A well-known Lower Garden District budget hotel and hostel that began as a 19th century orphanage is going upscale, with plans to convert it into a luxury boutique hotel.
St. Vincent's Guest House, at 1507 Magazine St., is being purchased by a company led by Zach Kupperman, a local lawyer and developer, according to a letter sent to the project's neighbors.
"We plan to complete a full historic renovation and convert the property into a luxury boutique hotel, significantly reducing the bed count to traditional hotel models," Kupperman wrote in the June 30 letter.
When construction is finished by mid-2019, the renovated property will have about 80 hotel rooms as well as a restaurant, bar and reception facilities, he said.
Operating as a hostel and budget hotel, St. Vincent's now has 84 rooms.
In addition, Kupperman plans to build a one-story retail and office building on a separate nearby lot at Magazine and Orange streets.
St. Vincent's was founded in 1861 by the Daughters of Charity order of nuns, who initially took in orphans amid a yellow fever epidemic. It later provided refuge for unwed mothers, until the 1970s.
In the 1990s, investors Peter Schreiber and Sally Leonard purchased and renovated the building.
Orleans Parish land records list the Klaus-Peter Schreiber Trust as the property's current owner.
The site includes three buildings, all four floors or less, with a total square footage of about 48,500 square feet.
Kupperman plans to build an additional one-story building, with roughly 5,940 square feet, to serve as a reception facility and house administrative offices.
The City Council approved a conditional-use permit for the hotel in 1993, which is still in effect. However, Kupperman is seeking approval to change the plan's designs in order to accommodate the additional building. Otherwise, he may try to subdivide the property and separately apply for a conditional-use permit to operate the reception facility on the other plot, he said in the letter.
Kupperman's firm, 1507 Magazine LLC, has scheduled a July 17 community meeting to gather feedback about the project. The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Felicity Church, 1220 Felicity St.
Kupperman did not return a message seeking comment Thursday.
Kupperman was a co-founder of Dinner Lab, a New Orleans-based membership-driven catering and events business that expanded to more than two dozen cities before abruptly pulling the plug and filing for bankruptcy in 2016.
He also was part of a group that purchased and renovated the former Rose Inn Motel on Tulane Avenue, a two-story 1950s-style motor lodge. It was converted into the Drifter Hotel, which opened this year.