Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 204

  • 2322 Montgomery Avenue (Larmer LLC, March 2008, $55,000)

May 2008

It's a peculiar little HUD house, no longer resembling its mass-produced brethren. It wouldn't be the end of the world if Blairmont demolished it to clear the way for new blocks of urban development, but wouldn't it be charming and clever if they managed to build around it?

More on 2322 Montgomery at Ecology of Absence.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 203

  • 2541 W. Sullivan (Union Martin LLC, May 2008, $66,500)

May 2008

It's obvious that Mr. McKee has not yet found time to visit this block in person. If he had, he'd surely be working to renovate its charming cottages and get them occupied again, assuring that no more of them would be lost to arson or brick theft. The magnetic pull of this block is irresistible, and any savvy developer would surely capitalize on that charm. Right??

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 202

  • 2532 W. Dodier Street (Union Martin LLC, September 2008, $85,000)

August 2003 - photograph by Kevin Kieffer

I'm sure Paul McKee Jr. wants to get this little frame house occupied again as soon as possible. After all, an arson spree devastated much of his property elsewhere on this block, and no upstanding developer or wise builder would want to see historic brick buildings lost to fire. That's throwing resources down the drain. You don't have to be a rich developer to see that, right?

March 2007

May 2008

"Thou shall not steal!! Exodus 20:10 In Jesus Name, You shall not Steal!!! Exodus 20:15 In Jesus Name! Jesus Loves You & Forgives You!!! Repent of your sins and die SAVED."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 201

  • 2209 Sullivan Avenue (Union Martin LLC, September 2008, $8,000)

March 2007

This poor little house! Its front face has been mutilated, almost all the windows bricked in. Blairmont here has a rare opportunity to truly restore a piece of lost historic fabric. Even if no records exist of the house's original configuration, a multitude of precedents surround it.

Alternately, a new, contemporary design could be put in place. So much of the original facade has been lost that it wouldn't be out of place to perform a purely contemporary intervention.

Either way, Blairmont has a host of wonderful things they can do with this house, now that they own it. By rights, the only problem should be choosing from among the several options.

August 2003 - photograph by Kevin Keiffer

Friday, November 21, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 200

    Left to right:
  • 2530 Warren Street (Union Martin LLC, September 2008) (white house at center)
  • 2534 Warren Street (N & G Ventures LLC, May 2006, $50,000)
  • 2544 Warren Street (VHS Partners LLC, November 2005, $30,000)

March 2007

Blairmont has a choice here. They could renovate these little HUD houses. This would be ecologically smart, saving the money, material, and energy already vested in the structures.

On the flip side, these are cheaply built dwellings, and now that they're empty, few would lament their passing -- especially if they were replaced by a large-scale urban development.

(Of course, it might have been simpler to simply not empty the houses out in the first place, right?)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 199

  • 2519 Dodier Street (Union Martin LLC, April 2008, $200,000)

October 2008

This multi-unit, walk-up apartment building is an ideal form for low-cost housing. Small, simple, basic, it provides compact living space in a neighborly setting. The building also defines the street wall very nicely, another urban gesture worth preserving and replicating.

In an unusual gesture for the neighborhood, it uses terra cotta masonry for its cornice and other ornament, rather than the complex brickwork so common to St. Louis's older neighborhoods.

February 2008

Emptied of all tenants, it is now ripe for a gut rehab. With nobody living there, it would be much easier than before to do serious, fast work to get the place back up to standards.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 198

  • 2338 St. Louis Avenue (Union Martin LLC, June 2008, $80,000)

October 2008

Just across the street from yesterday's house, this 2-flat building offers similar opportunities. It offers smaller and therefore more affordable units, allowing more economic diversity to exist in the area. Yet even this more affordable alternative retains handsome dignity, as shown by the fine brick porch with its carved capitals.

Standing amid a solid block of apartments buildings, single family homes, and multi-unit houses, this building represents a fine opportunity for Paul McKee to lend a true helping hand to the St. Louis Place neighborhood. I look forward to the inevitable rehab and renovation, which should restore the luster of this handsome house to its original shine.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 197

  • 2325 St. Louis Avenue (Noble Development LLC, August 2006, $60,000)

October 2008

Paul McKee should be especially excited to be holding this particular home. Many of his houses are in obscure or undistinguished neighborhoods (well, undistinguished relative to the high standards of inner St. Louis, at least.) This one, however, is not only a fine piece of architecture and real estate in its own right; it is also surrounded by several fabulous blocks of St. Louis Avenue's finest architecture. It faces miniature Romanesque mansions, and is neighbored by several houses unique in all of St. Louis. Only a short walk away is the beautiful greenery of St. Louis Place Park. A few short blocks beyond that lies the regionally famous Crown Candy Kitchen. Downtown is but a few minutes' drive away. The location can't be beat.

