Ehrhardt Properties to announce plans soon for former Ramada Inn location
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
Site preparation work continues on the former Ramada Inn property, which will be redeveloped into new businesses at St. Robert's most prominent intersection on Missouri Avenue between I-44 and Old Route 66.
SAINT ROBERT, Mo. (July 2, 2010) — Hotel management and St. Robert city officials have announced that they’ll soon be able to provide additional information about what’s happening at the site of the old Ramada Inn just south of the Missouri Avenue interchange on Interstate 44.
Now known as Liberty Lodge, the hotel property at one of the city’s most prominent intersections was sold late last year for $3.55 million by TW Cloud, Inc., the owners of the Area 151 nightclub, to Steve Ehrhardt, who already owns five hotels on St. Robert Boulevard. He’s since torn down the older part of the Ramada Inn closer to Missouri Avenue but reopened the back wing as a stand-alone facility which is now serving guests. The front part of the property has been leveled in preparation for putting up new buildings.
More details will be released at a 10 a.m. Tuesday press conference, according to a statement issued by Donna Barkefelt of Ehrhardt Properties. The announcement will indicate that the company “is bringing another national brand to our community,” she said.
City officials are involved because the city council voted late last year to approve a tax increment financing process by which the five-acre parcel became eligible for special tax benefits that would redirect $2.5 million worth of property and sales tax revenue over a period of up to 23 years to the hotel company. After receiving the city’s approval, Ehrhardt completed the purchase and declared that he would redevelop the property at a cost of $8.6 million.
In documents submitted to the city last October, Ehrhardt proposed building two restaurants of about 4,000 square feet per restaurant, a 14,500-square-foot pharmacy, and a pedestrian bridge across Interstate 44, and will be privately financing at least $5.6 million of the project costs. An additional 1 percent sales tax is expected to be levied on the area, either through a community improvement district or a transportation development district, to support the TIF project with an additional $500,000 worth of revenue; an alternative development plan without the additional 1 percent sales tax projects $6.6 worth of private investment and $2 million to come from the TIF redirection of existing taxes.
Ehrhardt has a long history in the area. He purchased property in 1998 on the site of what was once a trailer park north of the interstate, just as the Army’s chemical and military police schools were moving from Fort McClellan in Alabama to Fort Leonard Wood, and his first new hotel, Comfort Inn, opened in February 1999. Since then, he’s opened the Hampton Inn in October 2000, purchased the Fairfield Inn in October 2002, built Candlewood Suites as the area’s first extended-stay property, and opened MainStay Suites, another extended-stay facility, in July 2005.
Unlike traditional hotels, extended-stay facilities include full kitchens and other on-site amenities, and in most communities are designed for businessmen who will spent several weeks to several months in a community, too long to rent a traditional hotel room but not long enough to rent an apartment. In the Fort Leonard Wood area, an additional target market has been soldiers who are on temporary duty assignments at the military installation, often training at the engineer, military police or chemical schools.