Hayden Buys Laclede Gas Building, Renovation to Include 111 Apartments

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Laclede Gas

nextSTL has confirmed local developer Brian Hayden has purchased the Laclede Gas building at 720 Olive Street in downtown St. Louis. As was first reported by nextSTL, Laclede Gas will soon vacate its long time home at 720 Olive for the Philip Johnson designed General American building at 700 Market. The Laclede Gas move will vacate 120K sf in the 31-story building completed in 1969.

Known almost exclusively for developing luxury apartments, most recently Hayden announced plans to convert the top 11 floors of the 20-story Millennium Center in downtown St. Louis to 102 apartments. Completed in 1962, that building was the first building in downtown St. Louis to be built with a glass curtain facade. The Laclede Gas building is of a similar style and anchors an intersection with three other significant buildings, the Chemical, Arcade (both above), and Old Post Office buildings.

Millennium Center - St. Louis, MO{Millennium Center at 515 Olive Street}

While historic warehouses have been converted to residential use on a massive scale over the past decade in St. Louis, Hayden’s downtown buildings are less traditional residential targets. His projects are also atypical as he has not sought historic tax credits, tax abatement, or other incentives, as other residential projects largely have.

Late last year, Hayden purchased the Alverne building at 1014 Locust in downtown St. Louis for $550,000, announcing plans to carve out 81 multi-level “townhome apartments”. Built in 1923 as a hotel, the Alverne was constructed as a social club, then becoming the Desoto Hotel after 1933. The building subsequently was home to a convent, then senior housing before becoming vacant. Once adorned with terra cotta detail and a substantial cornice, it has long been striped of its architectural character.

Alverne{the Alverne at 1014 Locust Street}

Hayden’s other projects are more traditional. The former WS Hotel at 400 Washington Avenue was acquired by Hayden from the Roberts Brothers and transformed in 78 apartments. The building is reportedly fully occupied. Hayden also purchased and renovated the Gallery Apartments at 4140 Washington Boulevard, and completed an extensive renovation of 3450 Russell Boulevard.

With so much space available in the Laclede Gas building, it’s possible Hayden will introduce another residential project. A statement on his LinkedIn page states (his company), “Brandonview LLC specializes in the acquisition of underutilized apartment complex’s and or buildings which can be converted to luxury apartments.” Hayden’s apartment properties are marketed at stlouisapartmentsforyou.com. *It’s been reported by local media that the building will be converted to mixed-use, including 111 apartments.

The Laclede Gas building provides a modern counterpart to the adjacent Chemical building:

LG_Chem

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  • STLgasm

    Considering that downtown’s 2nd-tallest skyscraper is practically vacant (Southwestern Bell/AT&T), it’s seems far-fetched to think that demand for new construction is strong. Too bad Edward Jones can’t move into that tower. I remember when downtown still retained a sense of hustle and bustle in the late ’90s/early 2000s. Lots more workers and shoppers on the streets during lunch hour than there are today, there’s no disputing that. Of course, we had May Company, TWA, Southwestern Bell, etc. It’s too bad so many visitors to our city only see downtown, because in my opinion it seems so average compared to other neighborhoods in the city, and sadly among the dullest of our peer cities. I definitely think the underperformance of downtown feeds our negative national image, because it leaves the impression that St. Louis just feels kind of quiet. Regardless, I still love downtown, and it’s truly amazing how much great architecture remains despite a generation of active demolition for car-centric redevelopment. A testament to the size and historic significance of this great city, I suppose.

