Sunset Hills hotel can go up to five stories after aldermen OK the latest plan

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By Emily Klein
Staff Reporter
emilyklein@callnewspapers.com

A five-story hotel will replace the Days Inn along Lindbergh Boulevard after the Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen granted approval last week.

Although height limits for buildings in Sunset Hills is usually four floors, aldermen said that this was a special case.

The board voted unanimously at the June 12 meeting to amend city code to increase setbacks and building heights allowed in the hotel’s commercial zoning district.

Aldermen also voted 6-2 to grant an amended conditional-use permit to Days Inn owner HR Sheevam to construct the taller building, which will replace the current Days Inn at 3660 Lindbergh Blvd. Ward 3 Alderman Kurt Krueger and Ward 1 Alderman Dee Baebler voted against the bill.

The city currently has a height limit of 35 feet, which hotel owners have told the city is detrimental if they try to modernize their hotels with newer buildings or better brands.

The thinking is that new hotels want to build up rather than out, with hotel patrons entering their rooms from inside the hotel rather than outside. The low-slung motor lodges that populated Sunset Hills and other areas along Route 66 are increasingly viewed as relics of the past.

Sheevam proposes a 74-unit hotel with five floors. He told the board that there will be 200 parking spaces available for guests. Parking was a key reason the board denied Sheevam’s plans for a new hotel last year, with aldermen citing the hotel’s busy location next to Helen Fitzgerald’s as a reason to require more parking.

The board unanimously approved a plan for a four-story hotel

The Days Inn owner had promised that if the city approved a higher height limit, he could recruit a better brand for the hotel.

“Aldermen wanted to find out what the city could do to entice better brands, and Mr. Sheevam told them taller buildings means better brands,” said Sheevam’s attorney, Sunset Hills resident Norbert Glassl.

The hotel will operate under the Comfort Suites brand, Sheevam said last week. And while Comfort Suites is locked in for the hotel brand, Sheevam said he’s waiting to see if another brand like La Quinta will bite.

“I’m hoping I’m in the position to grasp that brand onto our site,”  Sheevam said. “But at the present time with five stories it is Comfort Suites, just one tier up from Comfort Inn.”

Residents previously brought up to different aldermen concerns that approving the new hotel could encourage other businesses to ask for higher buildings. However, Baebler saw the approval as an isolated situation.

“They were worried that if we approved the hotel, it would bring more developers forward and block their view at home, and I understand that,” Baebler said. “More requests from other companies now since the hotel was approved is not too concerning. This was only for this specific site.”

Baebler pointed out that a newer, taller hotel will be good for business travelers. Sunset Hills has many corporate offices, like Panera Bread, and the new hotel would potentially house people visiting those Sunset Hills businesses for meetings.

Ward 2 Alderman Steve Bersche said that the hotel doesn’t immediately back up into a residential area and there’s at least a football-field length of distance between the end of the hotel property and the start of residential areas.

“I understand where people are coming from, but I think it’s far enough from residentials that it’s not a problem,” Bersche said.