Garden Plaza Hotel in St. Peters(the former Holiday Inn) may soon have new owners after plans for a tax abatement were met with no resistance from the Board of Aldermen during Thursday's meeting.
The hotel, located at 4341 Veterans Memorial Parkway, is up for sale and Upper End Properties is interested in buying. However, the group has requested the city of St. Peters at Chapter 535 tax abatement. The tax abatement is "an incentive that can be utilized by cities to encourage the redevelopment of blighted areas by providing real property tax abatement."
The hotel has been underused in recent years as conditions have detoriated. During Upper End's October presentation to the board, Ward 3 Aldermen Tommy Roberts joked that the current hotel could be turned into a haunted house with minimal effort. Upper End Properties said that in October only a handful of the 195 rooms were in use.
Original plans called for a 25-year abatement where the the property is not "subject to real property taxes except in the amount of real property taxes assessed on the land, exclusive of improvements" for the first 10 years. The next 15 years would be taxed at a 50 percent rate. Those plans were altered at Thursday's meeting.
Assistant City Administrator Tim Wilkinson said that after discussions with the Fort Zumwalt School District, the proposal has been altered to 20 years—10 at zero percent and 10 at 50 percent.
In addition to changing the length of the abatement, the proposed plan now calls for the hotel to maintain a certain standard of quality. Not wanting the hotel to be refurbished initially before falling back into disarray, the city came up solution. Upper End Properties has agreed to maintain AAA three-diamond rating—a rating maintained by the Drury Inn.
If approved, Upper End plans to but the hotel and start construction on March 31, 2013. Substantial completion is tentatively slated for Oct. 31, 2013.
Upper End has plans for a $3.5 million renovation to the hotel both inside and out. New signage, new landscaping and other outside changes are slated. Inside Upper End has plans to do what it dude to a hotel in Iowa that had 30 percent occupancy when they bought it. After improving the facilities and the rooms, the capacity is now 60 percent.
Upper End also has plans to make some rooms extended stay by adding fridges, recliners, cabinets and other home-like touches.
The tax abatement will be back on the agenda during the next board meeting in December. The board didn't express any concerns about the plan during the Thursday's meeting.