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A Look at the Butler Brothers Warehouse

For over six years now I’ve had a decent view of the 17th Street facade of the massive Butler Brothers warehouse also bounded by Locust, Olive, & 18th (map).

Butler Bros Warehouse, as seen from my windows
Butler Bros Warehouse, as seen from my windows

So when a neighbor posted a link to  ‘718,000sf Butler Brothers Building Set for Residential Redevelopment’ on our condo association listserve I was very interested to hear the development plans. Is residential development imminent? Nope.  The owner has simply listed the property with a different commercial brokerage.

In November 2007 Hilliker was marketing space for lease in the building
In November 2007 Hilliker was marketing space for lease in the building

This was the peak of the condo boom downtown, developers were grabbing buildings as fast as they could. The sheer size of Butler Brothers, however, presented overwhelming challenges to potential developers. The Ely Walker building, on the opposite side of my building, was just being finished as lofts by Orchard Development Group of Chicago.  Ely Walker was very large, but not as big:

Originally known as the Ely and Walker Dry Goods Company Building, this seven story building is second only to the Butler Building in overall size. (National Register Nomination — Washington Avenue Historic District)

Part of the marketing in 2007/2008 was also trying to sell the building to a developer like Orchard or Pyramid, but the bottom was falling out. In April 2008 Pyramid went under and in September the stock market crashed. Since then buildings have been rehabbed, now as smaller rental units. Orchard couldn’t sell all the condos in the Ely Walker so their marketing switched to rental.

The market has recovered somewhat, though not for new high-end condos. The existing resale market is coming back, prices have mostly recovered.   That said, nobody is building new for sale loft condos.  The market is good for rental units but with a building this size I’m not sure about such a large number of units coming on the market. Figuring out the right price range(s) and construction/permanent financing will be tricky, seller financing is an option though. Tax credits will be part of the picture:

The property is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is presently approved for State and Federal Historic Tax Credits to support redevelopment costs.

Well, not exactly. The building isn’t listed individually on the national register, but it’s a contributing structure in the Washington Avenue Historic District. As a contributing building any redevelopment might qualify for historic tax credits. Like prior years, some in Jefferson City want to cap historic preservation and low-invome housing tax credits.

Let’s go for a walk around the building…

The west facade facing 18th is the tallest due ti the grade change.
The west facade facing 18th is the tallest due ti the grade change. Oct 2012
The development concept being marketed includes retail on one side -- 18th,
The development concept being marketed includes retail on one side, facing 18th St. This was the original building entrance. The original address was 300-320 N. 18th. The sidewalk can be adjusted to create an accessible entry.
In the 1950s the entrance was moved to 1717 Olive. Preservation tax credits might require the removal of this 50s look to return to the original.
In the 1950s the entrance was moved to 1717 Olive. Preservation tax credits might require the removal of this 50s look to return to the original. This entry has never been accessible to wheelchairs.
To the east of the 50s entry you can see where two brick columns were removed to create a storefront.
To the east of the 50s entry you can see where two brick columns were removed to create a storefront.
The docks along 17th were still being used in November 2007
The docks along 17th were still being used in November 2007
Three wide gated openings are on the center of the 17th St side, one leading to the small light well. Some creative options exist here.
Three wide gated openings are on the center of the 17th St side, one leading to the small light well. Some creative options exist here. Nov 2007
The gates haven't been opened for a while. This is also considered a historic facade since it faces s public street
The gates haven’t been opened for a while. This is also considered a historic facade since it faces s public street
On Locust we see the entry added in the 50s, opposite the Olive entry.
On Locust we see the entry added in the 50s, opposite the Olive entry.

As an immediate neighbor I hope the building sells quickly and gets redeveloped, but I’m not going to hold my breath in the meantime. If the proposed streetcar on Olive moves forward I think interest in this property will as well. There’s plenty of room for structured parking inside, but the streetcar would connect it to the CBD, Midtown and CWE.

