Downtown Relics Now Loft Style St. Louis Apartments

By: Art Gib

You'll probably be at the epicenter of a city that saw some of America's cultural greats walk its pavement when standing on any of St. Louis downtown intersections of Washington Ave or Olive Street. Human relics like Mark Twain to Miles Davis walked the same streets and even saw some of the same buildings we see today. Although some of the architecture and facades still remain, much of what old St. Louis shows may have at one time been slated for demolition.

Now with a good deal of grants and state funds given in a grassroots effort to resuscitate the heart of the city's growth, some of those old hotels and office building marvels have changed into "loft" style St. Louis apartments. This will be a brief on a few of those buildings and how some of them changed to look like they do in St. Louis today.

21st Century Face-Lift

St. Louis probably made some kind of record in the amount of cash they threw at development to their downtown district. Over 4 billion dollars has gone into around 200 separate building projects. This was in part because their core residents were "leaking" -- in other words moving away -- while commerce and economics of the city budget fell into the red. But thankfully, their population has seen a positive influx of 4,000 new residents due to core construction.

One such example, The Motor Parts Warehouse, build in 1906, was one of those industrial age red brick jobs that housed design and assembly motor building teams. The place had some traditional facade work with tall windows on each floor, columns of broad windows on each side of the building. The manufacturing jobs dried up during the depression and the structure became the target for fleeting attempts of failed restarts.

Now this redevelopment example of St. Louis apartments and condos is at the crux of a series of redevelopment programs along Washington Blvd. Contractor gutted the old industrial buildings so the facade and some of the internal asthetics are present. Chandeliers and interior stonework are such internals that are preserved. They are cleaned, buffed and shined and set adjacent with a modern decorated interior.

Just down from the Motor Parts Warehouse is a mixed housing neighborhood that has smaller shops mixed in with other St. Louis apartment and condo buildings. The 1900 block on Washington has its entire north side renovated and rebuilt again with tutor-style shops that are attached to old St. Louis industrial buildings. Here is where many of the tenants for the Motor Parts Warehouse can go shopping or find a bite to eat.

This is a small sampling of what the city decided to do to keep people from deciding to drive out of the city or make long commutes for entertainment. This district on downtown Washington Ave and Olive is the general trend that much more of the city is imitating and so far it's showing good results according to planners and overall St. Louis consensus.

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