FROM EYESORE TO EYE CANDY: ARCADE BUILDING SLATED FOR DECEMBER COMPLETION

February 23, 2015 admin

Thanks to a mild winter, Dominium Development expects construction on the Arcade Building, located at 800 Olive St. in downtown St. Louis, to be completed on schedule by early December.

The $118 million project is transforming the long-empty, 18-story structure, which will be home to Webster University and apartments when it is completed.

According to Jeff Huggett, partner and vice president at Minneapolis-based Dominium, the building was in very rough condition.

"It required a complete gut for the renovation," Huggett said, noting that the century-old building has been vacant for 20 years.

Dominium purchased the building in June 2013 for $9 million from the city of St. Louis' Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority. While the company has worked on several projects in the area since 2001, the 500,000-square-foot Arcade Building will be the largest local project to date.

Work on the structure began in August 2014 and is about one-third complete, according to Huggett.

Once reopened, the Arcade will feature 282 apartments beginning on the fourth floor and rising to the 18th. Of those apartments, 202 will be artist lofts, with an additional 80 apartments going for market-rate which is in the vicinity of $850 per month.

Jason Szachnieski, the senior project manager for Paric, said there have been no surprises on the project.

"Thankfully, we did our due diligence in the beginning and haven't run into any problems along the way," Shenetsky said. "We've already started finishes on the 18th floor and are working down from there on the interior," Szachnieski said, noting that 175 tradesman are working on the project daily. Finishes include drywall, paint and cabinets for the apartment levels.

Currently, plumbers are working to drill holes and stub out pipes for fixtures throughout the building. The parking garage that is housed in the basement is not yet complete. All windows have been replaced down to the 15 floors and exterior masonry repair is ongoing.

Webster University, the only commercial tenant, will occupy the lower three floors of the building for classes, but specific terms of the 20-year lease were not disclosed.

The building originally housed an eight-story shopping arcade, one of the first of its kind and likely a predecessor to the modern-day indoor shopping malls.

The area where Webster University students enter will be the original arcade itself on Olive St. It is a striking room with 35-foot-tall, barrel-vaulted ceilings. All the marble, terracotta and original woodwork will be restored, according to Huggett.

"Clear down to the wrought iron and plaster — everything is being restored to it's original condition," he said.

The school also will occupy the former storefronts at street-level that faced Olive and 8th streets, with plans for a 6,000-square-foot art museum on the north and east sides of the street-front space. Along the southeast corner will be a café. Webster University offices will line the remainder of the south side of the campus. Additionally, a 160-seat auditorium for the university will be housed in the portion of the building occupied by Webster University as well.

The second floor will house 12 classrooms, two study labs and lounge areas.

In addition to preserving the historic design, the rehab will include modern improvements, such as all-new wiring. The upper floors are taking on a new look as they are being redesigned into apartments.

Huggett added that the building would feature an "awesome" 4,000-square-foot rooftop deck for use by the tenants of the building.

St. Louis firm Ebersoldt + Associates is handling the architectural work on the project. The general contractor is Paric, which has extensive experience in redevelopment work downtown with the Bee Hat Lofts and the Peabody Opera House. Trivers Associates is handling the specific architectural work for Webster University's needs.

The $118 million Arcade project involves a mix of federal and state historic tax credits and New Markets Tax Credits through U.S. Bank (about $78 million); loans (including one for $13 million from BMO Harris Bank); mortgages (including $4.2 million from the city of St. Louis and $4.2 million from the Missouri Housing Development Commission); and an investment from Webster University ($4 million).

The Arcade Building actually is comprised of two buildings, joined nearly 100 years ago. The 18-story Wright Building was completed in 1906, and the Arcade Building was built around it in 1919.

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