718,000sf Butler Brothers Building Set for Residential Redevelopment

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The push to sell and redevelop the Butler Brothers building on Olive is set to get a big boost. Commercial real estate firm Cassidy Turley is now marketing the currently vacant building as a 342-unit residential conversion with first floor retail. The building has been approved for federal and state historic tax credits, and plans for a 71,277sf penthouse addition have been completed.

Built in 1906, the eight-story 718,660sf Butler Brothers building is surprisingly off the radar, or as much as a hulking building occupying a full city block can be. Located at 1717 Olive Street, the building has attracted less popular attention than the also massive nearby Jefferson Arms and Arcade buildings. And yet its location may make it an important linchpin in downtown development.

From the Butler Brothers building is just a couple blocks to Union Station, MetroLink, the Peabody Opera House and Scottrade Center, a block to the new SLMPD headquarters, a block to Washington Avenue, three to the incredible Main Branch of the public library. The planned remaking of the 21st Street interchange to the west will the most significant nearby dead zone.

While now vacant, the building has been well maintained and used for storage by various tenants in recent years. According to Cassidy Turley, there are currently 200 on-site parking spaces located in the basement and on the first floor of the building. The redevelopment plan calls for an additional 197 spaces to be added. In preparation for renovation and restoration, some work has already been completed.

Redevelopment plans are preliminary, and Hanrahan told nextSTL that final plans could include a hotel component, dependent on the buyer’s plans. If all goes well, redevelopment could begin as early as this year. Of course, first the building must sell, and Hanrahan expects interest from a number of developers in St. Louis, but also from around the country. The Butler Brothers building was designed by Muarhan, Russell & Gasden, the same firm that design much of the Crunden-Martin complex in the city’s Chouteau’s Landing area.

According to promotional material, since 2000, the downtown St. Louis residential market has added 4,100 units and population has increased by 180%, while the residential vacancy rate has maintained around 10%. Fully occupied, the building could add as many as 550 new residents to downtown. A number of steps must be accomplished before anyone has an opportunity to consider moving in, but building preparation and planning mean a redevelopment plan may be around the corner.

{images provided by Cassidy Turley}

Cassidy Turley listing for Butler Brothers Building – St. Louis, MO by nextSTL.com

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  • Blake

    I’m hoping someone does something with this building. It is a fantastic looking building, and one of the largest in the general vicinity. The development of it could help push redevelopment on many of the surrounding vacant buildings.

    I lived nearby in the Leather Trades Artist Lofts until recently, and generally stayed away from that area (especially after the closure of the Tin Can) due to all the vacant buildings around it.

    • John

      The streetcar will make these blocks explode soon. Not to mention, since most of the vacant properties in the heart of Downtown are being redeveloped soon, the buildings are this one are going to be some of the only ones left.

      • Alex Ihnen

        Very much hoping that this building gets some love before it falls (across Locust from Butler Bros:

        • jhoff1257

          Maybe that old streetcar power plant could be put into use for the proposed new system? That would be awesome.

          • shad schoenke

            I love that little building, one of my favorite gems downtown.
            A friend of mine had his photography studio in the Butler building. The 1950s lobby/hallway is weird!

          • STLEnginerd

            I always think it should be a midsized music venue, or nightclub, but today I’m thinking maybe a microbrewery. The commercial listing is asking less than 250K but I’m sure it needs new everything, except for walls and floors.

        • Joe Schmoe

          are those gems in danger?

          • Adam

            i believe there’s a very large hole in the roof of the building in the foreground.

        • John R

          A truly awesome building. My suggestions for non-traditional routes are a pagan temple or ridiculously cool single family living space like the fire house station on 20th but on an even grander scale..

  • John R

    Just think what will happen if/when the Saint Louis Streetcar runs down Olive!

  • Patrick

    This is on my dog walking route, love the building but can the market really sustain more retail? Wash Ave retail appears to be mostly, well, vacant. I don’t have numbers to support this just my nightly walks from 20th down Washington to 4th then back up on Olive, lots of for lease/sale signs.

    • Joe Schmoe

      I think its only a matter of time before we see more retail in these empty downtown storefronts. There is no way we can keep adding 500-600 people/yr downtown and not get more everyday retail. The first chain retailers that take a chance on downtown are going to make a killing.

      • Alex Ihnen

        Right. Retail will take/is taking a while to sort out. Not every street can have retail storefronts. Things need to group and establish a predictable presence. Wash Ave is great, but is dominated by restaurants/bars and ~20blks is too long to work as a coherent retail district, at least at anywhere near current or predicted density.

        • John

          The streetcar will make Wash Ave west more accessible. For many, walking to somewhere like the City Museum from a MetroLink station is out of the question. The streetcar will make it a lot easier to get to Wash Ave west if, say, someone gets off at 18th and Olive here and then just walks real quick to Wash Ave.

          • Eric

            “For many, walking to somewhere like the City Museum from a MetroLink station is out of the question.”

            That’s a 10 minute walk. Are St Louisans really that fat and lazy nowadays?

          • John R

            Ha! But seriously, it is not a convenient walk to Metrolink…. I’m pretty sure it would have a low walk score. The CBD east of Tucker is pretty well-served by Metrolink but not so much for Downtown West.

          • Adam

            decades of conditioning…

  • matthb

    I think it will need a bigger courtyard. The Laurel has shown what an asset a large courtyard can be. A unit on a “lightwell” is not the same. I hope the historic guidelines can accommodate something like this.

  • jhoff1257

    Fantastic news. If Kansas City is any inclination then development will explode around this area once the streetcar starts taking significant steps forward. In KC people are even proposing projects along the alignment without any public incentives (along with dozens of other projects).

    Also not to nit-pick but I believe its Crunden Martin, not Grunden :).

  • http://joshrestivo.com/ Josh Restivo

    While mentioned in the original post, I don’t see anyone talking about possible synergy with the union station redevelopment. While not right next door, the two properties are well within walking distance and I could see a nice retail row developing between the two.

    While walkability is great for urban retail, we can’t ignore the fact that parking is still a key consideration. Successful street-level retail, in my opinion, depends upon our treasurer getting around to large-scale deployment of electronic credit-card-enabled and phone-app-payment parking meters. Additionally, the existing time limits are in need of re-evaluation. Do we have any ‘no standing’ zones (for loading/unloading passengers) in the city? Those are crucial for street-level businesses. More short-term (15 min) parking in strategic locations is also sorely needed.

  • Larry Guinn

    This building is a great location within the central corridor. The condo residences can be a “fun”place to live, if designed right. But that’s always part of the equation seldom mentioned: it has to have an element of fun. Of course, practical aspects are always discussed, transportation logistics; economy; parking; safety; etc. It’s time we included the tone of the development. Does it have an art component? Does it have a sense of fun? Does it feel good? These are parts of the sustainable city I don’t hear about enough and are very important to the quality of living we seek.

  • Paul Hohmann

    Not looking to be a downer here, but the “plan” referenced in the Cassidy Turley brochure was a schematic done right before the real estate crash over 6 years ago. I think eventually this building will get rehabbed, but its massive size is going to make it a tough deal to complete.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Right. I’ll play the optimist and hope that something’s going to happen with this building sooner than later. It seems the seller has the building ready for redevelopment, historic tax credits are in place, etc. Perhaps they’re just being optimistic as well, but Cassidy Turley thinks they have a good listing on their hands. Then again, these deals are challenging to get together.