In the last few years, Soulard has seen a lot of investment whether it be new home construction and house renovations and even new apartment building construction. The biggest to open is the Apted Brothers' 1400 Russell Apartments at Gravois and Russell. That project drastically changed the intersection and added 130 apartments to one of the most built out neighborhoods in the entire city. Just down the street, at 1001 Russell, a construction site marks progress being made on a future 3 floor building that will add 21 apartments and first floor retail space to the neighborhood. Simpson-Closser is the developer on that project. Combined, those two projects will add 151 apartments to the neighborhood. Even with these major projects, the thirst for apartments hasn't been quenched quite yet. Enter the Steelyard Apartments.
7th and Victor has always been a drab entrance to Soulard. The large Victor Iron Works lot added industrial character to 7th Boulevard, which is common for this area of Soulard. But as the Ice House at 9th and Barton was converted into 41 loft style apartments, it was only a matter of time until a developer acquired the Victor Iron Works lot. That time came in early 2016 and a proposal for a modestly sized 5 floor, with 128 apartments and parking, was presented to the St. Louis City Preservation Board. The Preservation Board granted approval to the project and it moved forward. At the time, it was simply known as, "Whistler Apartments". The name was clearly a placeholder as the developer's entity is Whistler One LLC which is a subsidiary of City Wide Apartments.
It took over a year and a half to start construction on the project, which began in late 2017. Demolition of the Victor Iron Works buildings took place and the parking garage was dugout and framed. On Mardis Gras 2018, the project was a simple slab of concrete with holes for windows into the future parking garage, it didn't look like much was happening. However, over the next several months, wood framing went up and the project's size became known. Now, at the time of this tour, the Steelyard Apartments are in their “soft opening” phase as some apartments are occupied but finishing touches are going on. The developer is also in final negotiations for identifying a corporate housing partner. As you will see, residents will be greeted to wide range of amenities and features that are reminiscent of those in Steelyard's sister project, the Tribeca Apartments on Pershing in the Central West End.
For this tour, I reached out to Steelyard Apartments' leasing office to take a tour so that I could give everyone a look inside Soulard's newest apartment building. The tour was scheduled for earlier today. Let's start on this website's first new construction tour. Kyle Hennessey, the Sales Rep of City Wide, took me on the tour.
I entered the Steelyard Apartments on Victor Street, where the main entrance is located, to a lobby with high ceilings, interesting light fixtures and some spinny things on the ceiling. They weren’t fans so I’m not sure what they were. To my right is the concierge desk with has a mixture of marble and wood. Just beyond here is what I would like to think of as “the hub”. The hub is made up by the elevator, main entrance, lounge, two hallways, access to the back courtyard and access to the fitness center. It really is ground zero for all things “Soulard Steelyard”.
We first went to the coffee section, which will serve Starbucks coffee. Coffee will be served at all times. Down the small hallway from the coffee area is a business center. Residents will be able to utilize some iMac Computers to do work on or even study for classes, among other things. Heading back through the hallway by the coffee machine, you enter back into the hub only this time we ventured over to the lounge.
This area is wide open but will include 2 TVs, plenty of seating, tables and desks. There is even a full size entertainment kitchen and fireplace. Outlets are also plentiful for those residents who will use their computers and tablets down here. The full size kitchen includes what appears to be marble countertops and will eventually include 6 beer taps. The beer taps are found in only one other building in St. Louis, the Tribeca Apartments in the Central West End.
Residents will be able to come down, at any time of the night, to the lounge area and utilize their key fob (RFID) to get some beer. Wine will also be on tap here. Next up was the fitness center.
The fitness center is among the largest that I have gone into in a newly constructed, or renovated, building in St. Louis. The space is huge and the pictures don’t do it justice. You will have to see it for yourself. There are a wide range of machines from one Peloton bike to weights that go up to 100LBS. Of course there are treadmills and ellipticals and all that. One room within the fitness center will include a TV where you can do yoga and other exercises in a guided course of sorts.
The entire room will include 4 TVs and are positioned to where everyone utilizing the fitness center will see a TV. The ceilings are painted yellow, but it’s not an annoying yellow that bugs you. Its there but it’s subtle. The room also features unique triangular lights in certain spots. The original plans called for the triangular lights to cover the entire ceiling but because they hang down a little bit, it makes the space feel smaller and that’s not the goal here.
Following the triangular pattern of the lights, the floor is made of a nylon material. It’s different than having your typical black or gray colored fitness center floor. The flooring was imported from Sweden and includes an array of colors such as black, brown and cream. The room is all operated by an iPad on the wall. That’s how the lights and temperature is controlled. The yoga room also utilizes an iPad to select what exercise you would like to do. Overall, the fitness center is one of the nicer ones that I have been to and it’s made that much better by the little details in design. Next up came the mail room and market.
