The imposing Victorian building on the corner of Magazine Street and Race Street in the Lower Garden District was a haven for orphans during the Civil War. Soon a new life begins as the Hotel St. Vincent, an Italian-style boutique inn with a palm-shaded courtyard and expansive balconies for each of its 75 rooms.
The St. Vincent is the brainchild of Zachary Kupperman, a lawyer who became a technology entrepreneur, a hotel developer. He bought the property four years ago from owners who had turned it into a budget hostel with a good reputation in the early 1990s.
Zach Kupperman, owner / developer of the St. Vincent Hotel on Magazine Street in New Orleans on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (Photo by Chris Granger | The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)
It is one of several redevelopments in the city in recent years that has turned smaller historic buildings into boutique hotels aimed at travelers less interested in the huge corporate hotels along Poydras and Canal Streets. In 2016 the Ace Hotel opened on Carondelet Street in the Warehouse District, followed by the NOPSI in the former farm building around the corner on Baronne Street.
More recently, the St. Peter & Paul Hotel on Burgunderstrasse has lured travelers to its converted Roman Catholic church in Marigny.
The $ 22.5 million renovation of St. Vincent, which Kupperman nearly completed with Austin-based partners Liz Lambert and Larry Maguire, sought to retain all of the exterior features of the historic building while maintaining “Art Deco and Italian aesthetics.” of the 20th century “.
The result is a mix of styles that maintains the institutional flair of the old building: outside in the courtyard is the original Grotto of the Virgin Mary, not far from the pool area and bar, while long, sunless corridors are punctuated by Art Deco walls with lights and a deep azure decor.
A bathroom at the St. Vincent Hotel on Magazine Street in New Orleans on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (Photo by Chris Granger | The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)
Kupperman said he and his partners focused on details related to the hotel’s history. This included repeating the design pattern in Margaret Haughery’s diary – the 19th century Irish immigrant who had helped build the original St. Vincent Infant Asylum – in the colorful bathroom wallpaper.
St. Vincent’s remained in use as an infant orphanage until the early 20th century when it was transformed into a haven for single mothers until the 1990s.
The pool area at the St. Vincent Hotel on Magazine Street in New Orleans on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (Photo by Chris Granger | The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)
The building had fallen into disrepair and was sold in 1994 to Klaus Peter Schreiber and his wife Sarah “Sally” Schreiber, who ran it as a budget company for the next two decades. The cheap $ 250 per week fee drew international students and some long-stay locals, and earned a reputation for being scruffy where courtyard cooking was not uncommon.
Klaus Peter Schreiber, who owned other New Orleans hotels, including Creole Gardens, mysteriously disappeared in 2015 at the age of 74. According to the New Orleans Police Department, his Mercedes-Benz was found parked at the airport and he had tickets to fly Ireland but never on board. Police said this week the investigation remains open.
The venerable Columns Hotel on St. Charles Avenue was originally built in 1883-84 as an Italian-style mansion for a wealthy tobacconist.
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Sally Schreiber died in late 2015, leaving behind a surviving daughter. The St. Vincent was sold out of a trust two years later.
“The building was a low-budget hostel that had become a beacon of unsavory activity,” said Kupperman, who received city permits in the first year and a half and convinced neighborhood associations and the New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission of the benefits of the project.
The HDLC’s blessing was necessary to secure the historic rehabilitation tax credits that would make the project financially viable, said Kupperman, who was a real estate attorney for four years after graduating from Tulane University Law School a little over a decade ago.
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Kupperman’s early business activities included a company that supplied college students with “college poker chips” and other gaming accessories, as well as a quick polling app, both of which he sold. A notable flop was Dinner Lab, a dining experiences business that grew rapidly and received national media attention but went bankrupt in 2016 after three years of operation.
More recently, Kupperman has put together a portfolio of boutique hotels and other hotels, including The Drifter on Tulane Avenue. He also developed The Catahoula and The Rampart in the Central Business District, two townhouse-style boutique hotels, and bought the historic Joy Theater in late 2019, which has a capacity of 1,200.
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His latest project is The Mountain Chalet, a historic but somewhat dated Bavarian resort with a prime location near the ski lift in Aspen, Colorado, which he is also planning to renovate with Lambert and Maguire.
The St. Vincent is slated to open in mid-July after overcoming an initial battle to fill the 70 jobs it held. Despite receiving 150 applications initially, only 30 people came for interviews, Kupperman said, reflecting a post-pandemic shortage of hospitality workers.
Flowers grow around a courtyard at the St. Vincent Hotel on Magazine Street in New Orleans on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (Photo by Chris Granger | The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)
But he said they now have a chef for their signature restaurant, St. Lorenzo. They also found people to fill most of the other positions, including the hotel’s three bars and the “Elizabeth Street Cafe” which is attached to the uptown side of the main building.
Kupperman said all of the industry data he follows suggests a strong recovery in the New Orleans leisure market from late summer through early fall. He hopes the Hotel St. Vincent will fill a new market niche.
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“The big differentiator for the St. Vincent is that it’s a neighborhood hotel, not just a rectangular box,” he said. “It has a real campus feeling.”
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