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Downtown's former NOPSI headquarters undergoes revitalization into the new NOPSI Hotel, New Orleans BY HOTELS ARE HOT: Tourism is flourishing in New Orleans, and savvy inves- tors have been turned onto the idea that revitalizing historic buildings for lux- ury accommodations — and utilizing historic tax credits to do so — is smart business. New Orleans’ Central Business District has seen a mini-renaissance of late with long-abandoned buildings seeing new life as posh inns, and the latest example is perhaps one of the most grand. The past headquarters of the New Orleans Public Service, Inc., the predecessor of Entergy New Orleans, has been transformed into a 217-room luxury hotel on Baronne Street. It of- ficially opened for business this past July 6 as one of Forbes Travel Guide’s “13 Most Anticipated Hotel Openings of 2017” — a list that includes luxury accommodations worldwide.   Connecticut-based developers Building and Land Technology purchased the unoccupied building in February of 2015 for a reported $11.6 million after it had remained vacant since 1992. This purchase extended to the adjoining Jackson Homestead Association building and the Dryades Building, a ware- house space built as a rear extension of the NOPSI headquarters.   Local firm Woodward Design + Build was hired to transform the three properties into a luxury hotel to be managed by Salamander Hotels & Resorts.   Shelia Johnson, co-founder of BET, professional sports franchise owner and philanthropist, founded Salamander Hotels & Resorts in 2005 and is the current CEO. The NOPSI Hotel is the first property within the Salamander portfolio of hotels to be located in New Orleans. “Over the years Salamander has looked at specific restoration projects throughout downtown New Or- leans,” said Prem Devadas, president of Salamander Hotels & Resorts. “NOP- SI stood out because it allowed us to have the right number of rooms, spectac- 32  PRESERVATION IN PRINT • www.prcno.org Heather Veneziano | PHOTOS BY Modus Photography ular event and meeting spaces, a signature restaurant, and a well-positioned rooftop pool and bar. All of these elements enabled us to achieve our goal of opening one of the finest hotels in the South.”   Since the construction of the eight-story New Orleans Public Service, Inc. building in 1927, its history was intrinsically tied to the story of New Orleans’ past. As explained in a November 1927 Times-Picayune article, “The Crescent City Light Company and the Jefferson City Light Company merged in 1874, succeeding the New Orleans Gas Light Company and to last until re-organi- zation came in 1922 when the gas company took the name of New Orleans Public Service, Inc.” Generations of New Orleanians entered its grand lobby to pay their electric bills, start or stop utility service, and attend to various other company-related tasks. The footsteps of those generations can now be seen in the wear impressed upon the original terrazzo tile floors throughout the main lobby of the hotel.   Prior to the construction of their new headquarters, designed by the archi- tectural firm of Favrot & Livaudais, Ltd, NOPSI was headquartered a block- and-a-half away on Baronne and Common Streets. Referring to the new building, a Times-Picayune reporter on September 10, 1927, wrote, “All told it undoubtedly will be the best equipped structure in the South devoted(ly) exclusively to housing a corporation.” That reporter was not overreaching in his statement: Just two years before the Wall Street crash of 1929 would launch the country into the Great Depression, the state-of-the-art building was con- structed at a cost of $1,216,599.   The exterior of the building was clad in buff Indiana limestone and light pressed brick, and designed in what the architects referred to as the “mod- SEPTEMBER 2017