The Slidell City Council voted Tuesday night to spare a historic home it had doomed to the wrecking ball in late July after hearing the owner, Omar Alaoui, and his attorney have submitted a detailed plan and strict timeline for repairing the white frame house seriously damaged in Hurricane Katrina.
The council voted at its July 23 meeting to condemn the home at 2762 College St. and order its demolition, to the dismay of Alaoui, who earns his living doing historic renovation work, much of it in New Orleans.
Alaoui said then he had bought the house, which dates to 1893, at a time when little had been done to restore historic structures in Slidell’s Olde Towne area, where he lived from 1992 to 2005 and raised two daughters.
He called the home “part of my life.’’
His losses in Katrina, financial demands and ill health caused difficulties in his efforts to repair the storm-damaged home, he told the council in July.
He said he had already spent $60,000 to $70,000 on the work.
Alaoui said then the city had given him the runaround, but city Building Inspector Joe France told the council in July the house had foundation problems, was dilapidated and unsafe, and lacked plumbing or electricity.
France said Alaoui had been given many opportunities to repair the home and had not delivered. Councilman Lionel Hicks agreed, saying he would no longer give the homeowner more time.
City Attorney Bryan Haggerty asked the City Council to stay the order for demolition, saying Alaoui and his attorney, Ron Guth, had submitted a detailed plan for getting the work done and France had agreed with reconsidering the demolition.
“Will you be able to hold his feet to the fire this time?” Councilwoman Kim Harbison asked France.
France said building permits for the work will be issued in three phases with strict deadlines. The first involves repairing the foundation and must be completed in six weeks.
The second phase will require Alaoui to completely renovate the exterior within 10 weeks.
Finally, he will have nine months to complete the interior, which includes plumbing, mechanical, electrical and finishing work.
“Do I think he’ll do it? I don’t know,’’ France said.
Alaoui, who spoke briefly, told the council he has already put a lot of work into the project and is committed to it because it is a historic property.
“I want to thank everyone for the opportunity to fix my house,” he said.
Councilman Sam Abney told the homeowner that he would be happy to see the historic home brought back into commerce, but noted that Alaoui had failed the city in the past. Should he do so again, Abney said, the City Council will not hesitate to go forward with the demolition.
Councilman Buddy Lloyd, who voted against the demolition in July, said he thought the council made the right decision by giving Alaoui another chance. “We’re keeping part of Slidell history alive instead of tearing it down,’’ Lloyd said.