The vacant St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School, and former Taproots School, at 4021 Iowa is set to become apartments.
Blackline, the company behind the Texas Avenue apartments and other projects, is planning a $4.9 million redevelopment of the building. Plans call for 25 market-rate apartments, consisting of 17, one-bedroom units and 8, two-bedroom units, in addition to 29 parking spaces. The project is the latest in conversions of former schools in St. Louis becoming loft-style apartments or creative office space. This project in particular is the first of the trend in the Dutchtown neighborhood. The only difference between this project and others is that this is a former Catholic School. Other schools being converted into apartments or office space are former Public Schools.
The building has sat vacant for several years and deterioration is evident on the outside. Vines are growing up the main entrance and Iowa Street facing facade, windows are broken, weeds are growing out of the sidewalks, the chimney has vegetation growing out of it, and the building has some dirt on it from sitting vacant. Beyond this though, the school is in pretty good shape and is structurally sound. On the inside, it's sort of what you expect from a long vacant building. Photos from a Zillow listing, included at the end of this story, show peeling paint, some graffiti and water damage. Amazingly, the original hardwood floors look great but the date of the photos being taken is unknown, so the floors could've gone bad. Beyond those issues though, it's a solid building.
The top floor of the building features a gymnasium with large windows that are arched at the top. I imagine those apartment units will be the most premium due to the amount of natural light those windows will let in. The other windows are a great size too, so those units will have lots of natural light in them as well.
According to Michael Schwartz of Blackline, they applied for state historic tax credits tand are waiting on the allocation to begin the redevelopment. The City of St. Louis LCRA (land clearance for redevelopment authority) recommends a 10-year, 95% tax abatement on the property as well. Redevelopment of the school was originally proposed by CAZ Development in 2015, but plans fell through due to unspecified reasons.
The school sits on it's own block. Iowa and Gasconade are the main streets the building fronts, but the two other sides border an alley. The school also overlooks Laclede Park and is a quick drive to Broadway, which is just 2.5 blocks east. The redevelopment will anchor this part of Dutchtown as the greater neighborhood, and surrounding neighborhood, see a flurry of investment from home renovations and facelifts to multi-family buildings.
Below are additional photos of the building as well as interior photos from the Zillow listing. New interior renderings, added on June 27th, show the interiors and units. The units in the former gymnasium will be bi-level.