Olive Street Apartments to Add 587 Beds to City’s Grand Center Neighborhood

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Olive apartments - St. Louis, MO

In September we learned that a 179-unit apartment building was being planned for Olive Street and Spring Avenue near Saint Louis University in St. Louis City’s Covenant Blu/Grand Center neighborhood. We have now learned more details about the project and have a first look at the building’s design.

The five-story, 179-unit building will stretch nearly three-fourths the length of Olive Street. The project, listed as “student housing” has a majority of units planned as four-bedroom, giving a total of 587 beds. A six-story parking garage will be wrapped by the building and provide 450 parking spaces.

Olive apartments - St. Louis, MO

Olive apartments - St. Louis, MO

The nearly 275Ksf building will have 17 1br, 28 2br, 22 3br, and 112 4br apartments and be marketed to students with leasing per bedroom. Designed by Niles Bolton Associates and developed by Peak Campus Development out of Atlanta, Georgia. Peak Campus Management acquired the management contract for the Lindell Strip (Coronado Place, Moolah Place, and Lindell Towers, partially visible in the photo above) in June 2013. The Olive apartments would be just a half block north of those properties.

Two of the buildings shown in the image below have been demolished, the third, The William Cuthbert Jones House will apparently be moved to a new location within Grand Center. Michael Allen at the Preservation Research Office has a great write up of the William Cuthbert Jones House.

Olive apartments - St. Louis, MO

Olive apartments - St. Louis, MO

Olive apartments - St. Louis, MO

Olive apartments - St. Louis, MO

Olive apartments - St. Louis, MO

{a Niles Bolton Associates project in College Park, MD}

More from the September nextSTL Development Ticker:

A new 179-unit residential building geared toward students may soon be in development at the southwest corner of Olive Street and North Spring Avenue. The address listed on the building permit application is “3700-3824 Olive”, which would take in about a block and a half of Olive Street west of Spring. Two buildings within the address span of 3700-3824 Olive have been demolished in the past few years; one historic building, at 3724 Olive, remains. All other parcels in the range are vacant lots. Matthew Foggy, Jr. is shown as owner of the eastern half of the collective lots; Grand Center, Inc, owns the western portion.

Olive Street

Note that this permit application is shown as “zoning only,” which indicates that the city’s Zoning Board must first approve the proposed land use prior to the permit application moving any further. The site is presently zoned H – Area Commercial. Below is a Google Streetview capture of 3700 Olive, just one block north of Lindell and St. Louis University and one (long) block west of Grand.

3700Olive

The developer listed on the permit is Peak Campus Development out of Atlanta, Georgia. Examples of developments the company has tackled in other cities are shown in their portfolio here. Peak Campus Management acquired the management contract for the Lindell Strip (Coronado Place, Moolah Place, and Lindell Towers, partially visible in the photo above) in June 2013. See the press release for that announcement here.

New residential construction in Grand Center would be a major turning-point for the district, which has seen mixed-use historic rehabs and some new commercial construction, but no new residential buildings at all, and none without some frontage on Grand. Other details on the proposed development are scarce. More on this development proposal as it comes to us.

Olive Street, Grand Center - St. Louis, MO

*update: The William Cuthbert Jones House shown above is in the development footprint, but according to a well-sourced comment below, the historic home would be moved to a new location. The other two buildings appearing within the development outline have been demolished. According to the same source, the building would likely be similar to the West Pine Lofts currently under construction nearby. Michael Allen at the Preservation Research Office has a great write up of the William Cuthbert Jones House.

West Pine Lofts - St. Louis, MO{West Pine Lofts – currently under construction near St. Louis University}

Two buildings have been demolished recently on the block (images below). The last remaining building to the east is listed on the National Register for Historic Places along with the Jones House. Several parcels and buildings on this block have recently sold.

Recently demolished on Olive:

Olive Street demo - St. Louis, MO

Click here for a map of the area.

