Recently I wrote about Drury Hotel’s plans to erect an 88′ foot structure behind Bob Evans at 71st and Marsh. Last night at the PTRA meeting we learned more about. They have modified their plans considerably to scale back the height of the facility. In all other respects it appears to be a magnificant project – steel and poured concrete – unlike sticks and bricks so common with suburban hotels. There was a consensus that Drury should proceed and they will file their new plans with the city very soon. They have agreed to lower the elevation from 7 stories to 5 and they have expressed interest in having close dialogue with the neighbors about all matters pertaining to the project and the adjacent parcel between the proposed hotel and Chestnut Hills. There were several residents from CH and one of them was very opposed and felt personally attacked by the prospect of this use. I think he may believe that the property will harm his property values. In fact, his neighbors were reassurring and realize that the current zoning does permit a low budget extended stay facility such as the one on the south side of 86th Street near Traders Point Shopping Center. The Fire Chief pointed out that these extended stay facilities are much more negative on property values than a hotel such as the proposed. Evidently they can be populated by migrants and transients and even drug dealers and crack heads. The group in attendance began to realize that addressing committments for use and landscaping, signage and lighting for the entire parcel is far superior to doing it piecemeal over a period of years and that this does represent a very high end user that will retain ownership (rather than most hotels which are franchised and resold within the first three years of completion). Drury does appear to be a first class operator and I have verified with my contacts that they are respected throughout the industry. In fact one of the school board candidates was there and he is employed by Marriott. He said Drury is admired within the Marriott corporation for their attention to detail and quality.
I think the group was also very impressed with the Drury architect and his interest in landscaping and berming and agreeing to a low intensity use such as office on the parcel that separates the hotel site from Chestnut Hills. Kevin Durcholz in heading up a committee that will fine tune the Drury plans. I am also on this committee.
In response to our request for a line of sight drawing showing how a two story project on the site to the south would compare to a five story project on the site just north of Bob Evans, they showed convincingly that the effect would be the same visually because the taller building is further away from the housing than the lower two story building could be.