After discovering that I already owned a property that could be transformed into a cat adoption facility, I had to consider how to do it. The Marigny property is a shot-gun double, with an efficiency apartment in the rear. Initially I thought I might have to install a lift to make the property ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act) compliant. Due to the historical nature of the building, I knew I wouldn’t be required to have a ramp; there’s just no place to put it. But I thought that I might need to put in a lift. After more perusing of the property’s documentation, I saw that the widest path down the side of the building was about 30”. The minimum for wheelchair access is 36”, so there was no way to install a lift either; I was planning to put the path to the lift down the side. I began to lose hope….with no way to make it ADA compliant, would the city simply tell me that I couldn’t use my property for The Cat Club?
After almost 3 months of working with the Fire Marshal’s office, they finally signed off on The Cat Club. They waived the ADA requirement for access, although the bathroom will need to be wheelchair accessible (go figure). With their guidance, I was able to create an equivalency that means that we will meet anyone who can’t get into the building on the street, and bring the cat adoption information out to them. I was and am ecstatic….and very grateful that there was a way to make this work. My experience with the city, and I have done several historical renovations in NOLA, is that if you have the right attitude, a lot of patience…AND time, you can eventually make things work, and they will help you navigate the system.