By Ben Myers, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune
Three separate hotel projects across the street from one another on Severn Avenue in Metairie aim to bring online more than 200 suites over the next year. Although they are offering similar niche products in close proximity, the owners say they are not concerned with the competition.
Al Copeland Investments is undertaking a $16.5 million renovation of its 17-story Best Western Plus Landmark at 2601 Severn. That project involves converting 190 standard guest rooms into 95 condo-style suites at 750 square feet apiece. That project should be complete by July, according to a Copeland affiliate's application for state restoration tax abatement financing.
Another ownership group, meanwhile, has bought two vacant lots on the other side of Severn, with the aim of building two hotels under different flags, said Pinu Patel, a partner with the group. It paid $6.7 million for the property, making up more than 3¾ acres.
The group, operating as Metairie Hotel Ventures, LLC, contracted Patel's construction firm to build a 4-story Hilton Homewood Suites hotel on one of the parcels. The $10.5 million project aims to construct 115 suites with separate bedrooms and kitchenettes and should be complete in about a year, Patel said.
The same group of individuals operating as Metairie Property Holdings, LLC is planning a separate, 120-room hotel next to Homewood Suites, Patel said. The owners have not settled on a flag.
Patel said his partners, operating in various formations, collectively own about 65 hotels across the country, and have wanted to enter the Metairie market for some time. "That's the only land that was available to us that we saw," Patel said, referring to the Severn parcels. "I had my eyes on it a long time."
Noting the Homewood Suites is part of the Hilton Brand, Patel said, "We don't really compete with Best Western." Gary Weissert, chief executive of Copeland's hotel group, was similarly dismissive of his soon-to-be neighbor. "Maybe they are going after a lower-tiered market," Weissert said of Patel's group.
The cylindrical Best Western tower has been vacant since Hurricane Katrina, although the hotel's eight-story annex building has remained open for business. The Al Copeland Foundation intends to move its corporate office from Elmwood Lto the 17th floor of the tower, Weissert said. The floor below will contain about 7,500 square feet of meeting space with views of Lake Pontchartrain and downtown New Orleans, he said.
Weissert said Copeland commissioned a market analysis that justifies the conversion of rooms into suites. The idea is to distinguish the hotel from other offerings in the New Orleans area, beyond Metairie.
Asked whether there's enough market share for the Best Western and Homewood Suites, Weissert replied "I know there's enough for us."
"But we didn't do the study based on another product going in," he added, referring to Homewood Suites.