Developer takes us inside Cape Girardeau's $20M downtown development plan

Developer takes us inside Cape Girardeau's $20M downtown development plan
Architect takes photos in the H & H lobby (source: KFVS)
Architect takes photos in the H & H lobby (source: KFVS)
Taking measurements in the basement of Marquette Center (source: KFVS)
Taking measurements in the basement of Marquette Center (source: KFVS)

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - More than $20 million in local dollars and investments will transform the Marquette Tower and the two buildings across from it into an exciting new space to stay, dine, entertain, and grow your tech business.

Developer Jeff Maurer gave us an inside look at the brick and mortar plans.

"Imagine the beam heights," one member of the project's architect team told Maurer as we all stand in the basement of the Marquette Center.

These beam heights that could take downtown Cape Girardeau to new heights.

"What we learned from the history is the south half of this building was originally built as the garage for the H and H office building," Maurer said of this large empty space.

You can see the Himmelberger and Harrison Building just across the alley from the Center. Maurer said this space could become a restaurant, with its high ceilings and exposed brick.

"Ultimately, we want to join them so you can walk from one to the other. We may try to create an open patio in part of the alley so you can get to it from the outside. We've got a little outdoor seating."

It's the historic H & H though, that will provide the face of the new Courtyard by Marriott hotel. Built in the early 1900s, Maurer said you'll see a hotel lobby that takes you back in time.

"They consider that their flagship brand. And they consider that the one they like to put into historic buildings that have a lot of character. We've got this original white marble throughout. Originally, Sturtevant Bank was on the west half of the ground floor here."

But the transformation won't come easy. The project will answer to three different parties as it progresses.

"One being the franchisor of the hotel brand. One being the National Park Service in terms of complying with historic tax credits. And then one being the city of Cape from a building ordinance standpoint," Maurer said.

So, why isn't the old hotel becoming the new hotel?

"Well, that's where we thought the project was going to start too is to put the hotel into the original Marquette Hotel," he said. "And there are problems with the building and the structure and the size that just make it infeasible to put a hotel into this building anymore."

Instead, this nearly 90-year-old building will combine the old with the new.

"Our plan is to renovate a lot of the commercial office space that they already did about ten or twelve years ago," he said. "So, we're going to set this lobby up as something that feels like a grand hotel lobby. Even though this isn't where the hotel is, we think this lobby is one of the most special places in Cape."

Are they keeping anything original to the building?

"Absolutely. All the finish will stay the same," Maurer said. "We'd like to decorate it. We'd like to use the fireplace. We anticipate having some live entertainment, maybe a grand piano in the corner."

For this Cape Girardeau native, this project is much more than just a business venture.

"Well, it's very exciting," he said. "I think for our co-developers, the Rhodes brothers, and a number of our investors, we are all local people from Cape, have been here most of our lives. This is where we want to be."

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