Drury Development Seeks Demo for FPSE Building on Kingshighway

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There are a handful of residential buildings facing Kingshighway in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood. In one view they’re woefully out of place, fronting seven lanes of a traffic and an interstate interchange. In another view, the homes anchor the edge of the residential neighborhood, holding and presenting its identity to those hurriedly passing through.

The homes on the west side of Kingshighway, in the tiny Kings Oak neighborhood, don’t seem nearly as challenged, but these FPSE four-families have been in limbo for more than a decade. Three years ago we write about Drury Development’s acquisition of these homes and others. It was a somewhat surprising expansion of its holdings. The 2008 hotel tower proposal seemed long gone, but with that move, seemed to still be alive.

Now Drury is seeking to demolish the building at the corner of Oakland Avenue and Kingshighway, just one of the row which has been assumed would make way for a hotel entrance if the plan ever comes to pass. Demolition will be considered at the city’s Preservation Board meeting later this month. We’ve watched this plan and process for nearly a decade, and it’s once again time to take a look at past proposals and current Drury holdings:

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May 12, 2014:
Drury Eyes Future Hotel, Adds 15 Parcels to Holdings in Forest Park Southeast

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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  • Dahmen Piotraschke

    Extended stay hotels are already in the neighborhood…BJC..is encroaching across hwy 40. Drury hotels on this site would only help the rest of the homes and improve the existing homes . The hospital could use easily accessible places to stay for its patients families. The area is also a great thoroughfare from Tower Grove park and Botanical Gardens to the Grove.

    • Adam

      Yes, a massive parking lot with access only from within the neighborhood will totally “help” the rest of the homes there. Who doesn’t want to live directly adjacent to a giant parking lot? There are plenty of other places to build hotels nearby, and at least 2 are already in the works.

  • Dahmen Piotraschke

    These residential buildings are a total eyesore, and no one wants to live in them…it is way too busy and noisy. This is why zoning plans reserve the first block off heavy traffic areas for commercial real estate. The neighborhood behind the church and first block off Kings highway is a nice area. With the new overpasses and access to the BC campus and CWE..it has been improved…now noticing this while on the 95 bus detour while waiting years for the new bridge to be completed. I actually like the bus route used during the construction.

    • Adam

      They’re eyesores because Drury refuses to maintain them, not because nobody wants to live in them. You’d be surprised where people want to live. How ’bout those new UIC single- and multi-family units on DeTonty with 44 in their front yards?

      • Dahmen Piotraschke

        I pass it everyday for years. There are only about 4-5 duplexes which were refurbished years ago and it was a wash. I am all for saving the city’s much needed affordable housing, and am not a fan of gentrification..but this is different on a slight bend off the overpass and the front doors being directly upon the crazy speeders of Kingshighway. The intersection for students trying to get to Oakland road to school is bad enough. Reconstruction brings better lights and new sidewalks worth the sacrifice of a few useless properties.

        • Adam

          There’s nothing wrong with the sidewalk there. And new construction would be fine if they actually wanted to build something better or equal to those flats. What they have proposed so far is two ugly, stubby hotel towers afloat in a massive parking lot. That’s not better. This practice of letting owners/developers sit on property for years while it rots and then proclaiming “It’s an eye sore! Let ’em tear it down!” has got to stop. It’s exactly what they want. If those flats were fixed up and priced fairly people would live there.

          • Dahmen Piotraschke

            well where are the residents?..they have been available for years…location is bad…flippers have tried, so why are they not occupied then? That is a 6 lane road and the land off the intersection up to the bend should be commercial use. You are saying that poor people like myself should settle for a dangerous and noise polluted home just feet from a busy 6 lane highway…there are options, and we do not deserve a bad location and have the right to safe quiet housing.!!! You think those abandoned homes are good enough and “good enough”..if nous cannot afford decent housing in a better area, but why haven’t residents with money fix them up and live there themselves?? Your argument is a double standard.

          • Adam

            They have not been “available” for years. Drury has owned them for about a decade. What flippers have tried? And I said absolutely nothing about what poor people deserve or don’t deserve. That’s all you.

          • Nick

            If the property is so viable for rehabbed residential space, why wouldn’t Drury develop them, or sell them to a developer? Even if they plan to build a hotel there, they could still fix them up and earn rent in the interim years….but the fact that they don’t suggests it’s not a very valuable residential property.

