Bywater upscale hostel developer buys land, moves forward with $16 million project

The developer of a Bywater upscale hostel closed a deal this week to buy the vacant Chartres Street riverside property where the controversial project is slated.

Ted Kelso of Pelican Royal LLC bought the former industrial land at 4019 Chartres St. for $2.47 million, a sale that was finalized Tuesday (Sept. 5), according to a news release from the developer.

The sale marks a step forward for the proposed $16 million, 185-bed hostel and hotel called Stateside — despite the fact that one neighborhood group has sued to block the project.

Stateside would be a 32,000-square-foot building with a mix of private and shared rooms, a laundry, courtyard, pool, restaurant, bar and coffee shop. The project stirred unease among some Bywater residents concerned it would attract rowdy tourists and further disrupt an increasingly sought-after residential neighborhood.

Kelso, who plans to live on the site, scaled back the size from 48,000-square-foot with a new design by Studio WTA architects after the City Planning Commission rejected the proposal. His team insists the development’s amenities will benefit locals in the neighborhood, not just visitors.

The City Council then approved a conditional use permit in a 6-1 vote in May. Zoning allowed for a hotel of up to 10,000 square feet without a conditional use permit.

“As we move towards our opening in early 2018, we continue to work with our neighborhood to make Stateside a welcome addition to Bywater,” Kelso said in the release. “We look forward to providing amenities for our neighbors, jobs for our community, and a new option for our growing tourism sector in one of our most popular, yet underserved, neighborhoods.”

Neighbors First for Bywater, one of two Bywater neighborhood associations, filed a lawsuit in Orleans Civil District Court on June 17 seeking to reverse the City Council’s decision. The group argues that the City Council violated zoning law, and that the second design should have been examined by the Planning Commission, which makes recommendations to the council.

The project “would significantly damage the fabric and nature of the community irreparably,” the lawsuit says.

Pelican Royal intervened in the case and asked for the litigation to be dismissed. The case is pending.

The other community group, Bywater Neighborhood Association, endorsed Stateside during the city approval process.

The 40,000-square-foot vacant lot was most recently used for a seafood processing plant. Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey, whose district includes the property, said she supports the hostel because it fits into Bywater’s history of being a mixed-use neighborhood.

Katherine Sayre, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

 

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Former landmark Times-Picayune building sold to local group for $3.5 million

A Howard Avenue landmark that housed The Times-Picayune’s operations and its printing presses for almost a half-century has been sold to a group of local businessmen that includes developer Joseph Jaeger Jr., records show.

Jaeger’s group, 3800 Howard Investors LLC, closed on the $3.5 million deal Sept. 2, according to Orleans Parish Civil District Court records, which list the site at 8.9 acres.

Peter Aamodt, senior development manager of Jaeger’s firm, MCC Real Estate, said Tuesday that the group has “no immediate plans” for the property.

“It was a good investment at the right time and the right place,” he said.

Jaeger’s group also includes float builder Barry Kern, president of Mardi Gras World, and developer Arnold Kirschman, whose family operated furniture stores in the metro area for nearly a century.

“They have no specific plans or projected uses,” Aamodt said. “They just want to participate in the growing New Orleans economy, and feel like the neighborhoods surrounding that location continue to get better.”

The sale includes “everything except the furniture and the presses,” Aamodt said, presumably including a custom Art Deco panel display in the building’s front lobby that was created by Mexican-born artist Enrique Alferez.

When the building opened in 1968, “huge crowds lined up for a tour,” The Times-Picayune wrote in 2011 as part of a 175th anniversary feature.

Rumors of a potential sale began swirling earlier this summer as workers were seen removing the presses and taking the newspaper’s name down from the building’s iconic clock tower alongside Interstate 10.

In June, the newspaper said that “an undisclosed buyer” had signed a deal to acquire the building, but it said it was limited by a confidentiality agreement from disclosing details of the transaction.

The plant has been mostly vacant in recent years.

