See hotel plans for the former UNO building on Canal Street

September 15 2017 | Latest News

Updated on September 14, 2017 at 3:15 PM Posted on September 14, 2017 at 12:43 PM

By Jennifer Larino, | The Times-Picayune

The former University of New Orleans tower on Canal Street will re-open by early 2018 as a combined SpringHill Suites and TownePlace Suites, both Marriott brands. The project's developers released renderings this week for the downtown hotel, including their vision for a rooftop bar overlooking the city skyline.

NewcrestImage, the developer behind the AC Hotel, which opened inside the historic Cotton Exchange on Carondelet Street in 2015, said the "blended brand" hotel will have a shared lobby, though the hotels will occupy different floors in the 13-story tower. The company purchased the property at 1600 Canal St. for an undisclosed price in late 2015.

See inside the new Alder Hotel in the Freret area

The hotel is next to Ochsner Baptist Medical Center on Napoleon Avenue.

The hotel renovation is expected to be complete by December and the official grand opening to the public will be in January, according to a news release.

However, it appears the hotels will be waiting until after Mardi Gras to start accepting its first guests. Rooms will be available starting Feb. 20, 2018. (Mardi Gras falls early on Feb. 13 next year.)

NewcrestImage said the project will be the first combined SpringHill Suites and TownPlace Suites in the country, as well as the first two-brand hotel to open in the New Orleans area. This is the second dual-branded hotel for the company. It developed a two-brand Marriott hotel near Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in 2013.

The Canal Street property will include 105 rooms under the TownPlace flag targeting travelers with extended stays. Another 74 rooms will fall under the SpringHill flag and cater to a mix of short-stay business travelers and vacationers.

The renderings released Wednesday (Sept. 13) show plans for a lounge and bar area at the lobby level. Vue, the hotel's rooftop bar, promises an "elevated rooftop bar experience" overlooking the Central Business District and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, according to its website.

Campo Architects is the architect on the project.

The building itself has deep roots in local business. It was built in the 1960s and originally housed Ocean Drilling & Exploration Co., known as ODECO, among the first companies to design and build transportable drilling rigs. Murphy Oil Co. was a big backer of the firm and eventually bought it.

It later donated the headquarters to the UNO Foundation, but the building has sat vacant since Hurricane Katrina.

The building's history as a 1960s-era office building means room sizes will vary depending on where they are located. SpringHill Suites will range from 360 square feet to 410 square feet. The TownePlace Suites will offer three room types, ranging from 350 square feet to 500 square feet.

NewcrestImage, based in Lewsiville, Texas, has developed hotels in Texas, Ohio and Louisiana. It currently manages 19 hotels in Texas and a Holiday Inn Express hotel in Oklahoma City.