          • Adam

            Drury doesn’t do rentals. They do hotels. And the fact that they don’t want to sell suggests that they still want to put a hotel there. It doesn’t say anything about the residential value of that site.

          • Nick

            Companies get involved in ventures not related to their primary business all the time. For example, I work for a construction company whose owners develop commercial real estate through a third party.

            But even if you’re right that they’re sitting on buildings just to sit on them to build a hotel later, it still must be (or is at least very likely) more profitable for the site to exist as a hotel than as residential. And for that reason alone we should be happy to build a hotel. More profitable ventures means more jobs, better paying jobs, more tax revenue, and a wealthier city in general…which is what St. Louis desperately needs. I understand we’re potentially losing four old, cool buildings in the process, and that sucks, but a hotel will bring far more investment dollars than repurposed residential at an unattractive location, and it’s much more needed.

          • Adam

            “Companies get involved in ventures not related to their primary business all the time.”

            okay, well show me where Drury has ventured into rental property management or residential development or expressed interest in doing so.

            “…it still must be (or is at least very
            likely) more profitable for the site to exist as a hotel than as
            residential.”

            More profitable for Drury, yes, because (again) Drury does hotels and not residential. But in no way does it follow that a hotel would be more profitable there than residential in general.

          • Nick

            Assuming Drury is looking to maximize their profits (which I guarantee they are) and that they’re acting rationally (i.e. they aren’t inept, which is a good assumption given they’ve built a highly successful hotel franchise) it absolutely follows a Drury hotel is the most profitable venture there. If it was more profitable to keep it residential, someone would pay them a huge sum for the land such that they’d be happy building a hotel somewhere else. That’s basic economics.

          • STL Forever

            I am fine with a Drury hotel on the site, but I’m not okay with Drury letting the delapitated houses continue to be eyesores. Drury needs to maintain the properties to code standards or bulldoze and build new with excellent plans. The previous development concepts were lame, so I hope they reredevelop this site in a quality manner. The current conditions should be unacceptable to code enforcement.

          • Nick

            I would think given that the buildings are unoccupied, they are within the legal limits as they currently sit.

          • Adam

            The rear walls are collapsing. That’s not within legal limits.

          • Nick

            Ok, what do you propose? The city should force them to pay 10s if not 100s of thousands to repair walls on buildings they will tear down? That wouldn’t be insanely stupid, and it sure would give companies an incentive to invest in the city! Or maybe we should land bank them and tell Drury to go away? That’ll solve all of our problems!

          • Adam

            Yes! Given that they’ve owned the properties for years and watched them deteriorate and lower surrounding property values the city should force them to pay for their upkeep! And Drury knew full well when they bought the properties that they weren’t free and clear to tear them down because they’re in a preservation review district! The rest of your rant is a straw man!

          • Nick

            Your policies would increase the cost of investment in the city by tens of thousands of dollars for any given project such as this. Thank God people with your mindset aren’t in charge. Enjoy your day

          • STLEnginerd

            I think his argument is to increase the cost of “DIS”-investment so as to reduce its use as a tool in winning approval for projects have debatable net gains for the city.

            I don’t know where i stand vis-a-vis some of the demo of some of these properties. IMHO demo the Lamskin and the small church north of it are non-optional. I get Drury’s interest in the site. It ia highly visible from the interstate, in a desirable and growing area, which is underserved in the hotel market. That said the site is very difficult to facilitate accessibility without demolishing several blocks…

            If they were proposing structured parking, preservation of the two structures i listed, realignment and reopening of Oakland (at least in the out direction) and some urban commercial infill on the remaining parcels… then i think it could be acceptable. That said that not what they have proposed.

            OR if they proposed to become the new anchor tenant for BPV Phase 2 tower or a renovated AT&T building with a solid lease structure i could see how the city might let a semi-suburban proposal slide through…

          • Adam

            and i’ll clarify that i’m not hell-bent on saving these units. i’d be fine with a higher density residential development there. what pisses me off is that Drury has sat on this property for a f*cking decade while letting the existing structures rot, preventing anyone else from doing anything with them even if there were interest. a friend of mine who lives directly behind this site has contacted Drury about buying one of the multi-family units that you can’t see from Kingshighway. he got no response. it’s f*cking irresponsible.

