Thursday, May 19, 2011

Le a place to eat?

I've never considered myself a preservationist, at least not in this city where it is more akin to a religion.  In any other city, where they tear down buildings to make way for an endless slew of strip malls and Wal-Marts, I would probably be considered a building hugger but in N.O. I'm just left of center.  Or in this case would it be right of center?  You know what I mean.

Anyway, I just caught wind of a very shady transaction going down by the board of the Le Petit Theater.  Reportedly, the board members are tight lipped but they apparently had a super-secret meeting yesterday with one of the top restaurant developers in the city.  I have heard word that the board is "intent on selling" the theater and had two solid offers on the table but both offers would "repurpose" the building into a restaurant.

That bothers me.  That theater is one of kind.  It's a magical experience just to visit the place, much less see a show there.

I've heard the theater is under a mountain of debt.  It is  struggling to make mortgage and insurance payments so if it has to be sold, I get has to be sold.  The question is why the place isn't being put up for sale at auction.  I've been told there are a handful of capable buyers in Nawlins who are eager to buy it and keep the theater in tact but the board members seem intent on selling the place under the table and letting it get converted into yet another restaurant.  I'm not anti-restaurant but I'd hate to see the city lose something this unique and it's not like we have a shortage of restaurants in the Quarter.

Also, has the building received the OK by the Vieux Carre Commission to be converted into a restaurant? 

If anyone knows one of the board members, could you please find out what is going on and post the 411 in the comment section?  Thanks.

UPDATE:  WWL report here. Dickie Brennan is "saving" the theater by putting in a restaurant?  Right.    Until they decide it's not economically feasible to keep it open?  This story is going to get bigger...I've been told the board does not have the authority to make this deal.  I was also told they made it under the table and cut the deal without a quorum.  I know the VCC has not granted a change of use permit for the property, so that's another can of worms.


jeffrey said...

Don't know what it means but the Tweeter Tube say,

At 5 on Channel 4: How member of famous restaurant N.O. family is involved in new plan to save Le Petit Theatre

Dinner theater?

jeffrey said...

Ah and here's the website version.

Jason Brad Berry said...

Dickie Brennan. Funny how they're spinning it though.

Anonymous said...

The VCC doesn't have any jurisdiction over usage.

Anonymous said...

Ok, the question is who - besides Dickie Brennan - is making money off of this?

- sobieski

Jason Brad Berry said...

- The VCC doesn't have any jurisdiction over usage.

Not sure what French Quarter you live near, but I can assure you the one I live next to has a commission called the Vieux Carre Commission and they ABSOLUTELY have to vote for a change of use permit on the property.

You wanna make a bet? A Jay Batt/Cedric Richmond Rolex?

Jason Brad Berry said...

Dickie may have already bought off the VCC, but I can assure you it has to be approved by them.

And I can also assure you this is going to end up in a lawsuit in short order.

Anonymous said...

The Board of Directors is totally at fault for this debacle. Keep your eye on them... they are too quiet. Do you see any massive fundraising effort on their part? I think not. As usual, they are looking for the easy way out.