February 26, 2020

With bespoke hotel, Ballpark Village finally filling out

ST. LOUIS — Baseball memorabilia trim the rooms and hallways of downtown’s newest hotel, a wall-to-wall reminder of the team whose 81 games across Clark Avenue will no doubt help fill the hotel.

“Many of the rooms look right into the ballpark,” said Jonathan Tisch, chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels. “We feel that partnering with sports teams gives us the opportunity to make very unique destinations.”

The new Live! By Loews Hotel, opening Wednesday on Clark, across the street from the St. Louis Cardinals’ Busch Stadium, is only the second of Loews’ sports-affiliated Live! concepts. Built in partnership with Ballpark Village co-developer Cordish Companies, it follows by a few months the opening of a similar hotel in Arlington, Texas, near the Texas Rangers’ stadium.

The new hotel here is also one of the final pieces of the $261 million second phase of Ballpark Village.

And with the 216-room Live! By Loews completed, the area around Busch Stadium is starting to feel less like a construction site and more like the entertainment district and neighborhood the Cardinals ownership envisioned when it partnered with Cordish over a decade ago.

“This level of luxury is unparalleled in downtown St. Louis,” St. Louis Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III said in a statement. “And the design fits perfectly on the site.”

DeWitt and St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson will join Tisch and Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith to officially cut the ribbon on the new hotel at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The second phase, which began more than two years ago and is now nearing completion, follows the completion of the first phase of Ballpark Village, a mostly restaurant and bar complex next to Busch Stadium that opened in 2014. Some $72 million of the development costs are being financed with bonds backed by tax revenue generated from the development. City officials estimate the project will still generate about $2 million in new tax revenue even while the bonds are being paid off.

Pieces of the second phase have already opened. In October, a 117,000-square-foot office building adjacent to the hotel welcomed its anchor tenant, professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which moved out of Bank of America Plaza, a block away. In January, OneLife Fitness opened its 30,000-square-foot location in the nearby retail building, and Sports & Social-St. Louis is also slated to open there.

The final piece will be the 297-unit, 29-story apartment tower slated to open in June.

Parts of the new Live! By Loews Hotel will be open to the public. A second-story event terrace overlooks Clark and Busch Stadium. The terrace bar, “The Bullock,” is named in honor of Tom Bullock, a preprohibition era bartender known for his recipes at the St. Louis Country Club. Bullock even co-authored a book of his cocktails, often imbibed by the rich and famous of the time.

Artifacts from the St. Louis Cardinals museum greet visitors in the lobby — the team is a 25% owner of the hotel, as is Cordish. Past the lobby, the new restaurant, Clark & Bourbon, serves upscale steakhouse-style entrees and its bar has a window that can open onto Clark when it’s closed off during game days.

Clark & Bourbon boasts 480 varieties of whiskey and bourbon in its whiskey room. Vintage trunks, used by Cardinals players to lug equipment to away games, decorate the space.

Word has it some of the trunk bottoms are hollowed out — space for contraband booze during prohibition.

The concept is unique among Loews Hotels’ 27 operating properties.

“We think there’s an interest in American mixology today,” Tisch said.

“And,” he said, gesturing to the barrels and bottles lining the walls, “it also looks really good.”

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