The Times-Picayune announced in 2012 that it would reduce the number of days it produces a print newspaper to embrace a digital-first strategy. In early 2013, the newspaper moved much of its staff downtown to the top two floors of One Canal Place.

In late 2014, the paper said it would outsource its printing operations to a facility in Mobile, Alabama, that prints The Press-Register, another newspaper owned by The Times-Picayune’s New York-based owners, Advance Publications.

As part of that move, The Times-Picayune converted its former East Jefferson bureau in Metairie into a design studio that lays out the local newspaper’s pages as well as those of other Advance-owned newspapers in Alabama and Mississippi.

Previous announced layoffs have claimed more than 300 workers.

For Jaeger, the deal marks his latest bet in local real estate developments.

Jaeger also owns the former Market Street power plant after making an $8.72 million bid for the riverfront property at a foreclosure auction last year.

That 20-acre site is near the upriver end of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Jaeger is part of another team of developers negotiating with the Convention Center’s governing board to serve as master developer of a potentially $1.5 billion public-private partnership for a 47-acre tract between the center and the old power plant.

Those plans call for building a large hotel, restaurants, entertainment venues and apartments on the vacant land at the upriver end of the giant assembly hall.

Richard Thompson

 

Times

 

South Market District moves forward with $80 million condo building

South Market District moves forward with $80 million condo building | NOLA.com

The Domain Cos. have secured financing for an $80 million, 15-story condo building in the developer’s expanding downtown South Market District.

The developer said Monday (Aug. 29) construction has begun on the 89-unit building called the Standard, which will be Domain’s fourth building in South Market District. The Standard will be next to the recently built Beacon apartment building and add 24,000 square feet of retail space along O’Keefe Avenue and South Rampart and Julia streets.

“The Standard will propel the incredible momentum of the South Market District and downtown New Orleans,” said Matt Schwartz, The Domain Cos. principal, in a news release. “The Standard is the next step in downtown’s progression, one that will build on the neighborhood’s excellence through world-class architecture, amenities and services unlike anything in New Orleans today. With the Standard, we are creating the finest residential building in New Orleans by any measure.”

The building is designed by architect Morris Adjmi, a New Orleans native and founder of New York City-based Morris Adjmi Architects. In the release, Adjmi said he “sought to capture the spirit of New Orleans without mimicking its past.”

It will be the mixed-use South Market District’s first venture into for-sale condos. The Beacon and Paramount buildings at South Market house more than 330 upscale apartment rentals. The Park building houses Arhaus furniture store and CVS, among other retailers, along with a parking garage.

Domain hasn’t said how much the condos in the Standard will cost. Plans for the building include an art gallery in the lobby to add to Julia Street’s Gallery Row and 30,000 square feet of outdoor space with a pool deck and pool house, gardens and landscaping that includes grass and water lilies, according to the release.

Construction is scheduled to be finished in spring of 2018.

Domain’s downtown projects also include the Ace Hotel on Carondelet Street.

South MarketSouth Market District Map 2015

Local outreach to the Community of Denham Springs

The Swine Krewe Too was busy again with the amazing help from State Bank, Trinity Episcopal, Bert Duvic with Max Derbes, Inc., and Murphy Appraisal Services to provide over 500 + meals along with many donated items including diapers, hygiene, cleaning supplies and water to the Denham Springs Community. Also, a great thanks goes out to the local businesses that supported our effort, Maddisonville Piggly Wiggly, Sanderson Farms, and Leidenheimer Bakery.

