Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) refers to the investment that takes place at and around transit infrastructure. TOD is often a catalyst for economic growth – improving access to jobs, housing and amenities, and helping promote active lifestyles and a reduced dependence on automobiles.
The Chemical Building in downtown St. Louis will be the latest historic building to be transformed from gloom to glam, infusing a jolt of excitement just steps from the 8th & Pine MetroLink Station.
Restoration St. Louis, led by Amy and Amrit Gill, has entered into a letter of intent to acquire the 17-story structure, located at 721 Olive. The building sits next door to the Louis Sullivan-designed Hotel Saint Louis, which recently underwent an extensive $71 million renovation that was led by the Gills.
The Chemical Building, originally designed by Boston native Henry Ives Cobb, features an intricately designed red-hued exterior cornice of foliated patterns and trapezoid-shaped bay windows. The structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The plan is to extend the Hotel St. Louis experience into the Chemical Building next door. That starts with constructing a street-level pedestrian walkway in the alleyway between the two buildings, essentially expanding the Hotel St. Louis lobby.
“The design intent is make the Chemical Building be a part of Hotel St. Louis,” said Amy. “As we did with Hotel St. Louis, we’ll take photographs of the terracotta details and make those into wallpaper for the rooms. I don’t want to subordinate the Chemical Building as much as make it a piece of the entire Hotel St. Louis experience.”
Current plans for the Chemical Building call for 84 guest rooms, 72 luxury apartments, a ballroom, restaurant and rooftop bar. The renovation is estimated to cost about $54 million. BSI Contractors Inc. and Checkmate Design have been tapped for the project.
The extent of the Chemical Building renovation will be greater than what was required to transform Hotel St. Louis back to its glory days, according to Amrit.
“The terracotta is starting to fall apart,” he said. “The masonry package alone is going to be about $4 million. The window package is going to be seven figures as well.”
While that may seem overwhelming, the Gills have successfully completed some of the region’s most high-profile renovations in the region, including the Coronado Ballroom and the Moolah Theater in Midtown.
“What excites us is the feeling that we are strengthening and enhancing the community, the downtown community in this case,” Amrit said. “That’s far more exciting than just getting a building done.”
The Chemical Building is about a block north of the 8th & Pine MetroLink Station. The connectivity and access to transportation is an invaluable asset, not only to the Gill’s projects, but to the hotel and convention industry as a whole.
“Most people from big cities get out of the airport, hop on MetroLink and come downtown,” Amy said. “You see it with conventions. They go to the convention center for the day, check their bags and walk over here. We get a lot of that. I think St. Louis is held back when we don’t have great transportation options to all points of the city. Having MetroLink is a boom in my opinion.”
The ability to create a more walkable, livable community is at the root of why Amy and Amrit tackle renovation projects like this. To them, these renovations help foster a neighborhood that many – especially younger generations – are longing for.
“They want walkable neighborhoods, where they feel like they’re a part of something,” Amy said. “I think the biggest thing we could do for downtown is make them part of our revitalization.”
Work on the Chemical Building is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2019 and be completed in the fall of 2020.
Project: Chemical Building Renovation
Timeline: Work is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2019 and be completed in the fall of 2020.