Rehabbing Soulard South St. Louis

Soulard’s Dave Lewis

Soul of Soulard from Jerry Michaud on Vimeo.

Anyone who is on the listserve of the St. Louis Rehabbers Club knows that Dave Lewis’ insights and tips on rehab work are indispensable. Those who have lived in Soulard in the last few decades no doubt know Dave’s work rehabbing his two buildings, his beautiful garden project or his assistance with countless projects of his neighbors. This video’s title suggests that Dave Lewis is the “Soul of Soulard,” a mantle (ouch) he would probably decline out of modesty. No matter; Dave’s life’s work speaks for itself.

Housing North St. Louis O'Fallon Rehabbing

Busy Saturday: Open Streets and the 21st Ward Home Repair Blitz

by Michael R. Allen

It’s an exciting busy day in the city, and an appropriate start to this year’s Historic Preservation Month. Open Streets has just wrapped up, and while giving a walking tour on Lindell with Toby Weiss I saw dozens of pedestrians and cyclists taking advantage of the street closure. Can’t wait for it to happen again!

Up in the 21st Ward, today is a big blitz of home repair by Rebuilding Together. Alderman Antonio French already has posted a video.

While big rehab projects garner most headlines, most homeowners in the city don’t need or can’t afford expensive projects. Neighborhood stabilization requires many showcase projects but many more efforts to retain existing residents. Kudos to the volunteers working today in the 21st ward!

Rehabbing South St. Louis Tower Grove East

White Roof Coating, Ahead of Summer

by Michael R. Allen

After completing major tuckpointing and chimney rebuilding, we decided to apply a white elastomeric coat to our flat roof this month. This roof was a three-ply modified bitumen roof with a black, heat-trapping emulsion overcoat. The roof was old enough to coat but certainly not getting younger under the toll of ultraviolet rays. A mod-bit roof needs about one year to leech out oils before coating, and ours was well past that mark. Time to coat!

Now why would we go through the trouble of applying a white coat? There are two major reasons:

Energy efficiency and global warming. A white coat can reflect up to 80 percent of solar radiation, reducing overall planet temperature but more immediately reducing building, neighborhood and city temperature. One white roof is small local block against the urban “heat island” effect and many of them can have wide impact. The white roof will reduce the internal temperature and the need for air conditioning, which in turn reduces the electricity usage and so forth. (There is some question about possible heat loss effect of a white roof in winter. At St. Louis’ latitude the sun’s rays are vertical in the summer and at a low slant in the winter, so the available winter solar heat is much less than the summer heat. At other latitudes, a white roof might not be of such benefit as here and points southward.)

Longevity of the roof. An elastomeric coat will block ultraviolet rays that slowly break down asphalt roofing. Coats should be reapplied every 10 years or sooner if needed. With timely reapplication, the coverage can extend the life of the roof to 40-50 years, reducing cost as well as waste of nonrenewable roofing materials.

While the mason had the scaffolding set up, we used his pulley to hoist up the 5 gallon buckets of coating. We used five $72 buckets of Henry Solarflex 287, which completely covered our 1300 square foot roof. When the scaffolding was down, we used a tall ladder for travel to the roof.

Working with a friend, we spent about eight hours washing the roof and applying the coat. Since we had just had masonry work, the roof was dirty and required over two hours of scrubbing. The mod-bit roof dried quickly, however. We applied the coat with a 4″ brush on the parapet sides and 9″ rough rollers on the roof. We avoided a few new flashing repairs made around the rebuilt chimneys.

Most of the roof was covered with two coats, but some areas required three coats. (A one year old roof won’t take this much work). We left a spot near the ladder for exit and came back to finish in a half-hour a day later. Now the roof is too bright to look at, just in time for summer. We’re not big air conditioning users — it’s expensive and not very sustainable, although certainly necessary for a few weeks — so we definitely look forward to the building heat reduction.


ReStore Offers $1 Wooden Window Sashes

For the next few days the ReStore is selling all wooden window sashes (including screen window sash) for $1 each. There is quite a lot of stock right now. In fact, the store frequently receives more in donations than it can sell. That’s why the cost is low. Take advantage of the sale for your project!

The ReStore is located at 3763 Forest Park Avenue (between Vandeventer & Spring). The hours are Tuesday: 8am – 5pm; Wednesday-Friday: 8am – 4pm; Saturday: 8am – 5pm.

