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Developer eyes North Broadway for garment factory, apartments

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North Broadway apartment complex

Blackline Design and Construction plans a 146-unit apartment building on Broadway north of Downtown, near a building it hopes to renovate for apparel manufacturer Evolution St. Louis. (Rendering via Blackline).

ST. LOUIS — Local developer Blackline Design and Construction is eyeing a long neglected industrial stretch of Broadway north of downtown for new apartments and offices, including a potential expansion site for a high-tech apparel manufacturer.

The developer plans a $34 million renovation of a historic warehouse at 2000 North Broadway into 146 apartments and nearly 11,200 square-feet of retail. A crumbling adjacent building has already been demolished, and that site will serve as parking for the apartments.

Blackline is applying to the state for low-income housing tax credits to help finance the project. If approved, 125 of the apartments would be income restricted and the remainder market rate, Blackline’s Michael Schwartz said.

Meanwhile, the firm owns another historic industrial building about a block to the south, at 1918 North Broadway. There, Blackline hopes to rehab the space for high-tech apparel manufacturing startup Evolution St. Louis, which began operating last year in a former city business incubator building in Grand Center.

”There is so much potential up there, and with it being basically a center-point between Downtown and NGA, the opportunities are really endless,” Schwartz said.

As for Evolution, its leadership is already making plans for an expansion to the larger site just a little more than a year after opening in St. Louis — and contending with a global pandemic that caught it off guard as it got off the ground.

But Evolution St. Louis CEO Jon Lewis, who co-founded the venture with fellow clothing industry veteran John Elmuccio, said that the pandemic also provided an opening by accentuating issues with global supply chains. That was the firm’s value proposition from the beginning — offering domestic garment manufacturing that can quickly and easily pivot based on industry changes.

“Fortunately for us, we’ve already been working on this for a couple years so we’re way ahead of the game, and I think we’re looking at robust sales and a great deal of customer outreach to the point where we’re looking at additional space,” Lewis told the Post-Dispatch. “The pandemic exposed the need for a cataclysmic shift in how you look at manufacturing.”

Evolution St. Louis already has about 18 employees and plans to have about 45 by this time next year as it ramps up the number of garment machines at its factory on Washington Boulevard from about 30 now. Just this week, Evolution announced a new partnership with the St. Louis Blues to make fan apparel for the upcoming season.

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