Versa Development plans to convert the Optimist International building into a hotel

Versa Development plans to convert the Optimist International building into a hotel

Last week a $0 zoning-only building permit was submitted to convert the Optimist International at Lindell and Taylor in the Central West End neighborhood into a hotel. Winzerling of Versa Development and partner Rothchild Development are planning to preserve the pavilion building and replace the 1979 annex with a new 7 story building. The hotel will be called “The International.” The architect is HOK.

The two have partnered on other projects including the S. Pfeiffer Manufacturing Company headquarters at 3965 Laclede and the Catlin Townhomes at Boyle and West Pine in 2007.

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Versa most recently did the Lafayette Reserve townhomes on the 2200 block of Hickory in Lafayette Square.

Winzerling said he was inspired by the look of the building from this photo during construction before the additional walls with narrow slit windows were added “We saw this opportunity to make this the building that it could have been in 1961”

The Pavilion: the original, 1961 Schwarz & Van Hoefen Optimist headquarters will be reimagined to accentuate its mid-century modern bones—the concrete colonnade, the projecting roof & floor planes and the raised lawn. The Pavilion and the Terrace behind it will house reception and guest services, indoor and outdoor lounges, a destination restaurant, fitness center and back-of-house functions, along with 14 guest rooms.

“The interior of the pavilion will be completely gutted including most of the north and west storefront. We’re going to start over with glass. We hate to leave historic tax credits on the table, but the current building as it sits is not good enough. It’s not a project I want to to.

The Tower: a new 7-story building taking the place of the 1979 Annex. The Tower is designed to make reference the Pavilion’s architecture while being distinctly contemporary. It will accommodate 115 guest rooms and 2 levels of parking.

“We want the tower to echo the pavilion to look like painted concrete.”

No hotel brand has been selected yet. They are focusing on the “soft” brands out there so that The International will lead but they’ll still have the support of a major hotel network.

Time will tell how this proposal is received by the Preservation Board.

It has been quite the soap opera for the Optimist International building. The optimists want out because the organization has shrunken over the years, and the building is too much for them to maintain at the opportunity cost to carrying out their mission. Disgraced developer Lux Living first attempted to raze the whole site for an apartment building citing the impossibility of persevering it, then proposed preserving just the façade of the pavilion building with new construction surrounding it. Their plans were not supported by the CWE development committee, and the St. Louis Preservation Board withheld preliminary support.

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