    • John R

      Or even Wells Fargo in One AT&T (I agree with Alex that while its good that Purina, Ameren & Wells-Fargo are in downtown/not downtown, it would be better if they were in the heart of it)… I assume the rental or sale price is going to be very reasonable and it would be great if a major corporation saw the building as too good to pass up.
      As for new construction, we certainly won’t be seeing any Metropolitan Buildings for some time but I wouldn’t put a more modest tower out of the question…. somewhat ironically, with all our available office space, we don’t really have a lot of modern, flexible space that many employers are now seeking out. That failure to land Centene to BPV was a double heart-break as it not only failed to land a new corporation to downtown but it also shipped a major law firm out of downtown to Clayton that was seeking modern space. Anyway, I could see a 15-20 story tower anchored by a tenant looking for new space and filled out with others… something like this was built in Cleveland with McKinsey & Co. anchoring and w/o much damage done to the rest of the downtown office market. I think they plan on moving forward with a second office tower before long.

  • Sean McElligott

    I have no problem with downtown currently not being a major CBD. In the next few years downtown would be more of a collage town with SLU and Webster U. With the startups and small to mid-size tech companies downtown is also staring to be come a tech center too. So in about 5 years downtown would be collage town and a tech city. Lets not even try to lure the HQs in west county to downtown and use TIF and other means to lure more and more starts ups to small and mid-size Tech companies downtown and over time the growth would fuel growth. Also in the 2020s the most of the major office campuses in the county each year would be or turning 30 years old that would be the time to lure them in and by then we should have a downtown worth showing off.

  • The time to “save” downtown as a traditional business center has come and gone. It’ll maintain, but I don’t see it blowing up.

    Downtown suffers badly from the island effect. There is absolutely zero quality connection to surrounding neighborhoods north and south (maaaybe somewhat to the west).

    I truly believe the future success of downtown lies in whatever growth and improvement occurs — both commercial and residential — on the Near North side. A smart plan to weave NN into downtown will in turn make downtown more viable and less an island. We CAN’T continue with a central city that, in the eyes of many, simply ceases to exist a mere tree blocks out of the CBD.

    • DCWind

      I completely agree. If the north (vast residential growth potential) and the south (steadily growing population) could be nicely integrated, downtown STL would feel much more whole.

      In my opinion, it is equally, if not more important, to better connect the downtown center to Soulard and the revitalization of so many other neighborhoods just south of the city. This also extends to Midtown with South Grand and the Shaw & Tower Grove South neighborhoods. If these growing populations could be better connected to downtown, that would help immensely in generating an interest in city wide success, not just in the CBD, thereby alleviating some of the “island effects” you mention.

      With that said, the benefit of connecting the Near North side is two fold. First, there are no significant rail yards that need to be bridged, which is a huge obstacle now being addressed with the new viaducts on Jefferson and Grand (and the forthcoming Kingshighway viaduct rebuild) in connecting to the south. Second, a more woven fabric on the Near North would enhance what I-70 means to the city, especially now that it has been re-routed over the new Mississippi River bridge. Perceiving I-70 as integral and important to the functionality of downtown and its connected neighborhoods (much as I-64 is) would serve as a huge boost to general public perception of the city as a whole, not just an isolated CBD.

      • John R

        I’d love to see the relocation of the huge distribution facilities just north of Downtown West and south of Pruitt-Igoe…. even if we get a top-notch plan for the P-I site it will still be separated needlessly from downtown.

  • matimal

    Increasingly work happens wherever it can. The days of the ‘office’ may be numbered in many areas of work. People who live downtown are working in their apartments as much as any office. They’ll want to met business contacts there and will draw others like them. This is part of a larger evolution. It even makes downtown parking lots more appealing for new construction.

    • John R

      I agree to some extent, but we just need to face facts and admit our downtown office scene stinks relative to other cities. Cincy is just one example of a mid major that is seeing a resurgence in downtown office employment while we face a two-fold problem… 1) poor regional job performance overall and 2) a corporate leadership that still predominantly chooses the suburbs. Failed leadership is more responsible for downtown’s jobs declines than changing trends in business.

      • matimal

        Downtown Cincy doesn’t have anything like Clayton or even really the West End to compete with. Cincy’s midtown neighborhoods are actually quite active, but less compact and urban than the West End. Downtown Cincy has held it’s place as an employment center while increasingly becoming THE social/culture center for the metro. Cincy’s metro job performance is only moderately better than St. Louis, too. Jobs and Housing aren’t mutually exclusive.

