Pulte Homes Plans 64 Townhomes for Praxair Site in Lafayette Square

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praxair_6

On June 25, 2005 the Praxair site along Chouteau Avenue in the city’s Lafayette Square neighborhood caught fire. The site served as storage for gas tanks, which began to explode, sending debris onto the rooftops of surrounding homes and businesses. In all, as many as 8,000 gas cylinders exploded, and the fire took a full five hours to get under control. Interstate 64, just more than 1/3mi to the north, was closed. The Cardinals game was delayed.

The 4-acre site has sat vacant since. The adjacent Lafayette Walk townhome development stalled after 31 of 37 planned units were completed in 2008. That project was announced in 2004 and suffered from bad timing as units began to sell in late 2007. In recent years, development has picked up in the neighborhood with Mississippi Place on the east side of the park, infill along Park Avenue, and new single-family homes centered on Dolman Street.

Now Pulte Homes has a plan to build 64 townhomes on the Praxair site bounded by Chouteau, Missouri Avenue, MacKay Place and a separate parcel fronting Hickory Street to the south. The developer is planning to meet next week with neighborhood residents living adjacent to the site. A larger Lafayette Square community meeting is planned to follow before the end of the year. No images or site plans have been made available.

The site is within the Lafayette Square local historic district, which stipulates requirements for a new construction project such as is being proposed. The aforementioned recent developments in the neighborhood have all been required to adhere to the historic district guidelines. Read: Lafayette Square Local Historic District Code and Lafayette Square Local Historic District Ordinance.

lafsq-historic-district-map

The Lafayette Square Neighborhood – Urban Plan adopted by the city as the official neighborhood plan in 2001 shows the Praxair site as heavy industrial use. An amendment to change the neighborhood plan to reflect Praxair’s departure was passed in 2014. Read: The Lafayette Square Neighborhood – Urban Plan and Amendment #1 of the Lafayette Square Neighborhood – Urban Plan.

After the 2005 fire, the Lafayette Square Restoration Committee (LSRC) created a Praxair Neighborhood Task Force. Praxair initially sought to resume operations at the Lafayette Square site, but neighborhood and city opposition denied that effort. Praxair now operates out of Cahokia, IL and still owns the Lafayette Square site.

Lafayette Walk townhomes adjacent to Praxair site.

lafayette-walk_1 lafayette-walk_2

Existing Praxair site:

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Images from The Lafayette Square Neighborhood – Urban Plan and Amendment #1:

 

praxair_1praxair_2praxair_3praxair_4 praxair_5

MacKay Quarter - 2007{a 2007 resdiential development plan for the Praxair site}

 

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  • Better think about it

    Who’s going to pay for the clean up of the toxic chemicals on the site?

  • STLEnginerd

    Wish they would realign McKay so that it intersects more directly with 22nd street instead of being offset from it. Probably no will to make that happen though.

  • tbatts666

    Great news. Been biking past this vacant lot for 3 years, I never knew about this disaster!

    So many building point their rear ends and sides to Chouteau.

    Hope this development does something different!

    Looks pretty great though. Awesome parking located in center of lot.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Well, that’s a site plan from 2007, not related to the coming plan.

    • Tysalpha

      This was a big deal. NatGeo even did an episode of “Seconds from Disaster” on it. Worth watching for the amped up drama. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPuTQYHnfoc

  • Presbyterian

    Pulte did a fairly urban project at Potomac Yard in Alexandria, Virginia. I tend to go either modern or historic, and much of Potomac Yard was that almost-historicish-transitional vibe that I like a lot less. But it was a good project.

    And most buyers like that almost-historicish-transitional vibe. Though I can’t see them getting the same premium price point in St. Louis that they can command in Alexan$ria.

    https://pulte.com/homes/virginia/northern-virginia/alexandria/potomac-yard-3062

  • Guest

    Good news for Lafayette Square folks. Definitely needs more people and vibrancy. Their business strip area is too quiet and sleepy. 64 townhomes is a good amount. Glad to see a proposal for new townhomes than new apartments. Would like to see new townhomes in other parts of the city as well. It’s a good option for those not wanting a SF home. Curious to know what the monthly association fees are like for these townhomes. If the fees are too pricey, it may scare off potential buyers.

    • tbatts666

      I’ve always been curious why Lafayette businesses are so sleepy. There are so many good things about the streetscape there.

      • Riggle

        Because the people who live there go to the County for all there shopping

        • Riggle

          Their*

          • tbatts666

            Why would the people living near the Lafayette business behave differently from other main streets?

