New Orleans City Council approves plans for Moxy Hotel on St. Charles Avenue over neighbors' objections _lowres

Rendering from John T. Campo & Associates Inc.-- The Moxy Hotel, center, a proposed five-story, 45,000-square-foot Marriott-branded hotel, hit a setback Tuesday when the Historic District Landmarks Commission’s Architectural Review Committee opposed the latest version of the project in the 700 block of St. Charles Avenue in the Central Business District.

Plans for a five-story Moxy Hotel in the Central Business District gained final backing Thursday from the City Council, paving the way for construction to begin by the end of the year after nearly two years and multiple designs.

The council voted 7-0 to override the CBD Historic District Landmarks Commission's denial of a demolition permit for the project at 744 St. Charles Ave. The site now contains a vacant single-story warehouse, which would be partially demolished.

This marked the second time that the Marriott-branded hotel, now totaling 45,000 square feet, had come before the council. The project, located in the Lafayette Square historic district, has been scaled back since it was first proposed as an eight-story, 69,000-square-foot hotel.

Over the objections from some nearby residents who believed that the 96-room hotel would be out of character with the neighborhood, the council gave the project preliminary approval in March. It stipulated that any expected design changes -- largely aesthetic -- needed landmarks commission approval.

However, when the commission met last month, it did not reach a majority decision on the project's application for partial demolition and new construction, which resulted in a denial.

Previously, the commission had required that the hotel's upper floors be set back from the St. Charles Avenue property line by 20 feet. That decision was appealed to the City Council, which signed off on a 9-foot setback.

"That was a big deal," Justin Schmidt, an attorney representing the project's developers, Barry and Lorraine Dinvaut, said of the setback. "That 11 feet that we were able to capture, at the end of the day, was critical to the property to be a hotel."

The site is in Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell's district.

On Thursday, Cantrell said the Dinvauts "had engaged in very lengthy negotiations with the neighborhood throughout the process." 

The project is slated to become New Orleans' second Moxy Hotel, a new boutique brand targeted at millennials.

Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.