Sunday, February 19, 2017

Charless Village Update - McKinley Heights Neighborhood


It was a fun blog for me because it started with simple curiosity of a CF Vatterott housing development called "Charless Village" on an empty lot. But, it evolved into a deeper understanding of St. Louis' past and present. Once I started poking around, I figured out this was the site of a former SLPS school, Charless School.
One thing led to another and I found myself on the Charless School alumni Facebook page, which brought exchanges with folks with firsthand knowledge of the school.

Then, one of our best reference librarians in the city stumbled across the blog and helped me track down the closing date for the school, and verify the fact that the school was indeed named in honor of Joseph Charless and was damaged by a tornado in 1896.

This beautiful school was operational from 1895 to 1981. Arsonists provided the final blow in 1988 setting a 3-alarm fire in the school...it was razed in 1993 and sat as an empty lot until 2016.

Arsonists can prove to be a stronger force of destruction than even the worst tornado that Mother Nature brought to St. Louis...so it goes.

Anyhow, it was a fun post where history unfolded and I got lost in it for awhile.

I chose to go back to check on the progress.

So here's a chronological set of photos that takes you from the property as a vacant lot in June, 2016 to the current state in February, 2017:


Google street view Image from June, 2016

November, 2016 from Shenandoah Avenue
November, 2016 Alley View
 February, 2017, old meets new on Shenandoah Avenue
 February, 2017, Shenandoah Avenue view
 February, 2017 alley view
Future parking off the alley

So opinions and thoughts on new construction in our historic neighborhoods, such as McKinley Heights can be lively and quite varied.

I will hold my cards close to my chest on my personal opinions until this project is finalized; but to date, I have to say I'm optimistic.

The street grid is respected both on Shenandoah and the alley. Parking in the rear makes a huge difference for quality of life in this part of St. Louis...these will have it. The massing, the subtle yet varied styles/forms and relationship to the awesome buildings on each side is respected. So far so good, I'll revisit upon completion and weigh in on the finished product.

Will these be market rate offerings? Will there be demand and will they be purchased quickly? 

Stay tuned. 

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