— Steve Patterson

 

Rare Original Compton Heights Mansion

The last occupant of the large home at 3262 Hawthorne was born on August 5, 1908. No, the home hasn’t been vacant for years, he died in January at the age of 104. The home was built in 1893. Here’s his obituary:

Bokern Sr., Eugene A. 104, Fortified with the Sacraments of Holy Mother Church on Thursday, January 17, 2013. Beloved husband of the late Lucille (nee Lynch); loving father of Robert F. (Joyce), Gene Jr, John F. (Shirley), Edward C. (Nina), and the late Karen Sue Watkins; 19 grandchildren, 30 great grandchildren, brother of the late Robert and Francis Bokern; dear cousin, uncle, and friend to many. Services: Visitation Monday, Jan. 21, 4-8pm. Funeral at HOFFMEISTER COLONIAL MORTUARY 6464 Chippewa at Watson, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 10am. Interment Calvary Cemetery. Friends may express condolences at: www.hoffmeistercolonial.com – (Source

Stone facade of 3262 Hawthorne
Stone facade of 3262 Hawthorne

Last Sunday the house was open to lookers even though an offer had just been accepted, see listing & many photos here. A friend I ran into at the open house said he saw the place shortly after the owner had died. It was “stacked high with papers”, he said. On Sunday all the stuff, including old carpets, had been removed. Ideally the original windows will be retained, appropriate reproductions would be very expensive and cheaper windows wouldn’t alter the look significantly.

Beautiful fall colors on Hawthorne Blvd just before the house
Beautiful fall colors on Hawthorne Blvd just before the house

Apparently the owner had lived there since the 1940s, with few updates. Old boiler with radiators for heat, no central air conditioning. The kitchen and bathrooms were antiques. Fairly original houses like this are very rare, the buyers will have many decisions to make. Do they clean the stone exterior to look like it did in 1893? Or perhaps just a light cleaning so some of the old patina remains?

— Steve Patterson

 

14th & Washington Ave: 2007-2013

A bank is now located at 14th & Washington Ave. Well, not exactly, a Commerce Bank ATM & surface parking lot now occupy this corner. In February 2007 the vision was much grander:

Metropolitan Development Enterprises is planning to build a $67 million, 22-story condo tower in the heart of the Washington Avenue loft district. The tower is the largest new-construction residential building proposed for downtown.

Chicago-based Metropolitan was expected to present plans to build the mixed-use building at 1400 Washington, on the site of Erlich’s Dry Cleaners, at a Tax Increment Finance Commission meeting Feb. 22. Metropolitan has requested $12 million of TIF for the project. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Rendering of the condo tower proposed in 2007
Rendering of the condo tower proposed in 2007
The corner had old buildings when the project was announced.
The corner had old buildings when the project was announced.
On October 10, 2007 a big deal was made about razing  the old buildings. Click image for video of the first wall coming down.
On October 10, 2007 a big deal was made about razing the old buildings. Click image for video of the first wall coming down.
By May 2012 an attempt to do a 2-story office/retail building had also failed
By May 2012 an attempt to do a 2-story office/retail building had also failed. Click image for 2008 article on the end of the Skyhouse project
1400 Washington has had numerous development plans, it is now becoming a parking lot, same owner as the previous lot across the alley.
May of this year work began on the parking lot
Yesterday a sign company was adding another sign.
Yesterday a sign company was adding another sign.

Surface parking is a good short-term land banking strategy. Now the land can bring in revenue until funding is fully in place for the next phase at this corner. I just hope that next phase begins within the next 5 years.

