SSM/SLU: “Highly Likely” Desloge Tower Remains & More Details from Planning Commission Meeting

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SSM_SLU image

When the St. Louis City Planning & Urban Design Agency’s Planning Commission meets to consider rezoning, it looks like this: ACTION ITEMS: Zoning: PDA-070-16-REZ – 1315-39 S. Grand Blvd. & 3632 Rutger St. (CB 2178), 3656 Hickory St. (CB 2181.06) & 1101 & 1121-27 S. Grand Blvd. & 1126 Motard Ave. (CB 2180) – Rezone “H” or “C” to “J” – Tiffany Neighborhood.

That’s pretty exciting stuff. Area commercial and multi-family residential is being changed to industrial zoning! So it’s just one more step toward the realization of the SSM-Saint Louis University hospital, but the new $550M hospital facility will transform this corner of St. Louis City. And a little more than re-zoning was revealed at last night’s Planning Commission meeting.

A representative of SSM Health stated that while no decision has been finalized, it is “highly likely” that 15-story French Gothic Revival Desloge tower will be converted to office space. This is another step toward alleviating fears that the historic landmark could be lost. The site plan offered is the same we reported in June, though a three-dimensional image adds some detail. The project is being designed by The Lawrence Group of St. Louis in partnership with Hammel, Green and Abrahamson (HGA).

Current plans call for a 10-story T-shape hospital tower, with a four-story ambulatory care center extending east and fronting Grand Boulevard. A “West Pavilion” and helipads sit to the west.  To the north, Hickory Street would be vacated, and a new Lasalle Street introduced. A two-part, 1,000-space parking garage would abut Lasalle, with retail shown wrapping the east end and south edge. In June we learned that the hospital is planned to include 316-beds and total 802K sf and is scheduled to be completed in 2020.

The image is a massing plan and no architectural detail is present. The re-zoning decision does not address the site plan or massing. The image does show the remaining Pevely building still standing at the corner of Chouteau and Grand. While we have heard rumors that the building is being examined for possible redevelopment, its presence is not indicitive of anything in particular.

SSM_SLU zoning

SLU hospital

From our earlier reporting: SSM/SLU Announce $550M Medical Center Moving Forward, Share Site Plan

In a message to faculty, staff, and students today, Saint Louis University President Fred Pestello unveiled additional details, including a site plan for the SLU/SSM $550M academic medical center. The massive project was first reported on nextSTL last June. As previously reported, the project will be built immediately north of Desloge Tower and the existing hospital. The fate of Desloge Tower has still not been determined.

Pestello shared that the 316-bed, 802K sf project has completed the general scope and conceptual design stage and that specifics continued to be determined. He also stated that the project “furthers the progress of the SLU campus master planning initiative, which includes redevelopment of SLU-owned property to the north of these new SSM facilities.” The project is scheduled to be completed by late 2020.

Last year, Saint Louis University purchased the hospital from Tenet Healthcare, which has owned the facility since 1998, when it was purchased from the school. SLU then contribute the hospital to SSM in exchange for a minority membership interest. That deal became official September 1, 2016, allowing for planning on this project to proceed. Selected to design the project were The Lawrence Group in partnership with Hammel, Green and Abrahamson (HGA).

The fate of the land north of the existing hospital and Chouteau Avenue, and even further north, has been highly anticipated since the university’s purchase and request for demolition of the Pevely Dairy complex in 2011. Ultimately, the school was allowed to demolish the majority of the complex, leaving just the corner building. Virtually nothing has changed on the site since then.

Continue reading: SSM/SLU Announce $550M Medical Center Moving Forward, Share Site Plan

The site of the future hospital was largely demolished years ago:

SLU demoltion

In 2011, the following site plan and rendering were offered SLU, arguing that the corner of Grand and Chouteau needed to be cleared for a new healthcare center:


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  • Michael Galey

    I was born at Fermin Desloge in Dec. 1950/ Adopted by the Lutheran Children’s Foundation. I would hate to see this magnificent landmark of St. Louis go by the wrecking ball. I pray that reasonable minds come to keeping it.

