New hotel could lead to higher height limit in Sunset Hills


By Gloria Lloyd
Staff Reporter

Sunset Hills is set to get its first new hotel in more than a decade after the Board of Aldermen passed a plan that has been in the works for years.

Aldermen stood by their earlier advice to current Days Inn owner HR Sheevam and voted 7-1 to approve his plan to replace the current Days Inn at 3654 S. Lindbergh Blvd. and build a new four-story Comfort Suites hotel in its place.

For more than a year, Sheevam has sought permission to tear down his hotel and build a more modern one. His first plan was rejected by aldermen, but he ultimately returned to a similar concept for the third plan that was approved last week.

The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended all of Sheevam’s plans, but aldermen initially balked at approving them due to concerns the new hotel could take away parking for Helen Fitzgerald’s, the popular and often overflowing restaurant and bar next door. Sheevam leases the land under Helen’s to the Syberg Group on a 100-year lease.

Aldermen told Sheevam at a January work session that they would support his proposal if he switched to an earlier plan previously rejected by the board and demolishes one of the hotel buildings earlier than originally planned.

The pattern started again last week, when the planning panel unanimously recommended the new plan to the board.

But a new twist was the presence of Helen Fitzgerald’s owner Brett Syberg of Syberg’s Restaurants, who was at the meeting to ask for a conditional-use permit for a new office building at the current site of Smugala’s Pizza Pub, 10150 Watson Road, which will close. Aldermen unanimously approved that development.

City officials had previously invited Syberg to attend a city work session on the new hotel development to work out issues of lack of parking for Helen Fitzgerald’s patrons.

But no representatives from either Syberg’s or Sansone Group that owns the development next door had ever attended.

The city is requiring Sheevam grant the city an easement for cross-access to the Sansone site that has Toys “R” Us, despite the current lack of interest from Sansone to grant the reciprocal easement.

In case of a new development at Toys “R” Us, the city could require cross-access from Sansone, which would potentially cut down on traffic snarls getting into and out of the Helen’s parking lot.

As for the much-talked-about parking agreements between Sheevam and Syberg’s, attorneys for both parties said that the other side specializes in “moving goalposts” during negotiations, which have always broken down as a result.

The sole dissent on the hotel plan, Ward 3 Alderman Kurt Krueger, was always the most outspoken alderman against it.

“It doesn’t mean that this is a good plan that you’ve presented to us,” he told Sheevam at the Jan. 23 work session.

When aldermen gave Sheevam their recommendations, he started the entire zoning process over again in February.

The plan was then fast-tracked to the March Board of Aldermen meeting, since the board will turn over in April.

For the next 60 days, Sheevam will try to seek a variance for a five-story hotel in a bid to upgrade from a Comfort Inn flag to a Cambria.