Hotel New Orleans to Become Hyatt Place; VA Hospital Moves Forward

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor The hospitality industry has always been one of the strong points of New Orleans, given its attraction as a tourist destination – from the impressive French-Creole architecture and rich culture to the lively Bourbon Street and [...]

The hospitality industry has always been one of the strong points of New Orleans, given its attraction as a tourist destination – from the impressive French-Creole architecture and rich culture to the lively Bourbon Street and world-renowned French Quarter, the Mardi Gras festival and Jazz Fest. And the Crescent City continues to attract travelers and investors alike.

One of the city’s most representative hotels, The Hotel New Orleans, has been purchased by a joint venture of affiliates of HRI Properties and Interwest Capital Corp. It will be rebranded as a Hyatt Place. The purchase price was not disclosed. An extensive renovation is planned for the eight-story, 170-room hotel, slated to begin later this year and be completed in the first quarter of 2012, according to The Times-Picayune. HRI Lodging will manage the hotel after renovations are complete.

“We are excited about our affiliation with the joint venture as we transform the city’s first Hyatt Place into one of the most desirable properties in New Orleans,” said Gary Gutierrez, president of HRI Lodging, in a press release. “The hotel’s strategic location directly across the street from the New Orleans Convention Center makes this property the most attractive option in the area for corporate meetings, executive accommodations and cruise ship visitors.” The property includes a six-story atrium, a lobby-level lounge and restaurant, a fitness center, a business center and valet parking.

In other news, WWL.com reports important progress on the Veterans Affairs complex whose construction began in 2010. The development has been regarded as one of the largest and most significant endeavors undertaken by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The $800 million VA medical center, scheduled for completion by 2014, will provide care for all of southeast Louisiana; it will benefit the entire region through job creation and by its huge long-term economic impact, according to Stephanie Repasky, assistant director of the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System.

“We’re looking at $4.9 billion over five years through construction. And once we’re open and with operations, we’ll be at $9.8 billion. So nearly $9 billion in 10 years, and it’s truly an economic engine for the city because we’ll be hiring about 2,000 construction-related jobs and then, once we’re open, it’ll be 1,100 new permanent employees that we’re bringing to the region,” she said.