Design for 126-Unit Mixed-Use Building in Soulard Set for Preservation Board Review

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1302-24 Russell_north_1600

Last month we reported on a planned $20M, 126-unit, five-story mixed-use apartment project in Soulard at 1302-24 Russell Boulevard. Sited within a local historic district, the project will go before the city’s Preservation Review Board next week. The St. Louis Cultural Resources Office is recommending preliminary approval for demolition and new construction.

Designed by Trivers Associates, the building was previously described as a “cascade from five stories to three” with the aim being to match the historic character of the neighborhood. The now available renderings shows five stories at the western end adjacent to Interstate 55. A recessed four-story section extends east, with the eastern end at 13th Street being three stories. Parking would be located to the south of the building.

1302-24 Russell_west_16001302-24 Russell_north detail1302-24 Russell_west detail

As is required for construction in a local historic district, a model example is presented as the nearby Mexican Hat Factory building at 1201 Russell. That historic warehouse spans a city block from 13th to 12th Streets. A McCormack Baron project, the Allen Market Lane Apartments provide affordable apartments for seniors aged 62 and older.

1302-24 Russell Boulevard_aerial{1302-24 Russell Boulevard at right, Allen Market Lane Apartments at left}

Mexian Hat Factory_Soulard{the model example at 1301 Allen Market Lane}

Faultless Laundry_Russell{existing buildings at 1302-24 Russell Boulevard would be demolished}

According to the Preservation Board agenda, the Russell and 13th Street facades would be brick, with a brick return on a “significant portion of the west elevation” facing Gravois. The remainder of the facade would be covered in cement lap siding. The Cultural Resources Office is recommending that a different material “with a more industrial precedent” be used in lieu of the cement siding.

The project appears to be headed toward Preservation Board approval. Some design elements have yet to be finalized, including any changes required by the city. If all goes according to plan, demolition of existing buildings would occur this year, with project completion as soon as fall 2017. Brothers Brett and David Apted are developing the project for Propper Construction Services.

1302-24 Russell Boulevard_rendering 3 1302-24 Russell Boulevard_rendering 2 1302-24 Russell Boulevard_rendering 1 1302-24 Russell Boulevard_site plan

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  • SouthCityJR

    Pulled from the Preservation Board agenda? NIMBYs at work?

  • Pingback: Monday Preservation Board Agenda Includes 126-Unit Soulard Development | 7TH WARD ST LOUIS - HOME OF THE LIBERALS()

  • Beganovic

    This to me looks like a suburban office building. I know they are going for the look of the building across the street but new materials will just make it stick out like a sore thumb. If you’re going to stick out like a sore thumb go all the way and make it modern design.

  • markgroth

    Man, this looks fantastic. If it does get built, we need to consider traffic calming and improved pedestrian crossing across Gravois. McKinley Heights/Fox Park, etc would greatly benefit from better connections with Soulard. This is a tough intersection to cross on a bike. Fantastic news.

  • Wow, I guess I’ll have to be the contrarian here. I’ve loved Soulard ever since visiting for the first time about 15 years ago. IMO, it has some of the best stock of attached commercial and mixed-use buildings I’ve seen anywhere, and I travel all over the US and abroad photographing great places.

    I have no problem with the massing of the building, and not so much with how it sits on the site, although it would have been better had the left wing followed the street. But the skin of the building is highly regrettable. It’ll have none of the elegance and charm of Soulard buildings.

    If they were using the Mexican Hat Factory building as a model, why didn’t they just copy it? A good copy is far better than an incompetent new design. What similarity does it have to the Mexican Hat Factory building other than the fact that at least part of it is sheathed in brick? And yeah, the cement siding is the same stuff they use on siding-clad houses. It saves money, but is completely inappropriate for a major commercial building.

    To be clear, the interior layout of the building may be highly competent, but the exterior looks nothing like Soulard, and could be in any office park anywhere in the US. The architect really needs to look much more closely, and get this thing re-skinned before it goes out for contract!

    • Alex Ihnen

      Steve Mouzon on nextSTL! Well well well. Welcome! If you don’t know – give him the Google:

      To your comments – you’re not wrong. That said, I believe there’s at least something to be said about local expectations and experience. We can/should expect great architecture in places like Soulard and elsewhere in St. Louis The reality is that our elected officials give millions in subsidies to projects like the image below. We fight against projects like this all the time – and often lose. So expectations are different – whether that’s right or wrong.