— Steve Patterson

 

New Senior Housing A Bright Spot In East Saint Louis

Like every municipality, East Saint Louis Illinois has had ups and downs, unfortunately, the downs have far outnumbered the ups.  A project is nearing completion now that’ll be a big up, building on other ups (MetroLink light rail, new housing at Emerson Park station) of the last 10-12 years. Jazz at Walter Circle is a green modern transit-oriented senior housing development:

The public-private partnership that financed Jazz @ Walter Circle breaks new ground in closing funding gaps for affordable housing. For the first time, the deal integrates HUD mixed-finance development regulations with NMTC multiuse regulations. Public actors such as the East St. Louis Housing Authority (ESLHA), the city of East St. Louis, the state of Illinois, and HUD collaborated with project developer and owner Eco Jazz, Inc.; the national real estate firm Dudley Ventures; the NMTC firm Hampton Roads Ventures; and a not-for-profit affiliate of the ESLHA to reach a deal. In addition to residential space, Jazz @ Walter Circle will house a community center, office and retail space, a grocery store, and community gardens. The project will be the first LEED Gold certified building in East St. Louis, where 35 percent of the population lives below the federal poverty level.(HUD)

LEED Gold in East St. Louis? Yep! Not only is it green, it is architecturally attractive and has good urban form.

Jazz @ Walter Circle
Jazz @ Walter Circle nearing completion, adjacent to the Emerson Park MetroLink Station in East Saint Louis IL.
Both sides of 15th Street are getting redone
Curbs & sidewalks on both sides of 15th Street are getting redone
The south end near the station includes a public clock

I’ll do a full review once the ribbon has been cut, but so far I’m pretty impressed.

 — Steve Patterson

 

Potential Development Sites Along Proposed Streetcar Line, Part 8: Central Business District

This post is the final in a series looking at potential development sites along the proposed initial route of the St. Louis Streetcar.  Previously I reviewed:

  1. Olive 15th-16th
  2. Olive 16th-18th
  3. 14th & Olive To North Florissant & St. Louis Ave.
  4. Olive 18th to Jefferson
  5. Jefferson to Compton
  6. Compton to Vandeventer
  7. Vandeventer to Taylor & Children’s Pl

I saved the downtown CBD (Central Business District) for last. You may think downtown is done but I found lots of opportunities for additional development.

ABOVE: Artist rendering of streetcar in downtown St. Louis
ABOVE: Artist rendering of streetcar in downtown St. Louis at Chestnut St/Kiener Plaza
The downtown section of the route has one-way single tracks, with opposite directions a block apart. This is different than the rest of the route and due to the narrow street widths in the CBD.
The downtown section of the route (yellow) has one-way single tracks, with opposite directions a block apart. This is different than the rest of the route and due to the narrow street widths in the CBD. Existing MetroLink light rail subway is shown in red.

Coming east into downtown from the west the lines will be in the center of Olive Street. East of 14th the line goes to a single eastbound track to 6th Street, turning right (south) onto 6th, right (west) onto Chestnut St/Kiener Plaza, right (north) onto 7th, left (West) onto Locust to 14th. There are many areas not directly served by this compact loop, but it gets riders within 2-3 blocks of many places of employment/interest.

Ok, let’s start at 14th and Olive and do the loop and end up on the other side of the library at 14th & Locust.

