Drury Eyes Future Hotel, Adds 15 Parcels to Holdings in Forest Park Southeast

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Drury Development - Forest Park Southeast

It’s a smart bet that there will be a landmark Drury Hotel in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood. Exactly when, and what it will look like is less certain. nextSTL has learned that Drury Development Corporation recently purchased 15 parcels on the edge of the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood for $1.675M.

Back in August 2008, Drury presented plans for two 16-story hotels towers with a total of 690 rooms. The idea received a mixed response from a packed church of more than 100 residents. Then the recession hit full force. Plans were put on hold.

Drury is currently focused on the completion of the 210-room Drury Inn & Suites Brentwood at Interstate 64 and Brentwood Boulevard just a few miles west. If that hotel performs as expected over its first year or so, the company’s attention is likely to turn to Forest Park Southeast (The Grove).

Drury Development - Forest Park Southeast{rendering of twin 15-story hotel towers from 2008}

There are currently no revised renderings or site plans available, and Drury has not decided whether to pursue a plan similar to its 2008 proposal. The 15 parcels are added to five already owned by the company at the northwest corner of the neighborhood.

A Drury representative told nextSTL that the company had reached a point that it needed to make a decision on the FPSE site. The parcels had been marketed by KH Ventures LLC for several years. A number of the buildings have been vacant for up to a decade.

Drury plans to renovate a half dozen or more properties on Oakland and Arco. Current plans include renovating 4564 Arch and 1074 S. Kingshighway. Two homes on Gibson (4571 and 4521) will also be renovated as rental properties. The Gibson homes were acquired as part of a package with the church property several years ago.

Drury Development - Forest Park Southeast{buildings such as these on Arco will be renovated as rental properties}

At that time, the idea of historic homes serving as hotel rooms or extended stay hotel rentals as a buffer between the hotel and residences was floated, and Drury stated that the church itself may form the lobby of the new development. It’s unclear if these ideas will be pursued.

This corner of the neighborhood has clearly been a target for development since at least the time MoDOT’s plan to remove the expansive I-64/Kingshighway cloverleaf interchange came along. Since then, some truly horrific plans have been floated.

While dead-on-arrival with zero chance of support from the neighborhood, or alderman, the K2 Commerical Group promoted images of a CVS, QuikTrip, and several office buildings. The idea would have required the demolition of more than 120 residential units.

Forest Park Southeast neighborhood - St. Louis, MO - K2 Commerical Group development plan{the K2 plan would have faced a mountain of opposition}

The site is challenging to access, and neighborhood residents have made it clear that they would not like to see hotel traffic on residential streets. Any development would require access at Oakland Avenue, the end of which was recently permanently vacated by the city, removing access to the neighborhood from Kingshighway at that point.

While the expanding adjacent medical center is seen as underserved by hotels, this is changing. A Hilton Home2 hotel is planned for the northeast corner of Chouteau and Taylor Avenues nearby, and the Cortex development further east is planned to include a hotel.

Drury Development - Forest Park Southeast{the former church at Gibson Avenue has been owned by Drury for several years}

Drury Development - Forest Park Southeast{buildings facing Kingshighway will likely be targeted for demolition}

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  • moe

    Well they are going to need all those rooms for the new Shriner’s Hospital as well as the tourist who will be shopping at the IKEA. But seriously, those lots along Kingshighway have been an eyesore for decades. A Hotel would be a nice addition. But I don’t live near there or across from them. I wonder what they have to say.

  • John R

    Landmark hotel? While its historic renovations downtown are nice, Drury will have to really up its game on new construction if it wants to create a landmark. I wonder if the company has considered scaling back on hotel lodging and adding a residential component to the site.

  • Kevin

    What about the northwestern side of that intersection (Oakland & Kingshighway)? Across the street from the proposed site. Who owns that land? Is there even enough space to place anything there?

    • STLEnginerd

      That I believe is part of Forest Park. City owned but developing parts of Forest Park no matter how much it makes sense is guaranteed to generate a lot of opposition. Just look at what BJC had to go through.

      • http://donspoliticalblog.blogspot.com Don

        Oh yes, development of any portion of Forest Park is a nonstarter. But I think Kevin was thinking of the southwestern corner based upon his Oakland reference.

    • http://donspoliticalblog.blogspot.com Don

      SLU high school owns at least some of those properties between them and Kingshighway. I would think any development on that side of the street would have to meet with their approval.

