ELLENDALE – Some neighbors worried that putting a 34-unit loft apartment building in a former school building might clog parking on an adjacent street. But the neighborhood association said the developer would take steps to keep cars off that street, and that it was time for something to go into that building.
After hearing both sides at a hearing on April 17, the St. Louis Board of Adjustment voted to allow the Advantes Group to locate the loft apartments in an area zoned for single family homes.
The brick building, the former Wilkinson School, is close to Arsenal Street and will keep the address of 7212 Arsenal. That part of Arsenal is west of McCausland Avenue and a small street that dead-ends at railroad tracks.
Brian Minges, the owner of Advantes, said the entrance to the parking lot and the apartments would be off Canterbury Avenue, a wider through street to the south. Letter carriers would make deliveries from the front. Residents would get the mail from the front.
But Allen Barky, who lives near the old school on Arsenal, said at the hearing that more needs to be done.
“We want more than a hope that Arsenal Street is going to become a clogged street. It’s very narrow,” said Barky, who said he represented several residents. “When people come to visit this multifamily apartment, they put their address on their GPS, and it navigates them to Arsenal Street.”
People who go in that way will have to drive to the end and turn around.
“It’s going to make a traffic nightmare on the street,” Barky said. “Everyone who lives west of the street will be opposed to retaining 7212 Arsenal Street.”
Another neighbor, Nadia Hileman, also said she wanted to get rid of the address. “If we can do anything about this now, we want to do it,” she said.
But Matthew Sisul, president of the Ellendale Neighborhood Association, said the main entrance would be off Canterbury.
“The neighborhood overwhelmingly wants to see this building be other than a vacant building,” Sisul said. Since the school closed around 2007, there have been various proposals for development, he said.
“We would very much like to see this one come to fruition,” Sisul said.
Sisul said he understands that Arsenal is a public street and is not necessarily reserved. However, he asked that no parking be reserved on Arsenal for the apartments.
Advantes bought the building from the St. Louis Public Schools for $617,000 and plans to spend a total of about $6.1 million on it, Minges said. The opening will be around September 2020.
Advantes also has developed loft apartments from the old Lafayette School in the Soulard neighborhood and the Sherman Elementary School in the Shaw neighborhood.
The building will have eight units and a fitness room on the first floor, 12 units on the second floor, nine units and a rooftop balcony on the third floor and five units and a storage area on the fourth floor.
Dedicated in 1928, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.