Hotel Planned for Vacant Downtown YMCA

Hotel Planned for Vacant Downtown YMCA

A Colorado developer is planning a new hotel in the ten-story former YMCA building at 1528 Locust St. downtown. The developer has requested a $700,000 building permit for interior demolition to prepare the building for redevelopment. City documents list the planned new use as a hotel. Denver-based NuovoRE purchased the property in December.

Photo by Mark Groth

Built in 1926 to a design by LaBeaume & Klein, the U-shaped tower is built around a south facing light well. The limestone and brick façade is punctuated by ornamental balconies and crowned by an elaborately detailed crosshatched brick and terra cotta top floor. Separate entrances for men and boys were intended to segregate minors from adults. The giant metal YMCA sign on top was added in 1941. The renaissance revival structure was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014 and is eligible for federal and state historic tax credits.

According to the building’s National Registration form prepared by Michael R. Allen of Preservation Research Office, the St. Louis YMCA was founded in 1853 at the Union Methodist Episcopal Church at Eleventh and Locust Streets. Reorganized in 1875, the organization expanded greatly after a 1879 visit by renowned evangelist Dwight L. Moody. The 1926 structure was the YMCA’s third incarnation after the previous building at Grand and Franklin (today’s Dr. Martin Luther King Drive) burned in 1921. The building at 1528 Locust was designed to be fireproof.

But the building was not designed to be waterproof.

In January 2014, an improperly winterized sprinkler burst in the vacant residences above the YMCA causing significant damage throughout the building. A hoped for loft conversion never materialized. The YMCA moved out in 2017, relocating to a new facility inside the MX nine blocks east on Locust.

According to their website, NuovoRE “identifies historic and under-utilized buildings in core urban areas for redevelopment. We look to add value to assets through capital improvements or change of use.” The developer recently completed Revival, a 107-room, 14-story redevelopment in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon Square neighborhood.

This project adds to the burgeoning number of new hotels in downtown St. Louis, including the Last Hotel in the old International Shoe Company headquarters on Washington Ave. next to City Museum, Hotel St Louis in the Union Trust Building and a Hotel Indigo in the LaSalle Building, both on Olive St.

HBD Construction has been tagged to do the interior demolition.


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