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Long-Vacant Jefferson Arms May Finally Be Occupied Again

News broke Wednesday of a developer having the Jefferson Arms, originally known as The Hotel Jefferson, under contract:

Mike Sarimsakci, founder and president of real estate developer Alterra International, has the building under contract for an undisclosed price.

His plans for the Jefferson Arms were unclear but could be similar to Alterra’s hotel-and-apartment redevelopment of an old Butler Brothers warehouse in Dallas, officials said.

Real estate investor David Jump, who owns the building, was unavailable for comment. (Jefferson Arms renovation possible — Post-Dispatch)

While this is exciting news, it isn’t the first time in the last decade the building was to be renovated.

East facade facing Tucker (12th), June 2013
East facade facing Tucker (12th), June 2013

Pyramid Construction, before going under in 2008, had bought the building  — in 2007 Pyramid kicked out the existing residents (seniors) to prepare for renovation. This quote picks up the story:

After it was foreclosed on in 2009, the Jefferson Arms has been at the center of a four-year-long legal dispute involving [Barry] Cohen and the Federal National Mortgage Association.

In March 2011, a partnership led by Cohen filed a federal lawsuit in St. Louis against EF&A Funding, alleging an agent at EF&A gave Cohen misleading information when he refinanced a loan on the Jefferson Arms.

Cohen’s partnership, Affordable Communities of Missouri, also sued Federal National Mortgage Association, better known as mortgage giant Fannie Mae, seeking to recoup a $500,000 loan penalty paid after Cohen sold the Jefferson Arms building to Steffen’s company. EF&A later settled with the partnership, but Fannie Mae remained as a defendant. February 2015: Jefferson Arms shows complexities of downtown dealmaking — Post-Dispatch

In 2012/13 it looked again like something might happen:

Not so fast on writing off the plan by McGowan Brothers Development to rehab the empty Jefferson Arms in downtown St. Louis.

Owner David Jump has the building up for sale, but developer Tim McGowan said Friday that his company was still seeking federal New Markets Tax Credits to help finance the apartment redevelopment of the huge building at 415 North Tucker Boulevard.

McGowan said he hoped to find out in the first week of April if the Jefferson Arms project gets the federal tax credit this year. The project got shut out in last year’s allocation. (February 2013: McGowan Brothers still pursuing Jefferson Arms project — Post-Dispatch)

Hopefully this time the building will be renovated and reoccupied — I’m cautiously optimistic.

Like other large downtown buildings, such as the Arcade/Wright, the Jefferson Arms was built in phases — adding to the complexity of renovating for use in the 21st century. To understand the building one of the best sources is the 2003 nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. The following are selected quotes:

Page 29:

The Hotel Jefferson, located at 415 North Tucker Boulevard in downtown St. Louis, is a thirteen-story steel frame hotel building and six-story reinforced concrete parking garage, all clad in Revival style veneers of brick and terra cotta. The east half of the hotel was built in 1904 and fronts 220 feet along the west side of Tucker Boulevard (once Twelfth Street) and 100 feet along St. Charles Street to the north, and Locust Street to the south. In 1928, the building expanded to the west another 100 feet. Also erected in 1928, the Jefferson Plaza Garage (measuring 145 feet by 110 feet) at the southeast corner of St. Charles and North Thirteenth Streets, joins the west elevation of the 1928 addition. The storefront level of both the original hotel building and the addition was altered circa 1953 when portions of the terra cotta veneer were replaced with grey and black granite. Metal panels were also installed to wrap around the columns and border the new entrance, which was moved back to its 1904 location at the center of the east (primary) elevation. The south elevation entrance was re-faced with black granite. Overall, the exterior facades of the hotel and garage buildings retain a strong sense of their historic identity as excellent examples of a large, early 20* century hotel in an urban environment. This is conveyed through the integrity ofmaterials and design, and the hotel’s setting and relationship to Tucker Boulevard, St. Louis’ widest street. Typical of numerous buildings in the central business district, exterior alterations to the hotel are confined to the lower two stories and the attic story in relationship to cornice modifications. Easily offsetting these modifications, the bulk of the Hotel Jefferson’s massive and imposing facades remain virtually unaltered and intact. Although the original layout ofthe guest rooms on the upper floors was changed when the rooms were remodeled into apartment units in 1976-77, the plan ofthe characteristic public spaces on the lower floors continues to reflect historic hotel functions. On the ground floor, these include the lobby, dining room, coffee shop, and storefronts. On the mezzanine level, two large banquet rooms retain significant Revival style detailing as well as plan.

