At the June 9 press conference where the board of governors of Le Petit Theatre announced the impending sale of 60 percent of the theater to restaurateur Dickie Brennan, board president Cassie Steck Worley mentioned the theater board "had discussions with representatives of the City of New Orleans. ... While Le Petit would have been granted a long-term lease, the theater would forfeit all ownership of the building."
Asked about the particulars of the potential city deal, Ryan Berni, spokesman for Mayor Mitch Landrieu, wrote in an email, "The administration was approached by members of the Board at some point. We were interested in the possibility of using Le Petit for NORDC [New Orleans Recreation Development Commission] programming and to create a theater center. We got to the point of making a verbal offer which was declined."
Berni clarified soon afterward: "It was discussions with board members and not a formal presentation to the full board." (Currently NORD partners with the Crescent City Lights Youth Theater, which stages youth musicals at the NORD Ty Tracy Center on the first floor of Gallier Hall.)
Le Petit was one of the few French Quarter buildings that suffered major damage during Hurricane Katrina, leaving open the possibility that FEMA funds might be eligible for some of the repairs. Berni declined comment on questions regarding how much the city had proposed to pay for the building, and said it hadn't been formally decided where the money would have come from to buy and renovate it. On June 14, Landrieu acknowledged he may have to cut another $3.5 million from the city's operating budget this year. — Allman