Feb. 09–HBE Corp. President Fred Kummer is planning a $275 million condominium and hotel development in downtown Clayton.

The plan from Kummer, 89, first reported by the St. Louis Business Journal, could add two more towers to Clayton's skyline, one a hotel and the other a condominium building.

"There's currently just an abundance of apartment towers in the city of Clayton," said Stafford Manion, president of Clayton-based Gladys Manion Real Estate, who is working as a consultant on the project.

"They're all very attractive and doing fairly well. But there has been no condominium development in the city of Clayton for a very long time."

Clayton's condo high-rises, the Crescent, Maryland Walk and the Plaza in Clayton, all opened more than a decade ago. More recently, developers have added hundreds of rental units to the district.

Kummer's HBE Corp., founded in 1960 and based in Creve Coeur, was one of the largest private companies in the region and used to own the Adam's Mark Hotel chain before deciding to solely focus on its other business of building hospitals and medical facilities.

HBE closed Thursday on the purchase of several parcels, most owned by the Gershman family. A purchase price was not disclosed.

The area covers the half-block bounded by Maryland Avenue on the north, Central Avenue on the west and Bemiston Avenue on the east, with the alley serving as the southern boundary. Businesses operating there include Vincent Van Doughnut, Barcelona Tapas and an Imo's Pizza. The Clayton license bureau office is also situated within the footprint.

Tenants have been told their leases will not be renewed and the property will be vacated in the first part of next year.

That's when HBE hopes to begin construction on the project, Manion said. It's early in the process, and details such as unit counts and building heights aren't yet available, he said.

HBE hopes to submit plans to the city of Clayton to begin review soon.

Assisting Kummer as consultants on the project is a team that includes Lawrence Group CEO Steve Smith as the architect, Gary Feder of Husch Blackwell as attorney and Judy Goodman of Lents & Associates for public relations.

The developer does not plan to request tax abatement or other incentives, "which is very unique to a development this size," Manion said.

Other big Clayton projects have seen well-funded opposition from area residents over requests for tax incentives.

The developers of the recently opened 212 South Meramec Avenue apartment building agreed to reduce their tax abatement request after residents sued. And many opposed Centene's campus expansion due to the corporation's tax abatement request.

The lack of public financing could help speed along the project as another hotel developer plans his own project in downtown Clayton. HomeBase Partners and Rusty Keeley, CEO of St. Louis-based L. Keeley Construction, plan to acquire the former Clayton Police station for an AC Hotel.

HBE most recently emerged back on the development scene with a proposal to turn its six-story former headquarters on Olive Boulevard in Creve Coeur into a Hilton Tapestry Collection.

Even though the building on the 10-acre tract was vacant, the Creve Coeur City Council killed the project in April over disagreements about access and opposition from nearby homeowners.

Manion said Kummer's Clayton development would be "very high-grade."

"The development will be something that the city of Clayton and the county of St. Louis and the general area can be very proud of," he said.