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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Corner Anchor at Osceola and Grand

This amazing four-family building in Dutchtown is located at 4400 South Grand Boulevard just south of the large Cleveland High School athletic field. Whether or not this fits in the Tudor Revival or the Craftsman styles does not matter -- this is one cool building. The building dates to 1923, when row housing had long faded from the residential vernacular of local architecture. Yet, as a double two-flat, this building acts like the old row housing found in older neighborhoods. The double front porches reinforce the distinction between the two sections, while the roof overhang with its might brackets and the central half-timbered gable pull the sections together.

This is an outstanding example of the 1920's south city multi-family architectural vernacular, and an impressive anchor for the corner that frames the view of Cleveland High School from Grand. I'll note the bad news last: this building has been vacant for years, and it's owned by the city's Land Reutilization Authority. The Citizens' Service Bureau records for the property number 107. Despite the woes, the building has solid architectural integrity.

What a great rehabilitation project this could be! Matthew Sisul, Housing Development Analyst with the Community Development Administration, reports that:

LRA purchased this property in April 2008 using CDA's federal development funds from the 25th Ward. CDA is actively seeking proposals for the rehabilitation of this building (see RFP). The selected developer will be required to adhere towards Section 106 Design Review Guidelines. Assistance towards acquisition and construction costs may be available through CDA. Interested parties should contact me for additional information or to schedule a viewing of the property.

Matthew Sisul can be reached at (314) 622-3400 ext. 322 or sisulm@stlouiscity.com.


brian said...

You are right! That is an incredible building. Although vacant for years, it has really started to rapidly deteriorate in the last two. Can someone help it out!!??

samizdat said...

I live about three blocks from this wonderful gem, and I wish every time I see it I could buy it. Unfortunately, I don't have the scratch to buy it, much less the oh, I don't know, 200K+ to fix it up. The odd thing is, if you lood at the front doors of all of the units, they appear to be pristine. In excellent shape. Weird. I should have suspected the Let it Rot Authority owned it. That fact scares me. Along with the propensity of the Hoosierati in our neighborhood and City to favor demolition over renovation. It also seems someone is slowly making off with the copper. Which then makes it's way to Southern Metals, just about 10 mins. down Broadway. This corner would really miss this building. It's really a signifant structure, not least of which because of it's unique configuration. It looks like a typical two-family of this type, but mated to it's twin. Just a special building all around. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

We were discussing this beautiful building just last night. What a fabulous rehab opportunity!

It's a glorious building, still solid from everything I can see aside from a small fire in the basement a couple of years ago.

Still has the radiators, too. With 2 bedrooms per unit, this baby is 5,000 square feet of Just Waiting To Come Back I measured it a couple of years ago). Yep, that's right, do the math: 1,250 sf apartments.

The Alderman is more than happy to work with you on it, too. Shoot, I'll offer whatever pro bono help I can be, along with the Orphan Door Barn -- I just want to see her restored to her former elegance(BTW, some of the copper gutter is even still their; we've actually CAUGHT & ARRESTED two thieves there. YAY)

a neighbor across the street
P.S. It still has all 4 original front doors!

Soularddave said...

Just noting this from an email, and it looks like exactly the type of building that we need to utilize in the *near* future.
It's got 4 units that share floors and walls, so residents only have to heat two exterior surfaces. The windows are plenty, but they're small, so thermal upgrades would be affordable. Those sunporches face East(?), so they aren't in the afternoon sun.
This would be a great location.

samizdat said...

Orphan Door Barn? Is this a just a turn of phrase, or is it an actual business? 'Cause, we (the wife and I) would sure like to toss the crappy hollow-core doors which some mook in our home's 97 yr (1912; builder: Anton Degenhardt) history installed to replace the 5-panel solid doors original to the house. He also replaced all of the original base moulding, as well. Crazy, cheap-ass hoosiers. Maybe we could get together at Urban Eats to discuss. By the way, Missy, props to you and your nabes for nabbing the metal vandals. I forget to note in my last post that since the price of scrap metal has plummeted over the last year, it's possible that we may not see as much of this kind of theft.

samizdat said...

No replacement windows. Restore what can be restored, and THEN consider replacing any which are in unsalvagable condition. Replacement windows are not as durable as the original cypress-wood units which were designed for this house and thousands of others like it. The original windows have very few moving parts to fail, have no plastic or cheap metal parts, and, with good quality storms (interior or exterior) and competent restoration can be as, and often times, more efficient than typical replacement units. The important piece of the efficiency puzzle, dead air space, can be easily achieved with the aforementioned improvements. Vinyl is a poison. Just read the MSDS of any raw vinyl resin product. It is a known carcinogen, among other things, and I don't care how many additives you put into it to help withstand UV rays, vinyl will eventually deteriorate. Well maintained wood will not. In additon, most of the commercial-grade woods used in todays windows are vastly inferior to cypress. Pine? Oak? Feh. Hell, I'll help restore 'em for free. Well, cost. Perhaps we as a community can restore this building as a neighborhood project. Donated materials and supervisory labor, and the love of a community. Sometimes we have to reevaluate the meaning of "value". Is this corner valuable to our community? Yes. Already, we have a value not based on the vaguaries of a phony market. Crazier things have happened.