Once the house is renovated, it will surely bring in a small fortune. Mr. McKee should by rights turn a handy profit on this investment.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 196

  • 2721 Greer Avenue (VHS Partners LLC, November 2005, $20,000)

October 2008

2700 Greer Avenue is a charmingly tiny one-way street. Its charm has been diminished by years of neglect and deterioration. But that charm is surely why Paul McKee has begun buying properties there. Once he restores this house, the block will look a lot better; if he can get infill housing built there, the block could regain its original beauty and perhaps be even better than before.

Mr. McKee must surely regret the lost of 2733 Greer, a small cottage which stood next door to the one shown here. It doesn't take much looking to recognize the charming power of these little houses, or see the great opportunity their small size represents. Such a small building could make home ownership affordable even to low-income residents. What noble-intentioned entrepreneur wouldn't jump at the chance to help out?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 195

  • 2811 Parnell Avenue (Dodier Investors LLC, November 2006)

October 2008

Blairmont may be a little optimistic on this one; finding a productive, neighborhood-friendly use for such a building may be a challenge. It could, obviously, serve as a gas station and convenience store; however, it seems unlikely that Blairmont would want to put such an anti-pedestrian use in the neighborhood, even here on the fringes.

But the diminutive building is hardly up the challenge of holding and defining the massively overscaled intersection of Parnell and St. Louis Avenue. I wonder if perhaps they've actually considered tearing this one down. Combining this corner lot with all the empty, under-utilized land behind it would create a truly spectacular opportunity -- the chance to rebuild an urban corner from the ground up. A three- or four-story apartment building, or an entire series of them, would not be inappropriate. Hundreds of income-generating dwelling units could occupy this land!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 194

  • 2501 Sullivan Avenue (Dodier Investors LLC, November 2006)

October 2008

This industrial building represents a remarkable opportunity in a residential neighborhood -- the chance to create jobs right in the community. Imagine working and living all in the same neighborhood! A hardy factory building like this is prime material for a specialty manufacturing concern; it could also function as an incubator for new businesses. With loading docks for trucks, it's equipped to handle all sorts of heavy duty materials. Restore the windows and landscape the parking lot, and it could even be a thing of beauty in its own right.

Next door, Blairmont owns another fine opportunity at 2527 Sullivan. A one-story industrial building was recently razed (the saw-tooth-roofed building that remains is not a Blairmont property.) The resulting empty land could hold virtually anything -- houses, apartments, or a multi-story commercial, industrial, or mixed-use building. The possibilities are limited only by imagination.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 193

  • 2800 James "Cool Papa" Bell Avenue (Union Martin LLC, April 2008, $178,000 - multiple properties)
  • 2804 James "Cool Papa" Bell Avenue (Union Martin LLC, April 2008)

From left to right: 2800, 2804, 2810. October 2008

Blairmont owns two houses on this block, and all the vacant land between them. The rest of the block belongs to the True Light Missionary Baptist Church, except for two houses belonging to the upstanding not-for-profit landlord JVL Renaissance. With neighbors like those, Blairmont has the power to truly recreate this block, to turn it into something intact, wonderful and beautiful. Rehab the two survivors, get a small convenience grocery back into the corner building, and build additional infill houses, and this block would be whole and healthy again.

That is, after all, how this neighborhood began -- full of occupied urban houses. There's no reason it couldn't return to those glory days again.

2804 - October 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 192

  • 2734 James "Cool Papa" Bell Avenue (Union Martin LLC, April 2008, $179,800 - multiple properties)

October 2008

Just west of yesterday's house, this is another painted stone-front house, with delicate inscribed carvings around the windows. A coat of bright blue paint makes it an exuberant note on this block, if not exactly historically accurate.

An active church stands right next door. Blairmont could make their premises safer and more attractive by renovating this house and getting renters or an owner into it. In fact, with all the property they own here, they could improve the entire block. What if some of the church's own parishioners could live right next door to their church? There's already an owner-occupant to the east; what if there could be a whole block of them?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 191

  • 2716 James "Cool Papa" Bell Avenue (N & G Ventures LLC, August 2005, $15,000)

October 2008

This house is one I missed the first time around. Stone front facades like this are common in this neighborhood, inviting canvases for bright colors. Imagine an entire block of such restored houses, painted in a rainbow of colors. Blairmont has the ability to make it happen!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Daily Dose of Blairmont 190

  • 1428 Biddle (Union Martin LLC, May 2008)

October 2008

This humble little church building stands on the same block as 1408 Biddle. They are the only buildings remaining north of the alley.

It would be wonderful to see a development reclaim this block of Biddle. Such a development would be a fine chance to restore the crumbling Carr School, and could include a nearby three-story brick industrial building as well. Such a move would push the near north side one step closer to its rightful connection to downtown.

The vacant land on the rest of the block is owned by Alter Realty, a Clayton-based company.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Blairmont update

Paul McKee Jr. recently made another round of property purchases through Larmer LLC and Union Martin LLC. The buildings in question will be documented here over the coming days.

Meanwhile, here's some status updates on a few older Blairmont properties: