ST. LOUIS — Vacant since 2014, downtown St. Louis' Millennium hotel has been racking up a series of code violations.
The city's building division in August 2021 cited the prominent complex, perched between Memorial Drive and South Fourth Street, southwest of the Gateway Arch, for broken or missing windows, plus problems with stucco and an insulation system.
"Looks to be shot out," inspector Frank Taormina wrote of the window.
Later, in July this year, Taormina found what he classified as a major violation: "homeless people's open storage" on the property's east side.
Graffiti also adorned glass doors facing east, and weeds grew on top of a cover on the property's pool. They had to be higher than eight inches to qualify as a violation.
Still, documents obtained by the Business Journal through an open-records request show that the property's owner, tied to Millennium & Copthorne Hotels of London, which was acquired in 2017 by Hong Leong Group of Singapore, didn't face city fines for those findings. In fact, over the past two years, the city only issued two $25 fines to the owner, Gateway Regal Holdings LLC, after it failed to address unspecified code violations. Both of those fines were issued in April, according to city records.
A re-inspection is scheduled for Sept. 12, according to a July 12 letter from Taormina to Gateway Regal Holdings, sent care of Dallas-based Marvin F. Poer & Co., a property tax consulting company. More $25 fines could be issued then, Taormina said.
The situation highlights a problem, according to Building Commissioner Frank Oswald: the lack of tools available to city officials when confronting a building owner that chooses to keep its property vacant, so long as taxes are paid and minimum code standards met. It also comes as downtown in recent years has lessened its number of vacant buildings, and has at least preliminary plans for most of the remaining ones — Millennium excluded.
“Constitutionally, I don’t think we could say that you can’t have a vacant building,” Oswald said. “You can have a vacant building as long as it meets minimum exterior standards."
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