Zoning language expanded for arts

An open-air art market in the Faubourg Marigny can legally sell items after the New Orleans City Council recently voted to allow its continued operation.

What is known as an arts and cultural overlay district was created in 2004 for the blocks of Frenchmen Street between Esplanade Avenue and Royal Street to legalize the many existing music clubs on the street. That zoning, however, did not allow for outdoor markets.

Kate Gaar opened the Frenchmen Art Market in a lot in the 600 block of Frenchmen, near the corner of Royal Street, in August using a special events permit, but that did not allow for its ongoing operation.

At the Dec. 20 City Council meeting, the council members voted unanimously to approve wording that will allow the sale of handmade or “personally produced” art made for customers at open-air markets in the arts district.

While the council’s action made Gaar’s market legal, it capped at two the number of outdoor markets on the three-block stretch of Frenchmen, meaning only one more market can open.

Live entertainment, flea markets, green markets and garage sales, as well as and sales of food or drinks, will be prohibited at Gaar’s market, or any other market that might spring up in the area.

Councilwoman Kristin Palmer, in whose district the market sits, added language to include operating hours of 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.

The market received the support not only of the council, but the Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association and New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“This provides an opportunity for local artists to make a living doing their art,” Gaar told the council. “I think it has a huge impact on our economy. I’m not competing with any surrounding businesses, and I think it adds a lot to Frenchmen.”

Palmer agreed and called the market a “wonderful addition” to the street.

Gaar said the venue is an alternative to the existing makeup of bars, music clubs and restaurant that call the street home. “We just have an inviting place for people of all ages to come,” Gaar said. “You don’t have to be 21 to come into our event.”

Jeff Anding, director of external affairs for the NOCVB, said his agency supported the plans for allowing the market for that reason since it diversifies the street’s offerings. Additionally, he said, it is a draw not only for tourists, but locals.