 

Swine Krewe

New York developer acquires more property along Tulane Avenue

New York developer acquires more property along Tulane Avenue | New Orleans CityBusiness

A commercial real estate developer whose holdings in the New Orleans area include Lakeside Shopping Center and the Galleria office building in Metairie continues to purchase property along the Tulane Avenue corridor.  An entity known as 2537 Tulane Properties LLC, led by New York developer Jeffrey Feil, bought the property at 2501 Tulane Avenue on May 23 for $740,000 from a company called JLS-Tulane, LLC, according to Orleans Parish land records. Wade Domingo is listed as the company’s manager and owned Joe’s Lawnmower Shop at the location. The property is at the corner of Tulane Avenue and South Rocheblave Street and offers a two-story, 11,200 square-foot building on a 6,400 square-foot lot. The second floor once housed two residential apartment units but now sits vacant. The lot is zoned MU-1 with HU-B1A, which calls for a medium-intensity mixed use in a neighborhood business district. Feil, CEO of the Feil Organization, also purchased the 1.6-acre piece of land at 2537 Tulane Ave. for $5.6 million in April from the family that owns Dixie Beer. The land in the deal encompassed most of the city block bordered by Banks Street, South Rocheblave, Tulane Avenue and South Dorgenois. There is a 49,000-square-foot warehouse on the property. The property at 2501 Tulane Ave. is in the same city block as the former Dixie Beer warehouse. Feil recently bought the old Jefferson Plaza shopping center and is partnering with Ochsner to develop a $62 million medical complex as part of the hospital’s expansion. He also helped redevelop the old Carrollton Shopping Center into a Costco in Mid-City. The Tulane Avenue area has been a popular spot for real estate investors in recent years as the University Medical Center opened last August and the Veterans Affairs Hospital prepares to open next year.

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Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery changes hands

Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery changes hands | New Orleans CityBusiness

Provenance Hotel Partners Fund I, based in Portland, Oregon, said Friday it has acquired the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery at 535 Tchoupitoulas St. on the edge of the Warehouse District.

The seller was a partnership primarily comprised of affiliates of New York-based GB Lodging and Woodbine Development Corporation, a Dallas-based real estate company. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Provenance Hotels, GB Lodging and Woodbine opened the 167-room Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery in August. The hotel is also home to Compère Lapin, a restaurant that serves Caribbean and European-accented takes on New Orleans flavors.

The building was once the Ambassador Hotel which sold in August 2013 for $15.85 million, according to Orleans Parish land records. The hotel underwent an extensive renovation costing more than $7 million that began in July 2014.

Renovations included a newly designed lobby, restaurant and bar, upgraded plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems, and a new layout and renovation of all guest rooms.

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Ponchatoula Welcomes New Rouses Market

The doors opened to a new Rouses Market grocery store in Ponchatoula, Louisiana on April 20, 2016. Rouses will now anchor the Berryland Shopping Center on West Pine Street (Highway 22) in the 48,000 square foot space previously occupied by Winn Dixie. The grand opening comes after a six month vacancy during which $3 million in renovations were complete to both the interior and exterior of the building. Additional renovations are currently underway to update the entire façade of the shopping center. The new Rouses location comes after a wave of recent development in Ponchatoula. Some of the new developments include a new Wal Mart, Taco Bell, Racetrack, and First Guaranty Bank branch.

 

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Hogs for The Cause Gala

Murphy Appraisal, for the second consecutive year,  sponsored a table at the annual Hogs for The Cause Gala held at Popp’s Fountain in City Park. Hogs for the Cause is a non-profit, annual fundraising barbecue competition and music festival that raises money for families with children fighting pediatric brain cancer. Several of our appraisers and clients are also affiliated with the BBQ Team the Swine Krewe, which competes in Hogs annually.

 

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New dentist office to come on the corner of Highway 25 and Regina Coeli Road

The corner of Highway 25 and Regina Coeli Road will soon be home to a new dentist office. The 2.2-acre parcel recently sold in March for $5.95 per square foot and plans are proposed for McMath
Construction to build a 4,770-square-foot facility. The improvement will not occupy the entire tract as it also extends to the corner of Privette Boulevard and the remaining land will be reserved
for at least two other future medical office buildings according to the owner. This area near the Highway 25 and Ronald Regan Highway intersection is becoming a target area for new
development given the amount of land available as well as other announced developments such as the new Franco’s Gulf Center within the Covington Commons Premiere Multi-Use Development
across Highway 25 as well as a proposed 244-unit multifamily apartment complex on the adjacent southwest corner on Regina Coeli Drive and Privette Boulevard.

