Updated: Apr 16, 2019
Before Morgan Communities, of Buffalo New York acquired the building, Amy and Amrit Gill of Restoration St. Louis sought, and even at one point had the building under contract, to acquire the Chemical Building and redevelop it. They ultimately jumped ship when they turned their full attention to Hotel Saint Louis at the neighboring 705 Olive Street. While Morgan Communities touted 207+ micro apartment units in the Chemical Building along retail space, Hotel Saint Louis moved forward through the planning, construction and opening phases. Meanwhile, the Chemical Building continued to sit vacant as one of the last two abandoned buildings in the immediate area surrounding the Old Post Office. The only other abandoned building in the district is the Orpheum Theater on 9th Street.
Barely any updates were given on the project's current status besides a February 2018 blog post where Rosemann Associates Architects announced that they were tapped to be the Chemical Building's redevelopment architect. In Early 2018, Morgan Communities filed for a building permit for $23 Million in interior and exterior alterations. The permit was never issued. The continued downfall of the redevelopment seemed inevitable as Morgan Communities became swarmed in a federal case regarding a $167 Million mortgage fraud case in Western New York. The redevelopment plan by Morgan was completely dead. Now, Amy and Amrit Gill are ready to go at the project and with new ideas.
They have the Chemical under contract with a Letter of Intent to do so. So, a rooftop bar, street-level restaurant, ballroom, hotel and residential space are all part of the plans to redevelop the Chemical Building at 8th and Olive. The retail space closest to Hotel Saint Louis will be an expansion zone for "Spa Saint Louis”. The remaining retail bays will be the site of a new ground floor restaurant to accompany Hotel Saint Louis’ Union 30 and bring more light into the lobby area. A rooftop bar will take advantage of the views of the Old Post Office and surrounding district. Just as the lobby restaurant is the accompanying venue to Union 30, this Rooftop Bar will be the accompanying venue to FORM. Ballroom space will also be included.
Residential space has always been apart of the Chemical Building's redevelopment plans. Prior to the recession, the Chemical was to be turned into the Alexa Condos. A model unit was completed on one of the building's middle floors. The economic downturn through a wrench into those plans. The second go at it was in 2011 when LandWhite Properties planned to restore the building into 120 apartments and 7000SF of retail in a $33 Million plan. The third, and destined to be final go, at it was Morgan Communities' $20 Million+ micro apartment plan. All the previous plans seem to have been cursed by either a recession, lack of funding or a federal investigation. Under the hopefully non-cursed Restoration St. Louis' plans are to bring 72 luxury apartments to the Chemical Building. These 72 will pair well with the 15 at Hotel Saint Louis.
As for the hotel, 84 guest rooms will be added to the Hotel Saint Louis line up and will offer guests bay windows, abundant light and amazing views. Views of the Old Post Office and surrounding district will also be unbeatable from this vantage point. The rooms, and Chemical building, will be accessible from Hotel Saint Louis via a pedestrian walkway on the ground floor in the alley.
The phrase, "exactly like nothing else" is the Marriott Autograph Collection's tagline and means that no other hotel is the same as this one. The Autograph Collection is also a way for hotels to utilize Marriott's rewards network and appear on travel booking websites without having to spend extra money to do on their own. Therefore, the hotels under the collection. like Hotel Saint Louis, are boutique and operated as such but has a rewards network from Marriott and is seen by those looking for hotels on Marriott's website. With 705 Olive and the Chemical Building, it’s safe to say that Hotel Saint Louis is exactly like nothing else.
President of Restoration St. Louis Amy gill, said in a statement, “With the development of the Chemical Building, we will be expanding the visibility and vitality of our region’s downtown footprint, increasing the fun factor one block at a time for both residents and visitors alike,” said Amy Gill. “These two buildings, architectural wonders made all the more special by the fact they are just a few feet apart, also represent the essence of our mission – restoring a vacant landscape and transforming it into a revitalized neighborhood that as St. Louisans, we can all be proud of. ”
The Gills (Restoration St. Louis) plan to begin the long awaited redevelopment of the Chemical Building this fall with a completion in late winter 2020. The total cost of this redevelopment will be $54 Million. Restoration St. Louis will utilize historic tax credits totaling $17 Million. Amy Gill's Checkmate Design is acting as the architect on this project. The contractor is slated to be BSI. The same firms did Hotel Saint Louis so it makes sense that they would all get back together to do another project.
A NEW OLIVE STREET
From 4th to 11th Street, Olive Street has been transformed. With Hotel Indigo wrapping up at Olive and Broadway and Hotel Saint Louis being recently opened, Olive has seen a large influx in new uses. Both the Arcade Building and 720 Olive (Laclede Gas Building) both have been converted to residential units with some office space. With the Railway Exchange Building patiently awaiting redevelopment and the Chemical Building bound to begin redevelopment, Olive is bound to change even more. As time goes on, Olive Street, between 4th and Tucker, could see infill be constructed to create a more vibrant corridor but time will tell whether or not this happens.
For now, Olive Street has been radically transformed these last few years and the next few are looking to be just as great, if not better.
RELEVANT: URBAN EXPLORATION VIDEO
This was taken in 2014 and shows a creepy nighttime look inside of the Chemical Building. You can see how some of Alexa's model units remain. The video also shows the stairwell, empty elevator shafts, roof, leaking roof and the old Dooley's Restaurant. If the building was in that bad of shape then, I wonder how it is now. The video was uploaded by Youtuber "BackyardExploration".