By. Chris Stritzel
Back in November 2016, I wrote about the plans to build and redevelop the old YMCA building on South Grand along with the Pelican Building. At the time, the ambition was known that the old YMCA building would be demolished to make way for a new 2 floor retail and office building. Those plans have since changed. The plans now call for a 5 Floor, 116 Unit Apartment Building that creates a "L" shape that fronts Grand Boulevard. This building will not include street level retail on the Grand side of the building. Meanwhile, the historic Pelican Building next door is set to be rehabbed and made into a Domino's Pizza, not the best choice for the neighborhood sine there is a Dominos Pizza just down the street past Arsenal.
As seen below in the elevation plan, it doesn't appear that the Pelican Building will lose any of its historic charm. That's a good thing. However, the bad thing is that there is going to be a large Domino's sign on the side of the building. That is not a good thing to do. They could make the sign less modern, that would help but doesn't look like it is going to be happening anytime soon. That great thing is out of this not-so-good plan is that a historic building is being saved, thus helping change the Grand Corridor South of Interstate 44. But what about the rest of this more that $18 Million project?
When it comes down to the infill plan that will replace the YMCA Building, there is a lot to be angry at especially since the building's design looks like a 1950's era Soviet Apartment Building (just a modern version). This kind of design is unacceptable. While the Pelican Building will retain its historic charm, this hunk of trash will destroy the way Grand looks and will also become a eyesore over time like the Kiener Garages in Downtown. When you look at the way new apartment buildings are planned in St. Louis (See Soulard's Newest Apartment Building, the corner of Russell and the 55 Exit Ramp), they match the neighborhoods they are in. This on the other hand does not match the neighborhood, in fact, it wouldn't match any neighborhood except Moscow Russia. This is terrible.
You just have to look at the building to know that I am not crazy. Who would want to live or even open a business in or around this gray colossus? The gray color gives it a depressing look that basically gives the public the perception that the architect and developer does not care about the area and just wanted to put something out there and get it done. The project could have been much better if brown brick was chosen instead of gray. It would have made a world of a difference for the project. You can decide though whether or not you like this projects design.
You can see what the building will look like by looking at the image below. (This image is looking East Toward Grand)
And then there is the site plan for the Apartment Portion of this project. A Parking Lot?!?! That is not very good for the region. There are so many surface parking lots. It just wouldn't look good for the neighborhood or if you have an apartment, your view would be ruined by a sea of parking. Just put the Parking under ground and let the site be home to a hotel as well. South Grand doesn't have a hotel. Actually, forget the Apartment building, just build a hotel here for the neighborhood since there isn't one close by to the neighborhood in general. But it is what it is. You, the public, can decide whether or not you like this hunk of junk but whatever it does do to South Grand, I hope it adds some more people to the area, and hopefully with a redesign, some retail.
New Rendering from ALTUS development (the developer) shows a refined design for the project on South Grand. It is a little bit nicer than before. I am happier with this newer design as it includes bigger windows and appears to be better in terms of the quality of the design. This is expected to be underway soon.