In this view of the South facade along Locust St we can see the 1925 Shell Building (left), the annex (center), and original Hotel Jefferson (right)
In this view of the South facade along Locust St we can see the 1925 Shell Building (left), the annex (center), and original Hotel Jefferson (right)
From the Feb 1909 Sanborn map we see the 1904 original on the right, the remaining brick structures on the block (pink) would all be razed within a decade. Click image to view source map.
From the Feb 1909 Sanborn map we see the 1904 original on the right, the remaining brick structures on the block (pink) would all be razed within a decade. Click image to view source map.

Page 35

Ground was broken in mid-March, 1903, by Westlake Construction Co. and by May two shifts of crews working sixteen hours a day had pushed construction forward sufficiently to create a “steel forest” on Twelfth Street. The city’s broadest street, spanning a width of 150 feet, Twelfth (Tucker) had long been envisioned as a grand boulevard of monumental buildings likened to “what Unden der Linden is to Berlin, the show street of the city, because of its amplitude.”However, there was little evidence of the street’s potential before the tum-of-the-century. The completion of the new thirteen-story hotel commanding a full blockface on Twelfth thus promised at last to make the thoroughfare, “an ideal urban picture, the centerpiece of St.Louis as a metropolis…especially at night with electric lights reflected from damp pavements.”

Page 36

The hotel proper opened for guests on April 29 [1904], the eve of opening day of the fair. Registered dignitaries included the official delegation ofmembers ofthe U. S. Senate which, along with delegates from the House, represented the federal government at the opening ceremonies in the absence of President Theodore Roosevelt who telegraphically signaled the opening from his office in the White House. Suites ofrooms were also reserved for large state delegations from Ohio and Pennsylvania, and for numerous foreign noblemen. During fair year, the hotel served as headquarters for the Democratic National Convention as well as various other conventions, associations, and clubs.9

In 1916, the Hotel Jefferson again hosted the Democratic National Convention, this time leading to the second term of President Woodrow Wilson. The hotel’s sumptuous lobby,dining and cafe rooms also became favorite nightspots for local citizens. The opening in 1910 of the neighboring Shubert Theatre (later called the Jefferson Shubert) located across Locust Street in the Union Electric Building (demolished) attracted the after-theater crowd. A visiting traveler’s description in 1916 evokes something of the character of the hotel then: “we went over to the Jefferson to see society there … at midnight things begin to wake up at the Jefferson. Dozensoflimousinesunloadgladragsfullofhumanitywhowanttoeatand drink after the theaters. They used to employ artists to sing and dance for the guests but now, a space in the dining room is reserved and a part of the lobby is railed off so the guests themselves can dance between courses…They seem to have a lovely time and I wished I could be in ‘that element’.”

Page 38

The Jefferson Plaza Garage (Photos # 5, 6; Figs.16, 17, 18), erected in 1928 at the same time as the hotel annex, featured a facade of unusual architectural interest for garages of the period. Most garage facades of the 1920s (and later) in St. Louis displayed either structural concrete or standard red brick facing with little attempt at art. The materials ofthe primary (west) facade (along with the brick side elevations) ofthe Jefferson Plaza Garage matched the hotel annex’s buffbrick and cream terra cotta materials while respectfully addressing significant neighboring buildings on North Thirteenth Street such as the Shell Building (1925), Leopold Eidlitz’s Christ Church Cathedral (1859-67, NHL), and Cass Gilbert’s St. Louis Public Library (1910). The architects of record for the garage, Gill & Jackson (St. Louis), were assisted by W.J.Knight&Co.(St.Louis), consulting engineers specializing in reinforced concrete construction.

