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NEW ORLEANS-The vacant 57-year-old New Orleans Grand Palace Hotel attracted plenty of interest on the auction block. When the dust settled, an East Coast buyer had ended up with the 1,036-room hotel for $3.3 million.

David Gilmer, president with Sperry Van Ness/Gilmore Auction in Kenner, LA, says the 1732 Canal St. hotel drew nine sealed bids for a dual-auction process. All bidders were invited to participate in last week’s final round. Gilmer is withholding the buyer’s name until bankruptcy court approves the sale. The hearing is slated for this week.

“This was a challenging property to market from the standpoint of its condition, age and environment,” Gilmer tells GlobeSt.com. He says some offers came from developers interested in converting the hotel to senior housing or condominiums while others proposed a total demolition and ground-up project.

The Grand Palace Hotel, situated on 1.88 acres, was shut down in January 2007 by New Orleans-based Louisiana Worship Hospitality LLC, which filed for Chapter 11 protection shortly thereafter. According to court records, the owner had accrued about $4 million of debt since it bought the hotel in 2003. Gilmer says the winner’s offer will effectively clear the property’s debt if it’s ultimately accepted. He says the winner hasn’t yet unveiled plans for renovation, but will likely do so after the hearing.

“What you have here is a 17-story building with attached parking on historic Canal Street,” Gilmer explains. “It’s right in the path of progress, next to proposed LSU Veterans Administration teaching hospitals.”

If the hospitals become a reality, Gilmer explains the new owner will have a property with a huge advantage. “If it doesn’t come about, then you still have a good asset on a good street,” he adds.

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