Library Park bounded by Olive, 13th, Pine, &  14th will stay a park. Will be welcomed open space as the corridor gets greater density.
Library Park bounded by Olive, 13th, Pine, & 14th will stay a park. Will be welcomed open space as the corridor gets greater density. To the east is the Park Pacific, a mixed-use redevelopment of the former Missouri Pacific Railroad headquarters.
The north side of Olive between Tucker (12th) and 13th is a disaster area, perfect for infill development. This is three different parking lots with three different owners, one is Christ Church Cathedral.
The north side of Olive between Tucker (12th) and 13th is a disaster area, perfect for infill development. This is three different parking lots with three different owners, one is Christ Church Cathedral, shown at right.
The US Bank site will hopefully get redeveloped, getting a new building(s) like it once had.
The US Bank site will hopefully get redeveloped, getting a new building(s) like it once had. This 1-story branch was built in 1985. The Jefferson Arms in the background will be addressed further down when we get to Locust & Tucker. Click image to view a 1958 aerial.
In February 1909 this block was very dense. Soon after the one open corner got a very large building. Most remained as late as 1971.
In February 1909 city block 515 was very dense, soon after the one open corner got a very large building. Most remained as late as 1971. Click image to view original on the UM Digital Library.
Looking back west across Tucker. Infilling the bank site with a building about the height of the Jefferson Arms would be ideal.
Looking back west across Tucker. Infilling the bank site with a building about the height of the Jefferson Arms would be ideal. At least as tall as Christ Church Cathedral.
Looking back at the Park Pacific. This new garage isn't going anywhere for decades but all the retail spaces should get leased.
Looking back at the Park Pacific. This new garage isn’t going anywhere for decades but all the retail spaces should get leased.
Between 1965-1999 the former St. Louis Post-Dispatch building was covered in a steel curtain wall system. Click image to view the nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.
Between 1965-1999 the former St. Louis Post-Dispatch building was covered in a steel curtain wall system. Click image to view the nomination of this 1916 building to the National Register of Historic Places. It should be easier to lease once the streetcar route is just outside.
I'd like to see a more interesting use of the ground floor spaces, currently the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners is behind these blinds.
I’d like to see a more interesting use of the ground floor spaces, currently the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners is behind these blinds facing Olive.
Between Olive and the new SLU Law School is 210 N Tucker, now a date center. But I have hope for the ground floor...
Between Olive and the new SLU Law School is 210 N Tucker, now a date center. But I have hope for the ground floor…
The Wheeler Post Office, entered off Olive, recently remodeled. It no longer occupies the front section of the building. This leaves room for small retailer(s), assuming it isn't filled with racks of servers.
The Wheeler Post Office, entered off Olive, recently remodeled. It no longer occupies the front section of the building. This leaves room for small retailer(s), assuming it isn’t filled with racks of servers.
The Olive side and rear of the building has been unfortunate since built in 1969, new backup generators make it worse. Creative paint perhaps?
The Olive side and rear of the building has been unfortunate since built in 1969, new backup generators make it worse. Creative paint perhaps?
1111 Olive was built in 1942 as an annex to the Post-Dispatch, KSDK TV had early studios here. This is also now a data center.
1111 Olive was built in 1942 as an annex to the Post-Dispatch, KSDK TV had early studios here. This is also now a data center. Hopefully this ground floor retail space is still vacant so it can be reactivated.
The western portion of the ground floor is open air, not sure if it always has been this way. Perfect for cafe seating protected from sun/rain.
The western portion of the ground floor is open air, not sure if it always has been this way. Perfect for cafe seating protected from sun/rain.
Four buildings remain on the south side of the 11xx block of Olive
Four buildings remain on the south side of the 11xx block of Olive. The 2 buildings on the right, both from 1886, used to have 5 floors. The narrow building to the left is from 1896 and the far left from 1912.
The remainder of the block, except a building facing Pine, is surface parking lots ready for new construction.
The remainder of the block, except a building facing Pine, is surface parking lots ready for new construction.
The building on the left, 1107 Olive, was threatened with demolition for parking last year but it was denied. It'll get renovated but the big store is the corner at 11th.
The building on the left, 1107 Olive, was threatened with demolition for parking last year but it was denied. It’ll get renovated but the big store is the corner at 11th.
This corner has underground parking for Louderman Lofts building
This corner has underground parking for Louderman Lofts building

Let me stop the flow of images briefly to talk more about this corner. Looks final, right? Drive to underground garage, stairs up to grade? Parking for commercial tenants and even a couple of lofts? You’re thinking there is no way this going to ever change. Seeing how it was built made me inquire with Louderman developer & resident Craig Heller of Loftworks, here’s his response:

Our plan has always been to build on that lot – parking for Louderman has been built under the lot. When it was built we sank piers to bedrock so that we build a new structure on top.

