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Friday, February 12, 2010

Clemens House Moves Closer to Rehabilitation

Rendering courtesy of Robert Wood Realty.

Developer Robert Wood's $13 million plan to rehabilitate the long-beleaguered James Clemens House at 1849 Cass Avenue, illustrated above, is moving closer to reality. In collaboration with owner McEagle Properties, Wood proposes creating senior apartments in the historic mansion and dormitory wing, and a museum in the chapel wing.

The staff of the Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) has recommended that the Commission approve the project for a combination of a 4% low-income housing tax credit ($828,000), gap financing ($4.5 million) and tax-exempt bonds ($7 million). Wood had sought 9% credits. The MHDC will meet on February 19 to allocate credits. The City of St. Louis made the Clemens House project its #1 priority for the 9% credit.

Strange that the Clemens House, the building that first piqued preservationist outrage at McEagle's land assemblage, may become the first completed project of the NorthSide project? No. As we have been saying all along, the strongest factor in the NorthSide project is the existing fabric of the near north side.


Anonymous said...

no fan of mckee's tactics here, but this is very good news! such a pretty pair.

Anonymous said...

good news for clemens House, bad news for the Blind Girl's Home...
2010 sucks!

GMichaud said...

They are beautiful buildings, a glimpse at what has been lost over the years. St. Louis was an incredible city at one time.

Robert Wood will do a good job, he is sensitive to historic structures and has done an excellent job in the past.
If McKee chooses partners like Robert Wood, it will certainly increase the chance of doing something meaningful in the northside, although one project is not a substitute for community involvement and approval.

If McKee is successful it will marginalize city government even further as private enterprise takes over the functions of governance. The failure of leadership in city government opens up opportunities not only for business, but citizen leadership as well.

In any case the selection of Robert Wood as a partner signals that McKee understands there are in fact some standards he should attain in the interests of the community.

At the same time Robert Wood can demonstrate to Mr. McKee how to channel historic resources into profitable ventures.

Doug Duckworth said...

I don't understand how McKee helped this occur. If anything he held it up for years and allowed two collapses to occur.

GMichaud said...

McKee finally pushed it along by partnering with someone who has actual preservation experience. If he continues to do that, the city government will sit with egg on their face, ceding control of the city to developers.

So McKee hired someone with better knowledge than himself, if he continues to do that then he will out manage city government. (apparently not hard to do)

I remember that it was not long ago these buildings were in use. The time span they sat vacant until McKee acquired them demonstrates a serious gap in city development policy. They sat vacant years before McKee was in the picture.

So yes it has been a long time.

We need different solutions to city planning. The current cast in City Hall is not even close to getting the job done.
Privatize city government and sit up a system where citizens work directly with developers.

I don't like the suburban job centers for the northside McKee has proposed for instance. Instead what if he hires planners that connect all of the pieces of the city for presentation to the public.

Thus the burden of proof on how suburban job centers will enhance the city environment becomes part of the discussion and not just job centers in isolation.

In the same way the Clemens House sat vacant, meanwhile everyone recognizing their value, without a meaningful plan to revitalize the surrounding streets and neighborhoods to encourage action.

Even now it sits in an anything goes, hit or miss neighborhood. Thus the lost of the warehouse buildings on 12th and Cass become part of a larger strategy for redevelopment. This would include the Clemens Home just down the street.