A St. Louis developer is moving ahead with plans to convert the former Metro headquarters at 701 N. 1st Street in Laclede’s Landing into mixed use residential. Advantes Development closed on the historic seven story Christian Peper building in August and has spent the last eight months preparing for the project. They filed an initial $3.5 million building permit this week.
Operating under the name Peper Lofts LLC, the developer plans for between between 49 and 51 residential units on the upper floors. The lower levels will include office and retail space. Their hope is to have units available beginning summer 2018. An earlier plan had included 26 residential units plus office space. Current plans have grown that residential component. Metro vacated the 106,000 square foot building in 2015. Advantes was awarded $5 million in New Market Tax Credits earlier this year.
The Christian Peper building was built between 1898 and 1899 as an addition to the 1873 Raeder building to the north. The structure was built to store leaf tobacco for the Christian Peper Tobacco Company. The building’s red brick mass can be seen from the Eads Bridge and affords clear views of the Gateway Arch, The Downtown skyline and the Mississippi River.
Advantes already has converted the vacant Lafayette School in Soulard into 36 apartments. Advantes also was behind the conversion of the Sherman School in Shaw to the Sherman Lofts.
Perceived largely as an entertainment district, Laclede’s Landing long has lacked a residential component. A casino, hotels, restaurants, clubs and a $380 million renovation of the Arch grounds have failed to give the Landing a sense of being a neighborhood. The Landing has seen improvements to sidewalks and lighting, as well as some re-engineered street cobbles. And the removal of The Arch parking garage visually has reconnected the Landing to the Arch grounds, a benefit perhaps offset somewhat by the removal of Washington Avenue along the Landing’s southern border.
But what has been missing is a residential base that calls Laclede’s Landing home, a community of people who maintain the same set of eyes on the street month after month, who organize neighborhood meetings, who argue with aldermen, advocate for services, and who grow demand for a morning coffee shop, a dry cleaner or a bodega. The Landing is the last remaining portion of the city’s historic riverfront. It deserves to become a vibrant, mixed use neighborhood. Laclede’s Landing could be a truly amazing place to work, to play … and to live.