  • Presbyterian

    The buildings along Kingshighway form a complete street wall, defining the edge of Kingshighway and the boundary of the neighborhood. Any proposal by Drury would do well to keep a defined street wall, with the hotel along the western edge of the site, close the sidewalk.

    If Drury tries to drop suburban towers in an undefined sea of parking, they will face opposition. If they plan an urban development, though, this project could be an asset to the community.

  • GypsyJ

    All things positive would be better than what we have been exposed to for the past 10 to 15 years.The neighborhood needs all the help it can get regarding new development on major eyesores that reflect badly on our residential value. I am in favor of a Gateway Landmark for this end of the neighborhood. I would have supported the K-2 Proposal in 2008 but I was not in the area, I would give my support to a Drury proposal, I would volunteer to sit on a Drury Committee regarding this future development. I have been here 50+ years.

    Drury has my vote. LET’S BUILD A HOTEL!!

    • http://donspoliticalblog.blogspot.com Don

      The loss of 120 housing units is a lot, but the neighborhood would greatly benefit from a solid buffer between it, Kingshighway and 64/40. A modified K2 type plan (urbanized?) that slimmed down the surface lots (with underground or garaged parking) and overall surface acreage requiring less residential housing loss could be the best thing to happen to FPSE in 50 years. It would be easy enough to route the traffic away from the neighborhood streets.

      • Alex Ihnen

        Wow, didn’t think I’d see any support for the K2 plan. I guess, if it didn’t take 120 residential units, and if it were urban…well, then it would be a different plan. Developers have looked at this site for a long time and residents have been told what the likely options are: empty homes, CVS/gas station, office buildings, hotel. Of all those, I like the hotel the best. If some of the Kingshighway buildings weren’t so far gone, perhaps they could be renovated as rentals, but several are missing all copper pipes and have been generally torn apart.

        • http://donspoliticalblog.blogspot.com Don

          It’s a fair point that what I described is actually not K2. We can call it K3 :).

          I think buffers between the residential and 64/40 and Kingshighway would be great for the neighborhood. I just took a google maps drive down the 4500 block of Chouteau and the north side of the street seems to be doing just fine. So I can see where the loss of that side of the block would be objectionable. But there still seems to be plenty of room here for K3 that just doesn’t clear cut so many residential units. Connecting to both Taylor and Kingshighway and avoiding residential streets looks easy enough.

          I’ve thought a lot about those abandoned and boarded up buildings along Kingshighway (you’ve pictured above) wondering what could be done to clean that up. It’s a horrible location for residential housing. Kingshighway there is such a monster and the buildings are now right on the road. I can’t see why anyone with a choice would live there. Aside from the horrible noise, It’s not a safe place for children to live. Way too much traffic.

          As Presby pointed out, these building form a wall that needs to be maintained by new development. It would be nice to see all those abandoned building on the east side of Kingshighway cleared out for new commercial development. I’m fine with the hotel or anything else that cleans the current mess up, strengthens FPSE and puts this abandoned ground to good economic use.

          • GypsyJ

            These building have not been occupied for many years and some should have come down years ago. This has been a blighted area for years. You could not see past those buildings and see we have a nice neighborhood behind them. People passing by thought my neighborhood was trashy, abandoned and unsafe just looking at these buildings. I hope to see the future plans the Drury will draw up.

          • Adam

            i doubt a gas station or an empty lot would give people a much better impression.

          • moe

            It depends on the design. A well manicured lot would open the view to BJC to the north, and at least open the neighborhood up to Kingshighway so that visitors would know/see a thriving neighborhood not boarded up drug slums.
            What do the residents feel about re-opening access to Kingshighway?
            And kind of off topic, but what is going in across the street, where they are building…use to be a chicken place I think.

          • GypsyJ

            Subway offices

          • GypsyJ
        • nolanca

          Alex, I think you are correct that residents would not support the K2 plan in any form. It’s grotesque to consider wiping out so many residential units and plopping down mass commerce in such close proximity. Contrary to some opinions shared here, our neighborhood is a pleasant, quiet and well-located spot with plenty of reasonably priced residential property. It is not on its last legs just because there are some boarded up properties. Some of these properties have been boarded up precisely because they were bought and held until the economy improved. I have lived here for more than 40 years and I am neither poor nor a whiner, as DTD implied. It’s always so easy to make broad plans for changing other people’s neighborhoods, but be sure your own isn’t touched. There is plenty of undeveloped commercial property for stores like CVS to consider building on in the central corridor.

