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Preservationists Offer Alternatives to Optimist Demolition - NextSTL

Preservationists Offer Alternatives to Optimist Demolition - NextSTL

riverfront20

I was deeply disappointed that they were going to demolish the Optimist building to throw up another generic as hell apartment building. I'm glad someone's fighting it. If they can't find a way to incorporate the Optimist building into the design they should replace it with something unique, not some cookie cutter design.


TraptNSuit

Something unique which will then burden people with the inability to even sell the building again in the future like this one? No one ponied up more cash in this letter, surprise surprise. The optimists can't afford the building as is. Guess we are going to wait for it to collapse and Michael Allen to give some interview about how tragic it is that we lose our history this way. Yawn.


Claudio6314

Disclaimer: I moved away from stl about a year back. I like seeing these new buildings. In hugely into the modern style. However, am I going crazy or is every single property the same U-shape?


IRAn00b

I gotta say you get credit for being the first person I've ever seen say they like this style. I consider it a huge eyesore, but I think it's usually an acceptable tradeoff because the density is worth it. The properties are the same U-shape because they're simply copy-and-paste designs. If you look at the Chelsea, recently built by the same developer, you can see that it's nearly identical to this proposal. Even the Citizen Park, which is a much taller (and seemingly higher quality) structure a block down, has the U-shape. All cheap "luxury" apartments these days must fit the same bill, which results in the U-shape: parking garage on the bottom built into the concrete podium along with optional retail, on top of which is a courtyard/pool-deck, which is surrounded on three sides by the residential units, which rise another 5 to 10 stories.


Claudio6314

Why don't more apartment buildings go higher than that standard 10 stories? I saw news of Jeanne Gangs 100 Over the Park building which I believe was like 30-40 stories? That building is unique. I'm usually intrigued by Thr Studio Gang developments. And I mainly say I like the style because they usually look more modern. I definitely appreciate a city's cultural style but I never was fond of the Midwestern styles. However, I recognize that's a personal taste and not shared by all. Conversely, I love the traditional Spanish style in cities like Tucson.


IRAn00b

Well even 10 stories is very high for this style. This style is usually referred to as a 1+5, which refers to the fact that they usually have a one- or sometimes two-story concrete podium, with typically five floors of wood-frame construction on top. The reason for this is that the international building code was changed a little more than a decade ago to allow for five stories of wood-frame construction. So, in short, the buildings look like this because it's the cheapest, largest building a developer can legally build. To go to eight or more stories requires building out of steel and concrete, which is significantly more expensive. But they can throw these things up in a year like it's a McMansion out in the suburbs.


Claudio6314

Interesting. I never knew this and appreciate the info. I still read that these places fill up fast. I guess 8 stories might not be worth it but I figure something like 100 above the park would be? At 30-40 stories, surely it's worthwhile? And they can get a hotel in there.


IRAn00b

I won't pretend to know the details of the economics here, but these cheap builds are typically flipped within a year or two. It's generic, it's cookie-cutter, it's quick. So one business model I suppose is to try to build and flip a couple of these a year. I think it's an entirely different business model to design, engineer and build a one-of-a-kind, 40-story landmark building where the 2-bedrooms go for $4,200 a month.


uncle_troy_fall_97

Isn’t another benefit of a U-shape that you have more exposures, and thus more places for windows to let in more light? I’ve lived in a tenement-style, five-story walkup building from 1901 in New York, and that apartment (a 1br) only had two real windows—and they were both in the bedroom. The living room had a window, but it looked out into an air shaft that was maybe 6-8 feet wide at its widest point; needless to say, it was a gloomy room, because it got literally zero sunlight at any time. By contrast, my partner’s building where she lived before we moved into that place together was in a newer building (by Manhattan standards; I think it was built in the ‘30s) much farther uptown in Washington Heights, which was built in a U-shape. Every room in that (3br) apartment had at least one window that got lots of light. New York first adopted a zoning code in 1916, in between those two buildings’ construction; I suspect that, rather than some sort of altruism, was why the relatively newer building had a more humane design (the code regulated shapes of buildings, not just uses). I don’t know anything about zoning here, but I suspect something similar exists—but you sound like you know what you’re talking about, so you tell me. Because surely otherwise they’d rather build it without the U-shaped void in order to maximize total square footage, no?


uncle_troy_fall_97

I don’t know how to feel about this story: I’m biased in that I don’t like mid-century modern (or most any modernist styles, honestly) much at all, so I would have a hard time seeing it as a tragedy if this building were torn down. Also, I tend to think preservationists, if given the opportunity, will tend to go too far and cause lots of unintended problems. Still, this building looks like an absolute phone-it-in snoozefest that will almost certainly be cheaply built and overpriced upon completion—which seems to be what modern developers do almost exclusively. I mean, surely someone here has a theory as to why the developer is being so conservative here? Of all the neighborhoods in town, the CWE would be the one that would support a nicer building than this, and a street like Lindell seems to call for it too.


brickcity314

The developer is a known POS. His model tends to be fleecing the city for tax incentives, building really cheap "luxury" eyesores, short-change his contractors, fill it with tenants, ignore management, and flip it as soon as possible for a decent profit.


Careless-Degree

> , building really cheap "luxury" eyesores, Is there such a thing as actual “luxury” high rise apartments? To me that just means silver appliances.


schmuloppey

Grant the demolition permit, provided it's in writing the new development will be completed as planned :-)


RageAgainstTheSurge

It's hard to be a Optimist these days, what with all those pesky Pessimists running around building new crap we didn't ask for.