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Friday, November 21, 2014

Solange wedding not properly permitted, says city spokesperson; Marigny Opera House needs major work

Posted By on Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 6:37 PM

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After the New Orleans Fringe Festival was denied a permit to perform at the Marigny Opera House this week — one day after entertainer Solange Knowles held her wedding at the facility — many in the New Orleans arts community wondered why the high-profile wedding was allowed to take place while the theater festival was not. According to Garnesha Crawford, director of communications for the city, parties representing Knowles never applied to the city for a special-use permit to hold the wedding at the Marigny Opera House last Sunday, Crawford told Gambit in an email tonight.

Crawford said the city advised the wedding planners of code deficiencies at the Marigny Opera House, which meant it would not approve any permits for its use. Nevertheless, the wedding took place and photos of it were posted by media outlets around the world.

One day later, organizers of the New Orleans Fringe Festival, who had planned several performances at the facility this week, saw the request for their own special-use permit denied.

The Knowles' wedding took place Nov. 16. Meanwhile, the New Orleans Fringe Festival applied for a special use permit Nov. 14, which was denied shortly after the wedding was held. 

The city sought an temporary restraining order against use of the Marigny Opera House and the festival sought an injunction against the city. Orleans Parish Civil District Judge Piper Griffin imposed a temporary restraining order Wednesday, and it was lifted by Judge Ethel Julien Friday morning, allowing the Fringe to use the venue for the remainder of the festival.

Crawford told Gambit the city issued a letter to the Marigny Opera House in April noting code deficiencies, ading that events held there since have not had proper permits.

There was an inspection Wednesday of the Marigny Opera House by a large group of city officials, including the city and state fire marshals, Department of Safety and Permits, New Orleans Fire Department and the Historic District Landmarks Commission. Following the walk-through Wednesday, the City of New Orleans issued a letter to Dave Hurlbert and Scott King, owners of the Marigny Opera House. It listed the following deficiencies: 

-Fire protection features are not in place (active or passive).
-Damage caused by prolonged water infiltration and termite infestation was evident.
-Supporting structural members may be compromised by age, exposure, dry rot, or other factors.
-Structural modifications made to the building without the benefit of permitting or review.
-Floors are uneven with numerous soft spots and trip hazards. Changes of floor plane and tread height not clearly and properly marked.
-The ceiling of the structure appears to be delaminating from lathe, with sections of plaster fully missing.
-Non-compliant electrical systems (wiring, exposed lighting, temporary extension cords used as permanent wiring).
-Non-compliant exiting (markings of exits, exit aisles, exit access, emergency egress discharge).
-Insufficient emergency lighting.
-Aisles not properly marked and no exit path lighting.
-Trip hazards in exit discharge areas.
-Theater curtains require current documentation for flame retardancy.
-Seating not held in fixed position pursuant to Code.
-Occupant Load/Maximum Capacity of space must be established following review.

The Marigny Opera House has a hearing before Judge Julien Dec. 3, where it is supposed to present a plan for building improvements.

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