June 01, 2003
Meetings & Conventions: Newsline newsline.gif (8042 bytes)   HHI: Creating Hotels From History
The future Renaissance Arts Hotel in New Orleans
The future Renaissance Arts Hotel in New Orleans Lynn Fournier, vice president of Historic Hospitality Investments, LLC, a division of Dallas-based Kimberly-Clark Corp. (maker of Huggies), spoke with M&C about turning historic buildings into hotels.

M&C: How did HHI come about?
Fournier: We started out renovating properties on the National Register of Historic Places. We began by building apartments and switched to hotels three years ago.

M&C: What are you working on right now?
Fournier: We have one in New Orleans, to open in August, called the Renaissance Arts Hotel. Artists will display their work in public areas, and it will have a street-level restaurant. In Providence, R.I., we’re working on an old Masonic temple that sat empty for 75 years, to be a 250-room Renaissance hotel.

M&C: How do you decide which structures to preserve?
Fournier: The decision is made in agreement with the National Park Service [which manages the National Register of Historic Places]. If a space is historically significant, it needs to be maintained. But if there’s substantial deterioration, it doesn’t.

M&C: Is it a challenge to add meeting space to these old buildings?
Fournier: We do it in creative ways. In Providence, the ballroom will be in the basement of the building next door, but the guests won’t know that. In Detroit [at the Book-Cadillac hotel], we’re putting a ballroom on top of the parking lot next door that will connect to the historic meeting space. You won’t know the difference between the new and the old.

• J.V.

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