NEW ORLEANS -- Plans are in the works to turn St. Vincent's Guest House in the Lower Garden District into a hotel, restaurant and bar.
The historic building was previously an orphanage and is currently a hostel. While some are excited about the upgrade, neighbors worry it could push them out of the neighborhood.
The city has been working to get tourists to experience more than just the French Quarter when they visit New Orleans.
"There are so many different neighborhoods and so many places to enjoy that we invite citizens, as well as visitors, to explore their city and get out and see many aspects of it," Mark Romig, president of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp., said.
Now developers are getting involved as well. Zach Kupperman plans to purchase the historic St. Vincent's Guest House and convert the hostel into a luxury hotel.
"There are these wonderful assets that people see as an opportunity to utilize for hospitality purposes so the St. Vincent's structure which I'm aware of on Magazine street certainly would be a wonderful place for people to stay," Romig said.
The upgrade is set to be finished by 2019 and will offer 80 hotel rooms, a restaurant, bar and reception. Several current guests of the hostel think that's a great idea.
"The location is great and the building is amazing so I think it has a lot of potential," guest Momcilo Radovanovic said. "The dorms are just way too sketchy, just way too dirty and creepy."
But people who live in the area are more hesitant.
"I don't think a luxury hotel is the best use for that property," Lower Garden District resident Micaela Lillard said.
Residents are concerned that catering to wealthy tourists will force locals out of the neighborhood.
"In the lower garden district we've already had a lot of people that have been living in that neighborhood for generations pushed out, I know that's true in the channel and the more type of this development we see the more people will be pushed out. It's eviction by market essentially," Lillard said.
Romig says the goal is to create a situation that benefits tourists and locals.
"We would hope there are very good conversations with the neighbors to ensure this is a win-win. We want to make this good for the city, good for the citizens. I think that conversation needs to happen," Romig said.
Kupperman's firm, 1507 Magazine LLC, has scheduled a July 17 community meeting to gather feedback about the project. The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Felicity Church, 1220 Felicity St.