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Old Gas Station, New Use

February 21, 2013 Featured, Planning & Design, Retail, South City 8 Comments

Nearly two years ago, March 18, 2011, ground was broken on a rehab & new construction project called Botanical Grove, west of Botanical Heights and part of the area once known as McRee Town. The main focus that day was residential — rehab of existing buildings and new modern infill. I was there and thrilled by the ambitious plans of the developers. The work continues but many of the residential units are occupied by homeowners. I was also skeptical about the future of a tiny little former gas station at the corner of McRee & Tower Grove Ave.

ABOVE: The gas station I saw on March 18, 2011

I could see the appeal and potential but I knew the lending climate that existed, would anything come of the idea to remake the gas station? In a word, yes!

ABOVE: On February 16, 2013 I visited Olio with friends. Olio had been open a few months at this point. Click image for Olio’s website.
ABOVE: Interior of Olio
ABOVE: Interior of Olio retains & exposes much of the old structure
ABOVE: Baked yogurt dessert
ABOVE: Baked yogurt with honey & compote dessert

Some will say gentrification, the affluent are pushing out the poor. I see a once decrepit structure brought back to live bringing in tax revenue for the city and employing people. Botanical Heights to the east employed the cleared earth strategy of urban renewal but Botanical Grove kept and rehabbed many existing structures and infilled on vacant lots. Many housing types were offered as a result.

— Steve Patterson



Currently there are "8 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    Great people, great project, wish ’em the best!

    Interesting that you’d raise the issue / view this as “gentrification”. If we’re going to thrive as a city, we need to continue to reinvest in and “improve” many neighborhoods. We can’t just let the lowest common denominator or the status quo define “success”.

  2. RyleyinSTL says:

    That gas station looks bloody marvelous now. Gives me hope that a bike/run run down Tower Grove from Manchester to Shaw might be beautiful again one day.

    Assuming a 150k – 250k selling price, the infill and renovated homes in this area are hardly marketed toward affluent buyers. Some kind of gentrification is the only hope for Botanical Grove and other similar areas (FPSE/Fox Park/etc.).

    • samizdat says:

      Those prices–factoring in the comps in nabes like mine, Dutchtown, and many others which have yet to experience dramatic levels of reinvestment, including Marine Villa, Fox Park, and others in the southeast portion of the City, and the median income in the City–are fairly expensive. Reasonably priced, according to the investment in new and rehabbed houses, but still out of reach of a very large portion of the residents of this City. Affluence is not what is needed, however. Sustainability, stability, and an income necessary to purchase and maintain these homes is what are needed for successful outcomes, amongst other such investments in human and physical capital. If an extant home is purchased at low cost, rehabbed and updated (HVAC, electrical, plumbing, roofing/repointing, etc.), and sold for 150,000USD, then it is reasonable to expect that house will go to a buyer who can be expected to do what is necessary to pay for and maintain that home. And that does not mean affluence, at least with regards to the definition I’m accustomed to using.

  3. Kevin McGrew says:

    As a former resident of St. Louis, I’m so proud of the efforts of so many to accomplish the difficult task of reusing former brownfield sites. The city should applaud the many project stakeholders for their vision and tireless efforts. I now live in San Diego, but I’m so proud of my former hometown…keep it up St. Louis!

  4. samizdat says:

    Damn shame that the idiots who re-face the joint slabbed off the terra cotta ‘Standard Oil’ lettering.

    Nicely done, considering that they basically had to rebuild the thing to get it to this point.

  5. […] on the Network today: Urban Review STL shows a great example from St. Louis of how a former gas station can be transformed into a truly […]


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