By Gloria Lloyd
A new hotel set to replace the Days Inn in Sunset Hills could be five stories tall if new city height limits gain approval.
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.
The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended a higher height limit last week aimed at Days Inn owner HR Sheevam’s proposal for a more modern hotel along South Lindbergh Boulevard.
Sheevam’s plan includes a new 74-unit hotel next to Ameren Missouri that will replace the current Days Inn. Demolition is underway on a building the city wanted demolished, with a deadline of the end of the month.
“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.
A plan to modernize the Hampton Inn at 1580 S. Kirkwood Road was postponed from the same commission meeting.
The city currently limits buildings to 35 feet, which is roughly four stories, plus a 15-foot parapet. Sheevam would prefer to build five floors at his new hotel, which would mean a building measuring 46.3 feet.
The planning panel agreed to raise the height limit to 60 feet, with the condition that for every 10 feet in height above 35 feet, the hotel would have to have another 10 feet in setback to any residential property. A 60-foot-tall building would require 400 feet in setback.
If the Board of Aldermen does not sign on to the higher height limits, the plan will still go through as a four-story hotel.
Sheevam was not able to attend the May 2 meeting because he was on the West Coast meeting with representatives of Choice Hotels about the new hotel plan, Glassl said.