2616 Cherokee Street, located on the first block of Cherokee west of Jefferson in the Gravois Park neighborhood, is being rehabbed by South Side Spaces. The property, most recently occupied by Rent-to-Own furniture store Rent One, was purchased in March 2022 and will be be converted into nine units.
The first floor will include three storefronts totaling 4,000 square feet intended for locally-owned small businesses, as well as two ground-level residential units in the back. The long-vacant and boarded up second floor will be converted into four residential units. There will be one studio, four 1 bedroom and one 2 bedroom apartments, with rents of $495-$1050.
A $970k building permit was issued December 16, 2022. The project is being financed by St. Johns Bank and will use state and federal historic tax credits. St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC) staff recommended tax abatement of 75% for 10 years, and the LCRA Board endorsed it at their Dec 13, 2022 meeting. Ald. Cara Spencer introduced Board Bill 163, and the Housing, Urban Development and Zoning Committee (HUDZ) of the Board of Alderman endorsed the bill last week with a do pass recommendation. The architect is Jessica Deem of Virescent Architecture & Design.
Built in 1923, the building at 2616-20 Cherokee housed a variety of shops in its first few decades, including the Saiger Variety Store, the Horras Piano Company, and Nachman’s Furniture & Appliances – a South St. Louis retailer that offered everything from Zenith long-distance radios to Thor washing machines in the 1930s. Later occupied by Western Auto, the building’s longest-standing tenant is also its most recent – Rent One, formerly known as National Rent-to-Own.
The building’s architects, Wedemeyer & Nelson, were familiar names in St. Louis, designing a number of other buildings primarily on the north side; some south side examples include the Dickmann Building at 3115 S Grand and the original Casa Loma Ballroom (before the fire) at 3354 Iowa.
The original purpose of the second floor remains a mystery; sealed off for decades, even long-time employees of Rent One were unaware of how to access the space or of what surprises were hidden above their workspace.
Used as some form of haphazard storage for a former auto parts retailer, the most notable finds were some 1940s or 1950s bank teller windows, and evidence of an extensive fire – a fire that left distinctive marks on most of the walls and floors which could be considered either beautiful or terrible, depending on your perspective.
2616 is one of the few remaining buildings in the Cherokee business district to be reactivated. Great to see another building, especially of the fine-grained human-scaled variety, being brought back to life!
Editor’s Note: Jason Deem the owner of South Side Spaces is an owner of NextSTL.