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The Pontchartrain Hotel renovations to include rooftop lounge, Silver Whistle coffee shop and more 

  With plans for a rooftop lounge and a restored Silver Whistle coffee shop on the first floor, The Pontchartrain Hotel (2031 St. Charles Ave., 504-524-0581; is intent on reclaiming its historic prominence in New Orleans, its owners say — down to the classic blueberry muffins.

  The Pontchartrain Hotel was established in the 1920s and boasts a history of hosting icons such as Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra, and Truman Capote and presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. After Hurricane Katrina, however, it shifted focus toward luxury apartments for retirees or extended-stay rooms for guests in town for a month or more.

  In 2013, however, the Pontchartrain changed back to a hotel, converting its apartments back into hotel rooms and re-establishing live music in the Bayou Bar (which had been halted during a city permit sweep).

  Now, the Pontchartrain is returning to the City Council for further renovations — renovating its 106 hotel rooms, converting a rooftop penthouse into a lounge, and restoring the Silver Whistle coffee shop and restaurant on the ground floor.

  "We are excited to announce plans to restore the Pontchartrain to its former prominence and stature while breathing a new life into its interior space," wrote owner Brad Nichols of Chicago-based AJ Capital Partners in a report shared with the City Planning Commission.

  The commission approved the plans Tuesday, sending it to the City Council with a unanimous positive recommendation. The hotel plans to start construction in April 2015 and conclude by January 2016.

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