Evolving Renovation Will Bring Revolving Millennium Back From Dormancy

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Stouffer's Riverfront Inn - St. Louis, MO

Spinning back to life, nextSTL has learned a major renovation will soon revive the landmark 28-story Millennium Hotel downtown. Offering unrivaled views of downtown and the Metro East for nearly half of a century, the hotel featured the area’s only revolving restaurant. 150 employees lost their jobs this February when the property owner, London-based Millennium Hotels and Resorts, shuttered the 45-year-old hotel.

The Lawrence Group will act as developer for Millennium Hotels and Resorts on the nearly $30 million project. According to sources Paric Corporation has also been working diligently on renovation plans. The 780-room hotel is adjacent to the Gateway Arch and in close proximity to several other popular St. Louis destinations. An attempt to reach The Lawrence Group for comment was unsuccessful.

Stouffer's Riverfront Inn - St. Louis, MO{Google Streetview today, showing both towers, and the Gateway Arch}

The barrel-shaped concrete and glass building is in the Modern Movement style and was first known as Stouffer’s Riverfront Inn. It was designed in 1964 by New York architect William B. Tabler and completed in 1969. The revolving Top of the Riverfront Restaurant operated atop the hotel from it’s opening to closing earlier this year.

It would take the restaurant one hour and 20 minutes to complete a full 360 degree revolution over 300 feet above the ground. According to National Register of Historic Places Registration documents only five other similar structures had been built previously nationwide.

The building complex was recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, making its renovation likely eligible for historic tax credits. The Lawrence Group specializes in the renovation of challenging historic structures using tax credits. Before its National Register listing, the idea of demolition had been quietly floated. No timeline was available for the renovation.

Stouffer's Riverfront Inn - St. Louis, MO{the original Stouffer’s Riverfront Inn presented a symmetrical design with two wings}

Plans for whether the building will remain a hotel, be converted to residential condominium or rental units have not been revealed. Both options are mentioned in the National Register nomination form. However, sources say Millennium Hotels and Resorts is looking for a quick turnaround. No windows have been boarded up and estimates have the owner paying nearly $1 million annually to maintain the building.

The hotel was in limbo much of last year after 616 of the 780 rooms were shuttered for needed building systems repair. No work was completed at the time, and Millennium chose several months later to close the entire complex. In the United States, Millennium properties are managed by Millennium Hotels and Resorts of Colorado. At the time of closure, the company stated there were no future plans in place.

Longtime 7th Ward Alderwoman Phyllis Young seemed receptive to the idea of renovation when reached for comment. Alderman Young stated, “This property is an asset to the community. It has been a part of the St. Louis skyline for almost as long as the Arch. Renovation news will ensure this presence remains.”

Stouffer's Riverfront Inn - St. Louis, MO{the hotel tower was part of the massive urban renewal effort of the 1960s}

Young added that she believes this would be the third major renovation of the property since she began representing downtown residents in 1985. The renovation plans will coincide with a $380 million Gateway Arch project which broke ground last month. The property has also been known as the Mayfair Riverfront Inn, Sheraton Hotel, Regal Hotel, and Clarion Hotel over its lifetime.

The extensive Arch grounds renovation, including the Old Courthouse and Kiener Plaza, sits just a block north of the property. The $385M Arch ground project will include an expanded museum, new museum entrance, new pathways, ponds, and other landscaping improvements. Despite a late start it is hoped that significant parts of the project will be be completed by October 28, 2015 in time for the 50th anniversary of the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere.

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  • John

    I would love to see an update on the Millennium (formerly Clarion, Stouffers, Regal Riverfront) Hotel redevelopment. This building is too unique to sit empty, and the views are amazing from the revolving restaurant. With the building’s 50th anniversary coming up in 2019, it would be wonderful to see work completed for a celebration. Let’s get the project going!

  • citylover

    I’ve never noticed how much space the hotel consumes. Without the tower it’s like an S-shaped motel 6. Makes the skyline seem very empty. I do love the design though–hope it can find re-birth.

  • Peg M

    any update on reopening….especially for a Christmas Brunch in the revolving restaurant?

  • Deez Nutz

    The renovation looks great! What a fantastic job!

    • Alex Ihnen

      Unfortunately no update on this.

  • tbshire

    Any new news on this?

    • Alex Ihnen

      May have a very short update posted tomorrow.

      • William Clay

        Was there ever an update on this?

  • If they convert the tower to attractive condos, it could grab the market and demand that Ballpark Village seems willing to concede to other condo developers. (I was hoping to rent the rotating top floor. “If I’m seeing the Arch, it must be Happy Hour.”) Would they combine two hotel rooms into a singe condo? Would it make sense to convert the rotating restaurant into a roller rink? Or better yet, bowling alley while rotating.

    • John R

      I’m eager to see what they may propose…. the new Crowne Plaza owners plan to slam 300 apartments into 300 existing hotel rooms so I suppose they’ll be on the small side. If it is feasible, creating roomier condos on the top floors of the Millennium might make a lot of sense. But how ’bout “The Residences @ Citygarden” on the top floors of the currently named ATT One Center?

