The Broadside developed as a result of the Mayor’s proclamation in May 2020 allowing covid- affected venues to use their parking lots as an extension of their business. The Broad Theater, located at 636 N Broad, owns the parking lot located across Toulouse at 600 N Broad. This 40,000 square foot site was previously a junkyard and prior to that a Fac-o-Bake body shop. The owners of The Broad Theater have invested a significant amount of money to build the infrastructure necessary to have an outdoor, open-air venue for movies and music. This was all done in an effort to keep the business alive and to keep employees on the payroll.
While we initially started showing only movies, we began offering live music during the day on weekends, which quickly became very popular. As the live music events increased in popularity, we expanded our programming and became a prominent venue showcasing live music during a time when it was neither safe nor possible to see live music indoors. Showing one movie a day, which is all that is possible given hours of operation and sunlight issues, is not feasible to keep the business afloat.
We are scheduled to have a CPC hearing on August 10 for a Zoning Change and Conditional Use request for our long-term plan of building a first-class, outdoor live music venue in the heart of the city – on Broad Street, next to The Broad Theater, along the Lafitte Greenway.
We are requesting that if our August 10 hearing goes well, and CPC recommends approval of our Zoning Change and Conditional Use, Safety & Permits grant us a one-year extension of our covid special events permit until City Council is able to address outdoor live music in the CZO. This would allow us to reopen in September. To be clear, we have not asked Safety & Permits to renew our covid permit as we were waiting for our August hearing to determine the proper plan moving forward.
Currently we are working to get clarity on which zoning type the CPC will allow us to have, as according to their Outdoor Live Music study, they are recommending allowing outdoor live music in MU-2 only (if interested, you should watch the CPC hearing from January 26. Click on docket #2 when you get the site.).
Current and future use
In the long term, The Broadside is applying for a zoning change from HU-MU to MU-1. The property is already intended for future land use as Mixed Use Medium Density (MU-1), and The Broadside only aims to make this zoning change sooner. We are also applying for a conditional use for Outdoor Amusement, which currently seems to be the only designation for outdoor live music, although the code itself says “live music must have closed windows and doors” making it no longer outdoors! This language even perplexes current CPC staff.
Why apply for MU-1 when we need MU-2 to for live music? The Master Plan states that our address should be changed from HU-MU when the plan is adopted, although we are making a case that we should be MU-2 based on other MU-2 zones throughout the city (For example: 3500 Kabel Drive; Crescent City BBQ; half of OC Haley; and St James & Religious St).
In the short term, we are requesting an extension of our waiver granted by Safety & Permits in July 2020 (per the use of the outdoor live music waiver on p. 15, 18 of the CPC Outdoor Live Music Study), and secondly, a one-year renewal of our Special Events permits that will allows us to reopen in September for our planned events. While there is the ability for venues like ours and Zony Mash to apply for “Special Event” permits up to 12 times per year, for a period of no greater than 10 days, this puts an added level of financial burden on owners, not to mention the level of uncertainty when trying to plan events and receive permits in a timely manner.
600 N Broad/Broadside is located within an Arts and Culture Diversity Overlay (AC-1) of the Lafitte Greenway. Given the high density of commercial space surrounding the site, the impact on (and quantity of) residents is minimal. In fact, there are only two occupied homes within 200ft of the site, both are zoned HU-MU (mixed use, ie commercial). The site is over 325 ft from the nearest residential zone, and that is to the rear of the property. The site is completely surrounded by HU-MU and OS-G, unlike the MU-2 addresses listed above that have a high amount of residential surrounding them.
The proposed design of the new facility keeps the stage and the yard the same size as it is currently, only adding roof coverage to the stage. As COVID-19 continues to be a consideration, a year round outdoor venue is still a much needed resource as we slowly transition back into normalcy. Past that, as COVID-19 becomes less of a factor, The Broadside will represent New Orleans’ tradition of outdoor festivals and continue to showcase New Orleans culture and bring good times to guests and locals alike.
Aerial View of Proposed Construction Plan, Overlaid on Map Of Current Facility
Site plan for full project. The dark sections at the front on N Broad and in the rear are also owned by the applicant, and are planned for future development.
Broadside currently has no sound mitigation structures in place. Therefore any of the sound travel experienced now by our neighbors will be dramatically reduced once the facility is fully built and operational.
As part of our “covid era” development, we were able to test a number of items including placement of speakers, different speaker sizes and much more. We were beginning to narrow down both the best arrangement for our guests and for our neighbors before closing in July. The engagement of an acoustician will help tremendously in this regard.
As typical with all music venues, The Broadside will employ a number of full-time sound engineers who will be on site at all shows. Part of the sound engineer’s job is to ensure appropriate volume control both inside the venue and outside, monitored through use of a calibrated sound level reader. The sound level will be kept below 80 decibels 50 feet from the sound source pursuant to Sec. 66-203.3.a of the New Orleans code of ordinances.
Sound mitigation is a goal of The Broadside’s planned construction with steps including noise shields and barriers as well as green infrastructure inside and outside of the space to be used for both noise mitigation and stormwater management.
For our Conditional Use NPP meeting, there were 285 letters sent out to neighbors. Of those, only four attended the meeting. Of those, three were supportive.
High roof will capture sound before it leaves facility.
Hours of Operation, Noise Abatement Plan, Security
Broadside agrees to end all amplified stage music and movies by 10pm on all nights of the week, and agrees not to start amplified music events before 12pm during the week and 11am on Saturday and Sunday.
Broadside has engaged an acoustician to assist with sound design and noise abatement.
