I recently had the chance to take a visit to the Tower at ŌPOP. It is a symbol of Downtown Revival after the Recession of 2008. It has a interesting history behind it but the final project is one that is amazing. The building makes a statement in the Downtown Skyline if you look close. It is not monstrous, it is very human scale and that is great in a city where things are overwhelmingly large.
The Tower at ŌPOP is situated across Locust to the direct North from the Old Post Office. The building sits on a Plaza built for Downtown residents and residents of the tower to enjoy. That is where the ŌPOP name comes in. ŌPOP stands for Old Post Office Plaza. It makes the mid Downtown area great in a area that is needing some modern projects to spruce it up. Buildings around the Plaza have a look that is far from something that can spruce up the area. Buildings have soot on them from the time when Saint Louis was a industrial town and was heated mostly by coal and heating oil, an abandoned building and parking garage doesn't help much either. The history behind this block bounded by 8th Street to the East, 9th Street to the West, Locust to the South and St. Charles to the North is quite interesting.
Part 1: A Rocky History
The plaza and block were once home to 5 buildings that gave Locust Street more character. The most notable building was the Victoria Building. It was designed by Adler and Sullivan of Chicago and opened in 1893 as the St. Nicholas Hotel. In 1905, it underwent a renovation that made it a few floors taller and altered the exterior of the building. In 1973, the building met a unfortunate end when the city was demolishing old buildings. This building was lost to a parking lot that wasn't needed. The building quickly fell into the back of city leaders minds and was never thought of again.
Other buildings that were lost on Locust with this building at different times were 819 Locust St, and others with names that cannot be found. Buildings that were not wrecked with this are The Orpheum Theater and The Magnolia (Mayfair) Hotel.
If we tear everything down, how will our children and future generations know what America was like? If everything is a glass tower, how will they know our heritage?"- Austin P. Leland 1965
'As the 2000's rolled in, 819 Locust Street was demolished as part of the Roberts Brothers major expansion into Downtown real estate in 2002. The Roberts Brothers purchased a huge strip of buildings on Locust from 8th Street to 10th Street. They also purchased the Orpheum and The Mayfair. Thy had big plans with the block between 9th and 10th streets, they wanted to demolish the two small buildings closest to 10th Street and turn one modest size building into a Hotel Indigo and The Board of Education Building into Lofts. On the Orpheum Block, the wanted to build a tower and plaza that would add hotel rooms to the existing Mayfair and add Condos to the Downtown area. The building was supposed to have 20 floors.
The towers idea got more attention than the other project down the road one block because it would be the first residential building built in downtown in almost 40 years. The Roberts Brothers saw potential in this and pushed the buildings floor count up to 29 floors to put a stamp on Downtown's skyline but that was quickly re-thought and reduced to 25 floors and 300ft. Ground preparation and construction began in 2007 with hopes of the building being open in 2009. That however would never come and would be pushed back 5 years.
In came 2008, the building was moving at a steady pace and the transformational project was taking place. Then bad events, the stock market crashed and the Roberts brothers money tanked. The project down he street was put on hold and later cancelled. The then 20 floor Roberts Tower lay on hold and not fully enclosed in glass. The Roberts found money and got it topped out during the Recession and enclosed by the end of the recession. The building would signify the end of the mid first decade of 2000's building boom in Saint Louis. The Roberts promised by Mid 2010 their 55 unit luxury condo building would be open. That would never come.
The recession brought the Roberts Brothers down causing them to cut back on Union labor and hire private companies. Not many people were working on the project. In 2011, Shulas opened on the First floor and then closed a few months later because of racial issues and low pay. In 2012, the buildings construction was stopped and the Roberts filed for Bankruptcy. Their dream of having this building be theirs was over and now This building was the tallest abandoned building in the city at the time.
In 2012, North American Properties came in and purchased the building, theater and the block to the West. The lofts and tower were put on their list to get done. They put the other parts of the Western block up for sale and have plans to restore the Orpheum. N.A.P. announced that in Spring 2014 The Tower at ŌPOP would begin moving residents in. The same would be for The Lofts at ŌPOP.
Their plan worked and Sauce on the side moved into the former Shulas restaurant. And in the Spring, residents began moving into the building. This now brings into what the building is now. The reason for this whole story, New Downtown Living.
Part 2: Downtown Living
Downtown Living Couldn't be better especially in the Old Post Office District. There is historic architecture around, and Washington Avenue boasts some of the city's best Restaurants and attractions. But is that really the reason that makes this building more special than the others? No, in fact it is what is inside that counts and the conveniences that come with it. The building is sleek and adds character to the Locust Business District. All though it can't replace the memory of the old building in St. Louis, it adds to the ever changing city scape of St. Louis.
The tower as I said earlier is 300ft tall. That is a big deal if you live there because all views are great views. No ones view is the same and no ones perception of the city is the same. That is what makes this building unique and adds character to Locust and Downtown. The Tower boasts of Studio, 1Bedroom, 1 Bedroom Plus, and 2 Penthouses. With this comes a varying price that can be a good deal or way to expensive for what you get. To me it is a good deal.
- Studios on Floors 3-23 at 761 square feet= $1,195
- 1 Bedroom on Floors 3-23 at 747 to 995 square feet ranges in price from $1,425 to $1,725.
- 1 Bedroom Plus on floors 3-23 at 990 square feet= $1,725
- Two 2 Floor Penthouses on Floors 24 and 25 at 1795 and 1768 square feet for $4,950 and $4,750
Those prices are very good deal for how new the building is and the amenities that come with it. Those amenities are as follows...
- Internet and TV powered by AT&T Fiber Optics
- Fitness Center on Floors 24 and 25
- Building Commons Room on Floors 24 and 25
- Secure Lobby
- Hotel Connection and Discounts on Rooms
- Valet Parking
- Schnucks market across the street
- Library across the street
Those amenities give the residents of the building more luxury than expected.
I got to check out a 1 Bedroom Apartment on the 13th floor that was very cool. It has its own Balcony and has a pretty large kitchen. The bedroom was standard for a Apartment, not to overwhelming. Both the living room and bedroom have floor to ceiling windows giving amazing views out into the downtown area. A feature of all the Apartments is something that adds character to the building, exposed concrete columns and ceilings ad a rustic feel to the apartment. It is not like any other apartment I have seen. It lets you know that you are living in a modern city apartment building.
Below are images of the room and the ceiling.
The views are awesome from any floor in the building. All of them have one thing in common, you can see all of Downtowns architecture modern and old. The higher you go the farther you can see. There is no view in this building that is bad. When you get off of the elevator at the 24th floor, there are windows and you can see part of Washington Avenue and the New Mississippi River bridge.
Downtown Living in Saint Louis is getting better and better as time goes on. Another residential project that is currently going on that is, recalling the Alverne Building back to life with 2 floor homes in a building. That along with the newly reopened Arcade building continue to add character to the Downtown Region. The next building that needs to be recalled back to life is the Chemical Building. Most of these buildings are all just a few steps of the Old Post Office. Below is a video about the building.
Currently the Tower at ŌPOP has a occupancy rate of 86% of its 128 Apartments. That is great for Downtown Development in the future.
I would like to give a Special Thanks to The Tower at ŌPOP manager Melissa Krepsik for making this special story possible.