  • John R

    The Post-Dispatch is reporting that the current Crowne Plaza hotel on Broadway will see a conversion to 300 residential units and scale down to 140 hotel suites…. seems like including at least some hotel portion in this project would make sense with the loss of rooms at the Crowne Plaza. If it went all residential it seems like there will be a great opportunity for a new construction hotel in Ball Park Village and/or The Landing.

  • John R

    The Post-Dispatch is reporting that the current Crowne Plaza hotel on Broadway will see a conversion to 300 residential units and scale down to 140 hotel suites…. seems like including at least some hotel portion in this project would make sense with the loss of rooms at the Crowne Plaza. If it went all residential it seems like there will be a great opportunity for a new construction hotel in Ball Park Village and/or The Landing.

  • Chris r

    Take everything down from 40 north to walnut and form broadway east to 44/70. Build a world class foot ball stadium there. Then take the hotel the parking and the displaced business like Deloitte and build a 35 story tower on what’s left of ball park village. It’s a huge win all around. Shared parking for football and baseball a new hotel and a new tower for our skyline. How awesome would an open air stadium look on the river. See: Pittsburg, Cincinnati, oh wait most new stiadiums. The give us a mls team for the dome.

    • jhoff1257

      If they took your plan, we’d lose the PET Building, both Millennium towers, the Deloitte Building, a TUMS factory that is still very much in operation, a branch of St. Louis Community College and one of the stadium garages. I’m sorry but that doesn’t make any sense from financial or a planning perspective. An open air stadium would look good on the river but North of Downtown near the current stadium where there is more land for such a purpose. Outside of the Millennium all of those buildings are occupied. Deloitte is actually one of Downtown’s better performers in terms of occupancy. Knocking down 4 high rises and a working factory is a terrible plan for anyone involved.

    • Adam

      hell, let’s just raze downtown and stick a shiny new football stadium right where the old courthouse used to be, with glimmering, freshly-poured concrete radiating outward in every direction so suburbanites from every corner of the metro have a straight shot to and from their beloved sports arenas. sports sports sports sports sports sports sports. that’s all that most St. Louisans seem to care about. in one breath it’s “go rams” and in the next it’s “this place is a dump. i’m moving somewhere better”. the disconnect is obnoxious.

    • moe

      World class football stadium for a 3rd rate team? Yeah, that’s the ticket.

  • This project got wrong what Mansion House Center got right: Street-level interface on Fourth Street shielding the autocentric aspects of the project. The existing buildings need not be demolished to improve upon their deficiencies. The Deloitte building was a step toward making the block more pedestrian-friendly, in a tentative 1980s way. Retail fronting along Fourth Street would soften the edge here and make it more inviting, although would not be allowed under National Park Service regulations if historic tax credits are used here (at least not during the recapture period; later, could happen).

    • STLEnginerd

      They should build something with a parabola shape to keep with the conic section theme of the site. The gateway arch is a hyperbola so it completes the set.

    • Alex Ihnen

      It’s interesting to see that HTC’s are in play as is. The original site plan is basically gone. If the main building weren’t as tall, I can imagine its historic status being denied.

  • jhoff1257

    Scratch what I said before. I just looked at a satellite view of the area and got a better idea. Knock down the short tower and the wing that connects both towers. Rebuild Clark Street through to Memorial Drive. This provides a new block for some sort of urban scale development, possibly with a high-rise component. Leave the original tower and the Deloitte Building (totally forgot about that building) on the rest of the original block.

    By the way the Deloitte building actually represents a decent urban form. It’s not perfect but it is an improvement over the original state of the hotel complex. Put something with a similar setback and massing (maybe a bit shorter) on the new northeast corner of 4th and Clark and I think you might have a pretty decent complex.

    And a potential residential tower on top of the KMOV studio only makes this picture a whole lot better.

    • STLEnginerd

      If they had gone to a boulevard I might agree but with the current concept for memorial drive that seems completely pointless. That part of memorial drive is pretty much going to be an on ramp for the foreseeable future. If you convince them to build a boulevard rebuilding Clark through to Memorial drive might rise to the top ten or my list of ‘what should be’s’ but i doubt it would be in the top five.
      In fact the current oval building would not be in the way of a rebuilt Clark Street. But to do it the connecting building would have to go.
      As far as demos i pine for because their construction so offends my architechtural sensibilities there are skads of buildings i would wish away before i would wish away this one. In fact i kind of like it.

    • Nathan Bookhout

      The south tower and the middle portion house the ballroom and the exhibition spaces. Clark street would go straight through the light and sound booths.

      • jhoff1257

        I have not a single expectation that anything I suggested will ever happen. Just dreaming. Light and sound booths can be moved. We also don’t know for sure that it’s coming back as a hotel. If it were to come back as apartments there would be no need for those things.

  • jhoff1257

    I agree with several of the other comments here. I think some new windows, maybe a different paint scheme, and some lighting could really make this building a landmark.