Broadside will not exceed 80 decibels.
Since opening, The Broadside has employed an armed security officer from 6pm until close. We currently have a contract with the Sheriff’s Department. The Broadside will utilize exterior security cameras per CZO’s use standards.
Neighbors will have (and currently have) the cell number of the owner of the business as well as any manager on duty in case there are incidents of excessively loud music or any other reasons neighbors may need to contact the owner.
We are dedicated to self-regulating and resolving any issues that may arise. We have been good business owners, respect our neighbors and will continue to self-police in order to maintain good relationships (and our permit).
There are no educational facilities, houses of worship or playgrounds within 300 ft of the proposed business.
Distance of nearest residential and commercial spaces
Placement of Speakers, Design of Stage:
The owners of Broadside have engaged an acoustical the engineering firm Commercial Acoustics – https://commercial-acoustics.com/ – to conduct a variety of sound studies including layout and type of speakers, sound mitigation strategies, and ambient vs live sound.
As stated above, Broadside was able to experiment with a variety of different speaker types and placement of those speakers. Once reports are received from the acoustician we will be able to marry our findings with theirs to offer the best possible sound mitigation. Currently, we are considering the following:
- Given that low frequency sound penetrates buildings more easily, subwoofers will be placed as low to the ground as possible, possibly below the stage.
- By using line array speakers the venue will be able to point the sound directionally. The site is currently being modelled to point the sound down, from the top of the stage which will significantly decrease sound travel beyond the facility. Line array speakers are what you would commonly see at a music festival, hanging from the top of the stage.
- As you can see from the stage design below there are “wings” on each side of the stage which will have acoustical treatments designed to capture sound escaping from the sides. The roof will have acoustical treatment.
Stage design showing modification of existing
Design of Bar Facility, Fencing and General Landscaping:
The new bar building is intentionally designed with a high roof line in order to capture sound before it leaves the facility grounds. Currently the acoustician is exploring sound dampening materials for placement under the roof and along the existing fence.
The acoustician is also modeling sound travel from the stage to the surrounding area. An initial recommendation involves increasing the height of the fence on one side to 10ft. The fence could be designed to capture sound and look aesthetically pleasing.
Landscaping around the perimeter of the facility will also help to capture sound travel.
Pitch and height of roof will capture a significant amount of sound before it leaves the facility. In his view, the stage is behind. The blue in the drawing represents the existing blue container.
Slightly elevated fence will help to reduce sound travel to the neighbors.
Alignment with CPC’s Outdoor Live Entertainment Study:
The owner of Broadside has found many areas of alignment with the CPC’s final study on Outdoor Live Entertainment including:
- Hours of operation for businesses within AC-1 Overlay: hours of operation to end at 10pm;
- Intentional design of space to mitigate sound travel with third party review;
- Request for a one-year temporary permit to allow the business to operate (cited in the Phase 1 approach, p.81) until either City Council can codify the recommendations, or a “good business” owner has proven their right to secure a permanent permit;
- Where Live Entertainment – Secondary Use is permitted, as it is in AC-1, Safety and Permits could grant a waiver for Outdoor Live Entertainment (p. 15, 18).
As a side note, many of the negative public comments from the January 26, 2021 CPC hearing focused on Reception Facilities, and not outdoor live music venues. And, according to the January 26 hearing, there have been three public comment periods and over 15 staff meetings about outdoor live music. According to Commissioner Nolan Marshall “this conversation has been happening since he joined the commission many years ago”.
Gambit Poll in strong support of outdoor live music
Gambit Poll In support of The Broadside after the Covid-19 Pandemic ends
Sampling of the events offered at Broadside:
Music: Big Freedia, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, The Soul Rebels residency, Tank and the Bangas, N.O. Nightcrawlers, Juneteenth Celebration, Jazz on Wednesday nights, Astral Project, Soulidarity, Corey Henry, a number of brass bands, etc
Non-profits: Many Social aid and Pleasure Clubs: Dumaine Street Gang, Footwork Festival (second line showcase), Hagar House, House of Tulip, New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, BikeEasy, Krewe of Red Beans, etc
Family events: Monthly Brazil showcases, Bayou Boogaloo, Colombian Festival, weekend family friendly (free concerts), free magic shows, Halloween events, etc.
Movies: Generally Monday & Tuesday nights: Director Spotlights, Documentaries, New Orleans Film Society events
Quotes from Musicians who have played at Broadside
“The Broadside is a special venue that has earned the right to have an outdoor live music permit. I was mostly live-streaming from my driveway for tips via Facebook Live. Since Broadside was the only venue at the time that could host a show safely under the Covid-19 guidelines, it really helped musicians to begin getting back on track with our lives & finances. Performing outside is safer for musicians & music lovers during this pandemic; and it would be a shame if Broadside didn’t get the license. I believe the Broadside has earned and deserves the permit during these trying times. This is New Orleans! Let’s keep music alive! Especially when it can be done safely.” – Sam Williams, Big Sam’s Funky Nation
“Not only did the broadside theater give full time musicians like myself a chance to work in a healthy environment when there was no one else even considering it. It brought hope to music fans when they most needed it and created a completely new way of doing it that was sorely needed in the City of New Orleans.” – Johnny Sansone
“The Broadside is a fantastic place to play and to hear/see live music. I’ve done both a few times and have thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s what we needed here in N.O. and it has filled a void during the pandemic and now the Broadside will continue and its really cool to know we have this venue for us all.” – Craig Klein, New Orleans Night Crawlers