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Historic Freret building undergoes hotel renovations

Rates for the completed hotel are expected to be $150 a night

A team of designers are taking a forgotten building and turning it into a 90-room hotel.

Built in 1964, and located in the Freret neighborhood at Magnolia and Cadiz, is Bristow Tower, a housing option for nurses and employees working for the Southern Baptist Hospital. Over time, as needs of the Souther Baptist Hospital changed, and the housing unit remained unused from 1995 to 2015. The building was bought by Ochsner Medical Center after hurricane Katrina, but remained defunct.

Gregory Ensslen, a resident of the Freret neighborhood since 1999, and a developer for Go Mango Neighborhood Restoration, saw an opportunity to turn this 10-story building into a hotel in 2007.

“I would ask people in the neighborhood if they knew about this building. many of them have forgotten about it,” Ensslen told Curbed NOLA.

Ensslen is not the only designer working on the conversion of Bristow Towers. The Freret resident is collaborating with and Chris Bellone, a Tulane School of Architecture graduate and co-developer over the hotel; Woodward Design+Build and Valentino investments.

Woodward Design+Build serves as the contractor for the Alder hotel project.

After realizing many people didn’t remember the complex, he dubbed it the invisible building.

According to the Mid-City Messenger, Ensslen partnered with Michael Valentino of Valentino New Orleans Hotels to create this project. The Valentino partner will operate the hotel, but Ochsner will still own the building. Rates will be roughly $150 a night.

Because of its value and history in the Freret neighborhood Ensslen and his team put the building on the National Register of Historic places, and the 52-year old building was accepted on January 2016.

The 45,140 square-foot building is under construction and renovations to house 90 hotel rooms with separate private balconies.

Don Fant, the director of design at Woodward Design+Build, and overseer at Woodward Design Group, is the architect of record for the hotel. The interior design is by Commercial Design Interiors.

Constructions for the apartment began in October, and is expected to be completed by June 2017, according to Ensslen.

[Correction] November 23, 2016, 9:55 a.m. Added clarification of contributors to the renovation of Bristow Towers, and corrected square footage to 54,000.