Southwest Bank, Soulard Infill, Historic 4171 West Belle Before Preservation Board

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At the Monday St. Louis Preservation Board meeting, it is expected that two big projects will get the go-ahead, while a well-known historic home may be approved for demolition. Both the BMO Harris plan for the historic Southwest Bank, and the proposal for a large infill project in Soulard, are being recommended for approval by the city’s Cultural Resources Office. Both were also pulled from a previous board agenda, with both seeing design refinement in search of approval. The CRO is also recommending that a denial to issue a demolition permit for 4171 West Belle be overturned. Information below is from the August 22, 2016 St. Louis Preservation Board agenda.

Previously from nextSTL:

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

Design Evolution Continues With BMO Harris Plan for Southwest Bank

St. Louis Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow in 9 Buildings (4171 West Belle)


BMO Harris plan for Southwest Bank building:

BMO_Southwest Bank_1

CRO Recommendation:
That the Preservation Board conditionally approve the demolition of two Merit buildings/sections, 2307 & 2319 S. Kingshighway; and a non-contributing building, 2327 S. Kingshighway, that are located on commonly-owned property and anchored at the corners by the accompanying renovation of two Merit buildings, as such constitutes an “unusual condition.” Conditional preliminary approval of demolition permits, with final approval by staff, would be contingent upon obtaining necessary conditional use, and curb cut approval; and the submission of plans consistent with the preliminary review.

The developer has prepared an analysis regarding the lack of economic viability of the buildings for reuse. Very few commercial/retail storefronts in the South Kingshighway vicinity have undergone major renovation in recent years. This may indicate a lack of economic viability in this geography. Unlike areas with dense collections of commercial storefront buildings found in commercial areas such as The Grove, South Grand and Cherokee, the buildings on South Kingshighway are isolated, with few pedestrian-oriented storefront buildings nearby. This lack of density hinders the redevelopment potential of the buildings.

The developer has supplied cost estimates that indicate per square foot rent levels in the South Kingshighway area are significantly lower than the cost to renovate the structures. The cost estimate does not include the added value of historic tax credits for which most of these buildings would qualify.

BMO_Southwest Bank_3

The developers have made significant changes to their plans in response to the need for a more “urban” design that includes the redevelopment of key buildings. The proposal calls for the renovation and reuse of two of the four contributing buildings, and the demolition of two other contributing buildings, plus a non-contributing structure built in the 1970s.

Denial of the proposal will hinder redevelopment of the corner properties but spare two contributing properties from demolition. Approving the proposal will cause the rehabilitation of the two Merit corner properties with the new Walgreen’s placed in between, along the sidewalk, with windows on the street and an entrance on Kingshighway.

The ordinance says that demolition of “Merit Buildings” should only be allowed “in unusual circumstances that are noted.” The Board decision, therefore, should be based upon whether or not the proposal on a single site, with one owner, is an “unusual circumstance” as a result of rehabilitating two buildings, donating one to the Tower Grove Neighborhood Community Development Corporation and the placement/design of the Walgreen’s.

BMO_Southwest Bank_2BMO Harris_SW Bank_featureWalgreens at BMO Harris_Southwest Bank 2 Walgreens at BMO Harris_Southwest Bank 1 SW Bank_BMO Harris_render


1302-24 Russell Boulevard – Soulard

Soulard_northwest rendering

CRO Recommendation:
That the Preservation Board grant preliminary approval for demolition of the two existing buildings for the proposed new construction, with the condition that an appropriate substitute material be required in place of lap siding and that exterior details and materials are reviewed and approved by the Cultural Resources Office staff.

The project proposes construction of a four-story apartment building with parking located to the rear of the property. A four-story western block will abut I-55; the remainder of the building, which will step down towards the east and the center of the Soulard Historic District, will display three stories of brick, with a recessed fourth story and clad with shingles. The project will require the demolition of a non-contributing warehouse from 1956, and a small one-story commercial building, constructed c. 1900, that has been determined to be a contributing resource to the Soulard National Register and Local Historic Districts.

Soulard_north facade

Revised design above, previous design below.

