By. Visiting Author (Originally Appeared on Facebook)
It isn’t everyday that nostalgia sets in when thinking about how St. Louis City would've looked if buildings were built that never saw the light of day. Well, today was one of those days for Founder and Main Author, Chris Stritzel, who rediscovered plans to build a 40 floor, 486 foot tall Art Deco Building in Downtown. The plans were drawn up and proposed in 1931 when Downtown St. Louis had a shortage in office space. Even though the country was in the Great Depression at the time, it was thought that a new marquee office building like this would attract new companies and offices into the City’s Central Business District. Central tower would've been the tallest building in the city at the time beating the tallest building in the city at the time, “Bell Tower” in (1926) by 89 feet and Continental Life Building (1930) by over 200 feet.
However, because the Great Depression was in full swing, the plans never got past the unveiling. Today, the site of the would be building is home to the St. Louis Place building. Central tower would've been 107 feet shorter than One Metropolitan Square across Broadway, but it still would've made an impact on the skyline in today’s standards. It would've been the 4th tallest building beating US Bank Plaza (1976) by 2 feet. But as St. Louis’ Downtown Real Estate market improves as well as the overall city, more residential space will be needed to keep up with the demand. That is where Chris Stritzel’s big plan comes into play.
“At Nearly $145 Million in today’s dollars, it would be possible to build on one of the numerous Downtown lots” says Chris Stritzel, “with the right location, views and amenities, we could have the tallest Art Deco building in St. Louis and in the State of Missouri beating Kansas City’s Power and Light Building (1931) by 10 feet. While I don't have that money, I believe investors and developers would snatch the plan up in a hurry. I could see this building being built at 500 South Broadway in Downtown due to its proximity to the future Chouteau Lake and Greenway, Ballpark Village, the Stadium, Central Business District, Major Highways and MetroLink. It really is the best location for a prime building like this”.
However, that plan goes against a City ordinance that makes sure “buildings cannot be over 447 feet above sea level East of Broadway (or 337 feet above street level) but a Variance may be applied for if the structure is significant enough or is designed to not take attention away from the Arch”. Chris Stritzel believes that a Variance is the way to go for such a prime lot, “What we are seeing down here is the creation of a new neighborhood literally from the ground up. A Signature tower of this height and design could help mark the spot of the new neighborhood. Plus, because the site bumps up against the highway, the “original buildings” could be recreated for a parking garage podium that holds retail and lobby space for the hotel and residences as well as amenities. The podium could push the hotel and residences up above the highway for never before seen views of the City. It will be a magical site”.
If this ever happens, Chris hopes Lucien LaGrange Architects of Chicago, who specialize in designing neo-Art Deco and Romanesque buildings, could help design this building by the looks of the rendering provided. “I give the LaGrange firm a very high chance that they could recreate this building as it was originally intended as I am sure the original blue prints are available at the History Museum or at the Library of Congress.” Chris said, “If they can’t, other architecture firms are out there that can see make this happen, but whoever dares build this structure must keep in mind that the final cost may go over $145 Million, but I don't expect it to go over $160 Million WITH the purchase of the existing parking lot.”
Chris hopes that this building comes to life by 2031.