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Lafayette Square Redevelopment

An illustration of the park planned within the redevelopment area of Chouteau Avenue Partners' $160 million development near Jefferson Avenue. (Rendering by Laura Linn Illustration, courtesy of Chouteau Avenue Partners LLC and Bill Odell).

ST. LOUIS — A developer is planning to begin construction this winter on 14 single-family homes in the Lafayette Square neighborhood, the first phase of a major redevelopment at Chouteau and Jefferson avenues.

Jeff Winzerling’s Universatile Development plans the project on a vacant lot along Hickory Street between Missouri Avenue and MacKay Place. The homes will range between 2,100 square feet and 2,500 square feet with two-car garages. Prices should start around $500,000 and rise to over $700,000.

“Lafayette Square has been booming in recent years, and there’s no question that the historic architecture is what gives the neighborhood its unique appeal, but not everyone wants to live in a 130-year-old house,” Winzerling said.

The new homes would be built on the southern edge of the old Praxair site, infamous for the 2005 industrial gas plant explosion that rocked the neighborhood and left a vacant industrial site prominently displayed along Chouteau on the northern edge of the neighborhood.

Now, the site is the center of a $160 million plan to redevelop the corridor into hundreds of apartments, plus office and commercial space. The project is spearheaded by former HOK principal Bill Odell and his wife, attorney Lisette Odell; Tom Graddy, owner of the former Vanguard Trucking facility at the corner of Chouteau and Jefferson; and Paul and Wendy Hamilton, whose Hamilton Hospitality operates nearby popular restaurants such as Vin de Set and Eleven Eleven Mississippi.

Winzerling’s plan drew some consternation from Lafayette Square residents, who have been broadly supportive of Odell’s vision. But at a St. Louis Preservation Board meeting last month, several expressed concern that the new houses wouldn’t be brick on all sides. Though plans call for a larger apartment building on the Praxair site, until it’s built, the non-brick rear of the houses could be prominently visible from Chouteau.

Still, the board approved the new construction, saying the project adhered to the neighborhood’s historic architecture rules.

Odell said Thursday that a 34-unit apartment building at LaSalle Street and Missouri from developers A.J. and Leonard Adewunmi should begin around the same time as Winzerling’s project.

Two other projects are also planned: A 127-unit apartment complex on the Praxair site should start in the spring, along with utility and sidewalk upgrades. And the partners are working with national developer Opus Group on a 150,000-square-foot office building on the former trucking site at the corner of Jefferson and Chouteau.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen last year approved 15 years of property tax abatement worth 95% of the value of improvements on the entire site.