Subscribe for 99¢

A developer plans to erect a five-story apartment building in the DeBaliviere Place neighborhood on a site occupied now by a swimming pool and tennis courts.

Asprient Properties of St. Louis is behind the project at 5539 Pershing Avenue. Because the site is in the city’s Central West End Historic District, the St. Louis Preservation Board had authority to review the plan.

At its meeting Monday, the board approved Asprient’s plan to construct a building of contemporary design. Betsy Bradley, the city’s cultural resources officer, said in an interview later that such designs are “not discouraged” in the city’s historic districts.

Exterior materials of Asprient’s project include stone, two colors of brick and fiber cement panels of gray and a limestone-like off white, according to documents presented to the Preservation Board.

Sid Chakraverty, an Asprient principal, did not respond to requests to discuss the project on Pershing. When construction might begin was unclear.

The site is owned by an affiliate of Mills Properties. Kirk Mills, the company’s president, said he expects Asprient to purchase the property within weeks.

Klitzing Welsch & Associates, the project’s architect, designed the structure for 117 apartments, including five units on the first floor along with garage parking. Some apartments on the second through fifth floors will face an open atrium.

Brick, the primary material of buildings on that block of Pershing, will predominate on the lower floors of Asprient’s project and be seen as compatible with its neighbors, according to the Preservation Board material. Asprient already owns a trio of connected, nearly century-old apartment buildings across the street from the site of its planned new structure.

The new project is the fourth contemporary design the Preservation Board has approved for the Central West End Historic District, which covers an area north and east of Forest Park.

The other projects are:

• A six-story, 82-unit apartment building that opened in November at 249 Union Boulevard on what had been a parking lot. The building is part of the Central West End City Apartments, owned by Village Green, of Farmington Hills, Mich.

• Thirty-three apartments in a four-story building at 4534 Olive Street. Doing the project are Rothschild Development and Blackline Design + Construction. City records show that Blackline applied May 1 for a building permit.

The new building’s exterior will be composed of gray- and charcoal-colored fiber cement siding, ipe hardwood and glass.

• Opus Development’s $68 million, 12-story apartment building under construction at 4643 Lindell Boulevard. It will have 217 apartments and street-level retail space. Included in the project are a fitness center, guest suites and underground parking.

Bradley said Asprient’s project is “following the trend for some contemporary design in the Central West End.” She added that the look and quality of fiber cement siding has improved in recent years.

“It’s becoming an acceptable contemporary building material,” Bradley said.

Fiber cement siding can have the durability of brick but is less costly to install. Putting up large panels of fiber cement siding consumes less time and money than laying row after row of brick.

Tim Bryant is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.