Down another hallway lies a medium sized room with tons of features. Two bathrooms line one wall while a back room is full of mailboxes. The main room features a Luxer One secure package system. This means that if you got a package, instead of putting it in a mail box, the delivery man will utilize an iPad to unlock a specific locker door. The package then goes inside and you will receive a text message telling you that your package arrived and what box to find it in. You will also be given a code to unlock said box to get your package.
Next to this, but not yet installed, will be something similar to a gas station refrigerator. There will be drinks and snacks within these refrigerators that you can come down to at any time of the night. It’s called the market. I wasn’t told this but I assume the resident will have to utilize a key fob to access their snack.
After looking around at “the hub”, we headed out onto the amenity deck, which is quite nice. The deck is situated in between City Wide’s other project, the Ice House lofts and the Steelyard. While it is still very much a construction zone, it will be worth the wait. The deck will include a large pool and Jacuzzi with 5 large outdoor TVs, multiple grills, outdoor kitchen, private cabanas, a large dog park, outdoor games (ping pong, bag toss, etc) and other features. It will really be a gathering place come summertime nights.
Further, the amenity deck will be highly landscaped with flowers, bushes and grassy areas being common. Some trees will also be planted when the time comes. Units looking out onto the amenity deck will have decks of their own. Doing so will create a sense of community among everyone living at the Soulard Steelyard and the Ice House.
After looking at the amenity deck, we went up to take a look at a 3rd Floor apartment overlooking the amenity deck and we got a look at another apartment that looks over the Humboldt School and 7th Boulevard
The apartments we visited were one bedroom, one bathroom units on the third floor. While the building is still very much under construction, a majority of the interior work has been completed, so some residents have already moved in. According to Kyle Hennessey, “Leasing has moved fairly brisk. We are already at 50% pre-leased with new people signing a lease at a rate of what seems to be daily”. In other words, it appears apartments here are going faster than they thought they would.
The first apartment we looked at overlooked the amenity deck and was quite spacious. The kitchen was the star of the show here as there was no furniture in the unit. The kitchen included a large island with a marble top and dark blue accenting. Hanging over the island were two light fixtures that had an old style to them but looked new at the same time. The main kitchen is “L’ shaped with 4 stainless steel appliances (Refrigerator/Freezer combo, Microwave, Oven/Stove and the Dishwasher). All were perfectly positioned between gray colored cabinets which had recessed lighting underneath to light up the countertops.
The living room is a decent size with easy access to the deck that overlooks the amenity deck. Back inside, I went down a small hallway that had access to your decent sized bedroom and next to that is the double vanity bathroom. Bathrooms in each unit are identical to one another but they are spacious.
The second apartment we visited is the one overlooking the Humboldt School, 7th boulevard and Anheuser Busch brewery. While everything was practically the same, the only things that are different are the layout and deck situation. There is a Juliet balcony which was originally supposed to be a real balcony, but Soulard’s historic district rules prevented that from happening. The layout of the apartment is also different. There is no hallway going to the bathroom or bedroom, there are just simple doors separating the rooms. The kitchen was the same as before and the technology in the rooms remains the same. Primarily, the NEST thermostat is a plus as you can control your apartment’s temperature with your phone.
The photos above are of a furnished apartment on the Humboldt School facing side. The photos are by Kyle Hennessey and show a two bedroom unit.
The Soulard Steelyard is a worthy and welcome addition to the Soulard neighborhood. Soulard is continuing to grow at a rapid pace and remains one of the hottest areas for people to move to. The easy access to major highways, Downtown and the multiple business districts that lie within it, it’s no wonder a project like this will be successful but it also raises the question why more projects like this haven’t been built. Answer: space. It was a rare opportunity to find, and acquire, an old iron works property and convert it into a new build apartment project. The neighborhood is just so dense that there isn’t much space to build new without demolition.
Elsewhere, there are large properties for sale that can be converted into a better usage but some are deed restricted, meaning that apartment/lofts are banned there. So Soulard Steelyard, 1001 Russell and 1400 Russell are going to have to do for now until developers start venturing over into the industrial Kosciusko area. There is no denying that Soulard is hot right now if the Steelyard has already hit 50% pre-leased before the official opening.
In the end, I do see success here as this investment appears to be a wise one. The amenities featured are surely amazing selling points to potential tenants but the location is also a major factor.
In my opinion, the Soulard Steelyard is one of the better apartment projects that I have been to, granted it is brand new from the ground up, but there is no reason historic conversion projects can’t incorporate this many amenities and design features. Maybe I haven’t dug far enough yet or visited enough places yet to fully understand the differences between them. Each has their own character and vibe, and that’s how it should be. The Soulard Steelyard is one of those projects with it’s very own vibe and it’s a vibe that will never be let go.
Compare how the renderings stack up to the finished product.