An astronaut emerged Wednesday morning from a dusty construction site on Delmar, the future location of the Moonrise Hotel.
With a triumphant classical theme popularized by the film, 2001: Space Odyssey, sounding from the P.A. speakers, the man in the space suit waddled out onto a wooden stage along Delmar Boulevard. He slowly lifted the tinted visor of his space helmet and proclaimed in grand fashion the coming of the Moonrise.
Joe Edwards, whose business and civic resume speaks for itself, was the man in the space suit Wednesday morning.
Edwards – co-founder of Blueberry Hill restaurant, Pin-Up Bowl, The Pageant venue and the recently opened Flamingo Bowl on Washington Avenue, among numerous other projects – announced his latest venture, a seven-story, $23.5 million boutique hotel to open in April 2009.
As dozens of cameras from media were trained on Edwards, he slowly lifted up the tinted visor of the astronaut helmet and said, ''The Moonrise Hotel is one small step for the Loop, and one giant leap for St. Louis.''
A corny, borrowed quote to be sure, but coming from Edwards, whose reputation for building fun businesses in St. Louis is second-to-none, the words and the pageantry surrounding the press conference couldn't help but bring smiles to all in attendance.
Never one to pass up the opportunity to turn an otherwise boring, golden-shovels, check-presenting-type press conference into a visually enjoyable event, one was reminded of Edwards' press conference for The Pageant eight years ago -- when he brought out battery-powered toy backhoes and dirt movers.
Dirt-moving on the Moonrise appears complete and the concrete foundation of the hotel is laid. A year from now, patrons should be sitting at the bar on the roof of the hotel. Maybe they will join 28th Ward Alderwoman Lyda Krewson, who could stop in for happy hour.
"I really look forward to having my cocktail on the roof," she said during her remarks.
About the Moonrise: The hotel will include ''125 guest rooms, 10 unique suites and 2,000 square feet of meeting space,'' according to a press release. The address is 6177 Delmar Boulevard, in St. Louis, as the hotel sits just east of Skinker Boulevard.
The Eclipse restaurant will occupy the first floor and the Rooftop Terrace Bar will occupy, well, the roof. Sure to provide a view of the Delmar Loop, Forest Park and Washington University, the hotel will end up being one of the tallest buildings in the neighborhood. The site formerly housed the Ronald L. Jones Funeral Home.
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Like Edwards' other businesses – the Moonrise will be chock-full of trinkets from American culture. He has been collecting moon-related chochkes for about three years in preparation for the hotel. On display at neighboring Pin-Up Bowl (there was a light lunch there after the press conference) were several of the items that will go on display at Moonrise.
- Toys from the McDonald's Moon Man commercials (link)
- A poster for By the Light of the Silvery Moon
- Spaceship Pez dispensers
- And of course, Moon Pies!
To complete the lunar theme for the boutique hotel, a large replica moon will rotate atop the roof.
It appears like the future of the East Loop -- long the shabby-looking sister of the Delmar Loop west of Skinker -- was looking brighter.
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