Drury wants to replace this
This weeks West End Word reports that Drury hotels is proposing a new hotel on Kingshighway at Oakland. While the details have yet to be made public, the article reports that the historic Lambskin Temple, which was renovated several years ago as loft apartments could be demolished as part of the plan. Additionally, several houses and small apartment buildings in the area would likely be demolished as well. Drury Development has already begun knocking on peoples doors, offering to buy them out.
Below are a few photos from St. Louis CIN of buildings south of the Lambskin Temple that could be included in the buyout. While none of them are spectacular buildings individually, they make up an entire block face of the the Forest Park Southeast National Register Historic District. Just south of the Lambskin is a somewhat unusual house built entirely of stone instead of brick (see first photo, peeking out behind a tree... photo from waymarking.com)
While the idea of a hotel in this general location does make sense, and Drury has a great track record Downtown, with three unique hotels located in five renovated historic buildings, their recently completed hotel at Hampton and 44 does not inspire confidence about what might get built. The photo above (from their own website) of the new hotel shows a mostly Dryvit (fake stucco) building, that seems to be aspiring to be something it's not, in a suburban style sea of asphalt and cars. The aerial shot below shows an all to familiar scene in new construction with the building hugging the back of the lot and the surface parking lot taking the front seat This is why we need a new form-based zoning ordinance with build-to requirements.
Ironically the view from Esther Avenue behind the building is actually quite urban... of course there is no entrance on this side of the building.
Instead of tearing down an entire block of historic buildings, Drury should look to build on land that has been left over by the reconfiguration of the Kingshighway/40 interchange. Changing the design to a single point interchange, land is now available where the cloverleaf ramps were formerly located. The land at the southeast corner of the interchange, shown below on a drawing from MODOT's website, could easily accommodate the new hotel development. The hotel would certainly be more visible from the highway as well, which would be good for business.
The photo below from MODOT's webcam shows the newly available land south of the new eastbound entrance ramp. The Word article mentioned that the City has looked at this land for recreation use, but is that the best use for the land? Would we really want recreation space right next to the highway? Please someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the "replacement park" for the Hudlin playground was to be built off of Chouteau on or near the old Gasometer site?
Drury will be presenting the current proposed plan and getting feedback from residents and other stakeholders at a meeting of the Gibson Heights Neighborhood Association at 7pm next Monday, August 18th at the Church of Living God located at 1034 S. Kingshighway Blvd just north of the Lambskin Temple. To get there, take Arco west from Taylor and loop around the end of the block to the church which is next to Gibson. This U shaped loop does not actually connect to Kingshighway.