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Redevelopment of 225 Baronne Complex

Planning Commission approves request for downtown hotel, West Elm furniture store

By Jaquetta White

New Orleans bureau

July 11, 2013

A 31-story downtown office building left vacant for nearly eight years could soon see new life as a boutique hotel and apartments.

Plans to convert the tower, at 225 Baronne St., received unanimous approval Tuesday from the New Orleans City Planning Commission. Developers intend to turn the 550,000-square-foot tower into 192 residential apartments, a 188-room Aloft Hotel and a 356-space public parking garage.

The project’s developers, 225 Baronne Complex LLC and Kingfish Development LLC, went before the commission with two requests: a conditional use permit to transform the building’s second through tenth floors into a garage, and permission to demolish an adjacent, two-story structure at 919 Gravier St. The site of that building will become the entrance to the parking garage. Neither request drew opposition.

The matter will go to the New Orleans City Council for final approval.

Developers hope to begin the $90 million conversion in October and open 14 months later. The development also will include two pools, one each for the hotel and apartments.

The proposed development would be the first use of the building since Hurricane Katrina.

“It’s a pleasure to see a developer coming in to move these buildings back into commerce,” Commissioner Joseph Williams said. “I wholeheartedly move approval.”