Contemporary Single-Family Home Planned for Sarah in The Grove

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The Forest Park Southeast neighborhood (AKA The Grove) is quickly becoming the center of contemporary architecture in St. Louis. Single-family contemporary infill has been led by UIC with its Avant Grove and custom homes. A UIC-designed mixed-use building at 4321 Manchester brought infill on a larger scale.

Now, a single-family residential project on Sarah Street may introduce a contemporary home among traditional four-family brick homes. Anthony Duncan Architect designed the Sarah Street home. That office has produced a number of contemporary designs, some completed, some unbuilt. Townhomes on Olive in the Central West End were completed last year. Proposals for three-story infill in The Grove have yet to get off the ground (image below).

Earlier this month a contemporary design by Trivers Associates and Spencer Development was chosen to be built on the wedge-shaped lot at Machester, Chouteau, and Sarah. Other infill projects, such as Chouteau’s Grove by Green Street, and 4400 Manchester by Restoration St. Louis (both have broken ground) are set to add more contemporary infill to the area.

The owner of 921 S. Sarah is listed on city records as the adjacent property owner at 917 S. Sarah. A new construction permit for $380K has been issued for the site. If this is indeed a project from a current neighborhood resident, it could be a good test of whether the exploding development in The Grove will be done for, or at least with existing residents, or is more tilted toward changing the character of the area.

It’s likely that the curb cut, which stands out for this site, would need a variance, though the building does lack alley access. And it’s hard to find a project in The Grove (other than several recent examples by Restoration St. Louis) that have not received tax abatement. If sought, would this project be granted abatement?

sarah-street_aerial-w-logosarah-street_streetview

As The Grove and surrounding area have been changing fast, the value of short sections of what some may consider out-of-place homes and buildings continues to increase. The 4400 block of Chouteau would be worse without Station G, for example. This also true of some historic residential buildings on Manchester, and a four-family at the north end of Taylor Avenue.

This can also be seen on the south side of 4300 Forest Park Avenue and the 4000 block of Laclede Avenue. Historic homes and residential buildings that remain there are exactly the type of structures that help integrate big developments such as Cortex with the surrounding city. When the aim is to connect new and old, contemporary with historic, this is what these buildings do. And they’re already here, we just need to let them continue to exist. But the threat, and assumption, is that these buildings are targets for demolition in order to clearcut sites for larger apartment projects and institutional uses.

With large projects already slated for several adjacent lots, this corner of The Grove can keep a small, but meaningful, part of its history, character, and residents, by supporting infill like this.

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An unbuilt design for The Grove by Anthony Duncan:

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Contemporary infill in The Grove:

4400 Manchester_2{4400 Manchester by Restoration St. Louis}

4321 Manchester - design by UIC{4321 Manchester by UIC for Paramount Property Development}

4101 Manchester by Trivers rendering{4101 Manchester proposal by Trivers Associates for Spencer Development}

Avant Grove{Avant Grove by UIC}

Custom home in The Grove by UIC{UIC’s first custom home in The Grove}

UIC custom on Hunt{custom single-family home by UIC on Hunt Avenue in The Grove (now completed)}

contemporary infill condos - Vista Avenue{a contemporary design and unique housing form proposal in The Grove}

Rise Adams Grove_Trivers_1{prelimary design by Trivers Associates for affordable infill}

{initial design for Chouteau’s Grove by Green Street and Koman Group}

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  • Alex Ihnen

    Apologies for the crudeness of this mock-up, but perhaps it sort of shows that a significant difference could be made with relatively small changes. Something (don’t know what) creative needs to add variation to the garage door. Just wanted to show continuity of sidewalk and grass pavers for the driveway.
    .
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7574aa1626c20a2c818647034f939b21193515f7524e99fee10bedf4da40d4f8.png
    .
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8df6dd2c2612c5ad96b5de3f095f13779b93543b2f48a72be4c8a177735ec9db.png

  • Sook Deek

    I’d love to bang a hoe out hard on the front porch

  • Chicagoan

    As others have said, taking the door and pulling it forward goes a long way in a home design like this. Right now, it’s a modern looking garage. If the door is placed in front of the garage, at least it looks as if humans are given priority over cars.

    • I have no idea what I’m saying

      “priority over cars?” what are you saying?

      • Michael B

        What are YOU saying?

