Last June, I wrote a story titled, "Laclede's Landing Enters Boom Mode". Since then, things have changed some, so I decided to check in on multiple projects and to see what's going on in the neighborhood. First up, Peper Lofts.
The first residential building on the Landing brought 49 luxury units in the hope to start a new trend, make the Landing a vibrant place to live, work, and play. Advantes Group is the developer behind the project and based on floor plans available on Peper Lofts' website, 36 of the 49 units are currently leased out with the remaining 13 still available. In my opinion, how long it will take to the fill the remainder is dependent on a number of factors. Those being...
Will the Lucas Avenue Expansion bring more people to the Landing?
Will the redevelopment of other nearby buildings spark more interest among prospective residents?
Can Laclede's Landing become a vibrant community where people will want to live, visit and set up shop?
Based on my observations, Lucas Avenue extension will bring more people down to the Landing by making it more accessible and bringing visitors right to the heart of the Landing, North 2nd Street. If you continue down Lucas, it takes you to the Peper Lofts. But, to insure a successful future, maybe a blade sign, on Lucas, is warranted by Advantes to draw some attention rather than a roof sign.
The Peper Lofts occupy the building at 701 North First and were renovated for a cost of $12 Million. Metro used to have their headquarters in the building. As it currently stands, there is retail space on the first floor, offices on the second and third (home to Abstrakt Marketing) and the remaining 3 floors are home to the loft apartments.
Lucas Avenue Extension
A welcome addition to Laclede's Landing is the Lucas Street extension. As it currently stands, without a flood covering Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard, there are only 3 true access points in to the Landing and all 3 are fairly difficult to get to. First, Laclede's Landing Boulevard is at the end of 4th Street at the entrance to the Martin Luther King Bridge. Second, you can enter from Carr Avenue by way of 2nd Street next to the casino, but after sundown, Lumiere Place closes this entrance point for god know reason. Finally, you can enter the Landing from Morgan Street at Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard. These streets are just not easy to get to.
When the Arch Grounds were reconfigured, the Washington Avenue access point was lost thus killing off some businesses in the process. Close to the Eads Bridge, and Washington Avenue, will lie a new entrance that will be Lucas Avenue. The city undertook the project to help heal the grid after Drury sat, and continues to sit, on their parking lot field in the Southwest corner of Laclede's Landing. The new street will open very soon and allow cars and people to cut to the heart of the Landing, 2nd Street. Drivers coming from Washington Avenue will not have a shorter journey time than before and pedestrians will no longer have to walk through a parking lot or down longer distances to access the Landing.
The extension should be a success based on it's easy access from Washington Avenue. While the new street will be barren for now, talks have reportedly picked back up with Drury about their project on their parking lots. Previous plans called for apartments and parking to be built on their parking lots but those plans seemed to have died off when this project was undertaken.
Removal of Cobblestone Streets
Not all the Cobblestone Streets will be removed, just Morgan Street and Lucas Avenue will see the change. According to a tweet from Alderman Jack Coatar, the City is working with the Laclede's Landing Neighborhood Association to remove these East West Streets' Cobblestones in favor of simple poured concrete. For Lucas, it makes sense since the only stretch of Cobblestone is between 1st and 2nd.
For Morgan Street, the Cobblestones will be removed from Leonor K. Sullivan to Lumiere Place Boulevard. The streets are horrible to drive on but act as a speed barrier so you don;t go racing through the district but they are also hard to walk and bike on due to them being uneven. No timeline was given on this change, but according to some, the plan has been in the works for several years. 1st and 2nd Streets (North-South streets) will retain their Cobblestone Character. Collins Alley, Clamorgan Alley and Commercial Street will retain their brick streets.
EDIT: According to John Clark, head the neighborhood association, Cobblestones removed on Morgan Street for water line work will be reinstalled. This appears to be temporary until the funding is in place for the removal of the Cobblestones on Lucas and Morgan and replacement with concrete.
While it is currently a vacant office building, the Advantes Group hopes to change that. They are planning a renovation of the existing office space to make it more appealing to modern day tenants. Much like how their Peper Lofts redevelopment landed Abstrakt marketing, they are hoping that the Hoffman Building can land a similar tenant.
Previously, a concourse was to be erected over Clamorgan alley to connect the office space at Peper Lofts to the newly renovated space in Hoffman. However, that portion was scrapped most likely to preserve the iconic view of the Arch from Clamorgan Alley.
To complement Peper Lofts, Advantes is planning 48 luxury loft apartments in the Greeley Building. The Greeley is highly decorative with stone accenting, the name of the building included in the facade and an interesting cornice. Also of note is the original Cast Iron store front frames. The modest 5-story building will offer residents some different views than those at the Peper Lofts.
Residents here will have views of Downtown, Laclede's Landing and the River but there will not be views of the Arch due to the neighboring Cutlery Building. For the most part, the Greeley Building looks clean and occupied despite it being vacant. I am practically guaranteeing that the Lucas Street Extension will help fill the retail space here, at Peper Lofts and at the Hoffman Building just because they'll be some of the first things visitors see when the visit the Landing.
The Katherine Ward Burg Garden
While it is the first part in Great Rivers Greenway's North Riverfront plan, it is very redundant. The site that they chose was once home to the Switzer Building (Built: 1874. Demolished: 2007) so it hasn't flooded. Their plan adds a green space into the neighborhood where it isn't warranted. The Arch grounds are right next door, so why do you need more green space?
For now, the site remains vacant but no word has been given as to when GRG plans to start on the small project. In my opinion, they should put the lot up for sale and acquire the site just East of here. That site doesn't flood too often and it close by as well. It also fits their plans just fine. Building the garden on the Switzer site could be an improvement in the short term but will most likely need to go after the Landing begins to boom and space becomes limited. When that time comes, I am sure GRG will be willing to work out a deal.
EDIT: John Clark says that the final bids have been completed for the project, so construction should start sometime this Summer.
Even with all the recent activity, Laclede's Landing still has obvious problems, the largest of which are the abandoned buildings in the district. The Traders Block, Old President Casino Offices and Muddy Waters Bar buildings remain vacant in the case of the Traders block, two buildings are for sale. 807-09 North 2nd is for sale for $900,000 and the Paincourt Building (813 North Second) is for sale for $600,000. Both buildings would make great apartments and maybe even a boutique hotel. The actual Traders Building (Built: 1850) is quiet right now so something could be in the works there.
The only other remaining buildings that don't seem to be going anywhere are the President Casino offices building and the Muddy Waters Bar building. Eventually, those will be taken care of but at this point, it will take a little while longer.
Remnants of the past could be used in future infill on the Landing. The rusty metal shown above are actually some of the Cast Iron originally found on the first floor of the Switzer Building. When it was demolished in 2007 the remaining preserved was put into a pile near the Eads Bridge. It has presumably been in the same spot now for 12 years. They are currently covered in weeds and house feral cats. They are practically impossible to move without heavy machinery, so bandits who would scrap them for the money would have to make a huge scene to get them.
But these seemingly insignificant metal pieces could actually lead to something new. A new building could be built using original and replicated pieces of Cast Iron on the first floor. What would be built remains a mystery since I am thinking out loud, but these pieces should be put to a greater usage than laying around. They are as solid as can be. I've sent messages to some people regarding these pieces to see if they can be stored somewhere safe until a development happens that wants something unique. Until then, these will most likely sit in their spot until the owner, who I don't know who it is, chooses to scrap them, which I hope they don't even consider.
If it is being considered, it will be a loss to the history of the old St. Louis Riverfront and to what remains there.