McRee Town Rehabbing South St. Louis

Rehabbing at McRee and Tower Grove

by Michael R. Allen

In 2004, the building at 4301 McRee Avenue (at Tower Grove Avenue) was vacant. The terra cotta wrapped double entrance surround at the corner attract many an eye due to its ornate pediments. The pediments feature a mortar and pestle at center that commemorates the building’s original drug store tenant. Yet the rest of the building was rough, with all second floor windows missing. The Garden District Commission had acquired the building, and its future was unknown.

The unknown future arrived through architects Brent Crittenden and Sara Gibson, who purchased the building in 2006. In 2008, the building was rehabilitated as the home for Crittenden and Gibson’s enterprises, Urban Improvement Construction and the Central Design Office.

Crittenden and Gibson have a vision for a reborn Tower Grove Avenue in McRee Town, and the corner pharmacy is not their only finished project. When neighborhood anchor Tower Grove Hardware closed — and this writer was among those who did mourn the passing — the duo purchased the two-story store building at 1624 Tower Grove Avenue across the street from their offices. Rehabilitation was complete by the end of summer 2009. The large storefront openings now are inviting with large windows, after having been covered in boards for decades. Both this building and the corner building at 4301 McRee Avenue are now contributing resources to the Liggett and Myers Historic District.

Historic Preservation North St. Louis Rehabbing West End

West Cabanne Place Living

by Michael R. Allen

Photograph courtesy of Landmarks Association of St. Louis.

The city’s West Cabanne Place opened in 1888 as a semi-rural private street, located away from the urban core of St. Louis. Many prominent businessmen and a few architects — including Charles Ramsey and Theodore Link — purchased lots and built large homes on West Cabanne. Built in 1889 for E.O. Pope of the Jones-Pope Produce Company, the house at 5927 West Cabanne was one of the earliest residences on the street. The designer of the eclectic home remains unknown. Jane Porter, author of the National Register of Historic Places nomination for West Cabanne Place, suggests that a contractor rather than an architect designed the Italianate-influenced house, which mixes elements rather freely.

In the 1990s, 5927 West Cabanne Place appeared to be at risk of being lost. Landmarks Association of St. Louis included in the house in its annual Eleven Most Endangered Places list for several years. Eventually, however, the home fell into the hands of an owner who gave the house needed rehabilitation work. The exterior was restored by removing asphalt siding and repairing and replacing wooden elements. Now the spacious residence is for sale for the unbelievable price of $119,000. This truly must be a buyer’s market, for a rehabilitated home on West Cabanne Place to be offered at that price!

Historic Preservation North St. Louis Old North Rehabbing

Old North Offering Six Rehab Opportunities

by Michael R. Allen

New houses adjacent to a historic house on the 1300 block of North Market in Old North.

Old North’s North Market Place development, started in 2005, focused on constructing new houses like the ones shown here alongside historic buildings rehabilitated for apartments. The Old North St. Louis Restoration Group and its development partner, the Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance, reserved some historic homes in the project area for private investment. Some of those houses and others are now offered for sale to qualified buyers. Those that don’t sell immediately as-is will be stabilized and then offered for sale. From Karen Heet, Real Estate Coordinator for the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group:

The Old North St. Louis Restoration Group is a not-for-profit community development corporation whose mission is to revitalize the physical and social dimensions of the Old North St. Louis neighborhood in a manner that respects the community’s historic, cultural, and urban character.

ONSLRG is in possession of six buildings available for purchase and renovation. All six buildings will be offered in a first round of RFPs in their current condition, with a deadline of August 14, 2009 for proposal submissions. If there is no suitable offer for a building, ONSLRG will pay for the stabilization of the building and then offer the building in a second round of RFPs at a purchase price that reflects ONSLRG’s additional costs for stabilization.

One of the houses offered for sale is 1312 Warren Street, shown at center surrounded by fully-rehabbed buildings.

ONSLRG is seeking to increase home-ownership in the neighborhood, so preference will be given to proposals from:

* a developer who will rehab the building and sell to an owner-occupant( s), OR
* an owner-occupant who purchases a building and completes the renovations.

Of special interest will be the applicant’s residential rehab experience, the proposed timeframe for the completion of the project, and the applicant’s understanding of and commitment to compliance with standards for historic restoration.