        • I have no idea what I’m saying

          I’m saying that in walkable cities all over America (which also have ample street parking), people are not militant about sidewalk cuts…There is nothing wrong with them. Cities all over this country use them and achieve the desired end state of having ample parking and walkability. It CAN be done…this isn’t putting a man on the moon…

          • Michael B

            I was actually making a lousy joke about your username, but thanks for your well-thought out response. I cycle pretty much everywhere, so I’m generally opposed to curb cuts as they are just one more place I have to be wary of an exiting vehicles (which are some of the more common vehicle/bicycle collisions). That being said, Sarah is not a main biking route and doesn’t really need to be with Tower Grove Ave being the main north-south through-way in the district. All in all, if this project can present an appealing facade, I think the curb cut is ok for this specific circumstance.

          • I have no idea what I’m saying

            Ah, internet humor is lost on me. :'(
            I understand the plight of a cyclist who needs to watch out for cars (I have the same experience daily). Agreed on your conclusion about path but there is still the core issue that cyclists shouldn’t have to be that worried. The core issue there is this city’s lack of drivers education and general selfishness on the roads. I have lived in multiple US locations (including New York and Miami) and have never seen drivers as selfish and reckless as here in St. Louis. It’s a real shame.

          • Chicagoan

            Is it fair to argue that the pedestrian experience is vastly improved when people don’t have to worry about a garage door flinging open and a car flying out of it?

            A stroll down a street free from curb cuts is one of urban life’s great pleasures.

          • I have no idea what I’m saying

            Since when do doors “fling open” and cars “fly out”? That’s hyperbole that doesn’t apply.
            Besides, from the rendering it is clear there is plenty of distance to the garage door in the driveway.
            There is nothing about this design that prevents you from continuing to experience what I agree is a great pleasure.

      • Chicagoan

        A house should be built with people in mind, not car storage.

        This design is the reverse.

        • I have no idea what I’m saying

          Maybe YOUR house should be built like that.

          But that’s just your opinion.

          The people footing the bill for this think differently (and a lot of people agreed with them as evidenced by the numerous other “modern design” homes in the area – and across the country).

          You’re core argument is flawed anyway; having a garage does not mean the house is not “designed with people in mind”. The two are not mutually exclusive. To propone so reflects a 1-dimensional and simplistic understanding of architecture.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Thanks for the comments. Let’s not make it personal. And yes, all the comments here are just opinions. There is not universal truth regarding architecture, urban planning, or driveways.

          • I have no idea what I’m saying

            OK, sorry to get a little heated, I just want to see the area improve and hate to see people be close-minded about issues considered trivial in the rest of the country (like curb cuts).
            Will try to tone it down…

  • jkf1220

    Happy to see this burst of modern design in the city. I really like the work that Metamorphi is doing on Lafayette.

  • John

    Earth tones are preferred over stark white siding, in my opinion. I like contemporary design; however, the exterior color choices could make or break whether or not this is an eyesore or welcome architectural variety.

    The wood on the front looks good, but the wood deck on the back with all of the stark white siding looks awful.

    I recommend red, brown, black, gray, and perhaps limit the white to small areas or accent trim.

    • Labib Wajih

      i agree. My wife and I so happen to be the owners. It’s my intentions to go with a earth-tone grey hardi-backer siding. I have a design back ground myself, the concept was mine and Tony(Architect) consulted with me, tweaked it, engineered
      and put the professional touches on it. I think he did a great job. Those images are renderings and not set in stone….Also, they’ve broken ground on the development (Chouteau Grove) directly across the street from me. i would think my modern design structure will blend in just fine – Labibco

      • Adam

        Thanks for the details, Labib! I actually like the design (except for the garage door, of course). I think the white siding looks good on the front and sides and in contrast with the wood and brick, but maybe it’s a little overbearing on the back because it’s so unbroken. It might be nice if the garage door blended in a little more. In the rendering, at least, it’s kind-of an attack on the eyes.

      • John

        That is great news, Labib! I look forward to seeing the final results. I appreciate your investment in the City and your design aesthetics. I hope you consider a glass/fiberglass garage door (with stainless steel trim) to complement your modern design. The garage door can be a showpiece, too!

      • Tysalpha

        I commend you for stepping into the discussion, with so many opinionated people! You’ll find most here are very nice… just not shy about giving their opinions.

        I like the design as well and just as John said, think that something to soften the white siding would be good. A taupe or earth-tone like you mention, or even brick red or off-white.

        The driveway dominates, but there’s little choice on this site. I’d suggest a tinted/textured concrete to tone down the brightness while its new, or the semi-permeable pavers others have mentioned.

  • rgbose

    Windows in the Master bathroom! Should add one to the other one on the second floor.

    Is the basement meant to possibly be an apartment?

    • Jakeb

      My thought was that the basement was to function as a guest house or mother-in-law quarters.

