|By Tim Bryant, St. Louis
Post-DispatchMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jul. 1, 2009--Despite delays and disputes, Roberts Cos. on Tuesday officially opened Hotel Indigo in the Central West End.
Roberts Cos., headed by brothers Mike and Steve Roberts, held a ribbon-cutting to mark the occasion, and Mayor Francis Slay and Comptroller Darlene Green were among those on hand for the christening.
The brothers said that when they bought the building out of foreclosure about two years ago, the hotel, then known as the Inn at the Park, was barely in business.
"It was basically an empty building with an open door," Mike Roberts said.
They poured $17 million into the building's renovation, and in May, the hotel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The brothers have plans for a second Hotel Indigo downtown on Olive Street, but the projected opening of late 2010 has been pushed back at least a year.
As for the 127-room Central West End hotel, troubles with contractors made the opening a moving target. The Roberts brothers had planned to open the hotel shortly after having their office holiday party there in December.
In October, Interior Solutions LLC of Festus filed a lien for $543,677, saying it was owed for work on the project. Roberts Cos. countersued, charging breach of contract and said Interior Solutions had quit the job without finishing the work.
Roberts Cos. then hired another company, DK Interior Solutions of Denver, to finish the job. Disputes arose there, too, and in March, the firm filed a lien for $306,785, claiming underpayment.
Steve Roberts countered in an interview Tuesday that the brothers were unaware that subcontractors and suppliers had not been paid.
"We had to step in and become the general contractor, something which we didn't want to do," he said.
Don Evans, head of DK, contended this week that his company still owns much of the hotel's furniture. He added that all the Roberts brothers "care about is money." The matter is scheduled to go to trial in November.
The Roberts brothers said they hope their new hotel at 4630 Lindell Boulevard draws business from nearby hospitals and the Washington University medical complex.
Gary Andreas, principal at H&H Consulting Inc., a Chesterfield-based hotel consulting group, said the Indigo on Lindell should do well because the Central West End is a good hotel market. But he said downtown is no place to put another hotel now.
"The big question is whether you need another hotel room anywhere downtown, period, for the next few years," he said.
Steve Roberts said "craziness" in lending markets has stalled the brothers' downtown hotel plans. He and his brother are holding off demolition of two vacant buildings within the project area while trying to get two planned hotel structures on the national historic register. A register listing could make the hotel project eligible for tax credits.
Even though the downtown Indigo is on hold, work continues on a 25-story condo tower the Roberts are building next to their Mayfair Hotel on Eighth Street. The brothers said the exterior of the glass-and-concrete building will be finished later this year. A Chicago company has been hired to market the project, although an active sales effort has yet to begin.
"We haven't taken one deposit, but we do have reservations," Steve Roberts said.
To see more of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.stltoday.com.
Copyright (c) 2009, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.