on Treme and this would be the final nail in the coffin.

“It’s about the monstrosities that will pop up around it as a result,” Morrell said.

Since there was no real opportunity for people to speak up, the group discussed Section 106, which gives invested parties a seat at the table any time there is a federally funded project concerning historical property.

It has not been triggered yet because the city has not submitted plans to FEMA.

The coalition has a whole weekend of activities planned:

Saturday, June 12 from 5 to 7 p.m. in Tuba Fats Square, the group will be making protest signs.

Sunday, June 13 at 6 p.m. at the Municipal Auditorium, the group will bless the site.

There will ultimately be a rally and march on City Hall Thursday, June 17 at 5 p.m. starting in Congo Square.

The coalition is also asking for volunteers and donations at this time.

A petition has over 10,000 signatures.

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