Plans to build a Moxy Hotel in the 700 block of St. Charles Avenue in the Central Business District hit another setback Tuesday when the Historic District Landmarks Commission’s Architectural Review Committee opposed the latest version of the project.
The proposed building would be a five-story, 45,000-square-foot Marriott-branded hotel. The property is owned by local developers Barry and Lorraine Dinvaut.
The review committee discussed the project during a meeting that grew contentious at times. Nearly a dozen people turned out to address the committee.
Lorraine Dinvaut expressed frustration with the review process, which she decried as “not fair” after presenting committee members with multiple design proposals based on their previous suggestions.
Most of the speakers opposed the proposal, saying its design did not fit with other buildings on the block or in the neighborhood.
Patricia Gay, executive director of the Preservation Resource Center, said the proposed building “doesn’t complement the neighborhood in any way.”
Attorney Justin Schmidt, representing the Dinvauts, said several concessions had already been made in the hotel’s design, including upper floors being set back from the St. Charles Avenue property line by 9 feet.
“Yes, it’s going to be different,” he said, noting that it nevertheless would be in line with requirements set out in the city’s zoning law.
The site now contains a vacant single-story warehouse, which would be partially demolished.
Schmidt urged committee members to move forward with “conceptual approval,” the first of several hurdles in the process of getting permission to build the hotel.
Instead, members said that while the proposed setback is a step in the right direction, the building would be too massive for the surrounding neighborhood.
The committee voted unanimously to recommend denying the project in its current form. The proposal now goes to the full Central Business District panel of the Historic District Landmarks Commission.
Either way, the HDLC’s decision can be appealed to the City Council, making it all but certain that the council will have the final say. The site is in Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell’s district.
The hotel has been scaled back since it was first proposed last year. The site, which is in the Lafayette Square local historical district, was initially eyed for an eight-story, 69,000-square-foot hotel with 96 rooms, three condo units, a restaurant and retail space. Current plans call for up to 90 rooms.
Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.