NEW ORLEANS-Loeb Partners Realty LLC and San Francisco equity partner, Rreef, will undertake a $10-million renovation of the side-by-side Alexa Hotel and Astor Crowne Plaza, bought recently for $93 million. The JV’s upside goal for the 707 rooms is to boost occupancy to pre-Katrina levels at the five-year-old assets.

Nick Rizzo, managing director of New York City-based Loeb Partners, says the JV acquired the lobby-sharing hotels from local owner and manager, Decatur Hotel Corp., to take advantage of anticipated future performance. “We feel that assets in the New Orleans hospitality market are incredibly undervalued right now, but think that’s a temporary occurrence,” he says. “We think performance will exceed pre-Katrina levels in a matter of years.”

Loeb is so certain of a performance increase that the new owner will soon begin renovations of guest rooms, keeping the Alexa Hotel at 119 Royal St. and Astor Crowne Plaza at 739 Canal St. open during construction. Rizzo tells that the hotels will operate under the Crowne Plaza flag. The overhaul will take about one year to complete. Prism Hotels & Resorts in Dallas is lined up to manage the properties. Decatur Hotel did not return telephone calls by deadline.

Loeb Partners also owns two office high rises in New Orleans’ CBD: the one-million-sf Bank One Center at 201 St. Charles Ave. and 688,181-sf One Canal Place at 365 Canal St. Each one is 95% leased.

The company is bullish enough on New Orleans to want to buy more. “We’re opportunistic buyers who have always been on the lookout for opportunities in New Orleans,” Rizzo adds. “We’re looking at all product types.”

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