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The A.R.K. and the Covenants 

  In May, Julian Mutter announced plans to renovate his property at 511 Marigny St. (known as The A.R.K.) into an apartment building with retail space on its bottom floor. Artists currently rent the top floor for studio space. Mutter's plans appear to be moving forward; several artists recently told the Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association (FMIA) that they received notices to vacate the studio by Nov. 11.

  Plans for the $15 million project include 48 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, and 4,000 square feet of commercial space at the corner of Decatur and Marigny streets, with off-street parking for all units. "We're looking to break ground on it by the end of the year," says Mutter, whose family also owns Doerr Furniture Store. "We anticipate approximately between 11 months and 13 months of construction time. Our goal is to have the building in service by December 2012."

  In April, Mutter requested a zoning change for the property from commercial use to residential and commercial mixed uses. Mutter told Gambit the city's approval of the zoning and ordinance changes arrived last week. As for the artists in the building: "They've been displaced," Mutter said.

  The New Orleans Community Bike Project (Plan B), which operates inside The A.R.K.'s first floor, also will have to move — at least temporarily.

  "I want to keep them in my sphere," said Mutter, an avid bicyclist and board member of the Metro Bike Coalition. "I'm looking to work with them to find them another location, probably on St. Claude Avenue," though Mutter said he doesn't rule out bringing Plan B back into the building. "But they can't really be displaced for an entire year," he added. "I don't know what's going to be in the commercial space. I do think the corner itself will be something like a cafe-bookstore, but something certainly (like) a neighborhood business. It might be a restaurant. I don't know. I haven't gotten that far." — Alex Woodward

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