This may be the reason the phrase “better late then never” was invented. Tim Logan is reporting on the Building Blocks blog that the Clemens House will undergo a $13M rehab. Having long sat vacant and deteriorating, the Clemens House at 1849 Cass Avenue north of downtown St. Louis is getting a new lease on life. Paul McKee purchased the building in 2005. Previous owners have included World Trading, Inc., The Universal Vietnamese and long-time owner Berean Missionary Baptist Association.
The Clemens House has become a symbol of neglect in the heart of the proposed NorthSide project. It was one of the early properties purchased by McKee’s Blairmont Associates and is not the first official development announced by McKee. In short, the Clemens House will become senior apartments and a museum. The early word is that the house and chapel will both be renovated.
McKee’s partner is Robert Wood Realty. Work is reported to begin in summer 2010 and be completed the following year. Wood is no stranger to large-scale historic rehab. Previous projects include Franklin School on Delmar. The partnership is encouraging as it points to McKee’s willingness to engage developers who specialize in just the type of work needed in North St. Louis.
This blog has long been more concerned with McKee’s partners in implementing a vision for NorthSide than McKee himself. While recognizing the shortcomings and damage done by the process of land acquisition to this point, the self-admitted fact that McEagle doesn’t build houses or do historic rehab is not a good reason to oppose NorthSide. Any large development requires partners. This is the first sign that McKee may be able and willing to partner with the right people to build his vision.
There’s an incredible amount of information on the Internet about the Clemens House thanks to Michael Allen, Robert Powers and others. Click the links below or hit “the Google” to find more. For St. Louis Urban Workshop coverage of NorthSide click here.