Scooter Ride #6: drive-by of some new construction and rehabs

Yesterday’s weather was nearly perfect. I had an hour of responsibility-free time and took a spin on the 49cc Honda Metropolitan to get some air and photos of a few projects that I’ve been watching evolve: The apartment building on the former Victor Iron Works site in Soulard, Grand Flats in Compton Heightsand the Woodward Lofts in Forest Park Southeast.

I found a few new things and new angles of other projects taking shape.

Thought it was worth sharing to prove the point that St. Louis is transforming once again.

I headed east on Russell from the St. Louis City Talk World Headquarters and took in the size and scale of the new luxury apartment building at Russell and 13th Street in Soulard.

What an impressive form compared to the single story shed/cinder block building that predated it.

This project was on our favorite announcements of 2016, and we provided construction updates in 2017, so it’s nice to see it completed in 2018. Before and after:

Hang a right on Broadway and you come to the former Victor Iron Works site between Barton and Victor in Soulard. This massive, 127-apartment building is turning out to look quite nice. I like the size at 4-5 stories, depending on the grade and the detailing and coloring of the brick.

 looking north from Victor

looking north from Victor

 looking south from Barton, final brickwork underway

looking south from Barton, final brickwork underway

 vertical brickwork above windows, texture/color of brick provides interest

vertical brickwork above windows, texture/color of brick provides interest

This fits in well with the recently renovated Polar Ice building and nearby Lafayette School renovation, providing much needed density potential for a sleepier end of the neighborhood. Now we just need the citizens. This project was on our 2017 favorite announcements list.

 Ice House Apartments blend some history in with the new construction

Ice House Apartments blend some history in with the new construction

Heading over to South Grand in Compton Heights, I stopped to take a look at the small, neglected garden wedge at Sidney and 9th Street…with a sign indicating a neighborhood project to improve it’s look. This tired space always felt like a sad marker to the neighborhood in the shadow of the ABI brewery.

Per the Facebook page for the Soulard Sidney Street Triangle project:

“In the spring of 2017, five Soulard residents began to explore the idea of creating a garden in a neglected area at the corner of 9th and Sidney Streets. At that same time the group discovered that Metro Saint Louis Sewer District (MSD) had created ProjectClear, an initiative to improve water quality and alleviate waste water in the area. ProjectClear was offering grants for qualified individuals and groups who were interested in creating raingardens and bioswales. A few weeks later, the group had taken classes offered by MSD and were intent on developing a plan for The Triangle that included applying for a grant to develop The Triangle.”

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A couple trees that were too big for the small space were already removed in preparation for what’s to come. Yay for neighborhood involvement and change-making. This will be fun to watch.

Heading west, I wanted to see how the “Grand Flats Apartments” and recent renovation of the Pelican building into a Domino’s Pizza that relocated from South Grand and Arsenal looks from the scooter. This project was one of our favorites from 2016.

Wow, what an impact this will make. I like the form much more than the former YMCA with it’s large setback from Grand. The Domino’s looks nice and the building was lovingly restored.

There are curb bump outs on Shenandoah for customers to safely pull over and pick up their pizza. The finishing touches of the apartment building will be fun to watch and will likely be the most telling aspect of how people judge this project.

Living east of here, I can speak to the recent rehab of a high-rise apartment building on Russell in Compton Heights across from Compton Reservoir Park. Adding density was a game changer for this area. The park is way more active as are the sidewalks and streets nearby. This was a positive change for Compton Heights that was immediate and rewarding. I hope this project adds to that momentum.

Across the street, I noticed the new Pho Long sign advertising this most delicious of restaurants. It’s great to have this place in the this part of town, check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

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Next, I headed west to Tower Grove Avenue to check out the Woodward Lofts, another favorite announcement from 2016. This beautiful, curvy building is said to have some of the best examples of use of natural light to illuminate the former factory, so watching the windows reveal the future space as residential has been a joy.

When I’m in Forest Park Southeast, I always try to visit the new affordable and market rate homes being built on Vista and Norfolk. I’m really happy to see this mix of new contemporary and older brick homes. It blends so well, doesn’t eradicate the former feel of the neighborhood and it does the most important thing for a city…adding people and options for lower-maintenance new homes.

Some examples of the new and old blending to make a nice street wall:

There is also a new building that will rise at 4101 Manchester at Sarah Street where Chouteau and Manchester form a wedge. This one made our 2016 favorite list. There are construction fences up indicating a start to work. This one will make quite an impact…much more than a non-maintained surface parking lot.

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With the massive Chroma mixed use building now leasing, you can really start to appreciate what it wil be like to have people in this part of the city…it was a vacant lot for soooo long.

Signs of people and places are popping up, including a new restaurant called Chao Baan. Can’t wait to see what other business follows.

A strange addition of artificial turf flanks trees and the streets surrounding the property, including the dog park.

Anyhow, this massive building makes an incredible impact at the entrance of a neighborhood that has changed more than just about any in my 20+ years living here.

Heading back east, a saw the new(ish) White Castle that was rebuilt across from Chroma and I enjoyed the fence mural painted by one of my favorite local artists, Grace McCammond, who used her usual creativity and color palette to bring interest to a national chain.

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Heading east on Chouteau, you can’t help but notice the construction cranes on the site of the $550M SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital.

SLU is finally developing a small plot of the massive acres and acres of vacant fields they own near Chouteau and Compton….but nothing to get excited about…a surface parking lot for Casa De Salud.

Heading south on Compton at Terry Park you can see several lots being sold for new construction from a suburban developer. Say what you want about vinyl siding, but these are filling in spaces and bring new blood and new eyes on the park.

Heading east on Lafayette, you can see two more of the modern additions rising near California Avenue.

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And then back home to my neighborhood where I stopped to snap a photo of a lovely multi-family that recently underwent a full rehab as part of the East Fox Homes project. What a difference this makes on Oregon Avenue.

If you don’t think St. Louis is amidst it’s latest building boom and transformation, you aren’t paying attention.

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Hopefully these photos make you interested enough to get out an explore your favorite projects and parts of town…and of course, support the local businesses or better yet, move to St. Louis from the burbs or other regions. It’s great.

Viva St. Louis.