Home » Real Estate » Recent Articles:

One Block of Cherokee Street Took 17 Years to Build

My friend suggested we meet for lunch at Tower Tacos on Cherokee. I knew that meant I’d have to drive there and he could walk, but I rarely pass up lunch on Cherokee.

ABOVE: Tower Tacos at 3147 Cherokee is in the middle of a block, click to view in Google Maps

This side of Cherokee between Compton Ave on the west and Michigan Ave on the east contains seven buildings. At a casual glance I didn’t give much thought to them, they all looked like they were from the same period. Out of curiosity I decided to find out using Geo St. Louis, “a guide to geospatial data about the City of St. Louis.” What I found out was these seven buildings were built over a 17-year period (1896-1913):

  1. The first, 3137 Cherokee, was built in 1896 , a two-flat originally. This was the second lot from the east, not the corner.
  2. In 1905 a brick one story house was built to the lot to the west, at 3139 Cherokee. For nine years the other house stood alone, unless previous structures existed on this block.
  3. In 1909 a corner storefront was built next door to the east at 3133 Cherokee. This is the corner at Michigan Ave. Now we’ve got three buildings in a row.
  4. Also in 1909 a 2-story with first floor storefront space was built at 3147 Cherokee. This skipped a lot. This is now Tower Tacos
  5. A year later, 1910,brick 4-family was built at 3143-45 Cherokee filling in the gap left the previous year. Five buildings now in a row.
  6. In 1911 2-story with two storefronts and two flats was built on the next lot at 3151 Cherokee.
  7. Finally in 1913 a large 2-story  building with storefronts & flats was built at 3155-59 Cherokee, finishing the block at Compton Ave.

It’s possible earlier frame or soft brick buildings existed on this block but I have no knowledge of such. The point? Development, residential & commercial, used to be done a building at a time based on demand. The financing package was limited to buying the lot and building a single structure.

Today all 42 buildings on city block 1502 would have been built at once — or at least in the same development package. After the first developer goes under someone else would come in to finish building on the remaining vacant lots. All the buildings would have the same basic look, the exact same brick color and the same setback from the sidewalk. Boring.

The days of people buying lots and building their own home are long gone but in parts of the country it’s not uncommon for a developer to create building lots and then have many builders buy those lots. Some would get built on a speculative basis and some would be custom for a specific buyer. For filling in vacant parts of the city I’d like to see us try the idea of separating the development of build-able lots and the construction of new buildings.

– Steve Patterson


Winners of the Laurel Apartment’s Lovin the Lou Contest

Last night winners were finally announced in the Lovin the Lou contest:

The Laurel Apartments is asking St. Louisans to show them why they love St. Louis in a ‘Lovin the Lou Video Contest’ beginning July 8th. The prize for the most love (and a little creativity and video savvy) is Free Rent For A Year at the Laurel Apartments in Downtown’s Mercantile Exchange District!

Contest Details

The Laurel Apartments will run a city-wide ‘Lovin the Lou’ video contest for an incredible opportunity to live rent-free for one year at The Laurel Apartments in Downtown St. Louis. The winner will also be the featured blogger on the’ Lovin the Lou Blog’ which will chronicle their crazy cool adventures and experiences around their new neighborhood in Downtown St. Louis.

This contest is an effort to identify what makes St. Louis unique and remarkable and to find the next ambassador for St. Louis. The Laurel Apartments is asking St. Louisans to submit a 2-minute video that captures how they are Lovin the Lou!

“We want to showcase the people and character that make St. Louis, especially downtown, a great place to live and work,” said Melissa DeCicco, Marketing Director for Mills Properties, “We know it’s fabulous, but it is time for us to show and tell!”

I served as one of the judges in the contest, along with Jeff Vines (STL_Style), Bill Streeter (Brick by Chance and Fortune) and developer Amos Harris.  I can tell you it was not easy to pick the final winners, but we did come to agreement:

Grand Prize Winner –  Finding You in the Lou, Ria & husband


Second Place Winner –  Love in the Lou, Mike & Tabitha


Best Use of Music – A Day in the Lou, Dana Kay Goddard


Best Guest Appearance –  Becky Shows us St. Louis, Becky


Best Use of Food – Get a Taste of Lee’s Cookies, Lee


Best STL Style –  St. Louis Social Scene, Jessie & Red October in the Lou, The Ropers


Fan Favorite – Our Kinda Town, Jenna & Todd


Honarable mentions: The Real Lou, Shaun


& Andy Rocks St. Louis, Andy


The above awards were presented at a bonfire in the center courtyard of the Laurel Apartments last night.

