Plans to redevelop the historic, dilapidated Dew Drop Inn building on Lasalle Street in Central City into a modern hotel, restaurant and music venue have officially been scrapped. A deal had been in place late last year that would have seen the 80-year-old, predominantly Jim Crow-era music venue sold to a developer with plans to renovate the two-story, 10,000-square-foot space to include 15 hotel rooms, along with a restaurant, music venue and a museum dedicated to New Orleans music. But that deal — to sell the space to Ryan Thomas and his company Peregrine Interests — fell through at the end of the year. In late April, the effort officially ended. The project had been plagued by potential investors backing out, Thomas said, with its last effort — a crowdfunding campaign — bringing in just $200 of the $1 million Thomas hoped to raise.
Because initial investment plans to redevelop The Dew Drop Inn fell through, a real estate development firm is leading a crowdfunding investment campaign to restore the legendary music venue. Peregrine Interests is aiming to turn The Dew Drop Inn into a hub for the Central City neighborhood, with its tentative re-opening scheduled for September 2020. The renovated, two-story venue is planned to include a 14 guest rooms, a pool, restaurant, bar, recording studio and gift shop. Established in 1939, the Dew Drop Inn is one of the most iconic music venues to have operated in New Orleans. Located in the heart of Central City, The Dew Drop Inn became one of the most celebrated and successful venues for the New Orleans African-American community, as well as the local music community.
The future of the historic Dew Drop Inn on LaSalle Street in Central City is once again in doubt, after a deal to restore the dilapidated former music hall fell through. Ryan Thomas, owner of real estate development company Peregrine Interests, said a difficulty getting investors for the planned two-story development with a hotel, museum and restaurant — along with a music venue — is what held up the deal that was set to close Dec. 30. The property’s owners are now looking at other offers, according to Scott Graf, a commercial real estate agent with Coldwell Banker. The sale agreement called for 15 hotel rooms at the 80-year-old site, with a total of 10,000 feet of renovated space.
“Oh baby, Dew Drop Inn. I’ll meet you at the Dew Drop Inn.”
Those are words you might soon hear outside of just the 1970 Little Richard song “Dew Drop Inn,” as a developer takes the first steps in an ambitious project to restore the historic hotel and music hall on LaSalle Street in Central City — once a common stopping point for top African-American musicians performing in the Jim Crow South, including James Brown, Tina Turner and Ray Charles. The latter even lived in the hotel at one point. The project’s developers had their first chance to show their proposal for a revived Dew Drop Inn to the public at a neighborhood participation meeting Saturday, Nov. 17, where they took input as well as outlined the plan for a completely renovated two-story space totaling around 10,000 square feet — including 15 hotel rooms, a restaurant, music venue and museum of New Orleans music.