  • Christopher Desloge

    My name is Chris Desloge, and I’ve enjoyed so much of the community coming together with this preservation. As a building, it may be bricks & mortar, but look what she has done for our community and this conversation for good. We are deeply gratified to see these newest images of the site and building plans; and the very promising words by SSM about the Desloge Tower’s adaptive use. Our family, and our Foundation also want to recognize Landmarks Foundation and all the community stakeholders who continue to rally behind this legacy for architecture, design and community unity. If we have played some small role in this possible preservation and reuse, we are grateful to have been partners with SSM, SLU and others in this vision and courage.

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  • John

    A slow, thoughtful approach to the hospital redevelopment is not a bad thing. I hope the end result significantly enhances the area in both form and function. Glad the beautiful tower will hopefully remain. It has a lot of character and style.

  • Bryan Kirchoff

    Sounds like great news. Although I am sure it is obvious from prior comments here that I am not a fan of property owners having a duty to develop their properties a certain way, I certainly welcome a voluntary decision to preserve elegant architecture. In fact, I think one of the most effective strategies might be to impress upon the business and development community that, since St. Louis does not have mountains, beaches, or Mediterranean climate, it largely must compete for talent based on beautiful culture and a beautiful built environment.
    Bryan Kirchoff
    St. Louis

  • Imran

    So this authentic-looking brick street wall and smoke stack on Rutger will be trashed for (gulp) green space?

    • Adam

      was that discussed somewhere? it doesn’t appear that the rendering comments on the fate of that street wall.

      • Imran

        The massing study shows a rolling grassy area just to the west of the Desloge Tower along Rutger. I hope there is discussion about this before demo is allowed.

        • Adam

          Ah, right. missed that. yikes…

  • and let the whining about parking garages commence!

    • tbatts666

      Seriously thought go on google maps and look how
      Much land is devoted to parking in this area.. It’s insane.

      Go wander around there on your bike and you’ll notice that it’s almost all not used.

      SLU/SSM owns an enormous amount of tax-free vacant land and parking lots.

      But I do love that first floor retail is included. And so great that Deslosge will remain. It’s a beautiful building.

      • Tim E

        Have to agree. Not really about parking garage but the reality of over time that SLU/Hospital/medical school campus has created this massive footprint that will far exceed its ability to utilize or even expand into for literally decades upon decades. Build the new hospital, save the Desloge & build out the corner where Pevely complex once stood and please turn over some property back to developement
        Start with the fact that some how, some way the massive amount of wasted space filled in with concrete fto the west of Desloge tower and bordered by Vista Ave, Park Ave and S 39th street could be returned or brought back into the neighborhood for housing and tax rolls would be a huge step for the area. I assume its all SLU and all off the tax rolls. As you noted tbatts, anytime I have driven past it was pretty much empty. Assume that hasn’t changed

        Someone with more skill than I could probably post an imagine of it the areas

      • This is actually wrong: SLU Hospital is NOT tax exempt. Look up Desloge Tower in the city property records (3635 Vista Ave) and you’ll discover that they paid $856,525.44 in property taxes last year on just that building. The SLU Med School buildings are tax exempt, as is Cardinal Glennon, but SLUH is for profit and pays property taxes.

        • Tim E

          Thanks for clarification. I do wonder how much property outside of Desloge Tower and Hospital is classified is or is not Tax Exempt.

          The issue is not the parking garages incorporated with the new hospital. As John noted, hospital and parking structures go hand in hand with urban settings. I think the issue is the property on periphery. That has been cleared and what seems to be no meaningful effort to develop.

          • tbatts666

            I’ve looked around on the city’s website. Almost all excempt, most parking lots exempt.

            In addition those vacant lots that aren’t excempt pay a pittance because they are valued very low.

        • STLrainbow

          For profit Tenant still owned the hospital at the beginning of the 2015 tax year… now that it has reverted back to non-profit SSM, the property tax should be exempt.

        • tbatts666

          Some lots are tax exempt others are not. Most of
          the vacant and declining property they own is tax exempt.

    • John

      Parking garages and hospitals in urban areas go hand in hand, so there is no whining here. I do hope they can make the garage aesthetically pleasing and consider incorporating street-level retail if it makes sense in the overall design. I can also understand the owner’s desire to hold onto tax-free land for future, potential expansion.