  • Tysalpha

    No-one’s commented so far on the apparent live/work aspect. I’m assuming the owner plans to use it as an office, and receive lots of visitors/clients, since there’s a door separating the entry hall and office from the rest of the house. And a weird bathroom open to both the office and the garage. With all this, I’m just curious what type of business it will be.

    • Tysalpha

      5 bedrooms. And laundry on both the basement and 2nd floor levels. Something strikes me as odd about this one.

  • rgbose

    Ugly. So many other lots to build on that can accommodate on-site car storage.

    Is it inconceivable that new construction can get by with only on-street parking? Many old houses do.

    Looks like Donovan is vacated. Interesting.

    • Jakeb

      It is inconceivable to me that there is a market for a $400k house with no covered parking. At a lower price point, off street parking becomes less of an issue.

      I would have chosen a lot that allowed for parking off the alley.

      With no alley access, what would be a better use of this particular lot?

      • rgbose

        Do we have to answer that question now with so many other empty lots nearby?

        • Jakeb

          We will never have to answer this question, but it was an earnest question. What is the highest and best use of this lot?

          I agree that other lots would seem to be better suited for a single family home with off street parking for two cars. But I also have a hard time imagining a higher and better use of this lot.

          Presumable the more desirable empty lots nearby will more readily find use.

          We can always make the perfect the enemy of the good, but an unabated $400k single family house on an undesirable lot is pretty good from my vantage point.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Looking at city records, I believe this vacant lot is owned by an adjacent property owner who wants to build a new place next to where they currently live, and not a vacant lot elsewhere.

          • rgbose

            The two adjacent properties are/were 4 families.

          • I have no idea what I’m doing

            Why is that relevant?

          • rgbose

            Jakab asked what is the highest and best use. I cited the uses adjacent as a possibility.

          • I have no idea what I’m doing

            I thought his question was rhetorical given Jakeb then commented he/she has a hard time imagining a higher and better use of the lot.
            Given the exchange between you and Jakeb, I understood that he/she is supporting the use as a good investment, while you have called it ugly and suggested that what should go there is what is already next to it (presumably because of the garage door?).
            The fact that there is something next to in style “X”, is not relevant justification to not use style “Y” on the lot. Not every house needs to look the same in the city. There is nothing wrong with this one simply because it’s not a boring red-brick box, is there?

          • rgbose

            I didn’t say this couldn’t be a house. Didn’t say a house was a bad investment. Didn’t say it had to be a brick house. Didn’t say it should be a 4 family.

            I think it’s ugly because of the garage door, the balcony juts out beyond the ground floor and the buildings next to it, it’s not as tall as the buildings next to it, and it feels too horizontal. I think it looks like someone using there hands to cup around their eyes like binoculars.

          • I have no idea what I’m doing

            I didn’t say you said any of those things…that’s a straw-man. The houses next door are boring brick boxes, so that comment is appropriate. Didn’t mean to make it seem like I was accusing you of having that opinion; more asking if you do.
            Agree to disagree, I suppose. I think it looks great and can’t wait to see it built.

  • pat

    Is there a ramp inside for the car to get to the second floor of its house?

    • Riggle

      They have that downtown, at the Alvern building, great place for cars to rent

  • PD

    The modern home built just off Taylor on Chouteau took 6 months to sell for full list. This will probably sell as well to the right buyer.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bdd6a554a6f762151dc3fb7ab1df88967e6e19cccd2af692910ebccdc8239415.jpg

    • Alex Ihnen

      Yes. That was a unique home in that it was universal design, and has its own aesthetic challenges. The home in this article would be built by the owner.

    • rgbose

      Wow, that one didn’t get tax abatement!

      • PD

        How did you see that? Zillow?

        • rgbose

          On the Assessor’s website

  • David Hoffman

    I love the introduction of contemporary architecture into the city. The mix adds interest.

  • JCougar

    I think that’s quite possibly the ugliest home I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t fit in at all with the surrounding architecture, and as is obvious, it presents a massive garage door and concrete driveway to the street.

