Good Riddance to a Rodent-Ridden Ruin

I wrote a letter to the owner. I talked to him too. I made a video about it. I wrote an editorial about it. I talked to my City Council rep about it. I went on the evening news about it.

But nothing seemed to happen.

I’m talking about the infamous grocery at 3126 Bienville, just around the corner from our house. It was flooded in 2005 and never cleaned up. It was overrun by rats.

Despite all my bellyaching, nothing seemed to happen with the store.

Scratch that, actually something did happen: Somebody tagged it with this cool graffiti.

Vampire Kiss

That apparently was the straw that broke the camel’s back. A blatant health hazard is one thing, but artsy graffiti? That cannot be tolerated. So finally, this past weekend, a crew materialized and tore it down.


I’m not one to cheer demolitions as a rule, but it was about freakin’ time this thing came down. It’s been almost three years since the flood. Of course, by now even the rats had gotten bored and moved on.

A Messy Job

I talked to the crew. They said this took two or three times longer than normal because it was such a mess. And it didn’t smell pretty either.

Good riddance! Now I wonder how long we’ll be looking at that vacant concrete slab?

Clearly, the moral of this story is that when you want to call attention to a problem in New Orleans, you should paint big flying purple vampire lips on it.

9 thoughts on “Good Riddance to a Rodent-Ridden Ruin”

  1. First off, I’m sure this place needed to come down. But it was probably not done in the right way.

    Here’s the chronology. This was approved for demo at HCDRC on January 28th.

    The demo permit was applied for by DRC (the city’s demolition contractor for FEMA-reimbursible residential demolitions) on May 19, 2008, and it was activated the next day.

    Note that I said residential. DRC’s contract does not include commercial demolitions. So this place is actually one example (among over a dozen) of FEMA playing fast and loose with taxpayers’ dollars by approving the city’s knocking down commercial buildings under a contract for residential demos. there are corner stores going down in neighborhoods all over the city, all of them most likely illegally.

    That may seem like ridiculous hair-splitting, but eventually Homeland Security’s auditors are going to go through all the records with a fine tooth comb, and any money the city got for demolitions like this will be demanded back – with the attendant embarrassment.

    The city does not yet have a contract for commercial demolitions that are FEMA-reimbursible.

  2. “but eventually Homeland Security‚Äôs auditors are going to go through all the records with a fine tooth comb”


    Spoken like a true believer! It’s faith like yours that scares the crap outta me.

  3. Actually, in technical terms it is no longer a “commercial” building.

    Corner stores such as this are spot zoned i.e. existing non-conforming, in a sea of residentially zoned property. When property with an existing non-conforming status sits idle for more than six months it REVERTS to the surrounding zoning (see section 13.2.1 “Vacancy as Discontinuance” of the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance). After that, it cannot be re-opened as anything but a residence without a zoning change (that is a full change, not a waiver).

    Extensions were given for storm damaged properties, but that expired long ago.

  4. Whoa! Let me see if I’ve got this straight. Any corner store that has not reopened *can never reopen* without a cumbersome zoning change? Oh goodness. While it may have helped get our friend Editor B out of a jam in this one instance, that does not bode well for the many neighborhoods still without their stores.

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