Plans for boutique hotel on Frenchman Street win approval at City Council

Posted on: April 9 2015

By Jaquetta White

The City Council on Thursday approved plans to turn an unoccupied Frenchmen Street building into a boutique hotel, overturning an earlier denial from the City Planning Commission.

Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey, whose district includes the site, said she believed the hotel would enhance the surrounding neighborhood.

Property owner Hugh Stiel has proposed converting the site, made up of two adjoining townhouses and a three-story rear service building at Frenchmen and Royal streets, into a 19-room hotel.

The Greek Revival buildings, constructed between 1833 and 1836, were last used as a home for children by the nonprofit Girls and Boys Town of Louisiana.

The City Planning Commission rejected the proposal by a 5-3 vote in February, saying the proposal did not jibe with the city’s master plan.

The City Charter bars approval of projects that violate the master plan, which designates the proposed site, at 700 Frenchmen St., for small residences and businesses that cater to them. A hotel, by definition, is not primarily for residents, the City Planning Commission said.

But Ramsey and other council members said a hotel would benefit residents by improving business at nearby restaurants and bars and also potentially limit crime in the neighborhood.

The proposal is supported by the Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association.

The council’s vote was 5-0, with Councilmembers Stacy Head and LaToya Cantrell absent. In overturning the City Planning Commission, the council is allowing a conditional-use permit that would allow a hotel greater than 10,000 square feet at the site. The proposed hotel would total 12,588 square feet.