    However, it’s urban form is terrible. I would knock down the small tower and the two wings and put something that fits the street wall in it’s place. At the very least on the 4th street side. The Memorial Drive side is a bit of challenge but I don’t see anything wrong with placing buildings in an urban form along that route either. You never know, maybe we’ll get that boulevard someday :). Plus something in an urban form might be a nice addition to the skyline, especially if that tower proposed for the top of KMOV’s studio ever gets built.

  • Yojimbo

    28 stories of pure kitsch. Love it! Wind that fucker up and let it spin!

    Downside would be all residents would be required to subsist on salisbury steak and chicken pot pie. Or is that a positive?

    • Spinlilly

      OMG….love your comment! Let her spin is right!

  • matimal

    Fascination photos. It shows the value of public investment in leveraging private investment. Where else can targeted public investment bring more private investment? Is this something McKee could be part of on the north side of downtown?

  • Nathan Bookhout

    At a meeting with employees just before closure a representative of Millenium quoted a 120mil price tag on renovation 80mil to demolish and new construction. What are they planning for 30mil? The south tower is a sieve and the north needs a complete systems overhaul and new roof.

    • matimal

      Maybe they were overstating the costs to justify closing it down.

      • Nathan Bookhout

        Probably right. A lot of really great hospitality people lost their jobs there, sickens me that they couldn’t maintain the property the way it should have been. I know I won’t be working for Millenium/Copthorne again.

        • Geoff Whittington

          I hear the budget is a stretch for what they have to get done, but not near the numbers you mentioned.

          • rusty

            So more hotel?

          • Nathan Bookhout

            I think matimal is correct, they gave those numbers to staff to justify the closure. 30mil though wouldn’t cover the needed hvac upgrade. The system is a dual boiler, radiant heat and cool. No forced air, about the least efficient way to make 400 rooms comfortable.

          • Geoff Whittington

            I am told a local engineering firm is involved, and has been hired to specifically tackle the HVAC issue. The HVAC seems to be key.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Funny – came across this in an ad from the original HVAC people for the building:

          • Geoff Whittington

            Nice.

          • Nathan Bookhout

            Thanks Alex. In a perfect world the system would heat and cool the building to “just right”. Allowing that everyone in the building has the same idea about what is comfortable, and the temperature doesn’t go from 42 degrees to 70 degrees then back through the day. Throughout the spring and fall, they would only have the system set to heat or cool. It would also vary by which rooms were getting direct sunlight. So east facing rooms would be warm in the morning so we turn on the AC freezing the west facing rooms. A never ending battle.

  • Darn, I wanted to rent the revolving top and live there, but I’m not sure how I would do the drapes. Or turn it into a roller rink. How hard would it be to crank that thing up to about 1 RPM? It will probably be a restaurant again. The Coriolis force helps with digestion, I think.

    • Geoff Whittington

      Great idea Gary!

    • Yojimbo

      “The Coriolis force helps with digestion, I think.”

      Depends on which way you’re facing.

      • Presbyterian

        It would rotate the other direction in New Zealand.

  • Presbyterian

    Thanks, Geoff! I’m glad to see some movement on this front. A vacant tower at that location projects the wrong message for St. Louis. I look forward to seeing this area come back to life!

    • Geoff Whittington

      You the man Pres.

  • rusty

    Not exactly flush with detail. Hopefully theywont convert this into a self storage place.

  • Moe

    I think this will bring in some much needed new life to this segment of downtown. However, while I hope the tower remains with the revolving restaurant, I would think that better structures could be built on the rest of the property to maximize usability. Maybe hotel in the tower and condos/apartments/offices in smaller buildings built in place of the wings.
    As for tax credits….This is prime real estate so I don’t understand why they are needed for a project that will get done one way or the other.

  • Plickett

    Drat, I was hoping this building would get torn down & a more urban-friendly structure put up in its place. Oh well, I guess it’s better than continuing to just sit there empty.

    • Dhej

      It is sort of a suburban ish… But the building Isn’t terrible.

      I would love to see more street engagement on the property.. It looks to me like it is being choked by the freeway.

    • Are you serious? In a downtown with saturated with surface parking lots and parking garages, why on earth would you advocate tearing down an existing building, especially a relatively tall and distinctive building? There’s plenty of room to build new towers elsewhere.

      • chaifetz10

        A fresh coat of paint, new glass, and strategically placed lighting at night and this could be a really cool modern addition…if done right.

      • moorlander

        Well something drastic needs to be done with how this property relates to the street. It’s one of downtown’s worst offenders.

    • STLEnginerd

      A truely “urban” building (street retail) probably wouldn’t work here and i echo the sentiments of another poster that there are plenty of empty lot to build towers on.

      I just think a third tower needs to be added that fills the space between the two current buildings (roughly where the tennis courts are in the original picture. I believe it is a fountain right now. I’d keep it slightly lower than the current tower so that the revolving restaurant would still have a nice view of the stadium.