            Proximity to concentrated housing projects? The relative affluence of the area? The ease of access to i44? Maybe the other nice main streets have more people living nearby?

          • Riggle

            The population is too small and too affluent. South grand has many more people living near by, even Soulard has twice the population of Laf Sq. And its proximity to 40, not 44. They drive out 40 for midcounty shopping (aka brentwood).

          • thomas h benton

            I think Lafayette Square may be too affluent to be interesting or very vibrant. The houses there are beautiful, but it reminds me of a more staid suburban community – Ladue, Clayton, etc. Those are all very nice areas, but they don’t the same rattle and hum as areas that are more mixed income and a bit more gritty – Cherokee, South Grand, etc.

          • tbatts666

            Seriously though Park Avenue coffee sucks. Thats why I don’t really stop at Lafayette businesses much despite biking by them up to 10 times a week. South Grand is much better.

        • Dan

          As an LS resident, I go to the county for very little.

    • Dan

      LS is one of the few neighborhoods continuing to grow and has been for several decades. The business strip could use more street life, but I think it’s more of a dining destination area except for locals going to the dry cleaners, etc.

  • James

    I’ve lived in the neighborhood for the past 8 years. I would love to see this tract of land developed. They need to reconnect the street grid through the property. And the homes would be a great addition since they’d have to built to code. I wish they would have considered condos or something for those not wanting to own a house. We could use a bit more diversity in the neighborhood.

  • Alex Ihnen

    Lafayette Walk townhomes should have been required to make a better effort at addressing Chouteau.

    • James

      I think so, as well. And I wish they’d build the last set of the homes along Mississippi, as well.

  • jhoff1257

    This is great news. Because of my Victorian sensibilities I’m of the opinion that Lafayette Square is St. Louis’ finest neighborhood. It went through some rough times but has come out stronger then ever. To finally see some activity on some of these lots in the neighborhood’s largely industrial northwest corner is huge, I think. While the very few vacant lots throughout the rest of the neighborhood (especially on Dolman) have been filling up pretty frequently, I’ve been waiting to see some action here. All Lafayette Square needs is to fill in the holes on Chouteau and maybe improve the streetscape along Truman (18th) and I think the n’hood would be about perfect.

    Couple other observations: I’d like to see Dolman and McKay opened back up to Chouteau and Hickory opened back up to Truman.

    Also I’m pretty sure I-64 is north of Lafayette Square…not south.

    • Guest

      Along this line of thinking, anyone know what is going on in the former school building on the NE corner of Jefferson & Lafayette? It’d be great to see it rehabbed and hopefully connect with some of the potential work further west on Lafayette.

      • Justin

        That building is, unfortunately, owned by the Church of Scientology and they are apparently rehabbing it slowly (though I have seen little evidence of this). Since they don’t pay property taxes I think it is unlikely that the building will be anything that adds value to the neighborhood aside being nice to look at for a long time.

  • rgbose

    It was like a disaster movie!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPuTQYHnfoc

    • Jakeb

      Hard to believe it’s been 11 years. It was a miracle it wasn’t much worse.

  • LafSquareMafia

    Good news for sure but I’ll wait to see what suburban, tract home builder Pulte has planned first.

    • jhoff1257

      One, love your screen name. Two, considering the size of the site they’re going to have to be pretty urban in nature to squeeze 64 homes in there. Let’s hope for good design!

    • jkf1220

      I do think the neighborhood and historic guidelines will hold them accountable to appropriate design. Pulte has been doing more urban projects around the country. I have to say that it is really exciting to me to see a national home developer/builder coming into the city. I think it is a strong statement that progress is being made. It may also be a harbinger for other national developers to look at opportunities here.

  • brickhugger

    Is the site in the historic district? Are there any rules governing exterior design? I’m thinking of the townhomes they built on the bluff on South Broadway, and hoping like hell they build a better product here.

    • jhoff1257

      I believe this is within the Lafayette Square historic district and Lafayette Square does have guidelines developers have to meet to build in the neighborhood.

    • Private

      South Broadway Bluffs is a McBride development, no association to Pulte

      • brickhugger

        Whoops! 🙁 Sorry, my mistake. But my concern remains.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Yes it is – added map and links to local historic district ordinance and guidelines to story.

  • T-Leb

    I remember going to the Cardinal game evening of Praxaire fire, couldn’t use Hwy 40/64.