Washington Avenue University Lofts
Patrick Schuchard, Washington University, Nation's Bank and the Regional Housing and Development Alliance

An unusual ensemble of players is teaming up to renovate a vacant, eight-story building on Washington Avenue into University Lofts, which will offer lofts housing with a mix of arts and community activities. The project, which was Schuchard's idea, is going forward through a partnership involving Washington University, Nations Bank, and the Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance, a not-for-profit group that owns and manages about 1,000 apartments in St. Louis. Washington University, which owns the building and nearby vacant lot, is contributing both. Nations's Bank Community Development Corp. is investing $5.3 million in the project. And through its purchase of state and federal historic renovation and low-income housing credits, it will become an equity partner and owner of the project. The Alliance will also be an owner, and is working with the bank and university.

The building, at 1627 Washington Avenue downtown was constructed in 1907 as the Drygoodsman Building and was designed by architect Albert E. Groves. The plan includes preserving original features of the building such as decorative terra cotta outside and maple floors inside. There will be 16 lofts for graduates of Washington University's fine arts programs, with special rental rates of $450 a month. Schuchard hopes that it will help make St. Louis a more desirable place for young artists to live. In addition, there will be 10 lofts open to anyone, at market rates. There will also be one loft set aside for visiting artists. An art gallery on the first floor, will be operated by the Washington University School of Art and will be open for civic and community activities. Also on the first floor there are plans for a restaurant. The parking lot nearby will be landscaped and perhaps include a sculpture garden designed by Washington University students.