Powers Insurance and Benefits, located since its founding at 7745 Carondelet Avenue in downtown Clayton, is set to move to St. Louis City. In 2014 the company purchased the Mid-Century Hayes Hi-Pointe Building at the intersection of Oakland, Clayton, and Forest Avenues, just east of Skinker and McCausland. A new office building is planned to replace the existing building. Vacant for several years, more than a few ideas came and went, including venerable Tony’s restaurant considering it as a new home.
Initially, plans by Powers called for renovating the existing building at 6828 Oakland, but the heavily altered 1927 building was reportedly not eligible for historic tax credits, making the renovation prohibitively expensive. The Mid-Century facade was added in 1969. The existing 11,000 sf building on half an acre was purchased for $750,000.
The existing building will be demolished and replaced with a new building, designed by Comfort Architecture. The proposed replacement purposely echoes the Hayes building. It will provide approximately 17,000 sf of office space, or more than 50% greater square feet than the existing building. No specific timeline has been made public for the project.
The intersection, where seven streets converge, recently saw a $2M remake that added pedestrian crossings, better access to Forest Park, and installed new street lights that better aligned with traffic lanes. The intersection had last seen changes when Interstate 64 was completed.
Powers Insurance and Benefits was founded in 1991 and provides employee benefits services and personal and business insurance products. The family owned company has approximately 20 employees.
A history and images of the Hayes Hi-Pointe building from Toby Weiss at B.E.L.T.:
It’s hard to get noticed when you’re wedged into a 3-way intersection within a larger intersection of the wackiest interchange in the City of St. Louis. People are too busy trying to figure out where to go to pay much attention to things that are not the world’s largest Amoco sign or the retro-fabulous Hi-Pointe Theatre. For verification that this is no exaggeration, take a look at the map to see how confusing this slice of roadway really is.
Getting on foot to try and get to the Hayes Hi-Pointe Building is almost as challenging, because of all the vehicles that are either a) confused about which way to turn, or b) irritated at those who don’t know which way to turn. Photographically, the building itself is often encumbered with for sale/lease banners, overgrown landscaping (see above) or – as on this day – a boarded up window on the Oakland Avenue side, which was a fresh accident because the shattered glass was still spread across the sidewalk.
Aside from all the challenges, it’s a sharply tailored slice of mid-century modern in the Hi-Pointe neighborhood. City records claim the building is from 1905, which is absurd, both stylistically and construction-wise, and a 1958 aerial calendar shows nothing much at all on this odd plot of land. By 1961, the City directory lists Alfred W. Hayes & Co. (the building’s namesake) and Algonquin Investment Co. at this address (plus a couple of physicians), and the architecture matches that year.
A walk around this trapezoidal building reveals many subtle details not noticeable while driving by, and is a mini-workout because it’s all up or down hill, and the building does a nice job of attuning itself to the topography. For all the difficulty the site, the intersections and the upkeep present, it’s still one of my most favorite overlooked mid-century modern gems in St. Louis City.