NEW ORLEANS | For the first time in nearly thirty years, the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel (www.omniroyalorleans.com) in the heart of the French Quarter is back in the hands of local ownership. The new partnership, led by Darryl Berger, Jr. of DBJ Investments and Joe Jaeger of Mechanical Construction Company, together with investors, Darryl Berger, Sr. and Roger Ogden of New Orleans, closed today on the storied 346-room property for an undisclosed price.
The property, located at 621 St. Louis Street, was sold by UBS Realty Investors, LLC of Hartford, CT. The seven-story asset also includes a 246-car parking garage. The Omni Royal Orleans local ownership deal was financed by two major local banking institutions: the Whitney National Bank and Capital One, New Orleans. In the next 12 - 24 months, the new owners plan a major renovation and improvement program at the property. Omni Corporation will continue to manage the hotel.
According to Darryl Berger, Jr., “We are thrilled to buy the historic Royal Orleans Hotel. This is a strategic acquisition that expresses our commitment to this city and confidence in its future.”
Joe Jaeger added, “We are pleased to add this to our hotel portfolio in New Orleans. We are optimistic about the recovery of New Orleans and the hospitality industry."
Co-investing with the local partnership is Crow Holdings (http://www.crowholdings.com/) of Dallas, Texas. Affiliated with the family of the legendary real estate titan,Trammell Crow, Crow Holdings is one of America’s largest property owners and investors, with substantial real estate investments under management around the world.
History of the Royal Orleans Hotel
The Royal Orleans Hotel was developed by Edgar and Edith Stern and opened to much fanfare in 1960. Sold in 1980 to Aetna, which later transferred it to UBS, it was originally managed under a lease to Sonesta Corporation until Omni Hotels of Dallas, Texas took over the lease and management in 1986. It has been operated as the Omni Royal Orleans ever since.
Prior to the Omni Corporation lease arrangement, the hotel was referred to simply as the Royal Orleans. It was constructed in 1960 on the corner of St. Louis and Royal Streets near Jackson Square, at the site of the old St. Louis Hotel, which had been destroyed in the New Orleans hurricane of 1915.
Since its inception, the Royal Orleans has been an iconic part of the city’s hospitality and social scenes. The hotel’s Grand Salon ballroom has been a popular location for social events among New Orleans families for decades. The hotel's restaurant, the award-winning Rib Room, is frequented by many New Orleans politicians, businessmen and socialites alike, particularly at lunch on Fridays. The penthouse pool, with its views of Vieux Carre’ rooftops and the Mississippi River, has been a staple in New Orleans for nearly half a century. Finally, the Touche’ Lounge, with its own access off Royal Street, has been a legendary French Quarter watering hole throughout its history.
The Hotel design was based upon the plans of the St. Louis Hotel, which originally stood on the site from 1836 until 1915. The Hotel followed the detailed plans of the St. Louis, down to the stone arches and Spanish wrought iron gates. The St. Louis Hotel was of considerable cultural importance to the city, as it played host to some of the original balls of the first Mardi Gras, served as a military hospital during the Civil War and was home to the Louisiana Legislature during Reconstruction. The St. Louis site also made a major contribution to the English language, as drinks were ordered in the bar by the Creole name of “coquetier” and the American patrons soon were pronouncing it in its current form – “cocktail.”
Omni Royal Orleans in Pop Culture
- In the movie “Live and Let Die,” James Bond stays at the Royal Orleans.
- The Led Zeppelin song “Royal Orleans” is based on an incident involving the band members at the hotel during the 1970s.
- Celebrity guests have included: Luciano Pavarotti, David Brinkley, The Rolling Stones, Charlton Heston, Muhammad Ali, Robert Redford, Bette Davis, Paul Newman, Louis Armstrong and Harry Connick, Jr.
- In 1965, the Royal Orleans was mentioned in Arthur Hailey's novel Hotel as being arguably the best hotel in North America.
- Singer Patti LaBelle received a key to the city in the hotel’s Josephine Bonaparte Salon.Jazz pianist and composer Armand Hug had a steady gig at the Royal Orleans for decades.
The Royal Orleans, which maintains an international status, continues to attract the rich and famous, including several presidents and many celebrities.
Added Berger, Jr., “The Royal Orleans is a New Orleans and Vieux CarrÃ© treasure that we are proud to return to local ownership.”
For more information about the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel, contact General Manager Steve Ferran at 504-529-5333 or visit online at www.omniroyalorleans.com.
About DBJ Investments
DBJ Investments is a privately-held full-service commercial real estate development and investment company whose principal is Darryl Berger, Jr. The company has corporate offices in New Orleans, LA and Phoenix, Arizona and specializes in the hospitality, retail and multi-family sectors. Mr. Berger is an appointed Commissioner on the Board of the Downtown Development District, a Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) and serves on numerous civic and charitable boards.
About MCC Group
Joe Jaeger, president and CEO of the MCC Group, LLC, has been at the helm of MCC Group, LLC, a complete M.E.P. regional contractor offering customers total Mechanical, Electrical, & Plumbing preconstruction services, design-build/design-assist and construction capabilities. He is a member of the Dream Factory, an association that grants wishes to critical or chronically ill children; the Tiger Athletic Foundation; the French Quarter Citizens for Preservation; the Vieux Carre’ Property Owners Residential Association; and the World Trade Center Organization.
The Berger Company is headquartered in New Orleans and has over 35 years of experience in real estate. The company owns and has developed many signature properties including Jax Brewery, Canal Place, a five-star retail center anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue, and the Loews New Orleans Hotel.
Roger Ogden Developments
Roger Ogden is president of Roger Ogden Developments, a full service commercial real estate company. The company co-owns and has developed many signature properties including Canal Place, a five-star retail center anchored by Saks Fitth Avenue and the Loews New Orleans Hotel.
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