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  • jhoff1257

    Has this project been cancelled? I was reading in the Post-Dispatch today about another apartment building going up near the West Pine Lofts and they mentioned a project for Olive “near Spring” being cancelled because the developer thinks there is too much housing being constructed.

    • John R

      It looks like it; the owner cancelled the permit a couple weeks ago.

      • Alex Ihnen

        Yes – I’m told it’s been cancelled. The announcement by SLU that they would be building a new residence hall, and greatly expanding/renovation another put an end to this one. Something better may be in the works.

        • Mike F

          “Something better may be in the works.”

          *crosses fingers*

  • Monica

    Peak Campus Housing is a rip off! Very expensive for low quality.

  • Monica

    Peak Campus Housing is a rip off! Very expensive for low quality.

  • Alex Ihnen

    What I don’t like about this project is the lack of entrances facing Olive. The development effectively turns its back to the city street. The design says it faces the street, but all the activity, all the coming and going, all the people will activate the parking garage and rear of the building. There’s also no retail, which would have been nice at the Spring Street end, but it’s a tough sell here. I do like that the long building appears to be designed in three parts to at least break up the long expanse.

  • Michael C.

    Does anyone know why it’s called the “Covenant Blu/Grand Center” neighbourhood and not just called “Grand Center”

    I’ve always wondered that.

  • Paul Hohmann

    Great to see a dense development like this in Grand Center. I wish there would be some commercial space on the corner, but I also know it is tough to lease ground floor commercial there right now.

    Is SLU continuing to grow in enrollment? I’m just wondering where the demand for all the new student housing is coming from (even if West Pine Lofts is only half students, thats 200+ beds and SLU just announced 2 new or expanded dorms on campus?

    • Luftmentsch

      I think it’s less about enrollment growth than about growing student interest in living on or near campus. What I don’t get is why private developers can’t or won’t do these projects for Wash U. students. Wash U’s spurt of renovations and developments will never do anything for tax revenue, whereas this building (eventually, hopefully) will.

      • Scity63116

        Didn’t WashU develop the building that the Peacock Diner and Urban Provisions occupies? That complex also wraps the entire block of Enright to the rear. I also think they renovated the building at the NE corner of Delmar and Skinker.

        • Luftmentsch

          That’s my point! Wash U. does these developments themselves. Because they are owned by a non-profit entity, the developments never become taxable. In the case of SLU, on the other hand (unless I’m missing something), these are for-profit private developers doing the projects.

          • Scity63116

            I understand your point now. Maybe SLU needs to develop something other than parking lots! Maybe the higher cost of land, less tax incentives, and the perceived lack of need keeps private developers from working around Wash U.

            What exactly do Wash U students need? I live in the area and it seems to have it all.

          • M S

            Wash U actually developed that building on the loop through a for-profit entity, so it is paying taxes. A few years back Wash U made an agreement with U City and Clayton not to take any more property off the tax roll.

          • Luftmentsch

            Really?! I had been told (by reliable people) that the for-profit entities were created only in order to get tax-credits, and that the properties – under Quadrangle – always revert to non-profit status after a certain amount of time. If what you say is true, then Wash U. really needs to do a better job of informing the local public. (And this is certainly good news for the city).

  • One vacant Midtown block filled, only 10,566 to go!

    • matimal

      In St. Louis you mean…

      • I’m embellishing, but Midtown has an embarrassing amount of vacant lots. You know it’s pathetic when half of the empty land isn’t even used for parking lots– they’re just grassy fields. In the physical and cultural heart of our city. That’s sad.

        • jhoff1257

          St. Louis University disagrees 😉

        • John R

          The good news is that things are starting to move…. this project, the North Sarah project moving across Vandeventer, the rehab of the Missouri Theater, Grand Center’s new parking garage behind University Plaza Apartments, etc. are all positives and hopefully just the beginning of a new wave of great things in store. On my wish list for the area are having one of our area’s creative builders move forward with a project like that pre-recession Art House proposal and having a creative rehab of the Palladium. I’m trying not to ask for too much.