I had spotted the top of the piers. Folks, this is how you plan ahead! This was done 8-10 years ago and it may well be another 8-10 years before Heller can build on the corner. But when market conditions are right he’ll be able to see a handsome return on the cost of those piers. In the meantime, this would be a good corner for a food cart vendor with a few tables, chairs, umbrellas, etc. Ok, back to the streetcar route…

Diagonally across the intersection is two surface lots, one owned by the Omni Hotel on Pine. These will take longer to get developed.
Diagonally across the intersection is two surface lots, one owned by the Omni Hotel on Pine. These will take longer to get developed.
The buildings on the north side of the 10xx block of Olive are all handsome. Bussone's owns their building, perhaps downtown's oldest bar will get a new storefront?
The buildings on the north side of the 10xx block of Olive are all handsome. Bussone’s owns their building, perhaps downtown’s oldest bar will get a new storefront?
Craig Heller's Loftworks also owns the small parking lot at 10th & Olive.
Craig Heller’s Loftworks also owns the small parking lot at 10th & Olive.
This lot is in poor condition, with nothing but dirt underneath. I see this getting infill as well.
This lot is in poor condition, with nothing but dirt underneath the asphault I see this getting infill sooner rather than later.
At 8th & Olive we have the vacant Arcade-Wright building. Click image to read about the development plan
At 8th & Olive we have the vacant Arcade-Wright building. Click image to read about the development plan. The streetcar will make the retail spaces in the historic arcade more viable.
Diagonally across the intersection is the Chemical Building . Click the image to read about development plans  for this building. Retail will be more viable once the streetcar line opens.
Diagonally across the intersection is the Chemical Building . Click the image to read about development plans for this building. Retail will be more viable once the streetcar line opens.
The Laclede Gas Building on the SE corner of 8th & Olive should benefit from the  streetcar line.
The Laclede Gas Building on the SE corner of 8th & Olive should benefit from the streetcar line.
The fur & leather store that operated in the corner spot closed recently, a good spot if a direct exterior entrance is added.
The fur & leather store that operated in the corner spot closed recently, a good spot if a direct exterior entrance is added. Fall 2012 photo.
Until recently the top floor had the Point of View restaurant and the bar's law center.
Until recently the top floor had the Point of View restaurant and the bar’s law center. The St. Louis Bar Association moved to 6th & Washington Ave. Laclede Gas has also discussed relocating.
An 8th & Pine MetroLink light rail station is located on the corner of the Laclede Gas Building.
An 8th & Pine MetroLink light rail station is located on the corner of the Laclede Gas Building.
Macy's, formerly Famous-Barr, is closing at the end of the month.
Macy’s, formerly Famous-Barr, is closing at the end of the month.
The Railway Exchange Building, where Macy's is now on the lower 3 levels, has some very exciting things happening now, tomorrow I'll share what's going on in the former May Company offices.
The Railway Exchange Building, with Macy’s on the lower 3 levels until next month, has some very exciting things happening on upper floors. Tomorrow I’ll share what’s going on in the former May Company offices.
The 6xx block of Olive used to have more terra cotta buildings but only one was spared from demolition.The streetcar will run eastbound on Olive (left) and northbound on 7th (right).
The 6xx block of Olive used to have more terra cotta buildings but only one was spared from demolition. The streetcar will run eastbound on Olive (left) and northbound on 7th (right). This garage should be razed.
The corner of this block is a surface parking lot at 6th, the streetcar will turn onto 6th from Olive .
The corner of this block is a surface parking lot at 6th, the streetcar will turn onto 6th from Olive .
The Met Square building, built in 1988, is glossy and internally focused. Hopefully it can be softened up a bit at the street-level.
The Met Square building, built in 1988, is too glossy and internally focused. Hopefully it can be softened up a bit at the street-level.
Besides the sliver of the white terra cotta building, this is the only remaining non-parking building on the block.
