Art Deco Demo Coming to Clayton

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15 Lee - Clayton MO (demo)

A notable apartment building in Clayton will meet the wrecking ball this month. Located at 15 Lee Avenue, tucked against the parking garage that once served the Famous Barr department store, the 1939 Art Deco apartment building was cleared of tenants at the end of 2013. There are no immediate plans to build on the lot that currently holds 36 apartments.

nextSTL is told that the building has severe problems with its heating system in addition to plumbing and electrical problems, but the extent of the challenge is unclear. The building had been well maintained, and windows were replaced within the past two years. With its demolition, Clayton is set to lose yet another place of character and interest. And it very well may be the first of many big changes on the immediate horizon.

15 Lee Avenue - Clayton, MO (demo)

15 Lee Avenue - Clayton, MO (demo)

The building that houses World News and adjacent storefronts are going to razed when the long planned Montgomery Bank tower moves forward. The Guild Building, and other modest scale offices will likely make way for The Crossing, a proposed mixed-use tower.

{World News and adjacent storefronts at Central and Forsyth are likely short lived}

Clayton Guild building{the Guild Building would make way for the mixed use The Crossing tower}

It’s an interesting time for Clayton as city planning calls for more residential and office density, but it appears little attention is being paid to what’s being lost. There’s little sign to date of much interest on the part of the city or residents to preserve or prioritize the retention of more human scale development. Even the block of North Central Avenue north of Forsyth, home to perhaps the most eclectic and vibrant commercial strip in downtown Clayton is one-forth vacant after a large hotel development stalled.

Today we reported on the proposal to raze the Maryland School building and build 45 town homes. The nearly adjacent demolition of 15 Lee Avenue leaves only a handful of storefronts along Forsyth to be demolished in order to create a large development site. In addition, Washington University’s expansive West Campus is said to be quietly on the market. Across the street, several acres of vacant land adjacent to the Ritz Carlton and Forsyth MetroLink station sit empty. While there doesn’t appear to be significant development pressure in Clayton, judging by the amount of high value land remaining vacant for years, it’s clear that the city’s identity may be changing, if and when development comes.

15 Lee - Clayton MO (demo){15 Lee in yellow, Maryland School Town Homes in red, WUSTL’s West Campus in green}

Clayton, MO{on North Central, the buildings to the right have been vacant for several years}

{this former bank on Forsyth at Lee Avenue is slated for demolition}

Clayton - photo by Toby Weiss -{the Clayton-Forsyth building is likely to be lost to demolition}

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  • raccoozie

    The green outline of west campus includes Firestone and Fortel’s. Is that accurate?

    • Alex Ihnen


  • onecity

    I want to like this building a lot more than I do – it plays better in photographs than in real life, I think because there is an unrefined coarseness to the architectural details. Even though it’s of the art deco era, this really seems like a lesser, kind of hamfisted example of the style. Also, it is badly sited, or maybe subsequent development occurred in a way that doesn’t relate well to this building. Actually going to the site, this building feels plopped down in a way that is unexpected, give its age. Not the reaction I expected to have.

    • STLgasm

      I think we can agree that it beats a grassy lot.

      • onecity

        It is, if something can be done about the screwed up street access. My guess is this is part of a land assemblage/redev plan that includes razing the five storefronts on Forsyth sooner rather than later.

        • Alex Ihnen

          Yes, those are goners too. Street access issue is just the residents on Maryland. They’ll never allow that street to be reopened.

  • STLgasm

    The art deco apartment building is owned by Solon Gershman. Give them a call and let them know that they’re about to make a terrible mistake: 314-862-9400

  • Presbyterian

    Here I was thinking that the big hole at the eastern end of downtown Clayton was finally shrinking. And now it’s about to get larger again. I’m concerned that Clayton might gain a whole tower, but lose its soul.

  • Benjamin Aronov

    Who owns this building? Doubtful that this type of density will return to the site as seen with the current NIMBYism up the street.

  • Tyrell_Corp

    There are still a few other appealing legacy properties in Clayton that are not addressed in this article. Surely they can’t have been passed up for destruction.

  • STLgasm

    This is ridiculous. With so many vacant lots and surface parking lots in Clayton, there is no good reason to be tearing buildings like these down. Clayton says it wants more transit-oriented development, yet its replacing an attractive residential building with NOTHING. The short-sightedness is mind-boggling.