Sidney Torres at odds with commission, neighbors over changes to historic home

Sidney Torres at odds with Vieux Carre Commission over changes to historic Esplanade home

NEW ORLEANS -- It’s a victory for entrepreneur Sidney Torres, but some residents say his recent renovations are at the expense of the French Quarter.

The Vieux Carre Commission decided Wednesday that Torres is off the hook for some of the changes he made to a historic home on Esplanade, despite the fact he never got approval or several work permits.

Residents in the neighborhood have mixed reactions.

During the 4-year renovation process, contractors and architects that Torres hired failed to get approval from the Vieux Carre Commission before installing modern upgrades to the home. The work included putting in 14 sky lights, new rooftop and mechanical equipment.

Neighbors also say Torres built a wall around the outside of the property, but Torres said the wall was there before he bought the home.

"It's very high that's kinda an eye sore,” Tegtmeier said about the wall.

Some residents like Joseph Mabry can overlook Torres operating around the rules.

"From beginning five years ago when I moved here to now, that house looks so much better,” Mabry said.

Others took issue with it.

"To just disregard what he's done, that would put the whole Quarter at risk,” Tegtmeier said.

Torres says the VCC would have allowed most of the changes he made regardless of whether he asked permission or not.

"They would have approved those things anyway,” Torres said.

The Vieux Carre Commission mostly agreed with Torres, letting 14 of the 17 modifications made without approval slide.

"I think they made the right decision to work with us so we can retain some of the things and come back and readjust some of the doorways and entryways they want us to look at,” Torres said.

Some say the VCC was being too strict.

"Just leave the guy alone. Let him do what he's doing because he's doing nothing wrong,” Marby said.

While others say the Commission isn’t strict enough.

"It's not fair he can get away with it. If they let him go, they'll let everything go,” Tegtmeier said.

The VCC told Torres there are three changes he needs to make to keep the building historic. He’s agreed to make those changes.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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