All buildings are in the Murphy-Blair National Historic District and therefore may qualify for Historic Tax Credits. All buildings are in the N Florissant/N Market/Hadley/ Warren Redevelopment Area and are therefore eligible for property tax abatement. Selected buyers will be encouraged to apply for historic tax credits, property tax abatement, and Neighborhood Preservation Tax Credits.

All proposed construction is expected to be consistent with applicable neighborhood plans and city building codes.

Upon selection, the applicant will have a 3-month option period in which time all construction documents and financing must be finalized prior to the scheduling of a closing date. Construction documents must be sealed by a licensed architect.

ONSLRG will retain an 18-month Right of Re-entry on the property after closing, meaning that if substantial completion has not taken place in 18 months from the date of closing, ONSLRG has the right to take back the property, paying the buyer for any materials and labor for which invoices can be produced.

Please see the attached document for the proposal format and information on the buildings.

Mid-Century Modern Midtown Rehabbing

Mid-Century Modern Preservation in Grand Center

by Michael R. Allen

Grand Center, Inc., deserves recognition for a small but important step toward preservation of our mid-century modern architecture. Earlier this year, Grand Center completed renovation of the Loyola Building at 3840 Washington Boulevard just west of Vandeventer. This playfully articulated two-story building and a one-story wing to the west were designed by architect Isadore Shank and completed in 1958. Built as offices, Loyola Academy across the street once used the two-story section for classrooms. The one-story section was owned by a church group. The building is part of a row of modern buildings all enjoying the same setback; see Toby Weiss’ post “Mid-Town Washington Boulevard” on B.E.L.T for more information.

The crisp modern lines are drawn here through smooth limestone. However, there is textural depth added through the patterned brick spandrels and what seems to be a painted wooden spandrel at the main entrance (at left) that reminds me of a patterned fir applique on Shank’s Miller House (1963).

The detailing here is not as extensive as on Shank’s elaborate DeBalieviere Building (1927) at Delmar and DeBaliviere, but it has similarities. The introduction of wall texture through patterns is similar, as is the breakdown of the potential monotony of repeated patterns through the articulation of the fenestration. This is a cool little building, and not well known among Shank’s work.

Grand Center has recycled this office building as artists’ studios and the home of the Pace framing company. The redevelopment organization could have done no better — the Loyola Building did not need a lavish rehab. A little repair and painting renewed the mid-century strut, and all is well in the world.

Housing Hyde Park North St. Louis Rehabbing

Shifting the Balance in Hyde Park

by Michael R. Allen

Blue Shutters Development has ambitious plans for the Hyde Park neighborhood. Eventually, the developers would like to rehabilitate dozens of historic buildings in the neighborhood, including the damaged Nord St. Louis Turnverein on Salisbury Avenue. So far, the firm’s efforts have been concentrated on the 2000 block of Mallinckrodt Street. Two homes, shown here, have been fully rehabilitated and offered for sale at market rate.

The house on the right is a great project because it’s the type of house many developers would write off — it’s frame, it’s small and it has a limited return on investment. Blue Shutters and its principal Peter George deserve credit for preserving it early on.

This work would be impossible without the state’s historic rehabilitation tax credit. Relatively small projects like these would have a tough time competing for credits if there was a blanket cap on the program.

Hyde Park often seems like a world of bad news, but a few projects lately have slowly shifted the balance. Let there be more.

Bohemian Hill Rehabbing South St. Louis

Rehabbing Resumed on Bohemian Hill

by Michael R. Allen

In recent weeks, the four-family at 1714 S. 13th Street on Bohemian Hill has received a lot of rehab work. Krystal Group LLC purchased the building in November 2008. While I am no fan of the single-pane windows the investors installed in place of one-over-one windows that had been there, I am glad to see rehab work on Bohemian Hill.

The remaining houses on Bohemian Hill have been under threat of eminent domain for the past three years, and the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority had started buying houses on this block in 2007. Gilded Age Development is building a retail project named “Georgian Square” to the west on cleared land, and had originally discussed acquisition of the two blocks east of 13th Street. Those plans now are scuttled.

Meanwhile, Georgian Square is now under construction. At least, the Walgreens store is under construction on Lafayette Avenue across the street from City Hospital.