 

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20th Annual NAPMW Crawfish Cook-Off 1st Place Winners – Murphy Appraisal Services

20th Annual NAPMW Crawfish Cook-Off 1st Place Winners – Murphy Appraisal Services team of Dina McCarty, David Laballe and Chris Smiroldo.

 

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Final New Orleans flood insurance maps show lower rates for many

New flood insurance maps for New Orleans, expected to be made final Wednesday (March 30) by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, promise dramatically lower premiums for many property owners within the upgraded hurricane levee system. The maps remove thousands of properties from Special Flood Hazard Areas, which require flood insurance.

But the head of New Orleans’ floodplain management program urged homeowners and businesses that will now be located in the so-called X zones, which don’t require flood insurance, to continue buying the federally-backed policies anyway. That’s in case there’s another Hurricane Katrina in the city’s future.”While you may not be required to have it, please, please have flood insurance,” said Jared Munster, who also serves as City Hall’s Safety and Permits director. He said the cost of flood insurance in areas rated X is substantially cheaper than in areas that are more at risk of flooding, “a small expense for what could be a catastrophic occurrence.”

FEMA plans on Wednesday to send city officials a letter declaring the maps final. The City Council then has six months to adopt the maps. Munster said he expects the council to vote in June or early July on the maps and on some related changes to ordinances governing new construction.

Approval by FEMA follows almost three years of negotiations between the federal agency and city officials over the mapping process. The talks centered on how FEMA’s laser-based LIDAR mapping process handled some of the city’s more complicated geographic areas.

After the council approval, any changes in insurance rates are likely to go into effect at the policyholder’s next renewal date. Individual homeowner or business challenges of the map changes would then be made through their insurance companies.

A FEMA spokesman said an appeals and comment period, similar to what is ending in New Orleans on Wednesday, should begin for the proposed St. Bernard Parish flood map in the late spring and for the Jefferson Parish map in the early summer. Officials in those parishes have also been meeting for several years with FEMA officials over their concerns about the agency’s mapping process.

In Jefferson, officials have working with the agency to account for some levees that do not meet the federal agency’s 100-year protection requirements. Congress had ordered the agency to consider the risk reduction that these levees provide.

In New Orleans, the final Digitial Flood Insurance Risk Map shows in green the properties within the levee system that have changed from a Special Flood Hazard Area to a non-hazard area. The greening is a direct result of the completed reconstruction of the hurricane levee system by the Army Corps of Engineers since Katrina struck in 2005, FEMA and city officials say.

While thousands of property owners will benefit from greening and lower premiums, some will pay more. The maps indicate that dozens of properties, including many in Lower Coast Algiers, will be newly required to buy flood insurance.

The levees are designed to protect the city from storm surges caused by a hurricane with a 1 percent chance of occurring in any year, a so-called 100-year hurricane. As a result, FEMA was able to review areas within the system for the potential of flooding in a rainfall event that has a 1 percent chance of occurring in any year.

When Hurricane Katrina hit, its storm surge was considered the equivalent of a 250-year event along levees in St. Bernard Parish, which it topped, and a 150-year event along the Lake Pontchartrain lakefront, where some topping occurred. As much as 80 percent of New Orleans flooded in Katrina’s aftermath, with most flooding resulting from failures of levees and floodwalls.

As part of the improved protection system, the corps also added “resiliency” to its design of earthen and concrete portions of the levees. It has said the system will protect against failure of levees and floodwalls from a 500-year event, which would be created by a hurricane with a 0.2 percent chance of occurring in any year.

In presentations explaining that additional level of protection, however, the corps said some areas of the city would see flooding of as much as 5 feet of water, because surge would top levees in some locations, depending on a storm’s direction. And recent reviews by both the corps and the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East of the completed levee system’s ability to withstand topping from hurricanes has concluded that some locations already are low enough to be topped by some 100-year storms.

