Harrah's hopes hotel tower will boost New Orleans casinoAfter five years of operating a casino in New Orleans without the benefit of an attached hotel, Harrah's Entertainment's board of directors recently approved construction of a $142 million, 450-room hotel tower at its Harrah's New Orleans Casino.
The project was approved by the New Orleans City Council in November after years of attempts by Harrah's to build one in the face of adversity from other downtown hoteliers and restauranteurs. In 2001, burdened with a $100 million a year state tax and a $12 million annual city lease, Harrah's New Orleans said it would have to close its doors if the taxes were not reworked and concessions like a hotel and restaurants were allowed. The city finally agreed.
Harrah's Central Division President Anthony Sanfilippo said in a statement that the hotel tower will help Harrah's and the city alike.
"Since our casino opened five years ago, Harrah's has drawn millions of tourists to the New Orleans market," he said. "Our guests want to experience not only the finest in casino entertainment, but also the incomparable excitement and energy of the New Orleans and the French Quarter. This hotel will give us the ability to host our most loyal guests from throughout the country in New Orleans, which will provide an additional boost to the New Orleans tourist industry."
As part of the project, two 19th Century-era buildings will be returned to commercial use as part of the Fulton Street retail development. A Gordon Biersch Brewery restaurant will anchor the development when it opens its 11,000-square-foot restaurant later this year. A third existing building will be incorporated into the hotel, and the facade of two Poydras Street buildings will be included in the hotel's design, which is being handled by New Orleans-based Billes/Manning Architects and Las Vegas-based Marnell Carrao Associates.