ABOVE: The Laurel Apartments garden courtyard

Congrats to all the winners.

– Steve Patterson


Readers Don’t Think the 2011 World Series Win Will Help Get Ballpark Village Built Sooner

November 9, 2011 Downtown, Economy, Planning & Design, Politics/Policy, Real Estate Comments Off on Readers Don’t Think the 2011 World Series Win Will Help Get Ballpark Village Built Sooner
ABOVE: Future site of "Ballpark Village" in July 2009

Before I get to the poll results from last week I want to ask local TV stations to stop saying they are broadcasting “live from Ballpark Village.” BPV doesn’t exist yet! The vacant site where BPV is proposed to be built certainly exists — but at this point no village exists. Cut it out, I got tired yelling at my television recently. Okay, not that I have that off my chest I can share the poll results from last  week.

  1. No 78 [56.12%]
  2. Hopefully 38 [27.34%]
  3. Maybe 12 [8.63%]
  4. Yes 7 [5.04%]
  5. Unsure/No Opinion 2 [1.44%]
  6. Other: 2 [1.44%]

The two other answers were:

  1. Yes, but at a much reduced scale
  2. It’s a nice spot for a park/gathering place. Do we need more buildings?

We need buildings because they define urban space in a downtown, we have an excess of open space.

– Steve Patterson


Former Missouri Pacific Railroad Headquarters Now Luxury Residences

Ground was broken on the Pacific Railroad in St. Louis on July 4, 1851.  By 1917 it had become the Missouri Pacific Railroad (MoPac).

ABOVE: West-facing exterior of the ParkPacific

The company grew and decided to build a new headquarters:

In 1926 the Missouri Pacific Railroad began the construction of a 30 floor building in St. Louis which would become the home of the railroad’s offices. In 1928 with only 22 of 30 floors completed, the construction was stopped. (Source)

They had planned a duplicate building behind this on facing east but they didn’t want to appear too wealthy during the Great Depression. Ironically, many needed the work the construction would have provided.

ABOVE: The opulent lobby is now restored.

By the early 1980s Union Pacific, based in Omaha, bought the company but kept offices in the building until 2005. After the Lawrence Group purchased the building they planned for-sale condos in the building as well as in a new structure to the east that included parking. When the bottom dropped out of the economy they had to rethink their plans. To make the project work financially more units would need to be fitted into the building and they would be for lease rather than for sale. The structure to the east would become parking only (with ground-level retail space). The result is the ParkPacific.

ABOVE: Ribbon cutting for the ParkPacificwas held on May 12, 2011

Due to high costs to redevelop this historic building the decision was made to go upmarket — these are high-end lofts with stone counters, fancy bath fittings and great amenities.  Even though the rates are on the high end there are more total units than were previously planned. This means more people — which is excellent.

ABOVE: Shallow pool on the ParkPacific's roof

The top floor common space retains the original wood panelling and the roof is a great space for residents and their guests.

ABOVE: View of The Shell Building and Jefferson Arms to the north

The roof is wheelchair accessible, whereas the roof at my place isn’t. If I lived at the ParkPacific I’d be on the roof often.  Lawrence Group partner Steve Smith is planning a restaurant in the southwest corner of the building. Smith is the owner of The Moto Museum and Triumph Grill in midtown.

– Steve Patterson


Leather Trades Artist Lofts Nearing Completion


ABOVE: The Leather Trades taken sometime between 1917-26

September 1st is the move in date for the Leather Trades Artist Lofts at 16th & Locust. Before I talk about the development I want to talk about the area 100 years ago.

According to city records, the Leather Trades building was built in 1912. The YMCA to the east across 16th Street wouldn’t come until 14 years later in 1926. The small building to the west was built in 1917.

