Four Historic St. Louis City Schools Target of Tax Credits for Residential Conversion

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Four historic city school buildings are among the contenders for the 2015 Missouri Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). Annual applications for the credits far exceed the allotted funds, and so competition for the awards can be steep. Four school conversions in St. Louis City stand out for their potential to reuse these significant monuments to our city’s shared story.

The Clark School Apartments

William Clark School

Sage Wightman wants to renovate the William Clark School, 1025 N. Union Blvd, into sixty-five elderly apartments. The building was designed by legendary St. Louis architect William B. Ittner and sits next to Soldan International Studies High School, also an Ittner design. An Edwardean masterpiece in its own right, the historic structure forms an essential part of the stunning architectural ensemble that is Union Blvd between Delmar Blvd and Vernon Ave. The Clark School is contributing structure to the Mount Cabanne – Raymond Place Historic District.

The renovation of the existing building will include some new construction. Monthly rents would range from $400 for a studio to $650 for a two bedroom apartment. The developer has requested $700,000 each in state and federal LIHTC.

Intrada Lofts (at The Banneker School)

Banneker School_big

The Vecino Group LLC of Springfield, Missouri has resurrected their stalled plans for Intrada Lofts, this time at a new location five blocks west of their former site.* They now are zeroing in on The Banneker School, 2810 Samel T. Shepard Drive, just north of Washington Ave and two blocks west of Jefferson Ave. The developer envisions a total of forty-six apartments in a mix of studio, one bedroom and two bedroom units. They are requesting $423,000 in state LIHTC with a match in federal credits.

Vecino Group recently completed renovation of 4011 Delmar into Freedom Place–sixty-eight affordable apartments for veterans.

Formerly known as Colored School Number 5, the Banneker School was relocated to its current site in 1932. The present structure dates to 1939. The Banneker School received attention nationally and internationally in the late 1950s for it chief role in the Banneker District of urban elementary schools then under the leadership of innovative educator Samuel T. Shepard.**

Harrison School Senior Apartments

Harrison School

HS Developer LLC hopes to renovate the Benjamin Harrison School, 4242 Fair Ave, into thirty-eight one and two bedroom apartments for seniors. Monthly rents would range from $534 to $620. The developer is requesting a $200,000 MHDC HOME award as well as $348,185 in LIHTC each from state and federal sources.

The romanesque revival building was designed by August H. Kirchner and built in 1895. Additions from 1899 and 1909 were designed by William B. Ittner. The school is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A planned 2008 renovation–which also would have used LIHTC–never materialized amidst the economic downturn.***

Walnut Park (School) Senior Apartments

Walnut Park School 2

Missouri Housing Partners hopes to convert the historic Walnut Park Elementary into forty-six one bedroom and eight two bedroom elderly apartments. Located at 5814 Thekla Ave at Riverview Blvd just south of Calvary Cemetery, this school was also designed by the renouned William B. Ittner. The 58,000 s.f. structure was built in 1909. The building is in the Jacobethan style and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It faces Unity Park.

Monthly rents would range from $555 to $595. The developer is requesting $583,000 each in state and federal LIHTC.

According to news reports, the St. Louis Public Schools had twenty-two building on the market over the summer. Yet these four projects are far from certain. While their benefit to the architectural and cultural fabric of the city is significant — and though they would be of great benefit to their Central Corridor and North City communities — each of these projects is vying against dozens of competitors for the 2015 LIHTC awards. Awards are not expected until this winter.

*57-Unit Intrada Lofts Planned for Downtown West
** John Aaron Wright, Discovering African American St. Louis: A Guide to Historic Sites, 33.
***Harrison School Slated for Rehabilitation

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  • Daphne Macklin

    I was surprised to see that both Clark, where my mother taught for many years, and Walnut Park where I attended as part of the “gifted” program from 5th to 8th grade were being considered as housing. Interesting.

  • kjohnson04

    I know we don’t think about this a lot, primarily because each census shows a population loss, but what we would do if St. Louis suddenly becomes a target for immigrants coming to the US? Where would we send them to school? County schools are at capacity, and SLPS shortsightedly sold too many buildings, and I doubt they have the resources to building several new schools. What happens if we suddenly need the schools we sold through an increase in school-age population? Just throwing that out there.

    As for the rehab plans, they sound wonderful.

  • John R

    Looks like these all got shut out of the tax credit award competition so I don’t know what prospects are for their moving forward. Of course some in Jeff City have their eye on cutting this tax credit program along with the historic tax credits.

  • John R

    Looks like these all got shut out of the tax credit award competition so I don’t know what prospects are for their moving forward. Of course some in Jeff City have their eye on cutting this tax credit program along with the historic tax credits.

  • My dad went to Harrison!!! Great news for all of these buildings.
    What’s the deal with the old Providence School on Sarpy Avenue in FPSE? I can’t understand why it’s languished despite the transformation going on literally all around it. Cortex, IKEA, The Grove… If there’s one building that’s ripe for rehab, it’s certainly this one.

    • kjohnson04

      It’s owned by Vandeventer Truck Sales, who don’t appear to be doing much in the way of keeping it together. I suppose no one has given VTS a high enough offer, yet.

  • matimal

    Great looking buildings. If they don’t deserve support, I can’t imagine what does.

  • guest

    You forgot about Euclid School in Fountain Park. It also has a proposal on the table!

  • STLEnginerd

    This in no way a negative toward these projects but I have been hoping the city could leaverage the repurposing of its abandoned schools to facilitate the goals of the Mosaic Project. Essentially providing the temporary housing needs of new immigrants.
    The William and Clark School along with the abandoned school houses at 1327 Academy Ave, and 5234 Wells Ave (both also abandoned schools) and within a few block of Wiliam and Clark on Union.
    If all three were rehabbed for that purpose, and targeted immigrants of a particular nationality (West African, Syrian, Ukrainian… something else?) The geographic concentration would stand a good chance of spurring a new ethnic enclave centered around the northern end of Academy. With an established community the city becomes naturally more attractive to immigrants from that nation and thus a self reinforcing loop.

  • Brian

    I hope these come to fruition. I have fond memories of my days as a student at Walnut Park School, and I always thought the YMHA-Soldan High-Clark Elementary-Cabanne Library sequence of buildings was as fine a streetscape as any in the city. That collection of buildings, along with the now-demolished SLPD 12 District Station at Page (http://www.slpva.com/historic/1300northunion12thdistrict.html) were examples of St. Louis at the height of its power, confidence and ambition.

    • Presbyterian

      I agree about that stretch of Union. It is pretty amazing!

  • STLExplorer

    Wow, all four look like great projects!