    • I have no idea what I’m doing

      Just what St. Louis needs to get it out of it’s unimaginative rut and get progressive tech-type people moving to the City to improve it; stooges who think this home is “ugly” because it “doesn’t fit in with the surrounding architecture”.
      New flash, St. Louis has tons of appalling and abandoned architecture that should be bulldozed and replaced – not replicated or carbon copied.
      (to be fair, St. Louis also has a lot of unique architectural gems, but the 4 unit plane-faced brick buildings in this neighborhood are certainly not among them…)

      • JCougar

        It’s neighbors are 100 times more dignified than that structure. I understand they need a garage and driveway due to lack of alley, but that design only emphasizes that. The grey aluminium siding (at least it looks that way from the pictures) drags it down a lot, too. I think just changing the color scheme a bit could go a long way. I’m far from a purist, and would normally prioritize new construction over nit-picking about design, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Bad designs affect the desirability of the entire neighborhood. Aventura was built only a few blocks away…and it’s pretty much unanimously agreed that that is a design monstrosity.

        • I have no idea what I’m doing

          Why? Why do YOU need (or get) to draw the line anywhere?

          On the notion that this is a “Bad” design? There is nothing “bad” about this design. That is only your opinion. May people all over the country would consider moving to St. Louis simply from looking at this picture and realizing we can build houses like this too.
          Newsflash, the desirability of the neighborhood is much more impacted by the crime rate and the awful schools than by this forward-looking design that many could consider desirable.
          I agree on Aventura but this looks and is nothing like that…totally different situation and this is pushing the architecture in St. Louis in the right direction (i.e. away from “every house mush be a red brick cube with a detached alley garage”).

          Please also remember that this is just a rendering. Final judgment on finishing and sidings should be reserved until the house is built. Many places look very different once they’re “real”.

          • JCougar

            I get to draw the line because there’s this thing called the Internet and people get to publicly comment on news stories.

          • I have no idea what I’m doing

            True – I certainly wouldn’t take that away from you (and couldn’t if I wanted to). Please don’t misunderstand.
            My point is simply that your comment is only you opinion and carries no actually authority or expertise and is non sequitur in several places.
            If boils down to you’re just saying “I think it should change because it doesn’t look like what is next to it and I like what is next to it because I decided it’s more dignified”. (even though it’s not yours, it’s good for the neighborhood, and you’re not paying for it).

          • JCougar

            If you’re trying to tell me my opinions barely matter, I’m already well aware.

          • I have no idea what I’m doing

            I’m not trying to do that…I didn’t mean to single you out particularly. Please forgive me.
            I’m simply trying to share the hard truth that opinions saying this thing is “ugly because it’s doesn’t look St. Louis-like” aren’t facts.
            That nuance is important to highlight on a comment thread where everyone is screaming bloody-murder over curb cuts (because that’s all they know because that’s what they were told and are used to). This attitude is hurting the city and it’s ability to progress/attract people/companies.

          • Riggle

            Dude, give it a rest, coming from me thats saying alot

          • Alex Ihnen

            “I get to draw the line because there’s this thing called the Internet and people get to publicly comment on news stories.”

            Yes. 🙂

          • I have no idea what I’m doing

            He/she is right about that. Can’t deny it! 😉
            (but it doesn’t make the opinion truth – it’s still just an opinion)

  • Jakeb

    Love the investment in the neighborhood and the modern architecture. Where there is an alley, curb cuts and front facing garages should never be permitted. Here, there is no ally so the curb cut is inevitable and it’s simply unreasonable to expect anyone to invest this kind of money in home without covered off street parking.

  • Riggle

    Curb cut is terrible, this is more suited for a suburban locale, maybe a Maplewood or U-City

    • I have no idea what I’m doing

      Opinion – not fact.
      The evidence is contrary to your claim; there have been many “modern” homes built in this area in recent years and demand is there. It indicates enough people disagree with you to transform the area.

      • Alex Ihnen

        The claim is the curb cut is terrible. I’ll rate that as mostly true. Though these aren’t exactly anti-urban and are the norm in 1920s dense urbanism as built to accommodate car ownership. In terms of evidence being contrary to that claim…not sure.

        Anyway, this is getting silly.

        • I have no idea what I’m doing

          Whoops, I probably should have written: “The evidence is contrary to your claim; there have been many “modern” *builds* in this area *that include curb cuts* in recent years and demand is there. It indicates enough people disagree with you to transform the area.”
          If you’re not sure about the claim just go walk/bike/drive around the neighborhood and you can see for yourself. Look again in six months and you’ll see the number has increased. They’re not only there, there on the rise and desired.
          What evidence is there that ‘curb cut = terrible’ is mostly true?
          Agreed not anti urban. Also agreed getting silly; but still a conversation worth having imo. Feel free to disagree, of course.

          • Alex Ihnen

            I can think of three new homes with curb cuts in FPSE. That’s not nothing, but it’s not a lot. The predominant urban form here is still anti-curb cut. There are new curb cuts behind Sauce on the Side and for the Lafser & Associates projects. These were granted to maximize parking and/or address access issues.