The blocks of Locust from 14th to 18th once contained large homes but the growing city would expand into this area once known as Lucas Place. On a 1909 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map stone fronted houses and flats stood on the south side of Locust between 14th and 17th.  The massive Butler Brothers warehouse between 17th and 18th had just been built a year earlier.

On the north side of Locust the evidence of the change was more clear.  At 14th & Locust, now surface parking, you had the Gayety Theater.  Heading west you had houses, many now boarding houses by 1909, until you got to the NE corner of 16th Street.  There was a building attached by two bridges over St. Charles St to the huge Ely Walker Dry Goods building facing Washington Ave.  Ely Walker is still here but the building at 16th & Locust was razed at some point and now has a parking structure.

ABOVE: Locust entrance to the Blackwell-Wiedlandy bldg (1907-1988)

At the NW corner of 16th & Locust you had the Blackwell-Weidlandy Bldg.  It was built in 1907 and labeled on the 1909 Sanborn map as the Jno L. Boland Book & Stationary Co. Sadly this beautiful building was razed in 1988 and the land is now a surface parking lot. The rest of the block was houses in 1909, my building and our other building at Printer’s Lofts were built shortly after 1909.

Of all the houses that once existed in this area only one remains, the Campbell House at 15th & Locust, which has been a museum for decades:

Built in 1851, the first house in the elegant neighborhood Lucas Place, the Campbell House was the home of renowned fur trader and entrepreneur Robert Campbell and his family from 1854 until 1938. The museum contains hundreds of original Campbell possessions including furniture, paintings, clothing, letters, carriages and a unique set of interior photographs taken in the mid-1880s.

If you haven’t been before I strongly suggest you check it out!

Back to 16th and the Leather Trades Artist Lofts:

Located in the downtown warehouse district, Leather Trades is ideally situated for working artist and cultural workers to live, create and connect in one of the most established arts scene in St. Louis. Leather Trades Artist Lofts will consist of 86 affordable homes for working artists and cultural workers, opening September 1st, 2011.

Our community at Leather Trades will include several working studio spaces for artists who live in the building. A painting & drawing studio with 16 foot ceilings will overlook Locust Street. A pottery studio with fully vented kiln will provide room to wedge and sculpt. Dancers and musicians will benefit from a spacious dance studio with cushioned hardwood floors and a sound-proofed studio for media and music. Picture rails throughout the building and the large windows to 16th Street will be designated for residents to display their work.

Last week I attended their open house and hard hat tour.   The open house was held at Whiz Tech Cafe and groups of 8 at a time went across Locust to tour the unfinished 7th floor of Leather Trades.

ABOVE: a group waiting to ride the exterior construction elevator to the 7th floor

The last time I was in the Leather Trades was 9/6/2007 when the now-defunct Pyramid Construction had a party in the newly completed condo display unit. Pyramid’s plan was for 63 high-end owner-occupied condos. When the building opens on September 1st it will have 86 “affordable” one & two bedroom apartments for artists. Frankly, I think this is much better than 63 condos. I got to meet many of the people who were putting in applications for a loft, the neighborhood is about to get far more creative come this fall.

ABOVE: one group touring a 2-bed loft

One bedroom lofts will rent for $679/month and two bedroom lofts for $827/month but there is a catch:

This property participates in an affordable housing program. Household income limits are as follows, however, future residents of this community need to speak directly to a leasing agent to learn more about how your household can qualify.

  • 1 Occupant – $29,040
  • 2 Occupants -$33,240
  • 3 Occupants -$37,380
  • 4 Occupants -$41,520

The other is you must be a cultural worker (aka artist):

You do not have to make your living off the creation and sale of your work. We also recognize that there are many creative fields other than the ones listed above. If you’re curious, just call us and ask.

We define cultural workers as:

  1. Someone who works for an established arts organization, both non-profit and for-profit.
  2. Someone who works for an established non-profit arts service organizations.
  3. Consultants who have a history of work with established arts organizations, both non-profit and for-profit, or with established non-profit arts service organizations.

Here is a just released video from the developers showing a similar project elsewhere:


As a neighbor I will be very happy having a building full of artists across the street.  We’ve got enough bankers & lawyers downtown already.

– Steve Patterson