By. Chris Stritzel
When I was younger, and my fascination with buildings started to soar, I've had an interest in East St. Louis' Spivey Building. It is something about that 13 floor tower rising above the hell hole that is East St. Louis that gives me hope for the future of the building and the City. Today, I found a video of two guys exploring the abandoned building. The video includes the history of the building and how the future of the building is uncertain. The urban exploration park really opened my eyes to how bad the building really is. First of all, it is gutted and windowless with vandalism throughout the structure. Second, leaking water poses a threat for collapse and Third, the crumbling terra cotta on the exterior is a symbol of how East St. Louis has fallen from a major industrial town to the corrupt ruins that it is.
I want to see this come back to life but how is the question. Lets start out with the obvious, it is East St. Louis' landmark. Just as the Arch is St. Louis City's landmark, the Spivey Building is East St. Louis'. Without it, East St. Louis would be unrecognizable unless the Majestic theater stays intact. If this building bites the dust like the Murphy Building did in 2013, there will be no hope for East St. Louis. Second of all, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Spivey Is on there because of how it was built at a time when the East St. Louis economy was roaring and the population as projected to reach 200,000. It is also the city's only skyscraper.
Finally, it is the tallest building South of Springfield. By losing the Spivey Building, Southern Illinois will lose a landmark in itself. We cannot let this happen. As I said earlier, I want to see this building come back to life. How is the question and the answer is a multi phase plan that would do wonders for East St. Louis and hopefully make it a destination. The Casino Queen is not enough, there needs to be more. Below is a map showing the multiple phases of how I would like to rebuild East St. Louis.
The entire 7 Phase project, based on my own research, would cost roughly $350 Million (and that is before Historic Tax Credits come into the picture). For the sake of simplicity, Phases 2-7 will require the restoration and rehab of existing structures as well as potential infill projects ranging from residential to retail. At least two parking garages will be built for the public and two additional ones built for a hotel and residential building. For Phase 1, which includes the Spivey Building and Majestic Theater, the entire red section's buildings would first be stabilized and cleaned up. The demolition of smaller structures would also take place as well as preparation for future structures. On Collinsville avenue, the Majestic Theater's façade and interior would be stabilized and cleaned up. Trees would be removed as well to complete the preparation of the theater building. Also, a new Murphy Building and Annex will rise along with a Parking Garage, but that is not what this story is about, this is about the Spivey Building.
At a projected $25 Million, the Spivey Building project would take the crumbling structure and make it new again. First, the exterior of the building would be cleaned. All graffiti would be cleansed away, falling bricks and crumbed sections would be rebuilt and new windows would be installed. That would cost about $10 Million because of how bad of a condition the building is in. Then, the interior is tackled. The building would become mixed use. Here is the directory list...
Floor 1: Street level retail.
Floors 2-5: Class A Office Space.
Floor 6: Co-Working Office Space.
Floors 7-12: Residential. Only the finest residences. Hardwood floors, beautiful views of St. Louis and the best appliances on the market would be featured here. 20 units will be in this building and most likely will be studio apartments with only two being a one bedroom plus apartment. The one bedroom plus apartments would be on Floor 12 and will have three windows facing St. Louis each compared to two for the other 18.
Because of how it is mixed use, the lobby could not be locked out and is to narrow for a security desk, so instead, the elevators would have key card lock outs for the residential and office floors with the exception of the co-working floor. The 13th floor would be locked when the business is closed. Next door, the Journal building (which is connected to the Spivey Building) would restored and turned into a restaurant. The remainder of the lot to the MetroLink tracks would be a 6 floor hotel. The structures mentioned her would be connected tot he parking garage that I hinted at earlier.
I want to see this happen but I sadly believe that the Spivey Building will bite the dust before 2020. Even if my whole vision of the entire block and Downtown East St. Louis does not become a reality, this would be great to see and possibly renew interest in East St. Louis. The building is gutted as seen in the video, so it shouldn't be to hard to bring back to life. The infrastructure in the building is there, it just needs to be utilized as well. The hardest part will be making it attractive to bring people to East St. Louis.
This needs to be preserved and I hope to see a developer step up and unveil plans for East St. Louis. The renaissance across the river could bleed over into St. Louis, but will it before this bites the dust?
Let me know in the comments what you think about my plans. Are they doable or not?