A proposal to turn a vacant 5 story building into a 26 story hotel in the 100 block of Royal Street, between Canal and Iberville, was rejected this week by the City Planning Commission. Developer Angelo Farrell’s vision for renovating this 5 story building was “shot-down” as they say. Farrell proposed to renovate the building and to add a 268 foot tower. He would then operate under the Royal Cosmopolitan Hotel flag.
Farrell pitched this as an opportunity to bring new jobs and clean up an area where there is a serious infestation of prostitutes as well as drug dealers.
The property currently consists of a 17,478 SF, 5-story, former historic hotel building fronting Royal Street, a courtyard and a 1, 271 SF, 2-story boiler building located on the rear property line.
Craig Mouney, the general manager of Wyndham New Orleans French Quarter agreed with the new developer. While Mouney is currently across from the proposed renovation he knows a thing or two about the current conditions of the environment. While he is a potential competitor of Farrell’s this couldn’t stop him from venting on his client’s behalf. Mouney expressed himself very bluntly. He mentioned that this opportunity would basically allow royal street to live up to its name. It is Royal street after all. Mouney’s argument was for the council and commission to be more concerned about what’s happening on the grown. While the developer and his supporters saw the pros and felt that it surely outweighed the cons others disagreed.
The opposing side, including various neighbors and community groups, felt it was unnecessary to add a tower 4 times over the allotted height of this zoning area. Opponents argued that the developer could surely renovate the building without the unnecessary addition. Commissioner Alexandra Mora was practically worried about the commission appearing as hypocrites for breaking the city’s new zoning ordinance. The city’s planning commission voted 7-2 to deny the development, putting a dent in the developer’s plans.
A tad bit of hope is still alive for Farrell though. As the city’s council holds the final vote as well as the power to overturn the commission’s vote. No one seems to care that Farrell had been working on this project for a decade at the least. The city’s new Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance probably wasn’t even to be thought of when Farrell began his project.
Next step, should Farrell continue to pursue, is to seek permission from the City Council.
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