  • rgbose

    Will anyone build a small (2/4/6 unit) apartment building ever again?

    • Chaifetz10

      Just think, if St. Louis didnt have all of these empty lots that allowed for these projects to have large footprints, we’d be seeing a lot of mid/higher rise type developments. These designs are simply because the land is available to build out and not up.

      • Alex Ihnen

        I think filling neighborhoods with 4-6 story buildings is ideal in many ways. There are places where going higher makes sense, but even in the CWE, if every parking lot and developable parcel were filled with stuff like this it would be fantastic. It’s also much cheaper than going to 10+ stories. I don’t want to see 1-2 story buildings in areas like this, but filling some of these vacant lots will lead to taller buildings – if there’s demand.

        Here’s an interesting take on mid-rise cities: http://www.planetizen.com/node/67761

    • Scity63116

      I doubt it’s very profitable to build at a small scale anymore. I agree the smaller buildings and complexes are more attractive.

      • rgbose

        I’m thinking more from the economics side. A small building is within financial reach of more individuals. Live in one unit while renting the other(s). Live upstairs with your shop downstairs. That sort of thing.

        • Scity63116

          I would like to believe that 1920’s world exists, but the number of vacant small storefronts in the city, makes me wonder, The little guy doesn’t have the funding to build like this.

  • Imran

    The building has an appropriate form for the site, attempts to conceal the garage and will potentially add 600 more residents who will walk/ bike around adding street life and creating demand for more neighborhood services/businesses. (bonus: it is not as hideous as the Aventura )
    It is better than grass/weeds and possibly a stepping stone to something better in the future since, as buildings go, this likely will not be built to last very long.

  • matimal

    “Beds”? I’ve heard nursing homes and hospitals described that way, but not apartment buildings.

    • Nathan Bookhout

      We talk about hotels in room and bed counts. If you have a lot of transient tenants renting by the bed and not the whole apartment it changes the way you think about your occupancy. You could have 100% rented and only be occupying 350 beds or about 60% actual occupancy.

      • matimal

        It’s new to me. Is this a new thing?

        • Nathan Bookhout

          Not as long as I’ve been in the business. Where most buildings sell the whole apartment. Student housing only sells the bedroom, to an individual student. So to get a figure on your revenue you have to know how many beds are occupied vs. the number of units occupied.

          • matimal

            Is this how they take only students without violating federal housing discrimination laws?

          • Nathan Bookhout

            I would imagine that they avoid discrimination laws by not denying renters by race, sexual orientation or disability. This is just a way to rent rooms. There is a common living room and bed/bath suites attached. My sister-in-law lived in one while at SIUC. She didn’t know the other tenants before moving in.

          • matimal

            You must have a college degree or university ID to rent in our building…..

          • Nathan Bookhout

            Level of education or “not enrolled in university” is not a protected class.

          • matimal

            And that’s a good thing, for this development or more generally for housing markets in American cities?

          • Nathan Bookhout

            For student housing, I believe being a student is an important qualifier. Are you asking if I think level of education should be a class protected by law?

          • matimal

            I’m wondering whether thinking about housing as ‘student’ and ‘non-student’ is a good idea or an attempt to manipulate toward ends that are not in the greatest interest of cities.

          • Nathan Bookhout

            I don’t think it is anything so nefarious. If the housing was located away from a school or in an area not used by students I would question it’s purpose. There are already apartments in the central corridor that require “At least one LEASEHOLDER must demonstrate a commitment to the art form in order to qualify for residency” and income restrictions. Why would there not be similiar restrictions for student housing?

            http://www.metropolitanartistlofts.com/Apartments/module/website_documents/website_document%5Bid%5D/47188/

          • matimal

            The real estate business is the most ‘nefarious’ part of the u.s. Economy, apart from military contractors. Mortgage interest deductions, va/fha, Fannie mae, massive subsidization of suburban infrastructure, etc. make it all a very nefarious game. I’ m just interested in what particular kind of nefarious is going on with the new projects in central St. Louis.