Besides the sliver of the white terra cotta building, 207 N. 6th is the only remaining non-parking building on the block.
The two Kiener Plaza garages are awful. They should both be razed, replacing one with s garage using modern technology to fit more cars in s tight space. Click image to watch video of high tech parking.
The two Kiener Plaza parking garages are awful/uninviting structures
Looking north up 6th from Chestnut we see both Kiener garages, built in 1966. Both should be razzed, replacing one with a compact automatic parking garage, click image to watch a demo video of this technology.
Looking north up 6th from Chestnut we see both Kiener garages, built in 1966. Both should be razzed, replacing one with a compact automatic parking garage, click image to watch a demo video of this technology.
The streetcar would have a track in Chestnut plus a track in Kiener Plaza as a  layover point
The streetcar would have a track in Chestnut plus a track in Kiener Plaza as a layover point
I don't like the 1981 addition to Sullivan's Wainwright building. Click image to read s 1981 review in the NY Times.
I don’t like the 1981 addition to Sullivan’s Wainwright building, it is in poor condition and doesn’t relate to the street. This is a Missouri state office building.
Click image to read a 1981 review in the NY Times.
And we're back to the block that's almost entirely a 1962 parking garage in poor condition. The block will have streetcar line on 3 sides.
And we’re back to the block that’s almost entirely a 1962 parking garage in poor condition. The block will have streetcar line on 3 sides. The Railway Exchange can be seen in the background.
The surface parking lot on the SW corner of 7th & Locust is the only hole in that city block, it should be filled.
The surface parking lot on the SW corner of 7th & Locust is the only hole in that city block, it should be filled with new construction.
A few years ago the owner of the US Bank tower considered building a parking garage to replace this useless plaza. Hopefully an occupied building will replace the plaza. The Ambassador Theater was razed in 1996 for the plaza, click for info.
A few years ago the owner of the US Bank tower considered building a parking garage to replace this useless plaza. Hopefully an occupied building will replace the plaza. The Ambassador Theater was razed in 1996 for the plaza, click for info.
Once taller, shortened many years ago, vacant since 2009.
Once taller, shortened many years ago, vacant since 2009.
The first two buildings remain threatened with demolition. I'm not attached to them, I just want buildings not a circle driveway.
The first two buildings on Locust east of 10th remain threatened with demolition. I’m not attached to them, I just want buildings not a circle driveway.
Much of city block 823 bounded by 11th, Locust, Tucker, & St. Charles, is surface parking. Miss Hullings Cafeteria was located here for decades, click for more info.
Much of city block 823 bounded by 11th, Locust, Tucker, & St. Charles, is surface parking. Miss Hullings Cafeteria was located here for decades, click for more info.
The 1960 building on the NE corner of Tucker & Locust needs to be replaced with a larger structure.
The 1960 building on the NE corner of Tucker & Locust needs to be replaced with a larger structure.
On the west side of Tucker is  the vacant Jefferson Arms. Hopefully developers will be able to find the right formula to make the numbers work.
On the west side of Tucker is the vacant Jefferson Arms. Hopefully developers will be able to find the right formula to make the numbers work.

As you can see there are many opportunities along this route to re-urbanize and densify. Many more opportunities exist 1-4 blocks away from the route.

Here are two sentiments I’ve heard from readers recently:

  • “The streetcar should go down Washington Ave.”
  • “It would be nice if the activity on Washington Ave. would expand to other streets.”

If we’d put all our eggs into the Washington Ave basket we’d still wish years later the activity would reach other streets. By running the streetcar one and two blocks south of Washington Ave we’ll be expanding the activity while making it easier to get people to their Washington Ave places, like Mosaic.

Tomorrow we look at the entrepreneurial activity taking place on the 12th & 13th floors of the Railway Exchange building.

— Steve Patterson

 

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