Munster said his department is reviewing how to adjust New Orleans’ building code’s requirements for elevation to match the new flood maps. At present, City Hall requires new construction to be built at least 18 inches above grade, but that does not always mean the building would be above the base flood elevation required by the flood map.

City officials might consider a change to require new construction to be built 1 foot above the base flood elevation in the flood maps. That’s already a standard that’s required by many mortgage lenders for new construction. If the change were approved, the regulation would be in effect only for new construction.

Munster said New Orleans’ building code allows older structures that are being renovated to be grandfathered in, unless the renovations involve more than 50 percent of the structure. He said 774 new construction projects were permitted in 2015.

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Epic Piping

Epic Piping, the fastest growing turn-key industrial pipe manufacturing group in the world is building a new pipe fabrication plant on Frost Road (Highway 63) in Livingston, Louisiana. Epic primarily services the power, chemical, refining, offshore, and oil and gas industries with carbon steel, chrome moly, stainless steel, duplex steels, nickel based alloys, and jacketed piping. The new facility contains 268,000 square feet on 77 acres and is estimated to cost $45.3 million. The plant will be air-conditioned and feature robotic equipment to optimize production. The plant will provide 560 direct new jobs at an average pay of $56,000 per year. The facility is expected to go online in April of 2016.

Scott Guidry

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13th annual Hammond Blues and BBQ Fest

Murphy Appraisal Services and 10/12 Properties participated in the 13th annual Hammond Blues and BBQ Fest on March 25-26 in Hammond, Louisiana. The BBQ team helped raise money for the various charities in the “Tips-2-Taste” contest as a corporate sponsor.

Pictured on the front row (L-R): Scott Guidry, Jamie Vicaro, Haley Hernandez, Dawn Sinagra; Top Row (L-R): Leigh Ann Fazio, Steven Murray, Ashton Ray, Sergio Mesa, and Brantley Ray.

 

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Our Men In Kilts 2016 Contestant of the Day – Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater New Orleans.

Our Men In Kilts 2016 Contestant of the Day – Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater New Orleans. To vote for Rick and see all of our contestants visit https://kilts2016.rmhc-nola.org/. Your vote helps us help the families of sick kids!

 

Rick Ronald McDonald

Condominium Market in French Quarter Continues to Rise

Sales of condominiums in the French Quarter are at an all-time high.  The chart and table below shows average condominium pricing on a price per square foot basis from 2000 to 2015. After rising rapidly from 2000 thru 2005, the market saw a downturn during the Post-Katrina era followed by the economic downturn. However, starting in 2013, the market began to enjoy rapid gains – 8% in 2013, 12% in 2014 and 14% in 2015.

Recent data suggests that rising prices continue into 2016 with sales in the last twelve months averaging $519.98 per square foot, up 3.08% in less than three months and up 15.58% over the same period a year ago. Those properties that have been renovated in the last three years are showing values even higher with an average of over $550.00 per square foot.

 

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Topgolf Considering New Orleans and Baton Rouge Region for Expansion

Topgolf, a new age golf driving range and entertainment concept which began in Dallas, TX, is considering the New Orleans and Baton Rouge market as a possible location for expansion.  The company announced on March 16th they are considering smaller and mid-size markets for expansion locations. In addition to New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Topgolf also announced other regions under consideration: Huntsville, Ala.; northwest Arkansas; Providence, R.I.; Ft. Myers/Naples, Fla.; Greenville, S.C.; Albuquerque, N.M.; McAllen and El Paso, Texas and more.  This decision is following successful openings in Oklahoma City and Virginia Beach proving the concept is viable in less densely populated areas than originally targeted.

