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Two Downtown Hotel Projects Are Advancing

Rendering of the Shell Building at 13th and Locust (Shell Corner). Rendering by J.T. Campo Architects.

Both the Shell Building and the YMCA Building, two structures just three blocks apart on Locust Street in Downtown West, are advancing with their respective redevelopment projects. Both redevelopments call for hotels. This comes after a long pause due to COVID-19 and the unknowns that came with it. Now as the dust begins to clear, and light can be seen at the end of the tunnel, the projects are moving forward again.

Shell Building

Lobby restaurant/lounge space at the Shell Building.

The Shell Building at 1221 Locust Street is set to be redeveloped into a dual-brand Hilton Hotel with the brands being Home 2, an extended stay brand, and Tru, a brand geared towards savvy travelers. According to the City of St. Louis building permits search, a $25 Million building permit, that was initially applied for in 2019, was issued at the end of November 2020. In recent weeks, construction lights have lit up the upper floors of the Shell Building as work is apparently beginning. In addition to this, construction workers have been seen going in and out of the Shell Building. A construction elevator has been up on the Locust Street side since early 2020.

Originally revealed in the Spring of 2019, the redevelopment project calls for 203 rooms (80 at Tru and 123 at Home 2) in the Shell Building plus 2500sf of ground floor retail space. The hope is that this project will offer some balance to the numerous luxury boutique hotels that have opened in Downtown in recent years. The developers, according to comments made to the City's LCRA in 2019, stated that the hotel's success could be driven by the America's Center Expansion and, to a greater extent now, the MLS Stadium.

Paric is acting as the general contractor on the project with New Orleans-based John T. Campo Associates serving as the architect. Little Rock-based Reimagine Hospitality is the developer. The total cost of work, according to 2019 reports, is pegged at $43.2 Million.

YMCA Building - 21c Hotel

A simple black and white rendering of the 21c St. Louis Hotel.

Originally discovered at the very beginning of 2019, the YMCA Building at 1528 Locust had a plan to be redeveloped into a hotel by Denver-based NuovoRE. It wasn't until several months later that we would learn that the hotel branding would be a 21c Museum Hotel. While no building permits have been applied for awhile, the project has appeared on the SLDC Planroom, which is a source for contractors to get bids.

While the SLDC Planroom does not specify when the project will restart, a recent video posted by 21c Hotels on YouTube reveals that there are already a handful of model guest rooms built inside of the building in addition to most of the building being completely gutted. This makes sense too since the trash chute is still attached to the Eastern facade of the building and when work was going on early last year, crews were utilizing the trash chute.

According to the 21c website, the St. Louis location will feature their signature, and free, art museum that will be open 7 days a week, 365 days a year in addition to Chef-driven food and beverage concepts. For hotel guests, valet parking will provided as well as a Fitness Center. The hotel will feature 173 rooms and two 21c suites. It is unclear if NuovoRE is still the developer as the City of St. Louis website lists the owner of the YMCA building at 4579 Laclede Avenue. The architect is Pittsburg-based Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel Architects (which has designed other 21c locations in Durham North Carolina, Nashville Tennessee, Cincinnati Ohio, and Lexington Kentucky.

Photo of the two bed model room at the 21c St. Louis. (21c Hotels)

Elsewhere Downtown...

While these two projects get back on track, a few other Downtown hotels are teetering on a fate of advancement or cancellation. One is the 13-story Moxy Hotel at 11th and Olive by Hawkeye Hotels and the other is the redevelopment of the Chemical Building by Restoration St. Louis.

Both projects were originally set to begin last year, but no movement has been made on either project. Requests for updates to the developers went unanswered.

The Chemical Building hold up makes sense to an extent as Restoration St. Louis has been quite busy on other projects and their hotel properties (Hotel Saint Louis, the Blackhawk, and the Current Iowa) took an occupancy and financial beating over the past year due to COVID-19. Not to mention the fact that they just completed the renovation of the Warrior Hotel in Sioux City Iowa. That project also includes an apartment component. Back at home, Restoration St. Louis currently has 4440 Manchester, a 60-unit apartment building across from Urban Chestnut, well underway and is currently in the process of getting the ball rolling on a larger Arbor on Arco.

The Chemical Building is not presently owned by Restoration St. Louis and is instead owned by New York-based Morgan Companies, which previously proposed the redevelopment of the building into 207 micro apartment units. A building permit, for electrical work, was applied for in December 2020 but has not yet been issued. It is valued at $5000. No permits have been applied for at the Moxy Hotel site.

In Downtown West, a new hotel proposal could be emerging soon as a component of the redevelopment of the Butler Brothers Building. As previously reported right here on CityScene STL, the massive, 718,000sf building has been acquired by one of two developers: JDS of New York or Development Services Group (DSG) of Memphis. Sources have indicated that a hotel component is being looked at in addition to residential and retail usages. This would make sense as the building sits a mere block East of the Northeast entrance into the St. Louis City SC Stadium.

On the very edge of Downtown, just across Jefferson Avenue, Green Street's plan for a hotel at the Wells Fargo campus is currently in the "unknown" phase. No word has been spoken by Green Street about the hotel but renderings have been shared in marketing documents for some Green Street owned buildings on Jefferson. I've been told that a Kimpton Hotel is being looked at there, but that could've changed in the 7 months since I was last told that.

Finally, and just East of the Shell Building, Alterra Worldwide's hopeful redevelopment of the Jefferson Arms building was given a boost as the City of St. Louis approved an extension to the development agreement. While this doesn't mean the project will happen, it gives Alterra more time to get started on the redevelopment, which they must by June 2022 and finish by 2025. Plans call for roughly 200, AC by Marriott hotel rooms plus roughly 200 apartments and retail space.

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