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NEW ORLEANS-The US Bankruptcy Court has ordered that the 1,036-room New Orleans Grand Palace Hotel be auctioned to the highest bidder by the middle of April. Despite its troubled past, the currently vacant hotel has attracted some interest already.

“I’ve been getting a lot of response; I’ve probably had about 30 to 35 inquiries, and that’s just the beginning of our campaign,” comments David Gilmer, president with Sperry Van Ness/Gilmore Auction in Kenner, LA. Sperry Van Ness/Gilmore Auction is handling the auction of the hotel at 1732 Canal St., which sits on nearly 1.9 acres and has an attached garage.

The dual-auction process will begin with $200,000 cashier’s checks accompanying written and sealed bids to Sperry Van Ness/Gilmore Auction by April 14. Selected bidders will be invited to the best and final live auction, which will take place at April 17 at the New Orleans Hilton Riverside at 2 Poydras St.

The New Orleans Grand Palace opened in 1951 as the Claiborne Tower Apartments. According to local media reports, the asset has changed hands and usages several times. At one point, it operated under the Ramada Flag. New Orleans’ Louisiana Worship Hospitality LLC knew it as the Crescent on Canal when the company acquired the asset in 2003 for $1.1 million.

But the ownership had its share of problems, including rodents, soiled carpets and poor ventilation. Gilmore tells GlobeSt.com that Louisiana Worship Hospitality was trying to upgrade the asset when Hurricane Katrina hit. Though it opened post-Katrina, the hotel never operated at full capacity. The hotel shut down for good in early 2007, with Louisiana Worship Hospitality declaring bankruptcy soon afterward.

Despite the hotel’s troubled past, Gilmore says the location is pretty good, as it’s on the edge of an area that is being rebuilt. Furthermore, the Grand Palace is in a city with a high demand for hotel rooms. “Statistically, hotel rooms are down in New Orleans,” he comments. “We had 38,000 rooms in the area before Katrina, and we’re still down 3,000 to 4,000 rooms. When you’re hosting large events, it becomes an issue.”

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