More apartments, retail coming to the Loop

2012-07-10T00:05:00Z 2012-10-05T17:18:15Z More apartments, retail coming to the LoopBY TIM BRYANT • > 314-340-8206

The renovation of a 1920s apartment hotel and construction of a mixed-use building promise to invigorate the eastern end of the Delmar Loop with apartments and retail.

Site work is underway for the three-story building at Delmar Boulevard and Hamilton Avenue. The site is now a vacant lot. Adjoining the site to the north is the six-story red brick Gotham building, erected in 1925 as an apartment hotel at 5900 Enright Avenue.

The $11.4 million project is the work of the St. Louis Design Alliance, an architecture and development firm whose office is on Delmar a block west of the project site. Jeff Mugg, Design Alliance's vice president, said Monday that in addition to site work for the new building, interior demolition of the 1920s building is underway.

"We think this project is a great fit for the expansion of the Loop as the Loop continues to expand east," said Mugg, adding, "The trolley is coming."

He was referring to the Loop Trolley, the streetcar line designed to provide a rail link between the Loop and Forest Park. Construction of the $43 million project could begin late this year or early next year.

Mugg said he believes the Gotham project will benefit from the streetcar, which will pass by the new building, to be called the Gotham Annex. The building, of contemporary design, will have 18 apartments on the two upper floors. The ground floor will have 5,900 square feet of commercial space. Mugg said he hopes a restaurant will fill the space.

The Gotham is within the Hamilton Place national historic district and, therefore, qualifies for historic preservation tax credits. Financing of the Gotham renovation includes $2.2 million in state and federal historic tax credits. Mugg said the credits -- $1.25 in state credits and $880,000 in federal credits -- are essential to the financing mixture.

"This project could not have been done without the use of federal and state historic tax credits," he said.

Most of the project's money is in the form of an $8.64 million HUD-backed loan from Love Funding, a Washington-based provider of FHA multifamily and healthcare financing. Robyn Cunningham, senior director of Love Funding's St. Louis office, said the Gotham loan closed June 20. She said the project should be completed by early next summer.

The historic Gotham building, which originally had 72 rooms, will be renovated as 54 market rate apartments, Mugg said. Love Funding said the Gotham buildings will have heat-reflective roofing, insulated glass, building wrap on exterior walls to reduce air infiltration and other energy-efficient characteristics.

Mugg and Design Alliance's president, Dave Mastin, have done several Hamilton Place apartment projects in recent years. The Gotham project could lead to even more development in the area, Mugg said.

"There's a real interest in seeing that whole neighborhood really coming alive again and being revitalized," he added.

Tim Bryant covers real estate and construction for the Post-Dispatch. He blogs on Building Blocks. Follow the Business section on Twitter @postdispatchbiz.

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