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When City Hall Being For Sale Is A Good Thing

December 18, 2015 Featured, History/Preservation, Metro East, Planning & Design, Real Estate Comments Off on When City Hall Being For Sale Is A Good Thing

The right buyer can buy city hall — O’Fallon Illinois’ former city hall.

Former City Hall in O'Fallon IL, 200 N. Lincoln. Click for map.
Former City Hall in O’Fallon IL, 200 N. Lincoln. Click image for map.
The Lincoln facade
The Lincoln facade
Close up of entry. The address shown is the current city hall.
Close up of entry. The address shown is the current city hall.
Washington St facade
Washington St facade
The fire department and school district are on the same block
The fire department and school district are on the same block

From their request for proposals:

The City of O’Fallon is soliciting proposals from qualified developers and/or organizations willing to invest funds to purchase and improve Old City Hall and bring it back to a productive use that will integrate well into the neighborhood. Old City Hall is an approximately 4,500 square foot GFA, two-story brick building originally constructed in 1890. It is a locally designated landmark which requires review of changes to the exterior of the building, but does not affect remodeling of the interior of the structure. All proposals should seek to preserve and enhance the architectural character of the building. Proposals that involve demolition will not be considered. The building is located inside the Central City TIF district, created in June 2015 (more information available at www.ofallon.org/economic-development-division). As publicly-owned property, the site has no Equalized Assessed Value, which allows all property taxes to be considered increment.

Currently, Old City Hall and O’Fallon Fire Station #1 are together on one parcel (PARCEL ID 04-29.0-120- 008). All proposals should note how much of the adjacent land and parking area, if any, is desired as part of the proposed redevelopment project. The City anticipates that the resulting lot would likely be no more than 0.27 acres (see attached map). The City also expects that the property will have to be rezoned from the current SR-3

(Single Family Residence District) to another appropriate district to accommodate the types of uses likely to be proposed as a part of this RFP process. It will be the responsibility of the selected developer to obtain any and all necessary zoning changes, variances, building permits, and other approvals to facilitate the development of this property.

Old City Hall most recently housed the O’Fallon Fire Department administrative offices, but has only been used for storage since 2009. As the property has been out of use for many years, the City does not have much definitive information about the current condition of the property. As mentioned in the Environmental Conditions section below, the City is aware of the presence of asbestos and mold. The building also has other issues including: degrading/rotting wooden windows, tuckpointing and masonry repair, necessary repairs and upgrades to bathrooms, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems. The property will be sold “as is.”

I’m glad demolition will not be considered!  Hopefully they’ll get some creative proposals.

— Steve Patterson

 

Creative Firms Continue Buying Downtown Office Condo Space

December 4, 2015 Downtown, Featured, Real Estate Comments Off on Creative Firms Continue Buying Downtown Office Condo Space

Industrial design firm fredsparks is moving downtown from S. Kingshighway, the news of their purchase of an office condo came in April:

On April 15th, 2015, design firm fredsparks acquired the last remaining commerical unit comprised of 3,823 SQ FT for $26/SQ FT.  The unit is currently in gray-box condition as one of the only unrenovated spaces in the Washington Avenue loft district.  fredsparks plans on retrofitting the space as offices for their headquarters.  

Blood & Sand, which still owns its commercial unit next door to fredsparks & The Kelley Group, continues their success as one of downtown St. Louis’s best restaurant venues & favorite Washington AVE neighborhood gathering spots.  More recently Blood & Sand owners Adam Frager & TJ Vytlacil opened Death in the Afternoon at City Garden.   (King Realty Advisors)

Work in their space has been ongoing since their interior finish permit was issued in late August.

Unit C hasn't been occupied since the building was renovated into condos a decade ago.
Unit C hasn’t been occupied since the building was renovated into condos a decade ago.

 

Earlier this year the firm leasing the office condo in my building a block West on Locust Street bought their space. I’m very glad to see small businesses thriving, occupying spaces, and investing in downtown. Actually, seeing smaller local firms investing anywhere in the region is a positive.