          • Nick

            I understand that’s a concern of many folks, and to some extent I can sympathize. But in this case, not so much. Those buildings, though old and potentially useful in and of themselves, don’t have much use for anything at that location. Most residential on Kingshighway is dilapidated (with the exception of the highrises in CWE and some houses down at the far south end of KHWY). It wouldn’t even make good office space given the lack of available parking around there. And I just think it happens so rarely that it’s not a major issue, even when it may appear that’s what’s going on. For example, even as Adam noted, there’s no guarantee the city will let you demo a building. That makes such a practice extremely risky. On top of that, demos are not cheap. For example, I’ll bet it costs $300K+ to take down those 4 buildings on Kingshighway. If there’s something viable to be done with them, I guarantee you the owners will try to go that route. The article even notes that Drury is looking to rehab many buildings it owns in the neighborhood.

            I think if you have blanket “disinvenstment” policies to try to force companies to maintain properties such as those at Kingshighway, the law of unintended consequences will come in play and will just cause less investment than we’d want in a city that’s desperate for it.

          • Adam

            funny. they’re not MY policies. they are the actual, existing policies. they’re just not enforced.

          • Nick

            That’s what I’m trying to tell you. That not at all how it works, nor how it should work. The only time inspections occur on houses is when the property changes hands, or if an occupancy permit is requested, or sometimes if numerous complaints are made. It’s not like inspectors show up at your house every year or two to make sure everything is up to code. That would cost millions of dollars for the inspections alone. There is nothing out of the ordinary going on at Oakland and Kingshighway.

          • Adam

            Oh, FFS. Regardless of whether or not the inspector shows up, owners are expected to keep their properties up to code. That’s like saying since not every speeder gets pulled over, people aren’t required to drive the speed limit. Give me a f*cking break. There’s a difference between policy and enforcement, and I’m not arguing that the codes are sufficiently enforced. Sorry, but that IS how it’s supposed to work. That’s why it’s in the building code that your walls can’t be falling down–to prevent major injuries from occurring. Drury is essentially breaking the law and being a sh*tty neighbor.

          • Nick

            Fine dude. I disagree, but whatever, I’m exhausted of this argument. Rehab them, turn the lot into a hotel, burn them to the ground, I don’t care anymore.

          • Adam

            You disagree? WUUUUUUUUUUT? 😉

          • Adam

            “If it were more profitable to keep it residential, someone would pay
            them a huge sum for the land such that they’d be happy building a hotel
            somewhere else.”

            Nonsense. If Drury wants the land for a hotel, then they’re not going to be selling it at market rate. Would they sell it for a huge sum of money? Sure. But by the time a developer pays Drury a huge sum above market rate for the land their profit margin is shot, so no developer is going to do that. That doesn’t mean residential wouldn’t be successful/profitable there otherwise, just that Drury has no interest in selling. (Same reason nobody has purchased the Church’s Chicken site at Delmar and Skinker, which would otherwise be a very profitable location for residential.)

          • Nick

            I never said residential couldn’t be profitable. I said a hotel is likely
            more profitable, hence why Drury would’ve been the highest bidder. If not then it would’ve been purchased by a residential developer. Obviously this didn’t happen because no one is going to pay high dollar to live directly off Kingshighway south of 40…hence no one’s going to pay top dollar to redevelop that spot. Therefore a hotel makes sense. I don’t know what else to say on this

          • Adam

            “I never said residential couldn’t be profitable.”

            “….but the fact that they don’t suggests it’s not a very valuable residential property.”

            “…no one is going to pay high dollar to live directly off Kingshighway south of 40…”

            yet people are paying to live adjacent to 44 and 64.

            “…hence why Drury would’ve been the highest bidder. If not then it would’ve been purchased by a residential developer.”

            there probably weren’t any other bids at the time. if you recall, back in 2008 there wasn’t much of anything going on because the market crashed. but maybe if Drury hadn’t been sitting on it for the last ten years while NOT building their supposedly super lucrative hotel–which seems odd given that they’d supposedly be making so much money–it might have been purchased by a residential developer. in any case none of it demonstrates that residential won’t work there in the current, healthier market. especially considering how FPSE has exploded.

