A historic photograph of the old City Hospital’s Power Plant building, which can be identified by its giant smokestack. It had been constructed in 1937 to provide power to the entire City Hospital complex, which contained a dozen buildings at its apex. The Power Plant building was shuttered along with the rest of the City Hospital complex in 1985.
A view of the Power Plant building from the completed Georgian Condominiums. The Power Plant saw multiple plans for both reuse and demolition come and go over the next few decades. One such plan was from Trigen Energy Corporation, who purchased it in 1986 in hopes of converting it to a steam plant for the city. Unfortunately, the plans never materialized and the Power Plant was returned to the city. Like the other abandoned buildings in the City Hospital complex, the deteriorating Power Plant building fell prey to vandalism and looting. Lead and asbestos were the main contaminants on the property that had to be removed before redevelopment efforts could eventually commence. This effort was aided by an EPA Assessment Grant, a HUD Brownfield Economic Development Initiative Grant, Brownfields State Remediation Tax Credits, and State Historic Tax Credits.
The Power Plant was successfully renovated in 2010 through a joint effort between Environmental Operations, Inc. and developers from Gilded Age. After the completion of the Climb So iLL indoor climbing gym on the first floor, the Element Restaurant and Lounge (http://www.elementstl.com)was planned to occupy the top two floors of the Power Plant, including the smokestack and the outside terraces. Prior to its summer opening, Element was listed among “The 15 Most Anticipated Restaurants of 2013” by St. Louis Magazine.
As Element shares an entrance with Climb So iLL (http://climbsoill.com/), guests are able to witness rock wall climbers in action as they head upstairs to the restaurant and lounge. Despite being next door neighbors, the two businesses are entirely separate. In a December 20, 2013 review of Element by St. Louis Magazine, the writer joked that the only “killjoy” about their dining experience was that they were unable to move their tables to watch.
A source of pride for The Element is its fantastic interior remodeling, while also preserving much of the original brick structure of the building, as well as some exposed I-beams (not shown here). The dining room of Element can seat up to 74 guests. The restaurant also boasts many sustainable features, including reclaimed barn wood in their handmade tables.
The Element’s open kitchen configuration allows nearly all guests to watch and smell their food in preparation. The restaurant sources from local farmers for its food and drinks. The experience can change between two dining experiences, as Element will change a third of its menu every three weeks, invite guest chefs and bartenders, incorporate one night only or specially themed menus, and more.
Element's Lounge occupies the third floor of the Power Plant building. Like the restaurant downstairs, the lounge boasts excellent interior designs. The Lounge can seat under 100 guests, including several dozen on the outside terrace.
With an array of seating, decorative lighting, flat screen TVs, an outside terrace and nearly panoramic views of the City of St. Louis -- including a view of Busch Stadium -- Element's lounge is a beautiful experience both day and night.