206-Unit West Pine Lofts Planned for City’s Central West End

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West Pine Lofts
{recently adopted form-based code calls for retail fronting Sarah Street}

That one block separating the residential Central West End from the Saint Louis University campus, that long block that feels like a mile, might just get a lot shorter. Hallmark Communities, a developer from Columbus, OH is proposing the West Pine Lofts, a 206-unit, 4-story apartment complex that would anchor the corner of Sarah Street and West Pine Boulevard, extending half a block to the east.

Gone would be the nondescript one story warehouses nearest Sarah, and the two more historic one story buildings facing West Pine. The parking lot that would face Laclede is currently a vacant lot, the building appearing in aerial having been demolished recently. A total of 230 parking spaces are planned for 45 one bedroom and 161 two bedroom units, a total of 367 beds. If all goes according to plan, demolition would begin in early 2014 and the project would be completed by mid-2015.

West Pine Lofts
{West Pine Lofts would front Sarah Street and extend half the length of the long east-west block}

West Pine Lofts
{several buildings would be demolished for the project – the Laclede building is already gone}

If built, the project would add substantial residential density to an historical industrial corner of the central city. The adjacent historic Melrose Apartments were renovated in 2008 and the 6 North universal design apartments to the south opened in 2006. The nearby 3949 Lindell apartments opened in 2008, recently reopening after a 2012 fire. On Laclede, the historic Pfieffer building conversion to residential is nearly complete. The Center for Emerging Technologies has plans to expand, the Scudder building could be renovated, and more housing is on the drawing board for the area.

Information on rental rates has not yet been made available. The Melrose Apartments are listed online at $1,395 per month for an 1,100 sf two bedroom unit and appear to be fully leased. 3949 Lindell rates start at $993 per month for a studio apartment and are as high as $1,620 for a two bedroom. Aventura lists a 719 sf one bedroom for $1,150 and their 1,100 sf two bedroom at $1,450 per month.

The developer is requesting a ten year tax abatement and several zoning variances. The project lies within the recently adopted Central West End form-based code. According to information from the developer, current annual real estate taxes paid on the project site equal $47,000 per year. The estimated annual real estate taxes owed after project completion is $339,000. The oversimplified math shows tax abatement to be worth $2.92M.

West Pine Lofts

West Pine Lofts

Requested variances result from the recently adopted form-base code. The developer is asking for the setback to parking be just 10 feet (instead of required 30 feet) on Laclede where a 1/2 acre “remote parking site” would be located. The developer would also like to avoid building office or retail space facing Sarah and instead provide a “community area and leasing center” in the space. Lastly, the developer is asking for 20 feet of green space on the east side of the building, double the maximum 10 feet called for in the code. The code calls from a 3-12 story building on western end of this site and 3-8 stories to the east.

While the development would add significantly to the residential density of this long-standing barrier between two relatively vibrant parts of the city, the form-based code envisioned Sarah Street become an eastern Euclid Avenue in some ways, with an activated streetscape including restaurants and retail space. Having just adopted the code, it’s likely the neighborhood and local development corporation will insist on retail space. The other variances seem likely to be allowed.

West Pine Lofts
{the Hallmark project near the University of Akron}

The developer specializes in student housing and many of the projects on their website are…just bad. Like Aventura bad (or rather, not appropriate for an urban setting). But Hallmark’s proposal for a student housing development near the University of Akron is a little better, the street level retail makes it better. And the West Pine Lofts appear to fit the site fairly well (further adding the mystery of how Aventura was approved). The massing, at four stories and up to the sidewalk, is about perfect for the site. Parking is completely hidden from the street. If retail fills the Sarah Street frontage, the project could add greatly to the vibrancy and economic health of the fare east end of the Central West End, and cut that mile-long block down to size.


{the long West Pine facade would be broken by two pedestrian courtyards}


{a parking lot would front Laclede and be partly shielded as this rendering shows}

In addition to the very utilitarian warehouse at Sarah and West Pine, the following buildings would be slated for demolition:

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*images added September 2015

West Pine Lofts - St. Louis, MO

West Pine Lofts - St. Louis, MO

West Pine Lofts - St. Louis, MO

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  • John R

    Saint Louis Neighborhood Development blog — a great resource — says the building permit has been issued. Also, I think the headline may be a typo as it appears to be 206 units as mentioned in the text.

  • Kevin

    Now that “The Standard” has been announced, anyone know the status of this? Is demolition still slated to begin soon?