Drew Brees-Backed Real Estate Company Part of Group Buying Whitney Hotel from Joe Jaeger | Economic news

Boutique hotel developer Robert Thompson and a company backed by the great Saint Drew Brees bought the Whitney Hotel on Poydras Street, intending to give it a new name and renovate the interior of the building during next year.

The historic seven-story building was constructed in 1910 and was originally the headquarters of the Metropolitan Bank and later a branch of the Whitney Bank. In 2015, it was converted into a hotel by developer Joe Jaeger, who had acquired the property from Paul Flower for $ 10.4 million.

The hotel has been closed since the pandemic and Jaeger, owner of New Orleans’ largest hotel group, said last year it was one of the hotels he was planning to sell at the time. that he was reorganizing his hotel portfolio.

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The new owners bought the hotel for $ 16.9 million and plan to completely renovate the interior with the goal of reopening it under a new name in time for Mardi Gras 2023, according to Thompson.

“This hotel in my opinion and to a lot of people I’ve spoken to in New Orleans is in one of the nicest buildings in the city,” said Thompson. “It was developed (during its first conversion) to serve business travelers, which in my opinion was not best suited to this particular historic property.”

Thompson’s company Angevin & Co. bought The Frenchmen Hotel on bustling Esplanade Avenue at the end of Frenchmen Street in Marigny last year with a similar ambition to elevate its image by redesigning its bars and adding shows.

This hotel is slated to reopen this month after some delays caused by Hurricane Ida.

Thompson, a native of Mississippi, began his professional life as a restaurateur in the Denver area and until late 2019 was the CEO of the bowling-focused entertainment chain Punch Bowl Social. After selling his share, he moved with his family to New Orleans for a lifestyle change and with the goal of starting a boutique hotel business in the city.

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For the Whitney project, he is partnering with GBX Group, a real estate company based in Cleveland, Ohio, of which Brees is a partner. GBX specializes in the conversion and restoration of historic properties. Another of their projects in New Orleans is the development of the Karnofsky Building and other parts of the 400 block of South Rampart Street, which were badly damaged by Ida in September.

As part of the deal with the Whitney Hotel, the new owners donated 2,500 square feet of adjacent undeveloped land to the Preservation Resource Center in New Orleans and pledged to preserve the building’s facade and other historic features, like the ornate bank vault doors that lead into the meeting rooms.

An 1877 woodcut shows New Orleans residents meeting in Lafayette Square in support of President Rutherford B. Hayes. In the background, on the block that now houses the Poydras Center office tower and the Whitney Hotel, stands the ornate Moorish building, which burned down in 1897.

The changes inside, however, will be significant. Thompson said the concept of the hotel will change dramatically, more to reflect the type of trendy boutique hotels that draw vacationers to the central business district, including the Virgin Hotel at the corner of Baronne and Lafayette streets, which opened its doors last August, and the Maison de la Luz on rue Carondelet.

Thompson said he and his Denver-based design team, FAM Design, had come up with a fictional “muse” to guide the hotel’s name change and design. What remains to be named leannán sídhe is a young Irish girl who came to New Orleans, opened her own flower shop and ran a sweatshop at night, he said.

Thus, the hotel will have a flower shop on the ground floor of the lobby open to the general public and there will be fresh flower arrangements at the newly renovated restaurant that guests can take with them.

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This restaurant concept will be “vegan” (but not vegetarian) “polite, laid back and southern,” said Thompson. There will also be a “Moody Craft Cocktail Bar”.

“Robert looks at both The Whitney and the city with fresh eyes, and the ideas he puts forward will have a positive and lasting impact on the hospitality and tourism industry in New Orleans,” he said. Jaeger said in a statement announcing the sale. .

Thompson said he plans to complete the purchase of more hospitality properties in the coming months.

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