      • Andy

        One of the major issues that St. Louis faces as far as downtown’s office space goes is the competition presented by Clayton. Clayton has the advantage of not having the earnings tax. Also, Clayton is the county seat of the region’s largest county. Many law offices locate in Clayton due to this and Clayton is also insulated by the affluent areas that surround it.

        • John R

          True, however looking at the Cincy example again, they have an even higher earnings tax than we do and it also has had its fair share of jobs sprawl and intra-regional jobs competition… we have another county to compete with but they have a whole other state playing the incentives game…. but again unlike almost every other downtown ours seems like its running on empty. There is no reason we can’t be more like Cincy and attract more office jobs back to the CBD. But it will take a change in civic and corporate will.

          • Alex Ihnen

            The reported numbers are roughly the same, but the feel of each is quite different from my experience. Their big corps are in downtown proper: Kroger, Macy’s, P&G, while ours are in the periphery: Ameren, Purina, Wells Fargo. Cincy has more retail downtown – perhaps because there are small communities lining the smaller river with easier access. Cincy may not have the huge warehouses that are now lofts, but the new residential in OTR feels a lot more connected to downtown than Columbus Sqaure here.

  • Adam

    anybody know if the Alverne renovation is still on-track?

    • Presbyterian

      Yes, but for 2016.

  • John Warren

    Lots of younger people and newer start-ups DO want to be downtown and are relocating to downtown. I believe companies that headed for Chesterfield are finally realizing that people under 35 don’t want to go to work in earth city of an office building facing a highway. I think we’ll continue to see this trend here, even though we saw RGA move to a suburban campus, 1985 style.

  • Adam

    i hope he does a better job on these than he did on the millennium apartments. since when do luxury apartments have drop ceilings?

    http://www.apartments.com/Missouri/St-Louis/Gallery-515-Luxury-Residences/1367568

    • Alex Ihnen

      One of the challenges converting this type of building to residential, I’m guessing.

      • Presbyterian

        Yeah, but an unfortunate one. I think part of the disappointment with the Millennium is that what originally was a high-design building was retrofitted with expensive but low-design apartment units. The suspended ceilings and burgundy-stained woodwork just seem out of place in a mid-century building.

        Perhaps this project will use some clean-lined cabinets and light wood instead, with more open floorplans. That would do a lot to help it succeed.

    • Peter

      I believe only the first two floors of that renovation had drop ceilings. The remaining 8 have finished ceilings. He does a great job and his end product is better than most.

  • T-Leb

    Great view of the ballpark from Laclede building, I guess this is the residential ballpark village tower I was hoping for…

  • John R

    Here is a look at the residential conversion of the mid-modern East Ohio Gas Building in downtown Cleveland.

    http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2014/07/first_renters_move_into_former.html

  • HixxinSoulard

    While residential is better than vacancy, I don’t believe that converting downtown’s existing towers to residential is good for the region. It simply speeds the decline of downtown St. Louis as the region’s “central business district.” (In fact, I’d strongly argue that STL, the region, no longer has a CBD.) Successful, vibrant downtown’s have daytime *and* nighttime density. Converting existing business towers to residential makes that daytime density less likely.

    • JBoogie

      Unfortunately, St. Louis’ CBD is broken up between the BJC complex, Clayton and I-270 & Olive. Downtown hasn’t been our “business center” for decades. A big part of that is decentralization of population and the city being its own entity separate from the county. I actually think the faster we come to the realization that our region has no true “downtown” we will be better off. Making downtown a mix of high density residential, small and mid-sized business, and entertainment is the route we should take at this point. It seems like leadership is finally realizing this the correct way to go. Trying to attract the “big business” crowd is a lost cause, because they all live in Chesterfield. Downtown should aim to attract the young and talented, a demographic this region has traditionally ignored big time.

