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Sunset Hills motel faced allegations of prostitution, drugs. Now a luxury car wash is planned for the site

Posted on October 17, 2018

https://www.bizjournals.com/st...

The city of Sunset Hills has approved plans to transform a former controversial motel into a luxury car wash complex.

Edison Real Estate is behind a project to build a Tidal Wave Luxury Car Wash, convenience store and drive-thru Smoothie King at the Econo Lodge site at 3730 S. Lindbergh Blvd. Cinnabon and Kaldi's offerings also will be available, Edison Real Estate CEO Mace Nosovitch told the Business Journal.

Construction could start in January with completion targeted for August. Green Park-based J.E. Foster Building Co. has been tapped as general contractor. A Plus Design Group of Dallas will serve as architect, and Sunset Hills-based Civil Engineering Design Consultants (CEDC) as the civil engineering firm. Nosovitch also operates the Tidal Wave Luxury Car Wash in Chesterfield, at 158 Long Road.

Edison Real Estate has the site under contract from Royal Banks of Missouri, which foreclosed on the motel in 2016. The property was listed for sale for $2.5 million, but Nosovitch declined to disclose the purchase price as well as investment costs. He said the project will be privately financed and will not seek public incentives.

Sansone Group's Mark Kornfeld and Grant Mechlin represented both parties in the transaction.

Kornfeld said it was hard to garner interest for the site given the costly price per square foot in Sunset Hills limiting viable options. The firm also knew it would be difficult to draw support from the city. In 2017, Sansone Group proposed a two-story, climate-control storage facility with strip retail for the former motel, but the firm abandoned the project after the city failed to warm to the plans.

The Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen approved the car wash Oct. 10 in a 5-4 decision, with Mayor Pat Fribis as the tiebreaker vote. The plan faced criticism from some aldermen and residents who were concerned about increased traffic, notes from the public meetings show.

The Tidal Wave deal brings an end to the ongoing saga over the fate of the motel, a pockmark in this part of south St. Louis County. The motel was notorious for years of calls to police over prostitution, drugs and other alleged crimes. The site was subject to a meth lab bust in 2013, according to media reports at the time.

The saga, not only long, was controversial. In late 2016, then-St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Tim O'Neil lost a fingertip when a lawyer for the city slammed a door on O'Neil's hand after a hearing concerning the property. Prior to that, the city revoked the business license of the owner, Shaiq Amir of S and S Hospitality. Amir sued the city to seek an injunction against the revocation, while also alleging the city was discriminating against him because of his ethnic origin and religion. The motel, nonetheless, continued to operate.

In February of this year, St. Louis County condemned the property, "declaring it unfit for human occupancy" and the motel closed, according to media reports.