      The city has dozens and dozens of vacant or underutilized large parcels, even in the “hot” central corridor. We *may be on the verge of one or more Studio Gang projects in the city (and other nice projects too, but my opinion on a project like this is that it raises the bar – setting a new minimum requirement for whatever comes next.

      • Thanks, Alex! I completely understand about expectations… and that cuts both ways. I’m in another discussion about a condo in NYC that to me isn’t great, but is good enough… and a lot better than what had previously been approved for the site. One of my classicist colleagues said it was completely unlovable because it wasn’t built with triple-wythe brick walls and lime mortar. I’m content finding a solution that’s good enough.

        The problem is that Soulard is such a gem that this building will really look bad in comparison. And it’s actually not that hard to re-skin it. I work as a Town Architect in a number of places, and regularly have to cajole big commercial businesses into skinning their buildings in a way that it’s respectful to the surrounding neighborhood. So it certainly can be done. And if it isn’t done, Soulard will regret it for decades.

        • Located on the far west edge of the neighborhood, as it is, I think this building competently respects the ‘feel’ of Soulard’s historic architecture without bowing to it. In the heart of the district, sure, we’re likely singing a different tune.

          The 1000s of old brick beauties pulled down in this stretch as tribute to the Great Urban Highway aren’t coming back. And to forcibly replicate them today is likely impossible, no matter how exacting the review/approval process.

          This structure with this design in this location works. Very excited about the added density and potential to further connect Soulard’s to the neighborhood(s) immediately west.

          • Kevin, other than being partially skinned in brick and having some windows that are vertically proportioned, how does it respect the feel of Soulard’s architecture? And what do you mean by “bowing” to Soulard’s architecture? I’m not talking about replicating the majority of what’s there… most of it is significantly smaller in scale, and has a very different interface with the street, including lots of storefronts. The problem of designing a large building is a very different thing. But there’s no reason a large building can’t look like it belongs in Soulard rather than looking like it belongs in countless office parks anywhere in the US.

            As for adding density and intensity on the streetscape, I’d b excited about that, too. This building’s problems are only skin-deep. But other than Soulard residents who might work there someday and actually go inside, that skin is the only part of the building the neighbors will ever see.

          • Alex Ihnen

            There are a few other warehouses around Soulard that set a context for plain brick boxes – though perhaps you’re saying (Steve) that there’s an important difference in the brick articulation over the windows, cornice, and elsewhere. The Soulard Market Apartments are too far away to be used as a model example but is a simpler warehouse example in this part of the city. Ultimately, even as-is, I think a project like this is a net benefit for the city (for sure) and Soulard (by adding residents and supporting local biz, and better connecting to Lafayette Square (which has seen some blah historic replica infill)). The neighborhood’s amazing, but still has significant vacancy and development challenges, especially at its edges.

          • Tim E

            Which gets to the difference of today of yesteryear. Labor was cheap simply put and brick was the plentiful & cheap building material of the day. To me the details around the windows at 1301 Allen do look better then what is proposed but had just as much or more about construction techniques of the times. The difference in cost to do the crafsmanship toady for what was done when Soulard was built is big….even as big of an issue is finding the skilled craftsman who can do it in a timely and efficient manner
            So the trade off. Do nothing option? Do you go all in for proposal & design and developer risks not securing the financing because it won’t pencil out? Do you tweak? add better details in brick work hear or there or even reduce window count to balance out the cost of added details. To me the massing, density, bringing back brick is a decent trade off considering what it their now is far from Soulard as you can get.
            In other words, if not good enough what do you change within the realm of expectations for a market that is not San Fran, NY etc.

          • Tim, yours are very common misconceptions. In this case, getting most of the details right on this building would actually save money. I see this all the time in places I work, where the assumption is that building in a respectful way costs far too much money. It simply isn’t true.

        • Sara

          Steve, we need you to live in Soulard!!! I agree with your statements!! Thanks. Soulard is in fact a great gem that I am privileged to call home.

        • choo

          I disagree completely,

          I think this building will be a welcomed “gem” at an otherwise ugly entry to the neighborhood.

