by Michael R. Allen
Yet another historic building sits in Midtown amid vacant lots where its neighbors have fallen steadily in the last fifty years — many of them falling only in the last twenty during the reign of Grand Center, Inc. This particular building is the elegant Central Apartments at 3727 Olive Street. The Central Apartments building is a simple T-shaped single-entrance apartment building built in 1916. One notable feature is that each apartment has its own balcony. Unlike other apartment buildings from this age, Central Apartments uses little catalog-order terra cotta and relies on fenestration and soldier courses of brick to articulate the facade. The only terra cotta here is a thin Greek key course in the cornice and a blank course running above the fourth floor windows. Still, the building is a worthy composition in the eclectic realm of Midtown architecture.
Central Apartments on September 29, 2004.
Somehow the Central Apartments fell empty in 2001 and the Land Reutilization took title, presumably holding the building for redevelopment under the Grand Center, Inc. master plan for Midtown. The future looks dim for this building given Grand Center’s penchant for demolition and for driving out any use not related to the large-scale projects it wants to populate Midtown. This block of Olive has lost at least 25 buildings in the last 30 years, and has become a wasteland of vacant lots and marginal uses. Small-scale developers simply aren’t welcome in Midtown these days. Neither are small buildings, it seems. Lack of imagination is a key feature of the “museum and arts” district.
Looking northeast at the Central Apartments on September 29, 2004.