Design Evolves as Five-story, 122-Unit Soulard Project Nears Start

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Design details for a five-story, 122-unit apartment building in Soulard continue to evolve. The project, which gained approval from the city’s Cultural Resources Office and Preservation Board nearly a year ago. The building, designed by VE Design Group, has taken on a much more block warehouse appearance. The building address is listed as 2424 S. 9th Street (map).

Along with the 126-unit project nearly underway at the other end of the neighborhood (map: 1302 Russell Boulevard), Soulard is set to see the addition of hundreds of new residents and the remake of two major underutilized sites.


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From our previous report: Five-story, 118 Unit Apartment Building Proposed for 7th at Victor in Soulard

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 2.31.38 PM

Last week we mentioned an interesting residential infill project proposed for Soulard, immediately next to the recently completed Soulard IceHouse historic renovation. A rendering (though of low-resolution) of that proposal appears in the city’s Preservation Board Agenda posted online.

The city’s Cultural Resources Office recommends the Preservation Board, “approve the demolition of existing buildings and structures and grant preliminary approval to the proposed new construction”. The project would replace two brick buildings at 721 Victor Street and an adjacent structure.

Soulard

Soulard infill

Soulard infill

Soulard streetview

From the agenda:
THE PROJECT:
Whistler One L.L.C. has provided copies of contract for the purchase of four parcels at 2403, 2405, and 2415-17 S. 7th Boulevard and 721 Victor Street that it proposes to redevelop. The project would entail the demolition of a number of small warehouses and industrial structures: two buildings on the Victor Street property, one a Merit building and the other non-contributing, being constructed after both 1929, the date used in the Soulard Neighborhood Local Historic District Standards for the end of historic significance, and 1941, the cut-off date for contributing resources in the Soulard National Register Historic District; 2415-17 S. 7th Boulevard, Victor Iron Works, consisting of small buildings along S. 7th and a storage yard with a structure supporting traveling cranes at the corner of S. 7th and Victor Street, and another yard on the north side; and a Merit building at the corner of S. 7th and Barton Street. The new building proposed to replace them would be a five-story apartment building of 118 units with 59 on-site parking spaces.

There’s more on the myriad of National Register of Historic Places nominations as well:

St. Louis City Preservation Review Board – Final Agenda 04/25/2016 by nextSTL.com

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  • Dahmen Piotraschke

    can u say fire hazard.?

  • Adam BT

    Does VE Design Group stand for Value Engineering Design Group?

  • Tim

    I demand that all buildings be built of only the finest granite.

    • Ben Harvey

      I actually prefer mine chiseled from a single massive block of marble

      • Tim

        All window panes must be formed with gold dust!

  • Colocon

    Hideous! Just couldn’t be worse!

  • Mark Leinauer

    Agreed. It’s ugly (and why no first floor retail?). But I really look forward to seeing Soulard with a few hundred more residents.

    • Riggle

      Because it fronts 7th st, a soul crushing urban “stroad”. The City has given up on it as anything other than a highway. It has a panera and a dollar general close by, but they are in a strip mall. The new subway is more urban, with a storefront fronting 7th, unfortunately the subway development is looking like the exception, rather than the rule for 7th in soulard. Don’t forget that the neighborhood isnt even demanding retail at 9th and Soulard, an intersection with 3 storefronts in the heart of commercial Soulard, so they aint gonna push the issue at a location like this.

    • Because there’s zero demand. South City is full of empty retail spaces, there’s no reason to add more.

  • John

    The bad: Design? I would not call this a design. I don’t see any creativity here. It looks like a prison. Very institutional look.

    The good: More urban residents and brick exterior are positives, as well as the real estate investment in the City.

    I wish the byilding was more inspiring and createda sense of place instead of mimicking a warehouse.

    • Dominic Ricciotti

      The warehouse aesthetic as promulgated here and evident elsewhere in the city, may not be cutting-edge architecture, but it does acknowledge the historical fact that industrial buildings were once a part of this and other neighborhoods, e. g. the Praxir site. This is no doubt attributable to the poor zoning laws of the past. This design suffers by comparison to actual warehouse conversions of recent years. In fact it is not “warehouse” enough. While the aesthetic here may well be driven by the developer’s bottom line, the architects seem to want to dress up its functional or utilitarian character. The effort, however, is half-hearted. The building does not know what it wants to be; as it is it’s neither here nor there.

  • Matt Ashby

    Have they considered redevelopment of the Humboldt school if it should close in the near future?

    • Riggle

      I’m sure “they” will, given the opportunity. There is opportunity right now in the neighborhood in the form of un-used AB-Inbev parking just south of Sidney. Also a vacant lot at the corner of 9th and Soulard (hopefully mixed use) and a lot on Russell between 9Th and Menard (also hopefully mixed use). And McGurks remote parking by the gas station (they should sell that).

