When heading to the Delmar Loop, you may drive North on Debaliviere, a quite desolate strip that lost a majority of it’s old buildings to parking lots and strip malls back in the day. It really is a forgettable street, especially before the Loop Trolley gave the corridor a much needed road diet. Debaliviere is now a lot narrower so pedestrians feel safer when crossing a highly traversed thoroughfare. Although Debaliviere doesn’t go far, connects Lindell to Delmar, it has a lot going for it.
First, Pershing Avenue is the densest street in all of St. Louis with a population density comparable to Manhattan Island. Pershing has an intersection with Debaliviere. Second, a MetroLink station is bright there. And third, it’s close proximity to Forest Park, the Loop and Washington University make this Street an overlooked one. So in 2018, Blackline Design and Construction decided to redevelop the building, anchored by Busey Bank, and convert it to 20 luxury apartment units at a cost of over $4 Million. The idea was revolutionary especially for a street as dull as Debaliviere.
Of course, Debaliviere was never always dull. It used to be home to a vibrant business district back when streetcars roamed the City. It wasn’t called the “Debaliviere Strip”. That name sticks to the street today but there really isn’t much left to show people how the neighborhood used to look. The Dorzé (Busey Bank), at 415 N. Debaliviere, and a few other buildings are all what’s left of the old business district. So when I saw that this building would be renovated, I was excited as were others. Then came the announcement that the Pearl Companies were looking to develop a massive transit oriented development just next door.
While no name has been given to the project, Pearl hopes that the 265 apartments bring more people to the Strip and they hope that a grocery store and other retail spaces will spur more development along Bebaliviere. But back to the Dorzé.
I took the tour with Blackline Design and Construction owner, Michael Schwartz on Wednesday May 29th. We started the tour off of the Busey Bank parking lot since that is where all the residents will park and enter into the building. All guests will have to enter through the Waterman side entrance (I’ll talk about this later). Let’s start.
Lobby and Entrance...
When you walk in from the Busey Bank parking lot, you are greeted with a nice looking lobby area. To your left lies Busey bank and straight ahead entrance into the Dorzé apartments. You walk up 7 steps to get the door that takes you to the apartments. To your left, at the top of this Landing, is a small sitting area. So if you have friends or family that come over during Bank business hours, they can sit in the lobby and wait for you.
Once you walk into the apartment section, you’ll instant notice how light and airy it feels. It’s all made better by the original sky light and two-story atrium According to Michael Schwartz, the Apartment portion of the Dorzé was 80s style office space and so all the 80s decor had to come out. While I don’t know what that looked like, I’m sure it didn’t look too well. In addition to it being office space at one point, it was also abandoned for more than a decade so abandonment took its toll.
Now, it is looking better than ever. Soon, two murals showing old St. Louis will be our onto the first and second floor walls to add more character than having a simple gray and white hallway area. The first floor includes some apartments but they aren’t fully finished. But it includes some other interesting bits and pieces. I’ll get to those in a minute.
The Basement and Storage...
At the Dorzé, every resident will get a storage unit in the basement. Each storage unit is like the size of a one car garage, so they are plenty big. There are two larger storage units for the largest units in the building. All are included in your rent because “you can never have too much storage”. The basement has character within itself. Exposed brick and concrete give the basement an industrial feel, which is an interesting feeling to have.
In addition to storage, the basement will be where the building’s electrical systems and other utilities will be accessed my management and utility workers. The basement is also lit up in energy efficient LEDs that only turn on when movement is detected.
While on the storage topic, there will be room that will have bike racks capable of holding 20 bikes. Every unit will be able to have a bike, if they choose too. The bike room is on the first floor and is the blank room that you see above.
First Floor Beauty...
We headed back up stairs and walked through the first floor hallways. All of the units on the first floor are the cheapest units because they don't look out onto much. However, the first floor is also home to the bank, the guest entrance and a rentable corner space for a boutique. We first stopped by the Waterman guest entrance.
When you walk into the Dorzé from the Waterman guest entrance, you are greeted with a compact lobby that has lots of character. To your left is a stair way with interesting tiles and designs that remind me of the inside of one of many Kansas City's Country Club Plaza's buildings. As you head into the main building, you pass under a wooden archway that guides you into the interior corridor of the first floor.
