Talks are underway with two separate development groups that would like to build an “upscale, national” hotel next to the Hofbräuhaus, where the owners originally had announced plans to build a hotel four years ago off Illinois 15 across from the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows.
The hotel plans previously announced have not been realized and the land remains vacant. But the push continues to get a hotel on the bluff that overlooks the Gateway Arch and downtown St. Louis skyline.
“We are in discussion with two hotel developers to bring a larger, upscale, national chain to the site,” said Tom Carley, who is the chief financial officer for Oak Tree Management, the company formed by Chuck Keller and his son, Chane Keller, to oversee operations of the Hofbräuhaus, the German restaurant and brewery they opened last March across from the Shrine in west Belleville.
When asked about the time frame regarding construction of a hotel, Carley said: “We are in the discussion process and at some point in the very near future we would be able to tell you a more detailed plan.”
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Carley’s comments are the first public statements from the Hofbräuhaus development team regarding hotels since a Dec. 1, 2017, news release that said construction would begin on a convention center and hotel in the spring of 2018.
Similar announcements also had been made previously regarding a proposed hotel, the Hofbräuhaus and a convenience store.
In November 2016, the developers said a six-story, $28 million Hyatt Place Hotel and Conference Center would be built in 2017. And in February 2015, the Kellers proposed a 130-room Hyatt Place. The Kellers also opened the Hofbräuhaus about two years later than their original target of 2016. A Jack Flash convenience was proposed for the site in 2016 and a sign on the site said the store is expected to open this spring.
Carley, who started with Oak Tree Management in August, said the company recently signed an agreement with Sansone Group, a St. Louis-based commercial real estate company, to market the land around the Hofbräuhaus. A representative from Sansone could not be reached for comment.
The effort to get a new hotel built in Belleville stands in contrast to O’Fallon, where plans for a 14th hotel are being finalized in the city that has Interstate 64, which gives hotel developers the interstate access they desire.
But despite the lack of direct interstate access in Belleville, Mayor Mark Eckert said he believes that a hotel developer will invest in the Illinois 15 corridor, which has about 30,000 vehicles pass the Hofbräuhaus each day and is located near Interstate 255.
“I do know there’s efforts being made and I’m still very confident we’re gonna get something here eventually,” Eckert said. “The Oblates are still very interested in getting a hotel.”
The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the religious order that operates the Shrine, also owns the land where Hofbräuhaus is located. A spokesman for the Oblates could not be reached for comment.
Mayor optimistic a hotel will come
When asked whether this will be the year a hotel gets built, Eckert said, “I’m optimistic. I’m going to continue to say I’m optimistic in 2019. I really thought we’d have broke ground in ’18. I really did. But looking back now I see what some of the hurdles were and hopefully we’re going to surpass them.”
To pave the way for the development, the City Council authorized $2.42 million to pay for extending sewer lines to the Hofbräuhaus site and in 2015 the council approved a package of tax incentives valued at $32.36 million. The tax rebates are based on tax revenue generated by businesses on the site.
However, as of this month the Kellers have not requested any of the rebates.
The development agreement with the Kellers did not include a deadline for them to open a hotel or the Hofbräuhaus.
The tax breaks are concentrated in three types:
▪ The tax increment financing, or TIF, district at the site allows the developers to get property tax rebates of $6 million if two hotels are built along with the Hofbräuhaus, convention center and four upscale restaurants. If two additional hotels are built, this rebate would increase to $8 million, or $1 million for each new hotel.
▪ The developers would get 4 percentage points of the hotel and motel sales tax charged at the site. They would receive this for 20 years after each hotel opens.
▪ The site was established as a “special business district.” This allows a business owner to charge an additional 1 percent sales tax and the developers can keep all of this revenue for 23 years.
The only business on the site so far is the Hofbräuhaus but there is plenty of vacant land available for developers.
The Hofbräuhaus, which opened on March 27, features German cuisine and beer produced under the direction of Ben Zollenkopf, who previously worked for the Hofbräuhaus corporate headquarters in Germany as technical director for international brewing in Munich.
The Hofbräuhaus in Munich traces its roots to 1589 and the Kellers have the exclusive Hofbräuhaus franchise for the St. Louis metro area.
As the restaurant approaches its one-year anniversary in Belleville, Carley said business has been going well and that the Hofbräuhaus had a good holiday season.