            Curb cuts are an obstacle for pedestrians, that’s why I view them as terrible (or perhaps just not preferable) in a dense urban environment. But, like, that’s just my OPINION! 🙂

      • Riggle

        Curb cuts are bad for pedestrians, that is fact

  • RyleyinSTL

    PUT THE GARAGE IN THE BACK…but no alley access so I guess it’s okay?

    Otherwise, I like it.

    • Alex Ihnen

      As mentioned in the article, there is no access to this lot from the rear. There isn’t an alley. In theory, an alley, or other access could be negotiated or bought from the property owner behind, but that’s not going to happen.

      • tbatts666

        They should at least have to pay the city for the curb cut.

        They are basically squandering a public versatile good (street parking), for private parking.

        The most salient feature on this building is the garage. It’s built for a drive in society, has no meaningful relationship with the rest of the street.

        Or are we so desperate for development that we are willing to tolerate garbage for infill?

        • tbatts666

          Some of the other stuff seems pretty darn nice though. Cool.

        • Alex Ihnen

          You’re not wrong. It’s tough for homes without any option for off-street parking. When I lived in the neighborhood, even though virtually everyone had a garage or parking pad via the alley, almost everyone parked on the street.The curb cut on the custom UIC home on Gibson was a good solution for that site, for example.

          Using grass pavers with the sidewalk cutting across would really mitigate the bad aesthetic at least: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/74b51fa69794ff0cf8119853d165862a9a2153584cc118e8162f4d16acb719b8.png

          • tbatts666

            Oh, those pavers are pretty. And reinforce a nice human scale to the neighborhood!

            I feel the bad aesthetic is that there is no front door, no front porch, no human scale to the building. Not necessarily the driveway. But maybe the vacant lot is a more demoralizing aesthetic.

            Bad urban development surrounding car storage is another signal we are mismanaging parking for many neighborhoods. We should get some Parking Benefit Districts before the whole city turns into garages and parking lots.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Pull that front door forward past the garage door and maybe it’s an improvement. No surprised to see many not get back the garage in front.

          • Jakeb

            I was just about to say the same re the front door. The ‘front porch’ is on the second level. From an owner perspective, this probably makes it more usable.

          • tbatts666

            It’s a balcony. A front porch is all about living in communion with your neighbors. It’s the point of connection with the neighborhood.

            A good front porch is somewhere you’d want to hang out. Balconies are totally different and serve different purposes.

          • Jakeb

            While I’m not offended by the existence of the driveway given the lack of alternative rear parking, it certainly should be mitigated as you suggested. The green pavers would be nice and extend the sidewalk across the drive.

          • I have no idea what I’m doing

            Why should it be mitigated? On what grounds? Your comment makes no sense. What is your justification for telling these people, who are building a house that will generate revenue, improve property value, and fix the general disrepair of the area by replacing an abandoned lot that looks awful in a high crime area that their investment/desire should be “mitigated”? The “greater good”? Losing 1.5 street parking spaces on a block with nothing on it? What possible stake do you have in this?

        • I have no idea what I’m doing

          Other than, you know, it raises property values, fixed an eye-soar of an abandoned and unkempt lot, and generates tax revenue. Get over yourself, this is a vast improvement to the area and well worth the price of 1.5 street spaces in an area with ample parking (which no one parks in anyway due to the crime rate…)

          • I ahve not idea what I’m doing

            And for the record: Yes, St. Louis really is this desperate for development since no one wants to live here (for a myriad of reasons not the least of which is the close-mindedness of inhabitants who this there is something wrong with this design).

    • I have no idea what I’m saying

      What is this obsession people in St. Louis have with the garages in the back alley? Doesn’t anyone in St. Louis understand that the entire country hates that and that it’s a great way to prevent people from moving to St. Louis and rescuing it from the bowels of irrelevance? No one is going to move here from a costal city and help this bureaucratic hodgepodge improve if close-minded Midwesterners reject good ideas on the face of it because they know nothing else…this is brainwashing! There is nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with a garage in front. This is how the entire rest of the world functions.

      • rgbose

        There are tons of homes in the Stl region with front facing garages. The main problem with them is they end up widening the houses and lots and we can’t afford the infrastructure and service delivery to such spread out places.

        Thankfully, here that’s not the case, though the garage takes away street parking and is unpleasant to pedestrians, and creates another conflict point. Ped traffic will increase on Sarah after the Metrolink station opens. We’ll deal with it. We have to put up with so much worse elsewhere.

        Getting a fancier door, as has been suggested, would be a help.