          • Nick

            You’ve obviously never been involved in a major development project, because it takes years to get through planning, zoning, working with the city,
            Etc. Something like that doesn’t happen overnight. And those houses are far less desirable than the average FPSE house given where they are on Kingshighway. And besides, there are still dozens of undeveloped/underdeveloped houses in FPSE…including houses directly on Manchester. I guarantee if these houses were never bought by Drury they’d be in exactly the same state they are in now…just rotting away in the land bank.

          • Adam

            well, your guarantee isn’t evidence. and hotels don’t take over 10 years to plan and build when they are such obvious money makers. that’s silly.

          • Adam

            And, sorry, but I don’t think it’s okay for a big company to come along and buy a bunch of property next to people’s homes and let it rot while they figure out how to maximize their profits.

          • Nick

            Ok, that’s fine that you feel that way, but it’s not like they bought the buildings with the intention of letting them rot. There would be no benefit to them to do that. And if you start telling developers “hey, you can only buy property if you immediately clean up the existing structure on your purchase” then you just give developers that much less reason to invest in the city…and we’d see way MORE derelict properties.

          • Adam

            I’m not telling the developers anything. And that’s not what happened. City ordinance tells them that they’re required to maintain the properties that they buy. Unfortunately the city selectively enforces its ordinances only against those without deep pockets.

          • STL Forever

            Agreed. Drury should be held accountable to maintain the properties to code. If code allows negligence and dilapidation of properties, then shame on the City of St. Louis.

            I would like to see a better plan for this prime, visible real estate. Keep the residential street separate from the parking lot or put some kind of “fork in the road.” One nice tower with dense landscaping would be better than two crammed towers with a poor layout, a huge paved parking lot, and goofy ingress and egress. Hello?

          • Dahmen Piotraschke

            ok..then make it green space…I am not advocating 2 giant towers and acres of concrete. But no family or kids should live in those street side houses. That’s all…

          • Adam

            First, you don’t get to tell families with kids where they should or shouldn’t live.

            Second, if people with kids don’t want to live there nobody is going to force them to live there.

            Third, this is a few blocks away from one of the largest city parks in North America. There is absolutely no need for more green space here.

          • Dahmen Piotraschke

            Never said that..and walking to Forest Park is all overpass and traffic, not saying its not possible. So, have the kids play in the front yard of 3 feet of a green space…You’re getting old..u are just disagreeing with anything I say..I’m right , you are wrong ..The buildings will ne demolished and Drury owns most of eastern Missouri..so good luck..why don’t YOU..flip the houses and find tenants at a cost-efficient monthly rent below $600. And get back to me. Bye!!

          • Michael B

            I used to live in the Lambskin Temple, which is right next to those eyesores. Walked to Forest Park, Central West End, and the metrolink every day. There is a nice pedestrian bridge that connects those blocks to Forest Park and the WashU/BJC medical complex. So it isn’t all “overpass and traffic”. And the Lambskin has since been redone, and is full of tenants. So people DO want to live there. They just don’t want to live in Drury’s ill-maintained buildings.

  • Benjamin Aronov

    I wish they could just build on all that land next to the TV station, renovate the homes and open the streets back up to Kingshighway!

    Fearful we’ll get shit for this high visibility intersection

  • PD

    Honestly they need to at the very least tear down these crack dens. When I lived on Wichita I would walk past them to get to Forrest park and see people cutting out from under the particle board all the times. Its also currently become a dumping ground for trash and beat furniture back there. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4ec613629df07bc7e0c8737579d6da4a965ae92f8d66b56a190753d83f3aea7d.jpg

  • Andrew Wind

    Those renderings are hideous, as I’m sure the next ones will be as well. They’d be right at home eight miles west of Wentzville, but I guess that’s what we can expect from Dreary Hotels. The city needs to require the developers to adhere to the neighborhood’s style and scale – or at the very least not demolish other structures that are.

    • jhoff1257

      Those renderings are also for two projects (one of which wasn’t even a Drury project) that aren’t happening.

      • Andrew Wind

        Oh, I know. It’s just easy to assume the next ones will look just as bad since that’s how these things usually go.