          There is something said about building a historic replica, and another thing entirely to build something that fits into a historic district that reflects modern design. It looks to me that this is a pretty well thought out combination. I have lived in Historic Replica homes – and they have felt exactly as that – replicas – not original. You would do the community a larger dis-service by trying to “copy” the adjacent historic detail and apply it to the building. I feel the massing is pretty well done, yes it would be great to see an all brick building, but developer performance goals are not going to allow that in the current st. louis real estate market. If you have ever been to historic neighborhoods in larger cities where real estate is many time more valuable, you will see notice, they do not replicate historic buildings as you are suggesting. Even European cities, the practice of replication is an outdated concept. Restoration and preservation is great, but replication often falls short.

    • Matt Ashby

      Thank you for pointing out the uniqueness of Soulard. I think many in St. Louis have lowered expectations. We are sometimes afraid to demand china and settle for paper. Chances are the owner purchased the existing property cheaply. It’s also likely that the owner is targeting roommate renters in the popular demographic. Trivers designed something that meets the requirements given them by the owner. Low, mid, or high-end? This looks low to mid to me, especially compared to new construction in historic districts in other cities.

  • Michael Fears

    Having lived in Soulard most of my life, I’m well aware of ugly the current building and gas are for that corner. With the off ramp right there Soulard desperately needs to this!

  • Allen Market Lane may just be my favorite street in the City. Has such an old, preserved feel to it. Always feel like I’m tucked away somewhere in Boston’s Charlestown district when walking it.

  • MLohrman

    Isn’t a lack of parking still a big issue? looks nice though

  • T-Leb

    No shipping containers? Almost perfect.

  • I seriously love how this one is looking. This is 98% my style of building.

  • CoryS

    I think that gas station would be a perfect location for a CVS

  • HixxinSoulard

    As a long-time Soulard resident, this seems like a great addition to the neighborhood. More of this please.

    Only issue: do they realize how terrible that gas station across the street is?

  • Jon Simons

    It’s time to replace that gas station as well!

    • T-Leb

      Buy it! Im sure they will sell cheap now…

  • SouthCityJR

    Any idea about the status of the other big Soulard apartment proposal at Victor and 7th that was appealing a denial last month? Would be nice to get 2 big projects in this area.

  • Slam dunk. Gorgeous concept that is reflective of the neighborhood’s existing architecture without trying to (poorly) mimic it. This should happen, and set a standard for the City as a whole.

  • brickhugger

    Not a bad design at all, but I would like to see brick on the west facade. Just because it doesn’t front to a city street doesn’t mean it’s not a ‘public’ facade.

  • matimal

    What is “lap siding?”

    • Alex P

      Vertical wood or faux-wood. Usually about 6″ wide.

    • Alex Ihnen
      • matimal

        I looked it up and couldn’t see how “lap siding” was different from “siding.” That’s why I asked.

        • john w.

          Each successive course “laps” over the top of the last as it’s attached to a wall. The lap both protects the joint between the courses, and covers the fasteners at the top of the course. A 9″ wide course will leave 7″ width revealed after the 2″ of lapping cover.

          • matimal

            Isn’t that how all siding works?

          • Alex Ihnen

            It’s how all lap siding works.

  • Tim Ekren

    Will put my faith in Adam on this one. Talk about a nice proposal, nice fit and adds to Soulard. Will be a nice win if the brothers can make it happen.
    This proposal, Gils coming back with a new Manchester/Grove infill proposal and Wash U real estate arm making some movement in the Grove is a welcome considering the terrible site plan for Southwest Bank.

  • Adam

    perfect. this had better get built. if i hear any NIMBY b*tching on this one i’m gonna kick their asses myself. 🙂

    • Alex P

      I’ll back you up.

  • Framer

    Looks good to me!

  • Imran

    A younger, more hip version of :-

    • Alex Ihnen

      Reminds me more of Six North (also, don’t completely dislike that FP Ave building):

      • Ashley

        I once lived at 6 North. 10/10 beautiful building on the outside. They did a great job making it fit the character of the neighborhood. And they didn’t even have to use that sheet stone junk in the back where it faces the parking lot. They used some sort of red cement block. Definitely a model for matching but not tacky new development

        • James

          Or the newish Salvation Army veteran’s housing project in Midtown Alley: