The Soulard Neighborhood recently had an exciting new residential development hit the market with the renovation of the former Lafayette Elementary School at 815 Ann Avenue.
This beautiful school building was built in 1907 by renowned architect William B. Ittner. The school sits on a 1.59 acre lot and boasts nearly 62K square foot of space. Lafayette Elementary School was named for Marie Jean Paul Lafayette a French aristocrat and military officer who fought in the American Revolutionary War. It was active as an elementary school from 1908 to 2004 when it served ~200 PK-5th grade students.
Due to declines in the number of students due to massive population declines in St. Louis, the St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS) decided to sell several schools over several rounds of closings. While the school would have made a perfect charter or private school, the SLPS chose to prohibit use by such entities to avoid competition.
Lafayette was sold for ~$800,000 to Advantes Development, a real estate firm that has done several amazing projects in St. Louis including a conversion of the former Hope Lutheran School to 22 market-rate apartments at 5320 Brannon Avenue in the Southampton Neighborhood, branded as The Mack Lofts.
photo credit: Advantes Development
Advantes corporate offices are located in the Hill Neighborhood of St. Louis, making them a true city company!
Advantes reportedly invested ~$3.5M to convert Lafayette School to 36 market-rate apartments (source). The conversion is quite impressive from the outside as all the architectural details remain intact, including the ornate brickwork and familiar lion fountains.
Since historic tax credits were leveraged in this renovation, several interior details were also restored with new uses.
The principal’s office at Lafayette is now the residents’ laundry but the school's marble and travertine entrance, broad staircases and maple-floored hallways are restored to meet historic tax credit requirements.
There is protected off-street parking including covered parking, a large landscape surrounding the building and all the other modern amenities one would expect.
photo credit: Advantes Property Management
This location is great with easy access to Interstates, public transportation, Downtown and South City. Most of all, this is a very walkable location with the beautiful Pontiac Square Park just footsteps away and local markets and businesses aplenty.
It's great to see this historic building get an extended life and new use, bringing vibrancy, positivity and new residential options to a great St. Louis neighborhood.
The next historic schools up for residential conversion include a ~$5.2M buildout of 38 residential units in the Sherman School at 3942 Flad Avenue in Shaw (built in 1895, designed by William B. Ittner). This project is also being done by Advantes who made the purchase at $700K. (source)
Sherman is tucked right in the interior of a dense, historic neighborhood.
Then, the Gratiot School at Hampton and Manchester in the Clayton/Tamm Neighborhood (built in 1873) is being converted by Garcia Properties (another city business, located on Kingshighway).
Joining the closed-school-to-apartment trend is Garcia Development Corp., which (on December 29, 2015) put Gratiot School, at 1615 Hampton Avenue, under contract for $414,000. Jenifer Garcia, a company owner, said the plan was to redo the school as 22 market-rate apartments.
Gratiot has 27,474-square-foot on 2.86 acres of land right at Manchester and Hampton perfectly located between I-44 and I-64. It served as the SLPS Archives for several years before they closed it in 2013.
Good to see these historic structures finding investment and new life. Let's hope there is a market for the many closed school in North City.