      • HixxinSoulard

        Can’t say I fundamentally disagree with a mix, but converting existing towers ensures the mix tilts toward residential too heavily in my opinion. Then again, Hayden probably sees residential is the only way to make $.

        • John R

          Hixxin, I agree that we should be very concerned about the continuing deterioration of down as a Central Business District, which after all is a downtown’s main function, However, I think Hayden doing a Millennium Center style mix of residential on the top floors and office on the bottom would be fine as we have plenty of empty space in other office buildings.
          btw, if Hixxin Soulard is not your real name you should go ahead and change it to that.

        • Adam

          Increased population + decreased office space could also spur the construction of new office towers.

      • Ashley Diaz

        I have to agree that creating more and fresh places to live in the epicenter of our downtown will encourage more people to move to our budding and early-Renaissance-d (made up “technical” term) downtown. Getting people walking in and out of buildings downtown is what is going to attract more businesses to open up and create the nighttime density that downtown needs. I’d like to see the downtown streets come alive at night and not shutter their windows and doors like the “central business district” of Clayton does every evening.

        In the least, having people actually live downtown will bring revenue to the City, no matter where they go to work in the morning. At least they’re calling the City home.

    • Peter

      I disagree, when you have 50% vacancy of office/retail for 5-10 consecutive years. When the Arcade/Chemical and numerous other buildings empty for 20 years years are converted to mix use and provide a place for affluent professionals to live. This adds to the retail and develops a “scene” for people to live. With the addition of affluent professions, next is the retail and the desire to move in more business. This is just what St. Louis needs. Vibrant downtown living instead of a place to work then retreat to the subs. Good for you Mr. Hayden!

    • jhoff1257

      Downtown is home to Wells Fargo, Stifel, Laclede Gas, a booming startup scene, law firms, the main bank branches, courts, governments, etc. Those aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Plus you have the recent move of the St. Louis University Law School and Webster University is getting ready to add a major branch in the renovated Arcade. Downtown will always have plenty of daytime activity, including tourists.

      Midtown, outside of St. Louis University, is more of an entertainment neighborhood with the theater district, Midtown Alley, a few breweries, and other bars and restaurants.

      The Central West End is somewhat a combination of both. You have entertainment in the Euclid Avenue/Maryland Plaza area, the museums and attractions in Forest Park, and many other high end stores, restaurants and bars. In addition to all of that you have the largest employer in St. Louis in BJC, who employes nearly 17,000 in the neighborhood, along with Washington University. Plus the booming CORTEX district which is expected to add thousands of jobs over the next several years.

      Then you move into University City and Clayton. The Delmar Loop is the main commercial thoroughfare for U City and Clayton is home to thousands of more jobs in Fortune 500 companies, law firms, banks, and County Government HQ.

      And not only do all these areas have large amounts of high end residential and some retail mixed throughout, they have two different light rail lines running through the center of it all.

      Instead of picturing a single business district picture our Central Corridor as a mini-Manhattan. Not as dense of course, but several different nodes of commercial/residential/retail mixes connected by mass transit.

      This is where St. Louis succeeds as a city.

  • chaifetz10

    Keep the residential coming! The more people who live downtown, the greater the foot traffic for street level retail! How long before we see a Walgreens or CVS bit the bullet and come downtown? (Obviously once one does the other will most likely soon follow).

    • kjohnson04

      Downtown had a Walgreens for decades, and it only closed because the building it was located in was torn down for the supermarket-lite Culinaria. Now, putting Walgreens/CVS in 720 Olive wouldn’t hurt.

      • dempster holland

        much of the downtown retail traffic came from office workers, after
        housewives stopped coming down during the day. As residential
        takes over from offices, there will be even less daytime traffic
        downtown So from a downtown populated at day and empty at
        night, we will go to a downtown somewhat crowded at night and empty at day. Meanwhile, downtown is being replaced by a central corridor
        from the old downtown to Clayton/Gallaria

        • matimal

          Or we’ll have something else. Predicting the future is very risky.