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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

 

 

 

1900 Washington Ave Appears Salvageable, But Too Soon To Be Certain

January 22, 2016 Downtown, Featured, Real Estate 1 Comment

Monday afternoon I was at home writing, looking up from the computer screen it looked foggy outside. A quick check of my email was a Nextdoor.com message from a neighbor asking what was on fire. Ah — smoke — not fog. My first thought was the building at 17th & Locust.

Despite the cold, I decided to have a quick look to see. From 18th & Locust I could see emergency equipment at 19th, the #97 MetroBus, usually on Washington, was rerouted to Locust. So I headed North to see where Washington was blocked.

Looking West from 18th & Washington Ave at 2pm on on January 18th
Looking West from 18th & Washington Ave at 2pm on on January 18th
Six minutes later looking West toward 17th & Locust
Six minutes later looking West toward 17th & Locust
The next morning (10:45am) we drove by for a quick look. Click image for map
The next morning (10:45am) we drove by for a quick look. Click image for map
The old layers of the roof are gone
The old layers of the roof are gone
This is how 1900 Washington looked in February 2012
This is how 1900 Washington looked in February 2012

The good news is the walls appear to be sound. Monday afternoon owner Pete Rothschild replied to my earlier email, indicating they’ll know more once the engineers In a followup on Wednesday he said:

The goal and likely outcome is that we’ll still do the project. There are a million moving parts, and it’s going to be quite a while until I really know if that’s possible.

I look forward to the day 1900 Washington is fully renovated and occupied.

— 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

 

Gateway One/Peabody Plaza Is Here To Stay

In the 1970s/80s the City of St. Louis sought to keep the Gateway Mall marching Eastward toward the the Old Courthouse and Arch. However, there was no money to pay for it. There were also historic buildings in the blocks — the owner(s) proposed renovating the historic buildings. Another plan was selected:

Downtown business executives and union leaders created Pride Redevelopment Corp. and successfully pushed for a plan to clear the land between Kiener and Serra. Then, they would develop office towers on the north side, facing Chestnut. The revenue from the towers would underwrite costs for a “half mall” on the south side.

Over the protests of preservationists, the three notable buildings were demolished. But because the economy remained in a trough, only one tower was built: Gateway One, the 15-story sore thumb that has irked scores over the years. (Now it’s Peabody Plaza, home to Peabody Energy.) (Spotlight: Building interrupting the Gateway Mall is a mayor’s regret)

The Buder & International were imploded in August 1984, the Title Guaranty was also gone by the end of 1984. The half-mall plan called for four identical buildings — one on each of the four blocks from 6th to 10th.  More detail here.

Gateway One is now Peabody Plaza
Gateway One is now Peabody Plaza
Looking East from Citygarden
Looking East from Citygarden
The historic Western Union building facing 9th between Chestnut & Market was razed in 1993 for a 2-block passive green space as part of the Gateway Mall, later remade into Citygarden.
The historic Western Union building facing 9th between Chestnut & Market was razed in 1993 for a 2-block passive green space as part of the Gateway Mall, later remade into Citygarden.
Another 1993 photo of the Western Union building at 900 Chestnut, with the Gateway One in background
Another 1993 photo of the Western Union building at 900 Chestnut, with the Gateway One in background, left

In hindsight, most acknowledge the half-mall plan was a mistake. It was already dead by 1993, but demolition continued. Had the buildings on the two blocks West of Gateway One not been razed the one half building wouldn’t have stood out so much. I moved to St. Louis in August 1990 — Gateway One was already complete by then, But in 1992/93 I personally argued with architect Donald Royce, telling him razing the two blocks between the Gateway One and the Serra “Twain” block was another mistake. Fifteen years later Citygarden almost makes up fir the bad decision.

Back to Gateway One.

Over the years many have said it should be torn down. I’m no fan on the building, but that’s not going to happen. Ever.

The building sold in 2006 for $65 million. For many decades the building will be too costly to raze for more park space — we can’t afford to redo the excessive park space of the Gateway Mall — we don’t need more.   Peabody has another decade remaining on their lease and the building will remain viable for decades.

Face the facts — it’s not going anywhere. Just be thankful St. Louis abandons plans before they’re finished, otherwise we’d have a total of four.

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers: Blue is Favorite of Six Plaza Square Colors

January 13, 2016 Downtown, Planning & Design, Real Estate Comments Off on Readers: Blue is Favorite of Six Plaza Square Colors

Blue was the favorite Plaza Square color picked by readers in the non-scientific Sunday Poll, with orange second.   Readers were allowed to pick two. Blue & orange are also my top two favorites, though I prefer orange over blue.

Q: The six Plaza Square buildings were restored to their original colors, which are your TWO favorites?

#1 Blue with 18 votes (27.69%)
#1 Blue with 18 votes (27.69%)
#2 Orange with 14 votes (21.54%)
#2 Orange with 14 votes (21.54%)
#3 Teal Green with 12 votes (18.46%)
#3 Teal Green with 12 votes (18.46%)
#4 Light Blue with 9 votes (13.85%)
#4 Light Blue with 9 votes (13.85%)
#5 Yellow with 7 votes (10.77%)
#5 Yellow with 7 votes (10.77%)
#6 Mustard with 5 votes (7.69%)
#6 Mustard with 5 votes (7.69%)

Yellow, which finished fifth, is a close third favorite of mine.

As I said on Sunday, I thought the colors were originally used on the North & South ends but the National Register listing says they were always white.

The white ends just do not look right to my eyes
The white ends just do not look right to my eyes

Though I like a lot about these six buildings, they make no attempt to connect to Olive, Pine, or Chestnut. With Pine & Chestnut being a one-way couplet they’re horrible places for pedestrians, There is zero positive street activity.

Hopefully they’ll do better now that ownership, mission, etc are split up.

— Steve Patterson

 

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