Updated: Jan 16, 2019
This story originally appeared on the old website on August 23rd, 2018.
If you have driven on Vandeventer or Tower Grove near the intersection of the two, you may have noticed work going on at the Woodward Printing Company Building. The work that has been ongoing is for the conversion of the former warehouse into modern lofts with a historic charm. From high ceilings, large picturesque windows and superior amenities, the Woodward Lofts will be among the best loft apartments in St. Louis and set an example for the Forest Park Southeast-Grove neighborhood. Built in 1926, the building housed a large printing press operation which, at the time, was among the largest in the City of St. Louis.
The Woodward's location against the railroad tracks also provided for easy access to the rail system to ship printings across the nation. In some cases, trains would back into the building to pick up their shipment before moving on. Despite the printing operation leaving the building, it has continued to be a significant icon for this prominent corner in the Grove which meant that redevelopment was imminent once the Grove started to take off development wise. Now, in 2018, the Woodward Lofts project is full steam ahead to introduce 164 luxurious loft apartments to the Grove as well as provide two commercial spaces for businesses along Tower Grove Avenue.
Due to the building's historic nature and being on the National Register of Historic Places, the architecture firm, Trivers and developer, Pier Property Group, had to follow a strict set of laws to preserve as much of the building's original character as possible. According to Diona Jett, a District Manager for StoneCreek Communities, "old water tanks from the previous operation will be cut and made into sitting areas in our common spaces" as well as, "old office partitions will be reused as a wall to cut off the commons areas to a meeting room near the grand staircase". New windows are also being made to mimic the old window design.
The building's nickname was the "building of light" due to the wide open floor plans and spaces as well as the abundance of windows surrounding the walls which allowed for natural light to pour into the printing factory. The redevelopment is taking this nickname to extremes through design. Trivers' idea is to cut 5 slits into the building to create small courtyards and commons areas that make natural light fill the building. In addition to this, they also act as buffer zones. The building is too wide to create a central hallway with apartment doors on either side. In this case, the courtyards will offer inner building units to get some natural light while also creating a community within each courtyard. Every unit looking out onto the courtyards (if on the level where you can stand), will have access to said courtyard so residents can get out, meet with other residents or soak in some natural light.
These units also have a very unique feature about them. A lot of these courtyard facing units are bi level with 24 foot ceilings and glass covering a full wall of said unit. The way the units are set up is by having a kitchen, living room and a bathroom on the first floor while your bedroom and full bathroom is upstairs. Both levels feature closet space. The renderings below show this concept with the largest courtyard area and one of the smaller ones.
As we work our way up in features, we arrive at the rooftop. The rooftop will be a gathering area for all residents featuring a pool, views of the entire city and a club room where residents can get together some day. To get an idea of where this is, it is near the largest open courtyard space near Tower Grove Avenue. You can see this is the rendering featured above. Now let's head down.
The Woodward Lofts include several amenities now visible to people on the main roads. The main lobby area features a wide open lobby with access to bike storage and a secure mail area. the secure mail area will keep your packages secure and you can only access them with your name or photo of yourself. this helps insure that your mail stays safe and that it is intended for your eyes only. Through the area where the elevator is lies a fitness center with yoga services available for your pleasure. There is also a staircase that takes you to the rooftop amenity deck. Beneath everything will be a concealed and private parking garage for residents only. The spots are reserved so you are insured to get a parking spot. There will even be spots available to charge your electric cars.
In the end, every apartment unit comes with today's best features including Spectrum Gigabit Internet, Terrazzo Floors, Stainless Steel Appliances, Modern Kitchens, Center Island Breakfast Bars, Quartz Countertops, WIFI Controlled Thermostats, Keyless Entry and Cable Ready. As seen in the model unit that I got to check out, I can tell that all of these features are in said unit and are key to making this building rise above the competition, especially in a hot market like the Grove.
My Personal Thoughts
For a historic restoration of a former warehouse/factory building, this is being done fairly well. From all the amenities and the hidden design details, the Woodward Lofts will surely be a welcome addition to the Grove neighborhood. The lofts will also draw people down to the more sleepy section of the Grove near the railroad tracks. The railroad tracks may seem to be a problem, but the management at Woodward guarantees that the trains passing by aren't heard like you think they would be. The thick, dual pane windows coupled with 12 inch thick walls gives me, and should also give you, the assurance of living in a railway view loft in peace.
Overall, I wish this property the best, the developer surely was gutsy when the move was made to redevelop this building. As the neighborhood around it springs to life with projects such as Core at Newstead, Vista Place, Grove South Homes, Missouri Foundation for Health, Adams Grove and Hasta La Vista apartments, Woodward Lofts is in the heart of it all and, in my opinion, is the final piece in the puzzle to bringing the success of the Grove Southward into McCree town and into the streets immediately surrounding it.
I look forward to returning when construction is complete on the Woodward Lofts so I can share with you all my thoughts on the project at that time. That time should be around the opening, which is set for around Christmas.