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Hard Rock Hotel collapse: By the numbers

James Leggate

The partial collapse at a New Orleans construction site that killed at least two people on Saturay morning wasn't the $85 million development's first setback.

The 18-story, 350-room Hard Rock Hotel being built at the corner of Canal and Rampart streets, near the city’s famous French Quarter and its theater district, was already a year behind schedule.

The developers planned to include a rooftop bar and pool, upscale restaurant, fitness center and about 12,000 square feet of event space in the hotel.

In addition to the 350 hotel rooms, the developers plan to build 62 condos at the property, ranging from about 650 square feet to more than 2,300 square feet, according to Citadel Builders, which listed the project’s budget on its website. The residences were designed so that each would have balconies, plus amenities from hotel-like valet services to a rooftop pool, lounge and gym.

The hotel is being developed by Hard Rock International with local real estate development and management business Kailas Companies through a Deleware-registered limited liability corporation called 1031 Canal Development, property records show. Records kept by the Louisiana Secretary of State's Office show the business is in good standing, having last filed a report in June.

The project has been in the works for more than a decade. It drew controversy in 2011 when New Orleans officials voted to give then-developer Praveen Kailas zoning waivers for extra height beyond what was allowed in the area, NOLA.com reported. The project was delayed when Kailas was sentenced to prison for overbilling a government program, and another family member took over.

The previous building on the site was demolished in 2015, according to the report.

The new structure was designed in 2010 by Harry Baker Smith Architects II, which has also worked on projects such as the Trump Tower New Orleans and Hilton New Orleans.

Construction didn't begin until 2018, even though Hard Rock had originally planned to open the hotel in the spring of this year. Before the collapse, the developers had said it would open in May 2020.

The 40,448-square-foot property has an assessed value of more than $4 million. Parish records show that ownership of the site has passed between LLCs six times in the past decade, including four times in 2017 for $0.

Local affiliate FOX 8 reported this week that crews were hoisting and installing the rooftop pool starting Thursday.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the collapse Saturday morning, which New Orleans Fire Superintendent Timothy McConnell said encompassed the top six to eight floors.

In addition to the reported death, two people were still missing, officials said. Another 19 people were driven to area hospitals for treatment.

McConnell said the building was still “very unstable” and there was a risk that more of it might collapse and a crane might fall.

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