Residential Conversion of Long Vacant Auto Repair Shop Set for 4066 Russell

4066 Russell Boulevard - St. Louis, MO

St. Louis is developing something of a reputation for converting old service stations into new, interesting spaces. Olio may be one of the latest and best known examples, but nearby, The Social Affair matches the aesthetic. The first Urban Chestnut Brewing Company occupies a larger former service station, and an old repair shop on Laclede Avenue is home to Northwest Coffee. There are other examples. And across the city, people are remaking St. Louis by converting warehouses, churches, fire stations, corner shops and more to residences.

Yet this week may mark a first, as the city’s Preservation Review Board has voted to support the conversion of a dilapidated service station at 4066 Russell Boulevard in the Shaw neighborhood to a private single family residence. Because the long vacant building would be altered significantly, the city’s Cultural Resources Office considered the project within the Shaw Neighborhood Certified Historic District as new construction, a determination that allows a more modern aesthetic.

{the building at 4066 Russell as it looks today}

Applicant William McCuen was an Associate Principal at Forum Studio for a couple years according to his LinkedIn profile, and lists current activity as “‎Independent Architecture & Planning Professional”. The building and its transformation clearly required someone with vision. Ideas have come and gone, but this ambitious residential conversion is the first to move ahead.

The building will undergo a complete overhaul and the unbuilt portion of the lot along Russell Boulevard will be marked for future development, presumably residential infill. At approximately 94ft x 60ft, there’s quite a bit of space to work with, and it’s great to see the corner not simply converted to an expansive side yard.

The concrete block building will be surfaced with stucco, as will a new concrete wall, dividing the lot and providing private greenspace to the residence. A third story pop-up and roof deck will be added. Solar panels will top the existing garage, and a small garage will be added to the east end of the existing structure.

4066 Russell - St. Louis, MO

4066 Russell Boulevard - St. Louis, MO

4066 Russell BEFORE AFTER

Early last year, brewmaster John Witte of Square One Brewery & Distillery in Lafayette Square, hoped to open Shaw Garden Brewery at the site. Plans called for a complete renovation, full kitchen, and 100-seat beer garden. Ultimately, area residents disagreed that 15 parking spaces and available on-street parking would suffice, and the plan died.

The lot is owned by the City of St. Louis via the Land Reutilization Authority. Prior to that, city records show it being an auto repair shop, clothing retail store, used car dealer, mini market, and contractor storage. The city published a request for proposals (RFP) in 2012.

Olio and The Standard to two recent examples of repurposed service stations in and near the Shaw neighborhood:

Olio before and after

The Station before and after

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  • SikofFalln

    I live in the neighborhood just a few blocks from the site, and needless to say I am very excited about this project. Sure a business like a brewhouse would be nice, but I find absolutely no reason to complain since this project has vision and will add a bit of diversity to the surrounding stock.

  • ben

    Those blocks just lost a little bit of their walkable potential, thanks to BS parking regs. It’s a nice house, but a nabe business is so much more useful.

  • Don

    I LOVE it and I wish I had that kind of vision.

  • Framer

    Great project! I love it.

  • Christopher

    Rats. As a Shaw resident very nearby, I would have preferred the “gastro” brewpub proposed for the site. Better than nothing, sure …

  • Walk passed this lot almost daily and am so happy to see some progress. Kudos to all involved!

  • Mark Groth

    Great story, I love it. Man, Shaw seems to be really popping these days, lots of rehabbing of multi-families.

  • STLgasm

    Very cool. It looks like an old gas station on Delmar near Clarendon is also getting some TLC. Does anyone have the scoop on that?

  • Mike F

    So, this is pretty cool. I like the design, though I’m not a fan of stucco finishes. I do find it rather odd, however, that the architect and owners decided not to put the same cantilevered awnings/overhangs (which show up on eastern and northern elevations) on the southern-exposure major first and second floor windows.

    Regardless of my quibbling, it’ll be good to see this corner returned to productive use.

    • Tysalpha

      Mike, the large windows actually face north. The building’s on the south side of Russell.

      • Mike F

        Oops, you are correct. I put it on the wrong side of Russell. In which case, *chuckling to self* what the architect did was brilliant!

  • Alex Devlin

    Does anyone think that the current rate of development and infill in the city will lead to an increase in the cities population by the 2020 census?
    Current census estimates say the amount of people we’re losing has drastically slowed to just 0.3% in the last three years.

    With all thats going on it seems that 2015-2020 will be a very good time for St. Louis, but do you think it’ll be enough to turn around the 0.3%-0.5% decline we’ve seen so far this decade?

    • Mike F

      Good questions all. I predict close to break-even, with the number of incoming/outgoing residents canceling one another out. That may not be, from a population standpoint, the most advantageous growth pattern, but as someone pointed out in another forum, if those that do move in occupy residences, even though they may not constitute a large household, that takes additional sq ftg off of the market, which leads to further development and rehabilitation/restoration in the City. Which leads to additional stabilization of wobbling blocks and neighborhoods.

      • Mike F

        And yes, I agree that the central corridor is doing fine, and will continue to do so, but that the SE and NE quadrants of the City do represent some of the most distressed blocks. Which is why I get a little hot under my collar when I see yet more publicly- and privately-financed amenities targeted at the CenCor.

    • John R

      IF the estimates are reasonably correct I think we have a good chance of having a slight gain for the decade. The Central Corridor definitely will gain again (and likely at a higher pace) but the North and South Corridors will still have challenges even if they don’t lose as much as in the 00s. I think it was Greg J. who pointed out the very positive stabilization of school enrollment so far this decade… that figure cratered last decade so that’s a great indicator. I suppose a fair amount of families will leave for the burbs if/when single-family housing challenges ease in the coming years, but we still have more families examining and taking advantage of the increased educational opportunities in the city. And there is still a lot of new residents that will be coming out of the young adult cohort in the coming years.

    • kjohnson04

      The growth could be increased with higher density development. Right now, the central corridor seems to be the only area where that’s happening. Everywhere else, it’s all about the single family home. High density and transit will stabilize things.

  • John R

    Great that another home may come later as well. On the other side of the park the news isn’t as good for adaptive re-use as it looks like another used car dealership is taking over the corner of Arsenal & Morgan Ford… the previous dealer had cleared out and the station space was being marketed as a great opportunity for a restaurant/bar.

  • Mathew Chandler

    absolutely love adaptive reuse

  • raccoozie

    Looks great! I would consider this if it was cost effective or had money to burn.