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Drury Hotels Wins Grudging Approval from Santa Fe's Historic Design
 Review Board of its Plans for Redevelopment of the St. Vincent
 Hospital Property to a Hotel
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By Tom Sharpe, The Santa Fe New MexicanMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

July 1, 2009 -- Drury Hotels continues to win grudging approval from the Historic Design Review Board of its plans for redevelopment of the old St. Vincent Hospital property.

On Tuesday, the board agreed to grant exceptions to limitations on heights and window sizes, and to allow the project to use arches and a pitched roof on new structures.

The board has held three informational sessions on the San Antonio-based hotel chain's plans to remodel the old hospital building and Marian Hall as a hotel and build new structures for hotel suites, a parking garage and retail shops.

Tuesday was the second time the board has voted on plans. At least one more hearing will be held to consider the overall project design. No date has been set for that meeting.

Exceptions granted Tuesday include:

--Construction of the new parking garage to a height of 29 feet, 6 inches or 6 feet, 10 inches higher than would ordinarily be allowed by the streetscape calculation. A tower on the new building would rise even higher -- to about 33 feet -- but the city's historic-architecture ordinance would not apply because the tower includes an elevator.

--Addition of windows on the south-facing entrance to the hotel to exceed the maximum 30-inch diagonal measurement. A planner for the project said the larger windows are needed for the sake of scale, light and to welcome people to the hotel entrance.

--Addition of windows and doors on the east-facing primary facade of the property's old boiler building that would be remodeled into a restaurant.

--Construction of five rounded arches in one of the three new buildings for suites. The Drury planner passed around a newspaper with a photograph of the arches on the front entrance of the Hotel St. Francis to demonstrate how arches, though banned in the historic districts, have been used downtown.

--Building one of the new suite buildings with a pitched roof and balconies. While most of the development is Territorial design, the pitched roof and balconies would mimic those on Marian Hall. Board members were generally complimentary toward the design, but some members suggested the following:

  • Reducing the size of the south-facing entrance so it will not crowd the old boiler room.
  • Redesigning the proposed tall, narrow windows on the side of the entrance.
  • Reducing the size of a tower on one of the new suite buildings so it doesn't look like a "lighthouse."
  • Making the openings on the garage -- required for ventilation -- so cars inside will not be as visible from the street.

Contact Tom Sharpe at 986-3080 or tsharpe@sfnewmexican.com.

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To see more of The Santa Fe New Mexican, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.santafenewmexican.com/.

Copyright (c) 2009, The Santa Fe New Mexican

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