The garage’s utilitarian interior of exposed reinforced concrete construction exhibits a plan based on Fernand d’Humy’s 1919 patent for short,easy-graderampsandstaggered,split-levelfloors(Fig.16).The d’Humy patent, transferred to the Ramp Buildings Corporation (New York) which licensed use ofthe ramp system, became the standard design feature ofthe modern multi-level car park; the new building type offered quick and easy car access, an improvement over elevator garages ofthe 1920s. The six-story Jefferson Plaza Garage, originally accommodating 600 cars, was financed and built by St. Louisan William King who purchased the building lot from Hotel Jefferson interests in 1927 with the intent of collaborating with the hotel plans for expansion and upgraded service. While construction was in progress it was announced that the hotel and garage would be connected at the second story “so that tourists can drive directly to the garage and have no inconvenience from their luggage.” In 1924, William King, the former general manager of the Automobile Club of Missouri, had begun construction of the first of a series of four downtown commercial garages (all razed except the Jefferson Plaza) “in the hope ofrelieving parking and traffic congestion.” 

The garage faces 13th Street, across the street is Lucas Park. Barely visible is the Shell Building (right)
The garage faces 13th Street, across the street is Lucas Park. Barely visible is the Shell Building (right)

The nomination is great reading and it has great photos. You can see see recent images of the abandoned ballroom here.

I like that Alterra International is actually international — based in Turkey — with projects worldwide. The founding partner seems well-educated:

Mr. Sarimsakci holds a Masters’ degree from Stanford University’s Structural Engineering Department, and received his bachelor of science degree in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University. He is fluent in English, Russian, and Turkish.

They’re finishing up converting the Butler Brothers warehouse in Dallas into a hotel & apartments — maybe we can interest them in taking on our Butler Brothers warehouse?

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

A Decade Since Locust Street Returned To Two-Way Traffic

February 16, 2016 Downtown, Featured, History/Preservation, Planning & Design, Transportation, Walkability Comments Off on A Decade Since Locust Street Returned To Two-Way Traffic

A decade ago I was still living in South St. Louis, but I posted about a street I would move to within 2 years:

What a difference! Today I drove the full length of Locust Street from 14th west to Teresa (just shy of Grand). For the first time since I’ve lived in St. Louis, I was able to drive eastbound on Locust. It was like a totally different street!

Heading westbound from downtown you see new markings on the street when you are approaching 14th Street behind the library. The right lane becomes a right-turn only lane while the left lane is forward or a left turn. Ahead you can see temporary two-way signs that will likely stay around until people have adjusted to the change.

Driving down the street I noticed myself not wanting to drive as fast. With only a single lane in my direction and cars coming the other way in their lane it just didn’t seem like a high-speed escape route anymore. I knew if would feel different but it was more profound than I had anticipated. Locust St. Now Two-Way West of 14th!

That was ten years ago today — here are a few of images from that post:

In November 2007 I bought a loft in the building on the left.
In November 2007 I bought a loft in the building on the left.
Looking West from 14th & Locust. This signalized intersection still doesn't have crosswalk markings. Click image to see recent post on crosswalks.
Looking West from 14th & Locust. This signalized intersection still doesn’t have crosswalk markings. Click image to see recent post on crosswalks.
Looking West from 17th
Looking West from 17th

I can imagine  how awful these last eight years would’ve been if Locust St had remained one-way Westbound. Hopefully we’ll get around to changing Pine & Chestnut back to two-way traffic West of Tucker (12th) – 14th.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Reading: Gay and Lesbian St. Louis

Click image for publisher page
Click image for publisher page

A new book comes out in a month: Gay and Lesbian St. Louis by Steven Brawley will be part of Arcadia Publishing’s excellent Images of America series:

The Images of America series chronicles the history of small towns and downtowns across the country. Each title features more than 200 vintage images, capturing often forgotten bygone times and bringing to life the people, places, and events that defined a community. Local authors transform dusty albums and artifacts into meaningful walks down memory lane. Millions of vintage images become tiny time capsules, re-establishing memories of the formerly familiar, introducing generations to what once was, and reminding us all of what has been (and can be) in every corner of our nation. The popular series has expanded over time to preserve and celebrate additional worthy topics including local landmarks, architecture, ethnic groups, and more.

I have others from this series like Downtown St, Louis and Route 66 in St. Louis. The series has nearly 7,400 titles! With so many titles in the series they can get into subjects that don’t appeal to huge markets — instead focusing on niche subjects. Everyone interested in St. Louis history will find Gay and Lesbian St. Louis of interest.