          The Drury folks signaled that they were open to hearing from the residents 6 years ago and I hope that is still true. My main concern is the potential for additional hotel traffic through the neighborhood. There is already a glut of traffic when BJC/Wash U. Med. Ctr. folks are in transit. If you add hotel traffic, not just guests but service vehicles, trash trucks, food suppliers, etc. it will be a mess. Any viable plan has got to take this into account, IMO. I realize that something will go there, whether we like it or not, but a thoughtful design and plan is just as important to FPSE neighbors as it would be to any other neighborhood in the community. Thanks.

      • GypsyJ

        That plan would was not approved for that reason. Things change. I’m sure the Drury people can come up with something the residents will accept. Maybe we should look atpictures of Drury Inns across the country and see if we find one that would fit our West End and then some without the loss of 120 structures. Let’s work with Drury so we can benefit from this new development as soon as possible.

  • http://donspoliticalblog.blogspot.com Don

    Every time I drive down Kingshighway I wonder what could be done with the boarded up eyesore that is the south east corner at 64/40. It’s neither desirable nor safe for residential housing with Kingshighway so wide,busy and noisy and the highway so noisy.

    Commercial space along the highway and Kingshighway would make a great buffer between the undesirable roadways and the neighborhood. I’ve always thought it would be a good spot for an office park. If Drury wants a hotel, that works too. But as someone who stays in hotels frequently, I wouldn’t be crazy about this location because it requires I get into a car to do just about anything.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Hotel goers would likely arrive by car, but MetroLink is about a 7min walk away, and guests would be less than that from Urban Chestnut and several restaurants, and just a couple minutes from walking into Forest Park. The Chase is closer to some things, though not Metro, nor the hospital, and the Drury would have easier access into Forest Park.

    • GypsyJ

      Residents in the neighborhood have wondered that for years as well. Those buildings have consistently brought the value of our properties down. I live in the neighborhood and this is just what we need.
      p.s. our neighborhood offers public transportation to just about anywhere.

  • STLEnginerd

    I don’t think towers are appropriate here. The largest buidlings in that part of the Grove are 3 stories or less. I wouldn’t think anything above 5-6 story would look right in the neighborhood.

    Access is a huge issue with this site. I don’t see them reopening Arco, or Oakland to Kinshighway and without it I don’t see how a hotel really works here. Even with it it a tough fit. I’d prefer to see low rise (3-5 stories) residential instead there are a number of good bad and ugly example of new low rise condos and apartments in the area so i think there is good reason to think it could be successful there.

    Its hard for me to really get a lot of excitement for destroying
    historic neighborhoods but one option that should at least be evaluated
    is redeveloping Kings Oak instead. It is so small and isolated that I could
    imagine a commercial development in it’s place (obviously it should stay dense and
    urban) A Drury hotel at its epicenter could really make a lot of
    sense. It has much better access to Kingshighway and to Manchester. Well connected to STLCC, Science center, Forest Park, and if a pedestrian bridge was added crossing Kinshighway it would be almost as well connected to Barnes as the previous proposals. Not even sure if thats a major concern since based on the designs it is clear most hotel guest are expected to drive anyway.

    By my count 70 residences (not counting duel occupancy) If you
    have to destroy homes to develop commercially I would much rather it be
    on this side of Kingshighway. Even still I’d like to see some of the
    grander homes (like at the corner of Kingshighway and Oakland) preserved and re-purposed as restaurants, offices, small businesses
    etc. And reconnect Berthhold as a through street.

    • GypsyJ

      There would not be a great loss of occupied properties with a new proposal, Kings Oak is all occupied and I hope that never becomes a consideration. Drury just added 15 parcels and maybe 5 were occupied. They have the whole front line minus a couple of buildings. I hope they can come up with something really outstanding. My neighbors are ready for change. Maybe Drury can make that happen.

    • Dog town Dude

      For me, I say, you cannot save every building in St Louis. There’s a lit if old cap here. If it weren’t crap, some would be living there. Instead, what we have are old buildings and homes that no one wants to live in or you would have bought (for next to nothing, I might add) and fix it or them up by now. But that hasn’t happened and probably won’t. Meanwhile, there’s an opportunity and a market fir there product but you rather jespardize that in case some Sch,uck climbs out of their cave and decides to buy anyone if these old homes?

      I say, give the developers some guidelines on what urban commercial development means and looks like and then get the hell out of their way. And something is telling me that the residents of FPSE won’t put up too much of a fuss about that nor the access to new jobs. I say BUILD, BABY BUILD! And don’t look back or you’ll have to sit thru endless meetings of people with no money and no intention whine and complain about what THEY think should be done. And whose got time to deal with that crap? If they were gonna do something it would be done by now.