1302-24 Russell Boulevard_rendering 1


Revised design above, previous design below.

1302-24 Russell Boulevard_rendering 2


Soulard_facade south

Revised design above, previous design below.

1302-24 Russell Boulevard_rendering 3


Soulard_northwest rendering

Revised design above, previous design below.

rendering crop


4147 West Belle Demolition

4171 West Belle_2

CRO Recommendation:
That the Preservation Board overturn the Director’s denial of the demolition of this High Merit building, as Ordinance 64832 requires such approval be made by the Preservation Board.

The owner of 4171 West Belle, in the Vandeventer neighborhood, seeks approval to demolish this Italianate home built in 1882. The owner purchased the property in August 2014 with the intention of rehabilitating and making this her residence. She applied to have the house listed in the National Register of Historic Places; it was approved by the National Park Service in November of last year.

Unfortunately, the building’s condition has worsened as the owner sought the resources for its rehabilitation. The roof has collapsed into the interior and the exterior walls have also deteriorated. In January 2015, the Building Division condemned the structure.

4171 West Belle interior collapse

The Cultural Resources Office’s consideration of the criteria for demolition led to these preliminary findings:

  • 4171 West Belle Place is individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places
  • The high-style Italianate house was constructed in 1882
  • It is a “High Merit” building
  • The house has been condemned by the Building Division
  • The building is sound, in terms of the Ordinance
  • The severe deterioration of the building in combination with its questionable feasibility justifies approval of its demolition

4171 West Belle

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  • DCWind

    I’m guessing that the fifth floor and some of the cosmetic exterior changes on the Soulard project were V.E.’ed out, but I feel like the project lost something in the redesign. It is still a fantastic use of the site, given its current state, and the new renderings are certainly very similar to the original design. That being said, this project had a chance to construct a new residential building that, in my opinion, quite successfully took the 18th/19th century warehouse aesthetic and reworked it with simple modern overtures.

    I am unquestionably a fanboy of more residential development in the city of St. Louis, of all scales and densities, and I definitely support the successful integration of new residential projects within all city neighborhoods as an overwhelmingly positive thing. It is unfortunate that, more often than not (way more often), these new residential developments are dumbed down to a point where they are largely forgettable, when so many start off as something that could be memorable. While this project isn’t as egregiously offensive in the V.E. department as some other projects (I’m looking at you Standard), I still think it is a shame that it was redesigned. And ultimately, I guess this is just one guy’s lamentation on another missed opportunity.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Perhaps the 5th floor was NIMBY’d out more than V.E.’d out.

      • DCWind

        Very true. I did like the way the 5th floor added a bit of posture at the corner, but removing one floor and keeping it at 4 is relatively minor. Overall, it is still a very positive development

    • Adam

      with the exception of the 5th floor, i actually prefer the redesign. they added a considerable number of windows.

      • DCWind

        They certainly added more windows! That part I agree with and actually like better as well…it enhances the look of the industrial warehouse.

  • Mark S.

    Apparently the CRO’s solution to lack of pedestrian facing store fronts on South Kingshighway is to allow demolition of the few that are left. I follow that logic completely.

    By the way, on my drive home from work, I see more people walking down Kingshighway than I see walking on many streets downtown during business hours.

  • Joseph Buchanan

    So is the Kingshighway project in full redesign mode then???

    • Alex Ihnen

      Yes. BMO Harris and the developer will likely be back with a new plan.

  • Adam

    Kingshighway demo denied!

    What happened with the West Belle house and the Soulard development?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Soulard project was approved. Haven’t seen how the vote went on West Belle.

      • Adam

        🙂 and 🙁

        Thanks for the update, Alex.

  • John

    1. Walgreens development wron on so many different levels. I hope it is denied approval until they can come back with a better design that is appropriate for the neighborhood.

    2. The apartment development is great, but so dense and unimaginative. Brick is good. It’s acceptable but not existing.

    3. Sad about the deteriorating historic house. A financial conundrum. Not an easy decision.

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  • Imran

    E-mailing the Preservation Board may not be enough. Show up people !