— Steve Patterson

 

Historic Buildings West of Saint Louis University Renovated Into Lofts

For many years, two buildings on Laclede Ave., faced uncertain futures.  Both personal favorites, their futures as residential buildings are now secure. They’re located at 3900 & 3965 Laclede.

Beautiful proportions, great mix of brick colors, industrial windows, glass block
Beautiful proportions, great mix of brick colors, industrial windows, glass block

The S. Pfeiffer Manufacturing Company Headquarters is located at 3965 Laclede Avenue in St. Louis (Independent City), Missouri. The brick, three-story office, lab and factory building was constructed in 1946 from a Modern Movement design by St. Louis architect Bert Luer. The buff-colored, asymmetrical primary (south) elevation features bands of hopper windows that wrap around the southwest corner, emphasizing horizontality while an elaborated, slightly projecting entrance bay on the southeast corner is a strong vertical element. The recessed entrance consists of double wood and glass doors below a grooved, streamlined overhang. Above the entrance, a shaft is embellished by a two-story glass block window with sidelights and three small terra cotta panels accent the parapet. Many of the building’s windows are tinted blue. The side and rear elevations are functional in design, feature red brick instead of buff brick, and utilize a concrete structural system with metal industrial hopper windows and overhead vehicle doors. The interior has an open plan with concrete, mushroom- shaped supports, concrete floors and ceilings, and glazed brick walls. The third level retains the original laboratory sinks and counters. Currently used as storage for automotive parts, the S. Pfeiffer Manufacturing Company Headquarters is in excellent condition. Relatively unchanged since its construction, the building easily retains integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association from its period of significance. (2010 National Register nomination)

The facade facing Vandeventer Ave
The facade facing Vandeventer Ave

From February 2014:

Capstone Development has the building under contract and is planning an $8 million restoration and rehab.

Bill Luchini, Capstone’s president, said today he plans to renovate the 11,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space and build 17 loft-style apartments on the second floor. Construction will take about a year and begin after he completes the building’s purchase in about 60 days. (Post-Dispatch)

Some background:

The Gerhart Block, located at 3900-3908 Laclede Avenue/1-17 Vandeventer in St.Louis. Missouri, is locally significant under National Register Criterion C in the area of Architecture. The period of significance is 1896. the date of construction. Local architect August Beinke who was known for designing a number ofprominent buildings and fine houses, earned the commission from the Gerhart Realty Company to design this substantial corner retail and residentialbuilding.ThepicturesqueVandeventerfacadeisenlivenedbyaseriesofstorefront display windows, oval-paned entrances, and round arched openings. A pyramidal roofanchoring the corner, a turret on the south end. as well as stepped gables and hipped roofs over projecting bays animate the roofline. This application of the French Renaissance or “Chateauesque” style to a commercial block is skillfully handled, resulting in one of the city’s most picturesque neighborhood commercial buildings. Exterior integrity is extremely good. (2002 National Register nomination)

Vandeventer & Laclede
Vandeventer & Laclede

I’ve never been in the first building, but the second housed various gay bars for years so I’ve been in it many times over the lsat 25 years. I can’t wait to see both inside, the Gerhart work is finishing up now.

Official information:

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1701 Locust Street To Become Apartments

In April I posted a list of buildings I’d like to see rehabbed. Then in July Ald Hubbard introduced a Redevelopment plan for 1701 Locust, one of the buildings on my list.

1701 Locust is a handsome 4-story building built in 1926. It has had several owners in the last decade. 
1701 Locust is a handsome 4-story building built in 1926. It has had several owners in the last decade.
The facades facing Locust & 17th have double-hung windows on the upper floors, the North facade has steel factory/warehouse windows.
The facades facing Locust & 17th have double-hung windows on the upper floors, the North facade has steel factory/warehouse windows.

The building, in the block West of my loft, will be divided into apartments. Looking forward to seeing this long-vacant building come back to life!

— Steve Patterson

 

Rethinking Chariton Square

In May of last year I posted about a drive-in theater that replaced a quarry, itself soon replaced by I-55 (see May 26, 1954: South Broadway Drive-In Theater Opened).

The blue lines mark the approximate outline of the 1964 theater site.
The blue lines mark the approximate outline of the 1964 theater site. Click image for map to area.

In that post I indicated I would do a followup on ideas for the tired auto-centric Chariton Square strip shopping center:

In the coming weeks I’ll take a look at the commercial development along this stretch of Broadway and share my concept for an urban redevelopment.

But I got married a week later and never got to it. Recently a friend inquired about my ideas so here they are…finally. Before I get into my solution I want to show you some of the problems I hope to solve.

THE PROBLEM

As you head sSouth on Broadway it is bounded by handsome 2-3 story brick urban buildings, but this changes after passing Gasconade St one block further South 
As you head sSouth on Broadway it is bounded by handsome 2-3 story brick urban buildings, but this changes after passing Gasconade St one block further South. The large 3-story building is owned by Ameren.
South of Gasconade the pattern changes from from the established urban pattern
South of Gasconade the pattern changes from from the established urban pattern
Chariton Square was built on the 1960s when walkability & accessibility weren't considered
Chariton Square was built on the 1960s when walkability & accessibility weren’t considered
Even once inside the site getting from building to building is difficult.
Even once inside the site getting from building to building is difficult.
More disconnect from one building to the next
More disconnect from one building to the next
Lots of hardscape creates water runoff and separates pedestrians from storefronts
Lots of hardscape creates water runoff and separates pedestrians from storefronts
The old street grid was cut off.
The old street grid was cut off.

ONE SOLUTION

Let me preface this by saying this is a rough digital napkin sketch about what I think could physically be built to replace the existing strip shopping center. The intent is to trigger people’s imagination to see this as potentially being redeveloped in a different manner than it has been for the last half century. The only other vision I’ve seen put forward was as a park-n-ride lot for a light rail line, see Northside-Southside Light Rail Wouldn’t Be Good For St. Louis Neighborhoods.

KEY:  Lt Green: existing park space Gray: new buildings  Purple: existing green space to consider developing  BLUE LINE: New public  street, extensions of existing street grid  DK GREN LINE: New common plaza
KEY:
Lt Green: existing park space
Gray: new buildings
Purple: existing green space to consider developing
BLUE LINE: New public street, extensions of existing street grid
DK GREN LINE: New common plaza
Click image to view in Google Maps

NOTES:

  1. The best streets have a similar building type across the street, which is hard to accomplish in this narrow site. The extensions of Chariton & Meramec would help create quality urban faces on opposite sides of s street.
  2. Building on the open areas (purple) would help with changing the feel of Broadway.
  3. Broadway and all newly extended streets would have parking on both sides — angled on Broadway and Piedmont Ave parallel to I-55.
  4. Narrow drive lanes and curb bulbs would allow vehicular traffic to move but also be pedestrian-friendly. Protected bike lanes are possible on Broadway.
  5. The proposed buildings wouldn’t be monolithic masses, these might be several buildings within that newly created block.   They might be separated by  pedestrian-only street parallel to Broadway & I-55, depending upon the depth of the property. They might have structured parking in the middle surrounded by habitable building on all sides.
  6. The natural slope down to the highway would help facilitate a level of parking under some/most of the new buildings.
  7. A streetcar/BRT line could loop around this project. A light rail stop could be in the center of Broadway.
  8. The site has excellent highway visibility. Some taller buildings might have good views of the Mississippi River.
Minnie Wood Park at Meramec & Broadway is a great asset to the future development potential of the area
Minnie Wood Park at Meramec & Broadway is a great asset to the future development potential of the area
This 1920 property on Broadway & Chariton could be a part of the bigger project
This 1920 property on Broadway & Chariton could be a part of the bigger project
Two gas stations where Broadway & Osceola meet might become one urban station with building in front, pumps behind.
Two gas stations where Broadway & Osceola meet might become one urban station with building in front, pumps behind.

Again, this is a rough sketch of an idea that’s been bouncing around in my head. I wouldn’t expect anything to get built exactly as I’ve indicated. I would like to see residers of the 9th & 20th Wards to work on planning for the future of this area — coming up with a form-based overlay to guide what they’d like to see this become over the next 20-50 years.

— Steve Patterson

 

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