Monday, April 19, 2010

More Density Downtown

When the plans for Avenida lofts were announced way back in 2006, I was skeptical.  After all, the Avenida, located at 1225 Washington, was the third building in just over a year that Jacob Development was starting and the first wasn't even 25% sold (from memory).  The second, the Bogen, was a huge project and hadn't begun sales.  At the time, the number of spaces projected for development in the following year was a staggering 2265.

Obviously things didn't work out for the condos and the project was scrapped for a time, but fortunately, the momentum going on in Downtown St Louis procured another plan very quickly. 

It was good news to hear the plan for mixed use commercial building with rental lofts and a couple new themed restaurants and even better to see construction starting up.  Just last week, we started seeing ads for apartments at the newly named "Warehouse 7 Lofts." 

Hopefully the project will, as expected, bring continued enthusiasm for downtown living as another piece of the downtown puzzle is put into place.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Is It That Bad?

Back in my college days, Washington Avenue was the bomb!  The nightclub scene sort of migrated around between the landing, Wash Ave, and Central West End.  Most buildings downtown were essentially vacant except for warehouse space, some "true loft" dwellers, and the group of constantly changing nightclubs.  It was at that point, really a supreme low point in value, that Dave Jump started buying underutilized and undervalued buildings downtown. 

Watching the rennaisance downtown has been fantastic. 

In 2004, when we started working in the downtown residential real estate market, things were still fairly bleak.  Even with all the activity, many of the buildings hadn't changed in form or function since my college days in the early 90's.  Walking the streets with buyer's, we'd hear comments like, "it looks like you've still got a long way to go" as we passed by a boarded up building.  Some people were attracted to the idea of finding a diamond in the rough:  loft living amongst an otherwise deteriorating neighborhood. 

Now, despite a much nicer downtown, commercial values are dropping back down and Dave Jump appears to be speculating again. 

In talking with a former Pyramid Construction officer, the Jefferson Arms was going to really solidify the neighborhood as a rental building with a movie theater and street level retail.  Positioned at Tucker and Washington, the former "Jefferson Hotel" was one of the finest convention hotels in St Louis at one time, but hadn't received much attention since then when it was converted to the Jefferson Arms Apartments.  After the collapse of Pyramid, Sherman Associates, a partner in the Syndicate Development, was said to be aquiring the Jefferson, but the building ended up in foreclosure last summer.

In talking with the folks downtown back in the boom times, some folks idolized Jump, others demonized him.  I, like the article says, just saw him as a savy investor;  buying low and selling high.  Other than that, he stepped in to help save the City Museum at one point, providing much needed capital to keep the enterprise going.  Hearing he's the owner of the Jefferson Arms gives me a comfortable feeling for a few reasons, but mainly that he had a role in what has been a tremendous turn around of downtown.  Also, as a local business man, he has more interest in seeing the property turn around than its prior bank owner.  It seems like the Jefferson has sat vacant long enough, so it would be great to see the wheels in motion to make use of this old gem.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Laurel and Park Pacific get Help Soon

Interesting source of funds. 

Ever since the real estate market began to slow down in 2006, new people I meet get an overly sympathetic look on thier face when I tell them I'm a Realtor.  While things aren't 'what they were', things are still going.  Who I really feel for are the men and women in the building trades.  Unemployment in those areas are staggaring. 

The AFL-CIO Trust seems like a good way to help stimulate funds to get some of the union builders back to work, but is it sustainable?