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Owner of St. Louis' largest hotel, decimated by shutdowns, is critical of local leader

Revenue this month, through May 26, was under $100,000, compared with $5 million during May 2019
Credit: SLBJ
The Marriott St. Louis Grand in downtown St. Louis

ST. LOUIS — Many large businesses are hurting as much as ones that regularly make the news.

That's the message from Douglas Greene, whose Fernandina Beach, Florida-based Haberhill LLC is operating partner for St. Louis' largest hotel, the 917-room Marriott Grand, at North Eighth Street and Washington Avenue downtown.

The numbers he reports are bleak: Of the hotel's 450 employees, 400 are furloughed, with no clarity on when they'll all be back — if ever. Revenue this month, through May 26, was under $100,000, compared with $5 million during May 2019. All together, the hotel is losing $750,000 a month, and, because of fixed costs, it would have saved relatively little by closing. Terms with lenders have had to be reworked.

"It's difficult for me to watch it happen because I view these employees as family," Greene said.

Greene wonders whether shutdown orders were issued too hastily, given that many of the deaths were concentrated in nursing homes and states with higher density than Missouri. But he's more concerned now with the future.

While his hotel is in the city, he said the region-wide strategy for reopening has been inconsistent, which is halting progress toward recovery. And for that he blames St. Louis County Executive Sam Page.

"The biggest problem in St. Louis, in my opinion, is that the county and the city don't get along. They don't agree on anything," he said.

The city is allowing meeting rooms to reopen June 8, with capacity restrictions of 25%. Greene says he and other hotel operators have not gotten word on the county's rules. Though the city and county began reopening May 18, their rules were slightly different, and St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, during an interview with the local NPR affiliate, expressed surprise that they weren't announced at the same time.

"The new county executive is somewhat off the rails on this," Greene said. He cited Page's new travel advisory in light of Memorial Day weekend parties at the Lake of the Ozarks. 

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