Mike Sarimsakci's Alterra Announces Jefferson Arms Plan for 239 Apartments, Marriott Hotel, Retail

Image Announcing its plans to redevelop the long-vacant Jefferson Arms in downtown St. Louis, Alterra International says it will transform the historic building into 239 apartments, a 198-room Marriott Hotel, banquet facility, and nearly 20,000sf of retail space. Ahead of the hearing, Alterra has created a Jefferson Arms building project website. While the developer is expected to pitch the plan to the City of St. Louis and seek Tax Increment Financing for the project. The project is on this week’s TIF Commission agenda, though the link sends one to The Armory District agenda item.


According to a press release from Alterra, the architect is Merriman Anderson Architects from Dallas TX. The interior designer is Lazaro Rosa-Violan from Barcelona Spain. Alterra is said to be selecting the hotel flag from Marriott’s AC, Autograph Collection, Aloft, and Element brands.

From the release, it appears that the developer has yet to close on the building. We reported in September that Alterra had closed on the property, before pulling the story. Property ownership had changed hands according to the City Assessor, to 1220 St. Charles LLC. That entity’s address is listed as 1314 Washington Avenue, the address of McGowan Brothers Development. The property had previously been listed as owned by AB Acres LLC, AKA David Jump.

For a decade, plans have come and gone for the once grand hotel. Pyramid Construction bought the building in 2006, but folded in 2008. A 2011 plan by McGowan Brothers Development would have created affordable apartments and office space for Teach For America. That vision died as the project failed to win New Market Tax Credits.

Alterra appears to have deep pockets and big ambitions in St. Louis. Perhaps most important, Altera Development has tackled a very similar project recently in Dallas, the nine-story 510K sf Butler Brothers Building (c. 1911). That $90M redevelopment opened last month and features 238 apartments, restaurants, and an adjoining new construction Marriott hotel.

The hulking Jefferson Arms is among a dwindling, but still large inventory, of vacant downtown buildings. The 1.2M sf Railway Exchange building is under contract, but remains empty, as is the smaller Chemical building, and the Millennium Hotel complex (both show how plans quickly come and go). Farther west, the Municipal Courts building awaits a occupants. The 538K sf Arcade building recently underwent a complete remake, and redevelopment of 705 Olive is underway.

As we noted in February, the Dallas project may also lend a peek into how the Jefferson Arms redevelopment could be financed. The Butler Brothers project was unveiled in 2012. Dallas committed to a $5M TIF. Alterra utilized the EB-5 program for financing. EB-5 is an immigrant investment program created in 1990. It sets aside EB-5 visas for foreigners who invest in commercial enterprises. However, the future of that program isn’t clear.

The reorientation of Tucker Boulevard as a major downtown St. Louis thoroughfare extending from the Stan Musial bridge, which carries Interstate 70 across the Mississippi River, was expected to spur development in this part of downtown. Building owner David Jump paid $1.25M for the Jefferson Arms in 2010 – an 89% discount on the $18M 2006 sales price. The building itself is massive and anchors a very prominent view in the central business district, though one dotted with parking lots and bank drive-throughs.

Never in imminent danger of demolition, the building has been empty since 2008 when Pyramid Development purchased and shuttered the building. That planned renovation never took place and while more than 80% occupied as low-income housing at purchase, the Jefferson Arms has sat empty since.

The building has a long and interesting history. The first phase, built in 1904, is the 13-story section facing Tucker Boulevard designed by St. Louis firm Barnett, Haynes & Barnett. The second phase is a 12-story annex to the west. Designed by Chicago firm Teich & Sullivan, it was built in 1928 and created a total of 910 hotel rooms. It became a Hilton Hotel in 1950, then a Sheraton Hotel in the 1955 and finally retirement apartments in the 1970s. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. Since then, the building has been through several owners, lawsuits and a bank foreclosure. (Alex Ihnen, https://nextstl.com)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07