Fate of Frenchmen Street hotel in council's hands

Posted on: April 8 2015

By Richard A. Webster, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

A vacant, two-story building at the corner of Frenchmen and Royal streets that once served as a refuge for wayward boys could be redeveloped into a boutique hotel if the City Council Thursday (April 9) approves the developer's zoning change request.

Hugh Stiel, who owns the nearby Frenchmen Hotel, wants to turn the former Father Flanagan's Boy's Home, 700 Frenchmen St., into a 19-room hotel with a swimming pool, restaurant, "petit bar," and off-street parking. To do so he needs the zoning of the site changed to allow for a hotel and a conditional use permit that allows for a hotel larger than 10,000 square feet.

The Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association has voiced its support for the project with executive director Lisa Suarez saying that it would be an "excellent adaptable reuse" of the property while the addition of new hotel rooms in the area might curb the expansion of illegal short term rentals.

Those arguments were dismissed in February by the City Planning Commission when it recommended denial. The commission's staff described the request as spot zoning and said the project didn't fit with the approved business uses in the area, which are restricted to those that serve the needs of the residents and do not include hotels.

The property, which Stiel purchased in 2013 for $2.45 million, includes two adjoining two-and-a-half-story Creole townhouses built in the early 1800s and a three-story auxiliary building in the rear. It was last used as the Girls and Boys Town of Louisiana but has been vacant for several years.