          • Nathan Bookhout

            I would argue that pharmaceuticals are more nefarious, but that is another subject… ha

          • Nathan Bookhout

            I don’t think it is anything so nefarious. If the housing was located away from a school or in an area not used by students I would question it’s purpose. There are already apartments in the central corridor that require “At least one LEASEHOLDER must demonstrate a commitment to the art form in order to qualify for residency” and income restrictions. Why would there not be similiar restrictions for student housing?

            http://www.metropolitanartistlofts.com/Apartments/module/website_documents/website_document%5Bid%5D/47188/

  • Brian

    Ho. Hum.

  • Presbyterian

    Adding 587 more residents to that block should do wonders for the neighborhood. Those are students who are off campus with large appetites, laptops to plug in while drinking coffee, and dollars to spend. Hopefully this will provide a boost to businesses along Lindell, Grand and (someday) Olive.

    • Benjamin Aronov

      I heard early this year that Dooleys was doing so poorly that they were ready to call it quits at the end of ’16, roughly. Hopefully this encourages them to stay. They were complaining about the lack of slu customers.

  • John R

    Too bad it is more student housing like the Standard and not targeted more broadly but it will still draw out activity past SLU confines and should help GC. Hopefully we can see an Art House type project next in Grand Center.

    • Alex Ihnen

      I’m not sure about The Standard, but I was surprised to learn that West Pine Lofts planned for no more than 50% students. The Laclede Lofts project has something like 25% students. I think there’s housing demand in this area. I have been describing all the residential projects around there as “student housing” but that’s not quite true.

      • matimal

        Doesn’t it violate federal housing law to discriminate against tenants based on educational status?

        • Chaifetz10

          I don’t think so… At least from my past experience. When I first moved to St. Louis way back when, I encountered many places that wouldn’t rent to full time students.

          • matimal

            So places can ONLY rent to full time students legally as well?

        • Alex Ihnen

          Sorry if it wasn’t clear – these are simply measures of anticipated market demand. That is, the developer isn’t counting on students to fill the buildings – and bankers likely realize there needs to be demand from more than one market segment.

          • matimal

            That’s what I thought. You can’t actually only rent to enrolled students at institutions of higher learning, so you create a building of “beds” that discourage all but students from wanting to live there.

          • matimal

            I understand marketing, I just think it’s important not for us to assume how projects, neighborhoods or St. Louis overall will develop.

  • Adam

    so… ugly… *big sigh*

    • jhoff1257

      Not as ugly as what the site currently looks like.

      • Adam

        all i’m saying is that it’s not an attractive building.

    • Scity63116

      Adam,
      It’s funny that you think this is so ugly, Something like this is likely planned for the Delmar-Harvard school site in U City.

      • Adam

        Oh, lord… you’re really reaching. I said the building is ugly, not that I don’t want it to be built. Although I don’t personally find the design attractive, it will bring much-needed vitality to the area, just as the Delmar-Harvard development will add to the vitality of the Loop and make it a more desirable place to live.

        • Scity63116

          I am sure large, ugly buildings make an area a better place to live. Seriously Adam, do you believe that?

          • Alex Ihnen

            C’mon guys. Residents make an area a better place to live. The building is kinda ugly.

          • Scity63116

            Yes, more residents tend to help an area, especially in the case of that vacant block of Olive. I am not sure about accepting uninspired architecture out of desperation for residents though.

          • Adam

            Residents = demand, and demand increases our chances of getting “inspired” architecture. Regardless, not every building—in any city anywhere—is going to be an architectural masterpiece. Some building are just average to ugly but functional. I think you’re being completely unrealistic.

          • Scity63116

            I would like to see this be something unique, not look like a large residential stamped out complex. Either way, it will happen regardless of what we say here,

          • Adam

            See Alex’s response.