Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What's Left to Rehab? (Part I - The Farm & Home Savings Building)

Thanks to a variety of factors including tax credits for the restoration of historic buildings, downtown St. Louis has experienced a wave of rehab not seen since the 1980's. In virtually every corner of downtown, historic warehouses and office buildings have been renovated and converted primarily to loft apartments and condos, but office space as well. As a result, we're running out of buildings and approaching the point at which we'll start to see more and more new construction.

There are a few major buildings, however, that are still awaiting rehab. The Farm & Home Savings building at 1001 Locust is one of them.

Right now, the first floor of the building is being used by the construction crews working on the renovation of the Syndicate Trust building across the street. It is otherwise completely vacant. The Farm & Home Savings Association was at one time Missouri's largest savings & loan, but was acquired by Roosevelt Bank in 1994, and the branch at 1001 Locust was closed shortly thereafter.

The Farm & Home Savings building is currently owned by Craig Heller of Loftworks, one of downtown's most prominent developers, which leads me to believe that it may be his next project after Loftworks completes its current projects - the aforementioned Syndicate Trust, and the Ludwig Lofts on Olive, both of which are rapidly approaching completion.

If Loftworks does renovate the building, what remains to be seen is what it will do about the facade. Much like the Mercantile Library building, the Farm & Home Savings building was the victim of an unfortunate "remuddling" job and had its facade covered by blue and gray panels. Some of the panels have been removed, revealing the original building underneath.

All of Loftworks' previous projects feature a mix of residences, office space and retail space. The addition of that mix at the corner of 10th and Locust would be a fantastic way to liven up an otherwise sleepy block.

A sneak peak of what lies beneath the panels

2 comments: said...

I understand the old facade is too far gone to renovate/replicate --- especially to get historic tax credits. Too bad, it was a spectacular building. Without tax credits, this becomes a much more financially challenging project.

I think you are right to look at "what's left" because the best buildings have all been done already. Bigger developers are too big to handle some of the smaller building in town. New construction --- filling in the gaps --- will be next. Since we lack any real design standards I am more than a little concerned about what we may get.

Brian said...

Ouch - that's really unfortunate. I feel bad for Heller, but I guess when you buy a building like that, you're really taking a leap of faith.

On the other hand, the post-remuddling appearance of the Mercantile Library has really grown on me recently (right before we find out that its original facade will be restored), and this building has a somewhat similar appearance. I think that even in its current state, a good architect/designer could do some cool things with it. Might make for interesting modern office space.