Saturday, December 6, 2008

San Luis still in Limbo... but holds vast opportunity

Guests enjoy the sunken swimming pool at the St. Louis De Ville Motor Hotel
July 1963 - (photo from the UMSL Mercantile Library collection)

The West End Word reported recently that the any decision by the St. Louis Archdiocese about whether to demolish the San Luis Apartments (formerly the De Ville Motor Hotel) is on hold until a new archbishop is chosen. With income at the Archdiocese way down this year, it is possible a new archbishop would want to reconsider spending a large chunk of money to demolish the San Luis structure and build a large new parking lot that will not produce revenue. Would the Archdiocese consider selling to a developer? They could potentially stand to gain a windfall if they did. It was reported that the Roberts paid $100 per square foot of land for the formerly tired Days Inn property which they are renovating to open St. Louis' first Indigo Hotel.

Throughout the country there are dozens of examples of MCM hotel properties that have been either recently renovated or simply well maintained over the years (crazy concept isn't it!) including the Jupiter Hotel in Portland, the Horizon Hotel in Palm Springs, the Washington Plaza in D.C., and the Metropolitan in Midtown Manhattan (formerly the Summit). While the economy is down now, it will rebound at some point, and the Central West End will continue to be a very desirable place to stay in a hotel.

Alternately the Archdiocese could form a for profit entity to renovate the San Luis (with historic tax credits) for apartment housing. The location is prime for either market rate or low/moderate income elderly apartments, which was the building's most recent use.

To learn more about the San Luis, please visit this updated site established by fellow preservationists.


Anonymous said...

I stayed at the Metropolitan at 51st and Lexington in early October. I loved it, and the San Luis is an excellent candidate for such a reversion to original purpose. This building should be saved.

Anonymous said...

Here is a crazy thought --- what if it became a hotel again?

Anonymous said...

^ Duh, I see you were suggesting as much. I'd have no objections to seeing a different urban building on this site but certainly not a parking lot. This may be another case of the down economy having a silver lining.

Anonymous said...

Indeed. There's a small (and hopefully growing) group of 'friends of the San Luis' that is working to put together a suggestive proposal for the reuse of the building. Clearly, without actual ownership of the building, the only power citizen activists have is to launch a public awareness campaign. The silver lining in the coincidence of the slipping economy and current vacancy of Archdiocese head has the 'friends of the San Luis' keeping moss from growing on the stone- because it will be rolling.