The Vieux Carre Commission’s Architectural Committee granted “conceptual approval” to a plan that aims to convert a vacant 19th century riverfront building into the new French Quarter hotel, over the objection of many French Quarter residents. This is the first step of several in the process of obtaining permission to make changes to a building in the city’s oldest neighborhood.
David and Wayne Ducote, the developers in charge of this project, want to redevelop the seven story building located at 111 Iberville St into an 80-room boutique hotel. Previously, the Ducotes proposed a similar transformation in 2004, but dropped the plan after it was vetoed by then Mayor Ray Nagin.
The initial plan proposed a 101-room hotel, achieved by adding an eight floor, constructing an adjoining 4 story structure and renovating the existing building. The current plan does not include an additional building, and instead will only add 4,000 square feet to the existing structure.
French Quarter neighborhood groups said the hotel would add congestion to the historic neighborhood. Representatives from the Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates Group have expressed their opinions that the property would be better suited as residential or office space.
The approval of this project marks the first officially authorized breach of the city’s 1969 moratorium on new expanded hotels in the French Quarter, which was put in place to reduce pressures for tearing down historic buildings and to keep the Vieux Carre from becoming a strictly touristy location.
The moratorium does not apply to the block between Canal Street and Iberville, where many hotels have been constructed.
The proposal will now go to the full Vieux Carre Commission for conceptual approval. It must also be reviewed by the City Council and the City Planning Commission.