Council to allow bar to expand

Club to absorb abutting property

While the city Planning Commission had some reservations about granting the Mid-City Yacht Club a zoning change to allow a proposed expansion, the City Council voted Thursday to allow the popular corner bar to grow.

District A Councilwoman Susan Guidry said that she received “overwhelming support” for the plans from neighbors who live near the bar at Baudin and South St. Patrick streets near the Pontchartrain Expressway.

The bar will be allowed to expand from its 2,700 square feet to 4,600 square feet while renovating one building that sits behind it and demolishing another building and adding outdoor seating.

Guidry said that she thought the buildings behind the bar were too small to have any viable future and would instead remain blighted if the Mid-City Yacht Club’s owners were not allowed to go through with their plans for expansion. Additionally, she said, the land on which the two other buildings sit was at one point part of the lot on which the bar sits, and it made sense to restore the original parcel.

Although the planning commission said it had concerns about allowing a zoning change because of the city’s master plan, it eventually voted 5-1 during its Oct. 9 meeting to send a modified zoning and conditional use permit to the city council for its vote. The council voted unanimously to approve the changes.

The bar will have to comply with 20 provisos that include limits on noise, signage and lighting, landscaping to act as screening, limits on when the outdoor area can operate and the requirement that go-cups have the business’ name and logo on them.

City planning staff said that they had never before seen so much support for a neighborhood bar. Guidry said she received more than 30 letters of support from neighbors for the planned expansion. One letter arrived opposing it. That letter, the councilwoman noted, didn’t come from a nearby neighbor.

“This speaks to the incredible amount of good will the owners have engendered in the years they have operated the business and worked to improve that area of Mid-City,” Guidry said, adding that the bar’s owners often buy properties in the area to rehab them and work to keep St. Patrick Park clean.

MJ Sauer, one of the bar’s owners, said that she and her business partners would comply with each of the requirements they face.

“Neighborhood bars serve as anchors. They help to create a sense of community. We are supported by our community because we support our community,” she said. “We work to make our little part of Mid-City better each and every day, and we can assure you that we are going to continue to do this.”

Newly sworn-in District B Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, who made a name for herself as a civic leader in Broadmoor, praised the group for its dedication to the neighborhood.

“You have truly redeveloped your area within Mid-City. It goes far beyond just a bar,” Cantrell said. “You have created synergy and a real tipping point that our neighborhoods knew throughout New Orleans. You are a model for that.”