The chapters are

  1. Pioneers
  2. Places
  3. Milestones
  4. Groups
  5. Everyday Life

I think readers would be most interested in Chapter 2 — Places. I moved to St. Louis in August 1990, taking an apartment on Lindell in the Central West End — this started becoming the “gayborhood” in the 1960s.  A neighbor in my building was the owner of Heffelump’s — the gift shop even in the early 90s.

I’ve already spent hours looking through this book, I know I’ll spend many more. Author Steven Brawley, founder of the St. Louis LGBT History Project, is a personal friend. This book comes out on February 29th with a launch party at Left Bank Books.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Arcade-Wright Converted To Affordable & Market-Rate Apartments

I’ve toured the Arcade-Wright building three times. The first was pre-renovation and pre-stroke — more than a decade ago. We walked through the building and up the stairs to the roof — I foolishly wore my cowboy boots that day. The building smelled of pigeon crap. My last two tours, December 10, 2015 and January 2, 2016 were of the newly renovated building. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in March 2003

Before I show you the completed project, let’s review some history. First, the Arcade-Wright is two buildings. The Wright, on the corner of 8th & Pine, was built first — in 1906. More than a decade later the owners of the Wright bought most of the rest of the block and razed the existing brick structures. In 1919 construction began on the Arcade, wrapping around two sides of the Wright and connecting the two.

 The Wright is the bottom right corner of the block in 1909, I added the red dashed lime added to illustrate the area to the right is what became the Arcade. The beige sections are fireproof/resistant construction pink is brick, yellow wood frame. Blue indicates stone.
The Wright is the bottom right corner of the block in 1909, I added the red dashed lime added to illustrate the area to the right is what became the Arcade. The beige sections are fireproof/resistant construction pink is brick, yellow wood frame. Blue indicates stone. Click image to view larger version.

Numerous brick buildings, mostly 3 floors high, were razed to build the Arcade next to the Wright. A similar thing happened in the mid-1920s with the rest of the block — see Paul Brown Building history here. Above you can see a little distance between the buildings, not attached like so many were. This gap remained as the block was rebuilt.

From 9th & Pine we see, L-R, the Paul Brown, Arcade, Wright
From 9th & Pine we see, L-R, the Paul Brown, Arcade, Wright. Click image to view block in Google Maps.
The gap between the Paul Brown & Arcade. Both share the same garage entry on the left. More on this later.
The gap between the Paul Brown & Arcade. Both share the same garage entry on the left. More on this later.
Still on the Pine side (South) we see the Arcade (left) and Wright (right)
Still on the Pine side (South) we see the Arcade (left) and Wright (right)
The 1906 Wright dominates the corner pf 8th & Pine. A coffee shop will be in the corner of the ground floor. The Arcade addition can be seen on the left & right. The cover over the stairs to the North end of the WB MetroLink light rail tunnel can be see.
The 1906 Wright dominates the corner pf 8th & Pine. A coffee shop will be in the corner of the ground floor. The Arcade addition can be seen on the left & right. The cover over the stairs to the North end of the WB MetroLink light rail tunnel can be see.
The 8th Street transition from Wright (left) to Arcade (right). The 8th St entrance is for the Arcade Apartments.Click image to view website.
The 8th Street transition from Wright (left) to Arcade (right). The 8th St entrance is for the Arcade Apartments.Click image to view website.
At 8th & Olive the big bays of the Arcade dominate. Webster University will have a public museum in the ground floor on this corner.
At 8th & Olive the big bays of the Arcade dominate. Webster University will have a public museum in the ground floor on this corner.
On the Olive St side we can once again see the gap between the Arcade (left) and Paul Brown (right)
On the Olive St side we can once again see the gap between the Arcade (left) and Paul Brown (right)
Just to the right of the Olive St entry into the Arcade is a tiny little storefront with a small window display. Not sure how Webster University will use this.
Just to the right of the Olive St entry into the Arcade is a tiny little storefront with a small window display. Not sure how Webster University will use this.
The 2-level retail arcade is completely restored, will be used by Webster University. These types of market arcades pre-dated the indoor mall by decades.
The 2-level retail arcade is completely restored, will be used by Webster University. These types of market arcades pre-dated the indoor mall by decades.
A former 8th St storefront space is now the most attractive residential mailroom downtown -- accessed via the resident lobby, not exterior.
A former 8th St storefront space is now the most attractive residential mailroom downtown — accessed via the resident lobby, not exterior.
In places, original glass elevator doors were retained on upper floors. However, these are now fixed in place.
In places, original glass elevator doors were retained on upper floors. However, these are now fixed in place.
The first few upper floors were originally used for retail, with offices on the upper floors. Original hallways were retained, behind the glass is a false wall and an apartment.
The first few upper floors were originally used for retail, with offices on the upper floors. Original hallways were retained, behind the glass is a false wall and an apartment.
The apartments with bay windows on 2 & 3 are market rate units.
The apartments with bay windows on 2 & 3 are market rate units.

