Boutique Hotel Planned for Vacant LaSalle Building in Downtown St. Louis

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Lasalle Building

Today the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is confirming the long heard rumor that downtown’s vacant Lasalle building will become a boutique hotel. Sources tell nextSTL it will be a Hotel Indigo.

The narrow corner building was designed by Isaac Taylor, architect of the 1904 World’s Fair, and was his first major commission following that landmark event. Among Taylor’s other commissions were the National Bank of Commerce Building, the Mercantile Club Building, and the St. Louis Board of Education Building.

According to the Post-Dispatch, ViaNova Development of Chattanooga has acquired the 13-story corner building at 501 Olive as well as the adjacent three-story building. A full historic renovation of the altered facade of the latter is planned. The Lasalle will see a full renovation as well, but will not include restoring the terra cotta ornamentation stripped for a 1939 renovation.

LaSalle Building 8St._Louis_-_LaSalle_Bldg

The hotel is planned for 70-80 rooms and could open as early as the end of 2017. A hotel operator has not yet been finalized. In January, Restoration St. Louis announced plans to restore the Louis Sullivan 705 Olive building as a 130-room hotel. Then, in February, a developer bough the old International Shoe Co. building at 1501 Washington Avenue and plans a unique brand 140-room hotel.

Previous plans for demolition of two buildings at 10th and Locust Streets, and the renovation of a third as a Hotel Indigo never came to fruition. TWG Development of Indianapolis has initial plans for market rate apartments and a replacement for the corner building..

From the LaSalle Building National Register of Historic Places application (embed below):

The LaSalle Building, located at 501 Olive Street in St. Louis, Missouri, is a thirteen story variegated brick and terra cotta rectangular-shaped office building with a granite foundation and a flat roof. Re-designed in 1909 (from a set of 1906 plans), the 28 feet by 102 feet building includes a small penthouse above the thirteenth story. Four first-story bays (one is the main entrance) are at the Olive Street elevation; the Broadway elevation contains a single bay with door. This Commercial Style building features soaring orieled brick bays and a two-story base clad in white-glazed terra cotta. Above the second floor, where windows are arranged in pairs and separated by a series of 11-story, three-storied oriels (four-sided on the east), the facade has a corrugated look.

The building utilized the Simplex concrete pile method (Simplex Concrete Piling Co. of Philadelphia), a foundation system that consisted of a tube with a point, rammed into the soil then filled with concrete. The exterior retains original window sash and framing that includes carved wood with nail-headed moldings; intact cast iron cornices feature egg and dart designs. The interior retains its original lobby which includes marble-lined walls, a multi-colored ceramic tile floor, brass elevator doors and carved marble elevator floor dials. Exterior alterations include the removal of terra cotta from the orieled bays, a terra cotta belt course originally located below the 13th story and a terra cotta cornice above. These alterations were completed in 1939 (within the arbitrary 50-year period), when this terra cotta was replaced with identical brick matching the building. Interior alterations include the conversion of an elevator shaft to a visitor telephone room on the first floor and second restrooms on the remaining floors. The building retains integrity of location, setting, design, materials, feeling, workmanship and association from 1939.

The exterior retains original window sash and framing that includes pyramid-patterned carved wood; intact cast iron cornices feature egg and dart moldings. The interior retains its original lobby which includes marble-lined walls, a multi-colored ceramic tile floor, brass elevator doors and carved marble elevator floor dials. Exterior alterations include the removal of terra cotta from the orieled bays, a terra cotta belt course originally located below the 13th story and a terra cotta cornice above. These alterations were completed in 1939 (and are contributing); at this time, terra cotta on the orieled bays was replaced with identical brick matching the building. A 1953 attempt at modernization included the application of panels over the remaining original terra cotta on the first two floors; these panels were removed during a 1980s restoration, returning the building to its 1939 appearance. Interior alterations include the conversion of an elevator shaft to a visitor telephone room on the first floor and second restrooms on the remaining floors. The building retains integrity of location, setting, design, materials, feeling, workmanship and association from 1939.

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501 Olive – LaSalle Building National Register of Historic Places application by

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  • illusion87

    Glad to see this turn into something!