      No disrespect meant but everytime someone wants to build something new, then someone in the community pokes his head out of his hole complain that some old bricks are gonna

      • Adam

        “There’s a lit if old cap here. If it weren’t crap, some would be living there.”

        no offense, but that’s an incredibly naive interpretation, as is the expectation that “BUILD, BABY BUILD!” will necessarily result in something better. do you think that maybe the problem is not the buildings themselves, but the fact that Kingshighway has essentially become an ACTUAL highway? in any case, people living nearby will have to deal with the aesthetics and traffic from whatever gets built so, yeah, their opinions matter. more than yours.

      • jhoff1257

        Someone once said Lafayette Square was “old crap.” Someone once said Washington Avenue was “old crap.” Same goes for South Grand, The Grove, Cherokee Street, Old North, Tower Grove, Central West End…the list goes on. If you think the City’s older built environment is the only thing keeping people from flocking there in droves, you may want to pick up a newspaper. I find it funny when people scream for demolition because “we need something new.” If demolition brought on new development, St. Louis would be the fastest growing city in the world. Entire blocks cleared out in the name of “urban renewal,” and what do we have left? A whole lot of nothing. And yet when you look at the successful and thriving parts of the City they have but one thing in common, their historic built environment. I’m not saying we have to save EVERYTHING (look around, we clearly don’t) but at one point we have to sit back and look at the big picture. Wholesale land clearance, even if it’s just 120+ houses, hasn’t worked in the past for St. Louis. You know what has? Historic preservation.

        And as far as the “endless meetings” comment, I think people should have a say. God forbid we give the residents of a neighborhood a say in what goes on…in their own neighborhood.

        • GypsyJ

          the 120+ was a proposal in 2008 that was rejected for a variety of reasons. Maybe the reasons for the rejections have been modified enough that Drury can move forward.

          • jhoff1257

            I’m aware. More of a response to Dogtown Dude’s comment regarding “crap” buildings. That rhetoric gets old after awhile.

      • GypsyJ

        It’s taken all these years of negotiations to finally reach a ‘deal’. Now Drury has what it needs to move forward with their plans. I am very excited to know they did not give up on us and glad the owners of the 15 parcels finally struck a deal Maybe we will begin to see some improvements right away.

    • moe

      Actually, the tallest building in the Grove area is the business building at the corner of Vanderventer and Manchester.. It’s 7 floors.

      • Brian

        Isn’t that building actually on Hemp?

        • moe

          Hemp, Manchester, Vandeventer. It still is the tallest building in that area, and at the entrance of the Grove. (or exit if you are heading east)

      • GypsyJ

        this Drury Hotel would compliment the West End as this one (Chouteau Building) once did in it’s youth.

        https://wwwc.druryhotels.com/PropertyHotelServices.aspx?Property=0121

        what do you think?

  • Marshall Howell

    I know this is just MY opinion and it would be met with much opposition and I say this as a 6 year FPSE resident. I would be super excited to see some of these plans happen. I love tall building and it would be cool to get to look over the FPSE neighborhood from high above as well as a possible look into Forest Park (although the angle might now work). Of course some major intersection work would have to be redone but it would be great to get some good commercial on that end and to have some matching height across the hwy from hospital could be interesting.

    • GypsyJ

      As a 50 year resident I am with you. I want to see a new West End for FPSE. It’s time for a change.

      • moe

        Why would you think “much opposition”? As a 6 year and 50 year resident, your voice should carry much more weight than either a pro or con view from someone living in South City or Downtown, or worse…egads….Chesterfield.
        BTW…I support both your views.

    • GypsyJ

      I’ve been looking at the Drury’s in Missouri and found this one out in Chesterfield. How would this one look at the West End of FPSE.

      https://wwwc.druryhotels.com/PropertyHotelServices.aspx?Property=0121

      pretty sharp looking hotel!!

  • Sean McElligott

    As long as the plans are urban, nice looking, and not to many non-necessary demos we should support it. But if is is like K2,s old plans we should not support it. But I do love the rehabs plans.

  • opendorz

    Put tower 1 on top of tower 2, add another 20 stories, now you’ve got something!

  • GypsyJ

    Alex,
    I want to thank you for the article about Drury Hotel. It’s nice to know at the onset what is about to take place. Please keep me posted on all progress. I’ve lived in the neighborhood for 50+years.
    Sincerely,
    GypsyJ