After this, we headed over to the interesting retail space.
While it is still very much a bombed out room, progress is slowly progressing on the corner retail space. At 2500SF, it is large enough tor a boutique store or other business, however, success may come when Pearl Companies start on their monstrous project just across the street. Until then, unless a tenant comes along, the space will be white boxed. The wood foyer at Waterman and Debaliviere will remain, as will the crown molding, but the ceiling detailing will have to go. Carpet will be removed as well to truly have a clean space for anyone who wishes to open a business there.
According to LoopNet, price per square foot per year here is $18 so if you are a business owner, rent will set you back $45,000 per year, and that's before your own changes that you will have to do to make the space your own.
Outside of the retail space, and into the main portion of the building, is an interesting remnant of the past. A random stair case to nowhere. There is a ceiling blocking wherever it's destination once was. Now, it just sits there. The wood and what appears to marble make it appear as though it was once a grand staircase, maybe to the offices that once graced the second floor of the Dorzé.
After this portion of the tour, we headed upstairs to get a look at the apartments. We walked into the atrium lobby area and up the stairs that you see in the Lobby and Entrance section.
After coming upstairs, you are greeted with relatively simple walls and hallways. Gray is the primary color used up here but according to Michael, a mural of an old St. Louis map will be added to the wall as soon as you come up the stairs. You can see a semi-3D sketch on the printer paper on the right side of the image above. We went to check out a Two-Bedroom model unit that faces North.
The unit I toured is 875SF in size and has 2 Bedrooms and One Bathroom. The unit goes for $1395 per month. According to Michael Schwartz, units here are supposed to offer an equal to, if not greater than, apartment living experience when compared to Central West End apartment projects like The Euclid, Orion and Citizen Park. Every finish is custom made to fit the unit that it is designed to serve. There are to filler spaces in cabinetry and there are no gaps. All the appliances fit in perfectly.
Each unit is 100% powered by electric, so no gas is included. In addition to this, each unit has Nest thermostats, video door bell systems and LED lighting to make for a more efficient life style The units are also airy. In the particular one that I visited, even with all the furniture and one window, it didn't feel stuffy or crowded. So if you have a lot of stuff, there is enough room for it in the unit. Another interesting feature is the addition of a full size washer and dryer. Some places that I have visited, have smaller sized versions of washers and dryers, so that is a plus.
Other small details that I appreciated, the light fixtures go well with the gray paint job and brown wooden floors. You can tell that thoughtful design was put into this development. Everything goes very well together and contrasts well with the old building.
We bounced around and checked out other units a views throughout the building. Those other units and views are featured below.
For now, South facing residents at the Dorzé will have to deal with a boring strip mall and parking lot. On the bright side, it is only a matter of time until their view is made better with the dense Pearl Companies project.
Units here range from 642SF up to 1000SF. Rent is adjusted based on unit size, view and if you are on the first or second floor. The cheapest unit is $975 per month and the most expensive is $1810 per month. If you have a pet, add $25 (unless you have two, then it is $35). Other monthly recurring charges include electric and set rate trash, sewer and water. If you want parking, you can reserve a spot in the connected, and gated, parking lot for $65 per month. An additional spot, depending on if there is availability, is an additional $75 per month.
In my opinion, if you are looking for a new place to live that's close to everything, the Dorzé is the place for you. The building is an example of what Debaliviere used to look like in the past and to have the opportunity to live in it is an interesting one. According to Michael, interest has been high for the building's 20 units but he didn't say how much interest. In my opinion, whatever empty apartments are still at the Dorzé when Pearl opens up next door will go quick.
Plus, the close proximity to the MetroLink station, Loop Trolley, Forest Park and the Loop really make this an ideal place for those who want to leave their car behind on normal days. The $4 Million redevelopment project will begin allowing residents to move in on June 15th. They'll begin occupying the second floor apartments. Later on, the first floor apartments will become available.
If you are interested, or just want to see what's up for yourself, please visit the Zillow listing below and Like "The Dorzé" on Facebook.
Visit Blackline STL here: https://www.blacklinestl.com