Before we go up to the roof I want to talk about the basement parking garage. When Pyramid planned to build condos they were going to build larger units — the smallest condos would’ve been about the size of the largest apartments. The resort is more people, more total units. The condo plan had enough parking so each unit got one parking spot with purchase — typical for condos. However, with many more apartments, and Webster University using some of the parking, there isn’t enough for each unit.

The garage is typical except that it includes a car wash area.
The garage is typical except that it includes a car wash area.

The most expensive market rate apartments include one garage space in the rent. For everyone else, market & affordable, the cost for a parking space is an additional $125/mo — first come. As I posted about in July 2014, they secured an agreement with the Treasurer’s Office for additional parking in the garage in the block to the East — at $75/mo.  Thankfully, this parking is “unbundled” — meaning a person can rent a unit without parking. Or a couple might decide to have only one car. The 8th & Pine MetroLink station is right outside and Enterprise CarShare has six cars downtown.

Remember how I said the Paul Brown and Arcade share a street entrance for parking — when Pyramid owned the Paul Brown it created an easement to allow the Arcade to connect in the basement. This was because the Arcade had no logical place to access the basement from any of the three streets it faces.

When many buildings downtown were made into loft condos is was common for the top floor and roof to be occupied by large, expensive units.  With apartments the roof here becomes a great place for all residents — those in a small affordable unit and those in a bay window market rate unit.

The top floor & roof are all wheelchair accessible. Thus us the East side which has a great view of downtown and...
The top floor & roof are all wheelchair accessible. Thus us the East side which has a great view of downtown and…
 the Arch and rooftops.
the Arch and rooftops.
On there West side is a grilling area
On there West side is a grilling area
Looking Northwest from the grilling area you can see the back of the Paul Brown, the bank of the Syndicate, and the edge of the Arcade.
Looking Northwest from the grilling area you can see the back of the Paul Brown, the bank of the Syndicate, and the edge of the Arcade.
Inside the top floor is common party space, originally this held mechanical equipment
Inside the top floor is common party space, originally this floor held mechanical equipment
There developer even included a commercial kitchen to help with catered events.
There developer even included a commercial kitchen to help with catered events.

Big kudos to everyone involved in this project!

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: The Six Plaza Square Buildings Were Restored To Their Original Colors, Which Are Your Two Favorite Colors?

January 10, 2016 Downtown, Featured, History/Preservation, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: The Six Plaza Square Buildings Were Restored To Their Original Colors, Which Are Your Two Favorite Colors?
Please vote below
Please vote below

One of the earliest urban renewal projects in St. Louis was Plaza Square — six high rise apartment buildings. Four city blocks were razed — except two churches — to make room for the six buildings. Site selection was made in 1950, but the project wasn’t completed until 1962.

Over the years the ownership on the group has changed numerous times. One was converted to condo ownership a decade ago, the other five are now owned by 2-3 entities. All six have been, or are in process of, renovated. The group are listed as a district on the National Register of Historic Places.  All six now sport their original color schemes, from the National Register listing:

Originally, each building’s enameled panels were painted a different solid color on the east and west elevations, with the panels on the north and south elevations painted white. Specifications and early color photographs are at odds, and conclusive assignments of original colors for three of the buildings have yet to be made. However, evidence shows that Building 20 has orange paint underneath the current coat, Building 30 has green and Building 60 was originally the same blue that it is today. The distinct colors differentiated the individual buildings from each other; this effect was an important balance to the uniform appearances of the buildings. (Section 7 page 6)

I was thinking the owners were too cheap to paint the North & South ends — but that’s how they were originally built!

Today’s poll is one I’ve wanted to do for a long time, I just had to wait  until all six got repainted.

The six colors are presented in random order — please vote for TWO.  This poll will close at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

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