Butler Brothers Building - 1717 Olive St.

Renovations and new residential construction in downtown St. Louis, Washington Avenue, the Old Post Office, etc.
Great discussion on affordable rents for downtown as things heat up.... apparently this is a huge problem in Detroit where only the upscale can afford. Part of the problem --that they share with us but maybe even moreso -- is tightness on new supply as financing is hard to come by in "risky" cities.

IIRC, some Lafayette Square residents recently were wary of supporting a proposed rehab that would include some affordable units.... the horror of having some young professionals in the neighborhood! Not sure if that ever got approved or not.
I have two friends who live together in a one bedroom apartment in the CWE that only costs $400/mo. They both work and are in their 20's. If the CWE has units that cheap, Downtown should have more units that cheap as well. They aren't easy to come by. Millennials, who according to nextSTL are "saving the City," have tens of thousands of dollars worth of student loan debt that many of them won't get out of for decades. You spend $40,000 a year for four years at SLU plus interest, you can't afford sh*t. You can't just "get" a high paying job, even with a college degree. $400 between two people is pretty good, and again, if an expensive neighborhood like the CWE has places that cheap, Downtown should as well.
^I agree 100%

I'm wondering if the cost to rehab these buildings (new roof, electrical, windows etc) is so expensive that it's just doesn't make financial sense to charge $600/mo. But second thought, even new construction (like the atrocious Adventura or whatever its called) is going for $1K/month. I don't get it.
mattonarsenal wrote:
flipz wrote:
Gateway City wrote:
The subsidized units never made sense to me. They charged 6-700 a month instead of the regular $1k for a one bed in most places but then had a ridiculous income restriction. If you're making $15k a year, you shouldn't be paying $700 for an apartment.

There are very few rent subsidized units downtown. The affordable units are rent and income restricted, not subsidized. And, people making $15,000 a year wouldn't qualify to live in those units. More likely people making $25,000 to $30,000.

I thought they were subsidized when they were built and as a condition have to have a certain amount of affordable units for some amount of time. That is what I meant by subsidized. I don't remember the specific income but when I looked 4-5 years ago, the income restriction didn't make sense with what they were charging for the units. Maybe it is just me and I don't like to spend such a large percentage of my income on rent.

shadrach wrote:
I'm wondering if the cost to rehab these buildings (new roof, electrical, windows etc) is so expensive that it's just doesn't make financial sense to charge $600/mo. But second thought, even new construction (like the atrocious Adventura or whatever its called) is going for $1K/month. I don't get it.

The cost is much higher I think. Downtown you had a bunch of old warehouses that were converted into modern residential units, with all that entails.

In the CWE the buildings always were residential, many of which have not been updated any time recently. If they have been updated, then it is mostly cosmetic stuff. You also have a much more diverse range of building types, and owners. Someone that bought an apartment/building 20 years ago when it was crazy cheap could rent it out for cheap without doing any updates.

New construction is just expensive. I imagine when new residential construction happens downtown, rent will be even higher. The only larger (steel/concrete) buildings I can remember being built recently were built in the CWE as condos that sold for $500k+. I wonder what that WU building will be charging in the loop, or the one that is being built on Pershing.
Student Housing through the school, any school, is almost always more expensive than living off campus. When I was a junior, I paid over $700/mo. to live on campus. It was bogus. My advice to any new college students: do not live in student housing.

I'm sure Webster's presence at the Arcade will mean that there will be lots of students interested in living Downtown. If colleges continue building Downtown like this, more and more students will want to live there. That's why units as cheap as the Arcade and Gentry's Landing will be very important. These people aren't going to pay $1,500/mo. plus utilities for a one bedroom apartment. The Butler Bros. Building is a great location for students and 20-somethings in general but there's no way people that young can afford it if it's as expensive as the rest of Downtown.
Maybe the issue isn't that the apartments are unaffordable or need government assistance to make them affordable for college students or new grads. Most people graduate college and have roommates to reduce living expenses. Not until we start making enough money, say 2-5 years on average down the road do we move out into our own apartment or house. When I graduated from college I rented a 3 bedroom apartment with 2 others for 1200 a month resulting in 400 for my monthly rent. The majority of units downtown are 1 bedrooms at 1000 sq feet or less with rent at 1.10 a sq foot. This make having a roommate virtually impossible to offset costs. Maybe the problem with downtown is that there are too many 1 bedroom units and not enough 2-3 bedroom units.
There are some that aren't bad. Like I said, Gentry's Landing is $800 for a two bedroom. This is what Downtown needs more of, especially if colleges are going to keep choosing to locate courses there. I was going to split that with two friends which isn't bad whatsoever. It never happened, but if I don't get a place in the Arcade, I might go with Gentry's because there aren't many, if any, other options that affordable Downtown. I hope the Chemical has a few floors that the Webster and SLU Law students can actually afford.
I think several things will help with rents downtown....

-- demand seems pretty strong (not superhot like San Fran of course but not bad either) so a greater supply in itself will help some
-- have some of the new supply have smaller units (commanding less per unit but equalling out in the end)
-- have some of the new supply have larger spaces as downtown2007 mentions but functional for and marketed to roommate sharing for young adults/students.
-- have these youth-oriented rentals designed with fewer high-end finishes and amenities.... more Gentry Landings if you will.
-- minimize parking needs.... for example, the Butler Building proposal for luxury units envisions significant parking.... a development that seeks at least in part carless students or young adults might be able to utilize one or more of the floors for more income-producing units instead of for car storage.
Significant parking seems unnecessary as the streetcar comes closer to reality, but I guess it's not a 100% thing yet.
This is a HUGE building. A renovation and filling it with residents would make a big impact on downtown.
From a story in the STLBJ about the Jefferson Arms development:

Sarimsakci, who is originally from Turkey and now lives in San Francisco, said he was initially drawn to St. Louis by the Butler Brothers building at 1717 Olive St. — a building he says he's still negotiating to buy. Alterra has a history with Butler Brothers facilities, as the company is now in the process of redeveloping one in Dallas for $90 million.

^ bolds mine.

^ I think successful redevelopment of the Butler Bros. will be a huge turning point for Downtown West with its strategic location.
Agreed! Huge is the right word. I've been thinking about this building a lot as I was just walked by it Saturday night. (Parked by the new police HQ, heading over to the Peabody.) It's dark and gloomy right now, as is everything around it. If it gets rehabbed (with exterior lighting, trees etc.) this would radically change and unlock this area.
I just hope that it gets a good retail presence. I know it may be hard because the building is on a slope, but I think it would be a mistake to ignore the Locust and Olive sides retail wise.
Awesome building. And I mean that by the sheer size of it
Have plans for this building long faded away?
hebeters2 wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 7:31 pm
Awesome building. And I mean that by the sheer size of it
Have plans for this building long faded away?
I believe plans have faded away but not fully. Some people have looked at it and plans have circulated but nothing truly got past the drawing board. The main reason is the sheer size of the structure. Apartments would be a hard fit, the same goes for a hotel (which Downtown is getting flooded with). Office space is a tough one and warehouse space just isn't really needed. I think this one will have to sit out until the next development cycle when hopefully Railway Exchange, Chemical, Jefferson Arms, Municipal Courts and Shell are taken care of or almost fully taken care of.