    • thomas h benton

      Humboldt is a magnet school. I hope it stays open.

      • Riggle

        Here here

  • Goat314

    I like that St. Louis is starting to actually build urban buildings agains, but this building is so ugly. I mean, you had to try to get this building that ugly.

    • Alex P

      And one of my soon-to-be favorite examples of urban infill is currently being built on the opposite corner of Soulard. I blame lazy developers.

    • WikiWild

      If they added balconies or bigger windows it would look better. I like the all brick facade. Matches the neighborhood.

      • Andy

        The problem is that there are no embellishments on any of these buildings, just a straight layer of brick covering a wood frame. It looks cheap as it is, like a Days Inn that you would find on the side of Interstate 70 in Kingdom City.

        I understand it from the developers perspective, location is everything so throw up the cheapest building you can and charge high rents anyway. All the people renting care about is where it is located, the size of the apartments, and that the kitchen has ugly granite and stainless steel appliances.

      • Balconies can’t be built over sidewalks, so that would mean a setback, which would mean fewer units. You can’t have everything.

        • WikiWild

          Some type of false balcony. Juliet would look nice and not cause a large setback. Judging by the site plan above, there is already a small setback from the sidewalk. I think it would add some character and also be an additional selling point to the developer. Not likely that the cost of this improvement would do much more to inflate their rents though.

          • WikiWild

            Also, balconies facing the parade route are just cool. Screw insurance rates.

    • Riggle

      Check out the buildings on the east side of 7th…

  • T-Leb

    Looks good. Need about 10 more of this kind of development in S StL alone to simply have options for somewhere to live that isn’t 100 years old, crappy or ran by Red Brick.

  • Alex P

    Let’s play “Why Is This Building Ugly!”
    Ruined by Historic District requirements?
    Lazy developer?
    Low budget?
    Maybe just a bad rendering?

    You decide!

    • Nat76

      Was about to post the same. I’m going with all of the above.

      • Alex P

        I love the hollow metal fire escape door with the little awning over it one the corner. For some reason reminds me of those miserable suburban Senior Independent Living buildings.

        • JCougar

          lol…jinx. I didn’t even read this comment before I posted mine above likening it to a nursing home…

        • Jakeb

          I was thinking repurposed high school.

        • That door is on the rendering, but not on the elevation drawing. What design exactly is the Preservation Board voting on?

    • JCougar

      It sort of reminds me of a nursing home, at least looking at the top rendering. The stuff below that looks better, and the original design looks the best.

      Nevertheless, I’ve seen a lot worse (Cortona, the Piazza, that monstrosity on Grand they’re putting up at the old YMCA site).

      • Alex P

        Someone’s not a fan of contemporary design.
        I wouldn’t mind the Cortana if wasn’t for the parking moat.
        Piazza, meh. Doesn’t bother me.
        And I actually really like the Monstrosity On Grand.

        • JCougar

          Whoops…sorry, I meant Aventura, not Cortona. I always get those names mixed up. Cortona’s actually fine by me.

      • Riggle

        It reflects the nursing home across the street

    • tony

      The first photo looks like something I would make in 6th grade art class when first learning about perspective.

    • thomas h benton

      Call them ugly if you want, but this kind of density from multi family is exactly what our city needs. This is what makes cities vibrant – and urban.

    • Ashley

      lol sometimes this comments section cannot be pleased. not entirely wrapped in brick? WE NEED TO HOLD OUT FOR ALL BRICK! wrapped entirely in brick on street-facing sides? ITS UGLY!

      we know brick looks much better in person than on paper. i’m happy this developer has not opted for that sheet rock nonsense we saw with the Standard on Vandeventer. it’s going to be aesthetically pleasing when it is finished, it’s going to match the character of the neighborhood, and it isn’t going to look like the Standard or Aventura.

      • Adam

        I think people are just looking at the color sketch and flipping out. Based on the design drawings, the street facing elevations *appear* to be all brick. Based on the color rendering, though, it appears to be alternating brick and sheet rock or stucco or some other ugly material. Are we sure that they’re proposing full brick (veneer) on the street faces? It’s not at all clear.

        • tony

          The render doesn’t look clear, but I found this in the agenda above:

          “Two colors of brick are proposed for the street facades. The foundation material is yet to be selected. The color of the set-back fifth story is seen to be more important than the actual material; it will be neutral in character, and a material that may be painted an appropriate monochromatic color.”

          “Fiber cement board in a color(s) similar to the bricks used on the east and south facades is proposed.”

          • Adam

            I think those excerpts pertain to the previous proposal. The new one doesn’t have a set-back at the top.