Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The True Lofts

St. Louis lofts
The history of lofts is fascinating. Not a SOHO History expert, past reading talks of the starving artist--unable to afford residential apartments--rents out "space" in the largely abandonded structures zoned and equipped for commercial use. So began the attraction of the loft. A subversive element. A Soho Lofts website had this to say about the original lofts, "Most of these spaces were also used illegally as living space, being neither zoned nor equipped for residential use, but this was ignored for a long period because the occupants were using space that would probably have been dormant or abandoned..."

The beauty of these spaces involves personality.

In the mid 60's and into the 70's, getting a loft space in soho took on the personality of the occupant. The challenge was to make the space "yours" without having to add traditional building of walls and halls. Creativity and unconventional style was born and nurtured. The concept in various forms has spread and evolved.

Most of today's lofts from St. Louis loft builders don't have as much in common with the spaces in Soho. Here, the developer is the main source of creativity. Modern elements are produced in mass. Most loft dwellers today don't have the time for the creative lifestyle. The mostly open large spaces are being carved up into classy apartments with more conventional 2 and 3 bedroom units. The loft concept has evolved into the mainstream here and in many other towns.

Enter the King Bee Building. Located at 1709 Washington, the building resembles a converted commercial structure because that's what it is. Spaces rented out as office or artist studios were subdivided and sold as condos. The building and the lofts within are the closest thing to the Real Thing that downtown has to offer.

This weeks RFT highlighted a long brewing controversy within the building in its typical melodramatic and one sided approach. The article seemed to paint the "King Bee 9" as blameless victims. They may be. What seemed evident was the details conveniently left out of the story.

One thing that has been evident is that not everyone should live downtown. High density living favors people that can "play nice in the sandbox" with the patience and sincerity to work towards resolution. Various disputes in condo associations everywhere repeatedly confirm this fact.

Good luck to all at the King Bee for a amicable end to the story.


Anonymous said...

"One thing that has been evident is that not everyone should live downtown. High density living favors people that can "play nice in the sandbox" with the patience and sincerity to work towards resolution"...patience and resolution? how long were those people supposed to wait for their safety to be assured? the fire department found 40 violations? 40? play nice or play dead? seems to me the RFT isnt the only one with a one-sided view.....

Chris Grus said...

One sided, me?

"Anonymous one" seems to percieve me as saying the "King Bee 9" should just sit back and take it, and that all the code violations are life and death issues. That's the same black and white mentality that seems common in that situation. Based on the story, the King Bee 9 appear to believe that if a person doesn't agree with their position, then you are "cozy with Sam" or "representing his interest more than the association's". "Either you're for us or you're against us". That type of childish attitude seems to be a big part of the problem.

Obviously the King Bee residents have pressing issues that must be addressed. They're in litigation now, so maybe things will work out. Based on my experience and what I've heard about the matter, it just seems that lawyers, courts, judges, and juicy stories from the RFT were an unnecessary part of the path towards solving the problems in the building.