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Cafe Habana Gets Clearance From City To Combine Lots, Expand

CPC approves a re-subdivision request so the restaurant can operate on a single lot.

Rozas Ward Architects

Outpost whisperer Richard Webster reports that New Orleans' longest-running beaurocratic limbo contestant Cafe Habana has finally got a reason to celebrate, with the City Planning Commission approving their re-subdivision request yesterday. Owner Sean Meenan and team will be able to combine the two properties at Esplanade and Rampart—a townhouse and a long-vacant gas station, which Meenan purchased three years ago—into a single lot, which will operate as the Cuban restaurant.  The plans had come before the CPC back in January, with commissioners in total disagreement and a few even unaware of the project's existence (despite its two and a half years of mindnumbing New Orleans controversy over everything from solar panels to signage) until the vote was finally deferred.

Opponents were on hand, but the commission voted 7-1 in favor of the plans. Cafe Habana now needs clearance on construction plans from the Vieux Carre Commission to move forward.  When asked how he's endured a "long and difficult process" without giving up hope to bring his 183-seat restaurant (of NYC origin) to a commercially-zoned lot, while scaling down and attempting to appease neighbors, who have the intention of fighting all the way to the Supreme Court, Meenan again made his case for the restaurant and his dedication to the city:

I won't have dancing girls. I won't have gambling and I won't have live music.. The French Quarter has survived fire, floods and yellow fever. I'm certainly not going to destroy the French Quarter.

The restaurant isn't totally in the clear though, as Webster notes: "It still will have to get past the City Council as there will likely be an appeal from opponents. And that's where it might run into trouble."  So strap on that frog suit, Mario, because we are likely heading back into the abyss.

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