Gerhart Block at CORTEX to see $8M Mixed-Use Redevelopment

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The Gerhart Block was feared to be on the chopping block. There were never solid rumors of its demise, but any time a building sits empty in St. Louis, the demolition vultures seems to circle. What’s more, this significant building was drawn into the footprint of the behemoth CORTEX district. That was good and bad, as the project promised development and had a Tax Increment Financing package that could help, but the city’s legislation creating the technology and innovation district also removed any demolition review by the city’s Cultural Resources Office. And so people worried.

New apartments and renovated warehouses are coming to surrounding streets. Two gas stations have given way to development (and if a St. Louis gas station can be demo’d, clearly anything can be demo’d), one for a 380K sf IKEA, and one for a zero subsidy 164-unit apartment building. Several years ago, the adjacent warehouse was demolished and remains a grass lot today. And so people worried. Now, the Post-Dispatch is reporting that the building will have a new life:

The historic, two-story brick building at Laclede and Vandeventer avenues is empty. But that’s about to change. 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.

Development in St. Louis (and all cities) is uneven. It’s often either one step forward and two steps back, or vice-versa. Turning that corner to when we can expect two steps forward is the next step for our city. We’ve noted that the best part of CORTEX, its soul, is what is being kept. Now, with the Gerhart Block coming back and preserving some human scale in the neighborhood, it feels like that second foot is nearly on the ground.

{an overview of basic CORTEX development plan}

Gerhart Block National Register of Historic Places Registration Form – St. Louis, MO by

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  • My firm organized the Gerhart project for Bill Luchini at Capstone.
    We are leasing the 1st floor commercial space and it has been successful.
    We are also working on similar restoration nearby at Lindell and Sarah.
    St Louis continues to offer ample opportunity to create unique projects.
    Our economy in the technical fields is blazing hot. Workforce reorganization
    is drawing gravity to interior building stock.

  • Steve Kluth

    I’m glad that people are going to restore the Mag’s building. I question whether enough money has been budgeted. The building was in terrible shape ten years ago (which was the last time I was in the building). I don’t imagine it’s gotten any better since then.

  • fishpaw

    It was THE place to go back in the 90’s. Many stories can be told. It is sad to drive by it everyday now. So glad it is not going to be torn down but a new life is going to be born. The second floors do have high ceilings so it can make some great loft type apartments.

  • samizdat

    This is indeed good news, but I’ll not breath easier until contractors’ trucks show up with building materials. I’ve seen too many development proposals in the City go belly up over the last decade to be anything but wary.

  • Don

    Wonderful news and great example of a rising tide lifting all boats.

  • moe

    I also am glad to see this corner rehabbed. I was always surprised that it hadn’t fallen in upon itself over the years with as much heavy use it has seen. I’m sure the owner extracted a higher price than Fr. Biondi was willing to pay…hence it sat.
    Many memories are in that building! Somehow though, I still think the scent of stale cigarette smoke will still be wafting through the air long after the rehab!

  • Brian

    This is great news. I,too, was afraid this corner would be Biondied (leveled, lawned and lapis lazulied). Does anyone know what happened to the stone owls that sat at the apex of the Gerhart Block’s hipped roofs?

  • John R

    Great news indeed. The basic master plan shows mixed use for the cleared corner lot… do we know if this is still the plan and possible time frame?

  • Presbyterian

    That building has a really big personality. Glad to hear it will see new life!

  • Anglophile

    This is such fantastic news. I was always worried that that building would become another SLU parking lot/grassy field/fountain/monstrosity.

  • Joe Schmoe

    I’m glad a reuse was found for this block. I was starting to get worried that it would be leveled and that would be a shame, because these are the type of blocks that give St. Louis more character than say Portland or Denver.

    • Rurich

      Or Seattle T . T