The historic Arcade Building belongs to an elite group of pre-World War II skyscrapers in downtown St. Louis. It is actually comprised of two buildings that merged years after their construction: the Wright building, completed in 1906, and the taller Arcade building, built during World War I. Due to steel rationing during WWI, reinforced concrete was used in the Arcade’s construction, and for years held prestige as the world’s tallest structure comprised of that material. Once a popular shopping destination and prestigious home of numerous offices, operations at the Arcade ceased in 1979. It was purchased from the City of St. Louis’ Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority (LCRA) by Minneapolis-based firm Dominium in 2013. Funding includes financing through federal New Markets Tax Credits, federal and state historic tax credits, federal low-income housing tax credits, and both public and private loans.
Cleanup of the site’s asbestos and lead contamination is underway, with redevelopment plans slated for a 2016 completion. With the reinforced concrete frame structurally intact, the Arcade’s future will see it become downtown’s largest apartment projects in decades. The Arcade will have over 200 affordable artist lofts and 80 market-rate apartments. It will also feature a rooftop deck for residents, complete with almost-uninterrupted views of the Mississippi River and the Gateway Arch.
St. Louis’ own Webster University plans to be the primary tenant of the new Arcade, having committed to a 20-year lease on the first, mezzanine, and second floors. With a future capacity for 1,000 students, the Arcade will host classrooms, offices, an art-gallery at street level, and an auditorium for the university.
Remediation efforts are taking place on this 0.15-acre vacant lot, situated next to a historic school building. The St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC) and the Land Reutilization Authority (LRA) were contacted by an upcoming school to purchase the lot, but it was realized that the site was a former gas station, with two underground storage tanks still on site. SLDC reached out to Missouri Department Natural Resources (MDNR) to ask for their assistance in removing the tanks at the site, and MDNR agreed to remove the tanks and any visibly contaminated soil. The tank removal commenced February 2015. The gas station remediation directly supports the Mayor's Sustainability Action Agenda, which highlights priority Sustainability Plan items.
After completion, the lot will be redeveloped to provide parking for employees of the Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls, a Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics (STEM) focused public charter school for girls in grades 6-12. Starting in the 2015 school year, it will be the first single-sex STEM charter school in St. Louis. Washington University in St. Louis is a sponsor of the school which aims to close the gender gap and to prepare more students for higher education. Enrollment is open currently, and classes will begin this August.