  • citylover

    Lots of boutique hotels. Just saw on downtown stl’s Twitter page that pop increased 7% in 2015. Idk what the total was in 2014 but it’s got to be over 4,000 now. Good news.

    • Alex Ihnen

      And there must be another couple hundred units currently in development.

      • John R

        Looks like 2016 and probably 2017 will slow down a bit from last year’s impressive delivery of the number of units coming online, but if things like the Jefferson Arms and 1706 Washington get under construction in the next year or so that would be really awesome and keep the momentum going.

    • John R

      You may have an interest in this residential report from Downtown STL that provides data through March 2015:

      At that time, “Downtown” had 3,900 residents and “Downtown West” had 4,300 for a total of over 8,300 for what is considered to be the the core Downtown. A boatload of additional new units came online since then so surely “Downtown” also is over 4,000 now. If we had a 7% increase total we’re probably edging close to 9,000 in the two DT nabes.

      Not a whole lot will be coming online for the rest of this year (maybe The Alverne?) but we should still see some good population growth for 2016 through residents leasing up all those new units that came online the past few months with big projects like the Arcade Apartments and the Gallery 720 conversion from office. (Depending how fast planned projects like Jefferson Arms. 1706 Washington and the residential component of the Hotel St. Louis get going, 2017 could be a great or rather slow year for pop. growth.)

      • citylover

        cool cool. Do you know what’s up with the new mixed use building on spruce they just talked about on post-dispatch? Apparently a 4-story building by Koman Group is going up. I was a little dissapointed in the density of the project since it’s across the street from the Stadium metrolink.

        • John R

          Not any more than what was reported,,, surprised to hear it is planned as a Cortex-like co-working space and apparently lacking an anchor tenant. Hopefully massing would be at least similar to what we see with the surrounding Cupples warehouses.

          • jkf1220

            I don’t believe it will be co-working space. I think they are interested in innovation companies – emerging businesses that are graduating from T-REX and Cortex.

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  • Alex P

    I was all prepared to write my expert opinion on how that b&w image is just a drawing and how the building probably never had all of that detailing (just a cornice that was removed or something). Then I read the article and I’ve decided that I hate the human race, I’m going to live in a library to live my life with the books.

    Changes in style and taste are a tragic thing.

    • STLEnginerd

      Did they knock off six stories as well?

      • Alex P

        You are correct. Plus there’s three levels below the Bays in the drawing and only two as built. Would be nice to see a photo of the as built building before the ’39 modernization.

        • Alex P

          The “you are correct” was a joke btw
          Doesn’t read so well in retrospect.

      • Adam

        If you look closely at the images you can see a difference in the sheen of the brick where the terra cotta used to be. so while the extra six stories likely weren’t built, the ornamentation seems to have been there.

    • The “rebuilding” boom in downtown struck many great buildings: the LaSalle, the Kinloch (Farm and Home), the Mercantile Library, the Commercial Building, the Dorsa Building, the Post-Dispatch Building (original, now un-skinned), the Alverne, and so on until the 1015 Locust (Merchandise Mart Annex) was the last big reskinning in 1971. Even the Arcade Building lost its original terra cotta elements when it was partially reclad in brick after terra cotta began failing in the 1930s. Downtown is a sea of hidden, altered, and morphic buildings. Some of the alterations enhanced the architectural scene, while others hid diamonds in river mud.

  • Adam

    is it me or did St. Louis lose disproportionately more historic building ornamentation than other cities? i didn’t even realize the LaSalle ever had so much ornamentation. i wish it could be restored with modern materials similar to what was done with the cornice of the Lesser Goldman/Bogen Lofts building. it also looks like the uppermost windows were bricked over during the renovation, which is stupid.

    • I support your sentiment, but note that the cornice on the Lesser-Goldman Building is a fiberglass sculpture by Bob Cassilly that is not based on the building’s lost original cornice at all. The original cornice was a terra cotta box cornice that matched the building’s terra cotta. Personally I have always thought that the green was more than a little ungainly atop such a dark-toned building.

  • John R

    Love the LaSalle even w/o its full ornamentation. And it’s at a key corner on a currently lifeless square block (other than the Millennium Center re-do) so this is fantastic to see. Hope it gets done!