The “poshtel” is a go.
The New Orleans City Council on Thursday approved a scaled-back version of an upscale 185-bed hostel and boutique hotel proposed for a stretch of vacant land along the Mississippi River in Bywater.
Plans for the $16 million project — bordered by Royal, Mazant, Chartres and Bartholomew streets — call for a mix of shared hostel-style rooms and private rooms, as well as a restaurant, coffee shop, laundromat, bar, pool and parking lot.
The project — dubbed “Stateside” — has drawn the ire of many neighbors since it was proposed late last year.
The so-called “poshtel” concept — which has sprung up in major cities like Chicago and Miami — merges the potential thriftiness and social aspects of a hostel with the modern amenities of a boutique hotel.
By a 6-1 vote, the City Council approved a required conditional-use permit for the project. Councilman Jason Williams cast the lone no vote, saying he believed the project isn’t in nearby residents’ best interest.
The site — a former seafood processing plant that’s owned by lawyer John Cummings — is in Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey’s district. After a lengthy, and at times contentious, discussion by the project’s supporters and opponents, Ramsey and other council members said they thought the project was in line with the city’s master plan for long-term development.
However, Ramsey tied more than a dozen provisos to the proposal — more than the City Planning Commission’s staff initially urged. Those include a prohibition on amplified noise from 10 p.m. to 10 a.m.
The Planning Commission voted 7-0 two months ago to recommend denying the permit. Its members sided with residents who were concerned the hostel would attract rowdy partygoers to its pool and bar and would cause headaches for nearby residents and businesses.
For months, developer Ted Kelso has met with neighbors to gain support for the facility, which he said he expects will cater to “millennial-type consumers,” especially international travelers. It will include 15 private rooms and 28 shared rooms.
Kelso, 30, plans to live at the property, a promise he made to neighbors. He also hired acoustician David Woolworth to develop noise-mitigation strategies for the property.
Following the Planning Commission’s unanimous rejection, Kelso scaled back the project from 48,000 to 32,000 square feet and switched New Orleans-based architectural firms, from Eskew+Dumez+Ripple to studioWTA.
He said the revamped plans were “brought into scale with the neighborhood” and the project “has been redesigned to have a negligible auditory impact on neighbors.”
Council members who supported the project Thursday called it a tough decision to balance some neighbors’ opposition with the prospect of padding the city’s tax revenues, creating new jobs and redeveloping a vacant lot.
“There’s been a consistent drumbeat of requests to move tourists into other neighborhoods than the French Quarter and the CBD,” Council President Stacy Head said. “That is what this does.”
Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.