Accommodating Redevelopment

Come get a an insider’s look at HI New Orleans’ extensive renovation of the old Pickwick building at PRC’s Beams & Brews goes to Canal Street on Thursday, June 14.

The placement of an expansive, international hostel on Canal Street, right in the heart of New Orleans, perhaps is fitting in more ways than one. First, the Hostelling International USA (HI USA) facility — which is scheduled to open by the end of this year — will encompass and combine three historic properties, including the former Pickwick Club.

The four-story, 122-bed, 24-suite hostel will welcome visitors and tourists from across the country and around the world. HI USA com­munity engagement manager and project point person Sarah Berger said the city’s culture and HI’s mission fit like a glove, and “it was just a question of finding the right property.”

Photos by Gigsy

It was the building that once housed the Pickwick Social Club at 1028 Canal St. that provided the most potential for revitalization and adap­tive reuse. Berger said the legacy of the Pickwick and its building represented both a challenge and source of excitement. The renovation will preserve much of the structure and feel of the property, including many of the original features of the Pickwick building. “We’re so excited to be a part of revitalizing a piece of Canal Street and bringing this building back to life,” she said.

Berger added that among HI USA’s nonprofit network of 54 hostels nationwide, three are in converted lighthouses, five are in historic man­sions, and 17 are in local, state or national parks.

“If it’s possible for us to restore a historic building [rather] than build a new building, we do that,” she said. “We like to preserve the spirit of the city.”

The hostel project also fits the effort to breathe fresh life into the Canal Street corridor; more than $65 million has been invested in the facelift, which includes 28 building facade improvements and the placement of several premium retail businesses.


Kurt Weigle, chief executive officer of the Downtown Development District of New Orleans, said the project augments a continuing effort to restore the upper floors of historic mercantile structures along Canal, and gives a boost to the attempt to reclaim the 1000 block of Canal, much of which was ravaged by fire. In addition to the Pickwick building, the project encompasses the historic former locations of Fischer’s Jewelers and Reiner’s Jewelers, demonstrating that the adaptive reuse of historic architecture of this scale is a viable option in the redevelopment of Canal Street.

“Hostelling International is a great addition to downtown New Orleans and to the historic Canal Street Corridor renaissance,” Weigle said. The fact that HI’s renovation will largely retain and enhance the historic feel of the property is an extra bonus for the city and its economy, he added.

“The HI project stitches together three historic buildings to create one contiguous project,” Weigle said. “The 1000 block of Canal Street is in the midst of a long awaiting revival. HI does a great job of marrying history with today.”

“It will be a space for people to engage in conversation, to meet new people and to get to know the place they’re visiting,” Berger said. “If you’re somebody who’s outgoing and likes meeting new people who are doing the same thing as you, it’s perfect for you.”


Join the PRC and HI New Orleans Hostel for an insider’s look at the extensive renovation and revitalization of 1028-36 Canal St. With a focus on adaptive reuse, HI USA buildings are dedicated to saving resources and reducing waste, while preserving local character. Come get the first look at how the old Pickwick building will become a hub for an international community of travelers.

Beams & Brews goes to Canal Street

June 14, 2018, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

1028 Canal St.

$10, free for PRC members. Become a member today!