According to Topgolf, players hit golf balls containing computer microchips that track each shot’s accuracy and distance while awarding points for hitting targets on the outfield. Each venue offers a food and beverage menu, music, games, climate-controlled hitting bays and hundreds of HDTVs.  (www.topgolf.com)

Brantley K. Ray

 

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New French Truck Coffee Space on Dryades

In January 2015, 4536 Dryades Street was just another old residential double that are so commonly found in Uptown New Orleans. Fast forward thirteen months and the property is now the newest location of French Truck Coffee. Local developers Ben Jacobson and Casey Burka acquired the property and soon began a renovation to convert it from its historical use to a single tenant commercial space. Shortly thereafter the exterior was painted that unmistakable shade of yellow associated with French Truck Coffee and the secret was out. The new space opened in late February and is already a popular spot for coffee drinkers and lunch goers.

The location of the new French Truck Coffee space is noteworthy but is far from the only real estate activity to occur in the neighborhood. Since March 1, 2014, an MLS search indicates a total of 46 home sales in the relatively small area bound by St. Charles Avenue, Freret Street, Valence Street and Napoleon Avenue. A drive of the neighborhood will reveal home renovations in progress on almost every block. With the nearby Freret Street re-development making most of the headlines, the addition of the new French Truck Coffee location is a welcome addition to this up and coming neighborhood.

-Blake Ridings

 

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The development of a new student-housing apartment complex has begun outside of the South Gates of LSU

Park7 Group, a student housing development and management firm based out of New York, acquired the ±2.62 acres in four separate transactions in May of 2015 for a total purchase price of $9,325,000.  At the time of sale, the site was partially improved with older apartment buildings.  The biggest bulk of the site was a ±1.5 acre vacant parcel purchased from Dantin Bruce Development for $4,950,000; Dantin Bruce Development owns the 333 Flats Development across Easy Boyd Drive.  The Park7 Development will have an address of 222 East Boyd Drive and is bounded by West Parker Boulevard, Swire Avenue, and Dodson Avenue.  The development will be a ±560,442 square foot, six-story student housing complex that will be comprised of 280 units, three inner courtyards, pool and party deck, outdoor kitchen, fitness center, and a theater and game room; it will also include a parking garage with over 700 parking spaces.  The construction costs are estimated to be $41.6 million; the new development is projected to be open for the fall 2017 semester.  The student housing development has been on the rise in the recent years.  A driving factor of the new developments is the increasing enrollment at LSU.  The fall 2015 enrollment was 31,527 students, a 2% increase since the year before, which includes the fourth largest freshman class at 5,624 students.  The overall enrollment is the largest enrollment at LSU since fall 2004.

 

-Katherine Harang-Bourgeois

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Redevelopment of Pythain Building Is Underway

Originally built in 1909 by Samuel L. Green, the site was considered to be the first formal settings where jazz was played. Subsequently, the property was used in the 1940’s as a wartime hiring office and dancehall for soldiers and sailors before their deployments to World War II. In 2015, Green Coast Enterprises and the Crescent City Community Land Trust teamed up to revitalize the building while retaining the original architecture. The property will be renovated to accommodate 69 apartments, of which 30% will be affordable housing, while the bottom three floors will be finished for retail and office uses. According to sources within StudioWTA, the architecture firm heading the project, the preliminary stages of demolition have begun. Additionally, the site has received a plethora of federal and state historic tax credits as well as being added to the Register of Historic Places.

-Zac Blechman

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The Revivalist: Young Hotelier Ben Weprin Has An Eye For An Aged Luxury Gem: “Pontchartrain Revival”

The Revivalist: Young Hotelier Ben Weprin Has An Eye For An Aged Luxury Gem:

Resurrection is a time-honored tradition in New Orleans, and the city’s latest renaissance is happening now at the Pontchartrain Hotel, a 106-room, 88-year-old property in the Garden District.

The flags above its awnings still droop and its Venetian-style plaster façade has faded from its former glory. It’s what a Realtor might market as a fixer-upper, one with plenty of character. Back in the day the Manning family used to go to the Pontchartrain for holiday dinners, Archie suiting up his boys in jackets and ties. Tennessee Williams lived in the hotel while writing A Streetcar Named Desire; the city’s green trolleys still rumble past on St. Charles Avenue.