        • jhoff1257

          I understand the cynicism about projects like this in St. Louis considering some of the crap that has been built here but I’m going to hold out hope for now. The K2 plan was DOA from the start and I don’t think anyone seriously even considered it. The original Drury plan has a really shitty site plan, but I’m not opposed to having a nice mid rise tower at the corner of Kingshighway and I-64 provided it’s done right. Based on what I’ve read here Drury is considering using many of these properties as extended stays, and possibly even using that old church as a hotel lobby. If Drury can pull off something like that I think I’d be pretty impressed. Fingers crossed.

          • Andrew Wind

            Actually that church-as-lobby item was the one glint of hope I found in all of this. If they do something clever like that, I’ll be both shocked and delighted.

          • brickhugger

            Agreed; I was an NSO in this area in the mid to late 90’s, and those buildings were a problem back then. If Drury can do it right (which, given their renovation of the in-demo Fur Exchange, I give them the benefit of the doubt), this would be a good replacement.
            One note; those buildings on Kingshighway will almost certainly have lead dust in the soil, as cars with leaded gas rolled by for decades. I hope they are aware of this, and of the potential remediation costs thereby,

          • jhoff1257

            I always forget about that Drury in the old Fur Exchange building. And not only did they renovate a historic structure, if I’m not mistaken they literally rescued it from the dead. If my memory serves me right demolition was already in progress on the Fur Exchange building when Drury stepped in and saved it.

            I’m sure Built St. Louis has some background somewhere.

  • citylover

    Aren’t some of those owned by wash-u? There are signs on some of the boarded windows that say something about wash-u rehab.

    Be nice to see drury step in. I haven’t seen anything that large for them. Also guessing their Brentwood location is doing more thank ok. Was a perfect market for a hotel

    • Michael B

      The signs say City U(nder Construction). It is misleading and makes it appear that it is owned by some kind of university group, but those are Drury owned properties. I wonder why they don’t want to put their name on them?

      • PD

        They haven’t put their name on them as people would then no whom to call to bitch that they are in serious disrepair and need to at the very least be demolished and site as and empty lot vs the current eyesore.

  • Michael B

    Wasn’t there a plan to put in a nicer looking barricade to that end of Oakland? Anyone know if it is still in the works?

  • Michael B

    How much control does the neighborhood have on what gets put there? As one of the residents, I’ve watched those homes fall apart over the years, during a very hot market. I’m glad to see that some rehabs are planned, but the most visible homes fronting Kingshighway continue to crumble. This is the most visible part of the FPSE neighborhood for non-residents. Whatever the plan is, it must be done tastefully and well. So how much control does the neighborhood have? What can I do to prevent something has terrible as those towers being built?

    • ParallelParker

      And those towers are terrible exactly why? Is it because they would create jobs, generate tax revenue, bring people into the city and create vibrancy? Lions and tigers and bears, Oh My!

      • Adam

        The whole plan was terrible. Aside from the towers appearing to be super ugly (subjective, I know) the site plan dumps a massive amount of surface parking immediately adjacent to peoples’ homes. It’s not appropriate. With structured parking the footprint could be much smaller and more respectful of the neighbors.

      • Michael B

        Pretty much what Adam said. The towers would dwarf the neighborhood. The 4500 blocks of FPSE have some of the most beautiful homes the neighborhood has to offer, and this plan would open them up to Kingshighway and a sea of parking. Notice how the rendering doesn’t have any of the neighborhood drawn in? Access to the hotel parking would be through residential streets. It’s just a bad plan (and I also think the towers are ugly). I’m not opposed to a sensible, well-thought out plan that is formed with advice and consent from the surrounding neighborhood.

        • Alex Ihnen

          In following the proposal over a decade there’s never been a version that would allow access to/from the neighborhood that stood any chance of approval. It simply won’t happen.

      • kevin smith

        Do you want to look out your front door and see a huge tower, have tons of people coming/going in your neighborhood at all times of the day and in my case, probably increase traffic over a 1,000% on your street? I don’t and I have a building Drury is after. As far as jobs, if we are expecting a few hotels jobs to be what saves the city, we are in trouble. That was their selling point in 2008 and it was crap. And, as someone who spends way to much of his life in hotels due to work, I don’t want one in any neighborhood.

  • Would seem a bit silly to place another QT there that is just a couple of stoplights away from the one at 44 & Kingshighway, but the CVS would make sense.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Well, that plan was a non-plan that a developer drew up and posted on its site. It’s virtually impossible to imagine the neighborhood going along with either, IMO.