344 Summit Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55102
  
   
www.344summit.mn.cx 
  

Proposed "Luxury Boutique Hotel" 

Frustrated Neighbors ??

  
  • Developer proposes a hotel in Summit Avenue's RT2/R2 residentially-zoned neighborhood.  Developer prefers to call it a "Luxury Boutique Hotel" or an "Apartment Hotel," but it seems that St. Paul's zoning code does not define or provide for "boutique hotels" or "apartment hotels."   
       
  • Pages of narrative descriptions talk almost exclusively about wonderfully compatible residential (housing) aspects of the proposal. 
      
  • An early copy of developer's proposal includes this statement:  "It is important to recognize that this plan is in part proposed to provide a certain type of housing..." (emphasis added) 
        
  • Subsequent copies of the proposal (delivered by John Rupp on 06/25/2014) change the statement to:  "It is important to recognize that this plan is in part proposed to provide a certain type of hotel..." (emphasis added) 
       
  • Except for frequent use of the word "hotel," the proposal is almost silent about commercial activities planned or that will be allowed at this hotel. 
       
  • Hotels are a "commercial" use -- Along with rooms or suites used for lodging by travelers or longer-term occupants, hotels commonly contain ballrooms, dining rooms, spaces for entertainment, and places to gather in large or small groups (indoors and outdoors).  (See Apartment Hotel)  (See Zoning
       
  • Developer's written proposal is silent about current and future commercial possibilities.  When questions arise in meetings, developer's verbal answers are inconsistent. 
    • Will the hotel become an event space (aka "party venue")?
      • At a neighborhood meeting on 06/11/2014, developer told the audience that it is impossible for the hotel to become another event space because it will not have, and cannot obtain, a liquor license.  Apparently, none were available that week.  Some day, however, license availability will change and the current owner or a future owner of the hotel could seize the opportunity to generate another round of neighborhood debate.  
      • On 07/22/2014, developer told a different audience (the SUPC/District-8 board) that he will continue trying to obtain a liquor license. 
    • How many employees at this luxury hotel? 
      • 07/16/2014 -- 10 to 15
      • 07/22/2014 -- 20 to 30
    • What about employees' cars?  Where will they park?
      • 07/16/2014 -- There will be very few employees.  They will walk two blocks from the University Club. 
      • 07/22/2014 -- They won't park in the area.  Many will walk.  

One of the significant problems, as I see it, is my understanding that in the City of St. Paul "hotels" are considered "commercial" ventures that commonly include ballrooms, banquet spaces, meeting rooms, spaces to gather in groups, etc., etc., etc. (what I will loosely call, "party venues").  

I believe that to propose and later receive blanket approval for a "hotel" without specifying strict written conditions that restrict usage will produce, by default:

  • sleeping spaces;

  • party venue spaces;

  • service and delivery traffic;

  • resident guest traffic;

  • commercial guest traffic;

  • parking demands (guests, staff & services);

  • ingress/egress demands; and

  • who knows what else.

Eric Lein, across-the-street neighbor

  • If a hotel is approved at 344 Summit, neighbors should expect current and future owners of that hotel to actively seek commercial opportunities and customers (i.e. weddings, receptions, banquets, conferences, proms, etc.). 

     NEIGHBORS - TAKE NOTE.   Grand plans and seemingly stable activities always evolve.    
   

  

  

    
  • Want to complain if commercial trucks double park in the street when the 5 or 6 curbside spaces in front of 344 Summit are occupied?  Sorry neighbors, it's legal.  (see Sec. 157.09. Double parking)  (see food truck Photo
      
  • Loopholes?  Will be used to manipulate long-term follow-through via creatively-interpreted semantics.  Many loopholes exist in developer's written proposal.  Verbally-explained "plans" change often.  If you listen carefully, some plans change after just a few minutes.  Others, shift over days and weeks.   Caution: If it's not in very precise written form, don't bet too much on what you hope will happen. 
      
  • The lack of transparency and detail in developer's written proposal regarding commercial activities at 344 Summit that might or might not be planned, but could be allowed by a loosely-written and non-restrictive conditional use permit, gives the impression that developer hopes neighbors won't notice and therefore won't object (in advance) to:
    • delivery trucks loading and unloading, 
    • almost non-existent ingress and egress, 
    • on-street parking and traffic congestion, and 
    • party venue activity. 
         
  • Later, by the time neighbors do wake up, it will be too late to object.