The man responsible for renovating the Pontchartrain for a June 2016 opening couldn’t be more excited at its potential. “Dude, the history of New Orleans is amazing,” says Ben Weprin, 37, winding through the construction consuming the hotel’s interior. “New Orleans is just f–king cool. Lil Wayne grew up around here!”

Weprin, founder of Chicago-based AJ Capital Partners–”AJ” stands for “adventurous journeys”—is one of the hottest young hotel developers in the country. He specializes in buying a run-down gem and giving it a new shine, a task undoubtedly made easier by his irrepressible midwestern optimism. Armed with $800 million in equity raised from the likes of billionaire John Pritzker, he has successfully rejuvenated resorts and hotels in the Caribbean, Miami, Napa Valley and, of course, Chicago. AJ Capital’s portfolio contains 18 hotels, including the iconic Malliouhana in Anguilla and the more reasonably priced Graduate hotels (upscale lodging in much-visited college towns). “He’s aggressive and knows what he wants,” says Pritzker, who was an executive at his family’s Hyatt Hotels H -2.10% before launching the Joie de Vivre, tommie, Alila and Thompson boutique hotels. “There’s no stopping Ben if he wants something.”

Weprin needed to think that way when he got started–in the fourth quarter of 2008 (the characters “Q408″ partially form AJ Capital’s official logo). After working as a real estate broker and for Chicago developer and restaurateur Larry Levy, Weprin set out to raise his own capital to buy luxury resorts, figuring the crash would make them less expensive. And if the properties had the right provenance, he reckoned, people would eventually return. He scraped together funds from “whoever would invest in me,” he says, even hitting up his childhood dermatologist (who contributed a small amount).

Much of Weprin’s time has been spent in Chicago. There he has renovated and reopened three hotels: the Soho House Chicago, Hotel Lincoln and the Chicago Athletic Association, which as its name suggests was once a private men’s club. He has a schmaltzy line about what he does–”We’re not owners; we’re stewards”–but he does tend to look at a new property with a preservation architect’s gaze, thinking first about what he can save and second about what he should add. He’s careful not to apply a distasteful amount of gloss, sneering at the Hiltonesque idea of interactive TV with a video about the hotel’s amenities and history.

At the 241-room Chicago Athletic Association, a magnificent Venetian Gothic landmark overlooking Millennium Park, he made sure to keep the majestic original ballroom while installing an energetic rooftop restaurant, Cindy’s, and, appropriately enough, a game room.

Weprin has approached the Pontchartrain similarly. In November New Orleans chef John Besh signed on to oversee the hotel’s four dining areas, including the famed Caribbean Room. “We’re bringing it all back,” he says, breezing out of the once and future Silver Whistle coffee shop on the first floor, where politicos fueled by blueberry muffins ruled the Crescent City. (Weprin swears he has the original recipe and that those pastries will return, too.) “It’s going to look just like it did in 1927.” Across the hall bags of concrete on the floor of the Bayou Bar mark the progress of its restoration. The murals above the bar are staying. They depict a sleepy view of life on the bayou: boats, fishermen, shacks. On the roof Weprin is putting in an entirely new bar: New Orleans is long on places to get a drink but short on boozy aeries.

“There are a lot of excuses to have a few more in this city,” says Cooper Manning, Eli and Peyton’s brother, joining Weprin in a completed guest room. Manning, an oil and gas executive, is one of Weprin’s investors, as well as a close friend. (The bar at the Graduate hotel in Oxford, Miss., where Archie, Eli and Cooper attended Ole Miss, is named The Coop.)

Weprin has designed each room at the Pontchartrain to feel homey, a rejection of cookie-cutter chic at other boutique hotels. The room’s white linens, green rug and scarlet bedside bench form a pleasant, playful contrast, and the drink service program offers guests the opportunity to have craft cocktails made in-room.

“It has the same feeling as staying at someone’s house,” Manning says.

“Your bohemian aunt’s house,” says Weprin.

“Where you can have a Scotch,” adds Manning.

“Right, the aunt who gave you your first Scotch at age 14.”

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