Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Fox Manor Apartments: Re-use in Dutchtown

The southern most tip of the Dutchtown neighborhood near Spring and Delor is seeing some exciting redevelopment of some formerly problematic properties just north of the Holly Hills neighborhood.  Here's a bird's eye view of the area:

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Several multi-unit apartment buildings between Itaska and Delor on Spring Avenue (built in 1962) are being repurposed with a more modern, contemporary, vibrant look.  I love the fact that they didn't just tear down all the old structures, but are redoing some of them to hopefully make them sustainable, positive properties for the future.

For anyone familiar with this area, you know there have been serious crime and other issues with terrible tenant screening, garbage galore and mis-managed properties.  The area is at best an eye sore and at worst an uncomfortable, violent place along with the Speedway Mart just across Spring Avenue at Delor.  I used to live near here and know firsthand how ugly this part of town had become.  Don't believe me?  Just check out the 120 CSB complaints on the GEO St. Louis website who list the owner as Southtowne Apartments Associates LP at 611 Olive Street, 63103.

Back when I published my Dutchtown neighborhood profile, the properties were looking rough and the tenants had already been evicted in preparation for the renovation:

 July, 2011 STL City Talk Photo
July, 2011 STL City Talk Photo

I read of the ongoing work here and here and decided to check the places out for myself.  From the Post-Dispatch article:
The St. Louis Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance and the Dutchtown South Community Corp. are doing the $9 million project jointly. Some redone apartments will be available this month. When completed, Southtowne will have 40 rehabbed units and 11 new apartments.  RHCDA, a non-profit housing developer, is reconfiguring the site by demolishing 15 buildings, rehabilitating the remaining 10 and constructing six new buildings. The result will be 51 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and a management office.  Renovations include structural enhancements, exterior facelifts, new floor plans, modern amenities and architectural improvements designed to increase market value.
Just from reading the construction sign out front, the former Southtowne Apartments have been rebranded as Fox Manor Apartments and was largely funded by public entities and will be leased out by Vatterott Properties:

Here's what I saw on a beautiful Sunday morning April 7, 2013:

 vibrant colors brighten up the street views along Spring

 small decks on the second floors; new construction juts out toward rear parking lots

Southern view down Spring from Beckerle Park

Rear parking lot facing apts on Delor which are also part of the re-development

Parking in back?...check.  Modern amenities and design?...check.  Decent setback from the curb?...check.  Excellent re-use as opposed to 100% demo?...check.  Next major boxes to check off are tenant screening and property accountability...and some new urban street trees would be nice along Spring and Delor.

Overall, I love this project and think it's a great potential step forward for the area.

In other positive news for this part of Dutchtown, St. Mary's High School has continued to invest in their campus.  The relative new Divis baseball field is directly across the street and looks absolutely fantastic along with the football and track and field facilities.  They are excellent neighbors and keep an amazingly beautiful property.

Let's hope the former apartment buildings on the northwest corner of Spring and Itaska are part of this project as they are in dreadful condition and have not been maintained in their vacancy...people have been inside of these stripping the valuables and partying/squatting.  Entry has taken place at ground level on nearly every building and dumping and further property destruction has ensued.

come on in!

The overall site design of these 1960's apartment complexes that face inward toward a "courtyard" appear to be recipes for disaster in St. Louis where consolidation of poor tenants and poor property owners in these settings seem to routinely occur and eventual strips the area of dignity.

The apartments on the northeast corner of Spring and Itaska still appear to be occupied.

Another springboard for the area would be to improve the curb appeal of the small Beckerle Park; some new trees have been planted toward the southern edge; this could be a great spot for dog walkers, etc to enjoy with a little TLC.

Southwest corner of Spring and Itaska

Cheers to Dutchtown, keep fighting the good fight Alderman Cohn and others.


  1. Great post, Mark. I'm glad to hear and see this. I was intrigued by this area a few years back and did a blog post about it. It's really good to see the area improving.


  2. This apartment complex is a nightmare, i nearly fell out of my chair when I found out it was going to be redeveloped. The former owners should have been taken to task over what they let happened and the state that the rest of the property is now in.

    Saying that, I love the new renovations and infill. Creative, responsible, urban....I can hardly believe it is really happening. really, hats off to all involved.

    As you mentioned, proper screening (credit, no criminal records!) and maintenance will be very key!

    The problem I see is that to lure good renters into the renovated/new buildings the adjacent "problem" buildings need to be dealt with, occupied or not. What is the plan for them? Clearly the current owners do not respect the city or the remaining renters. From your pictures I can see several code violations. It would be a shame to let this new momentum be sabotaged by deplorable landowners.

  3. years ago I lived at the ones on spring and itaska and the owner at that time was hortible. my upstairs bathroom floor was falling in, they wouldnt fix it was horrible. I currently live in the area and wish my lease was up so I could move there.

  4. I'm not sure how I stumbled onto your blog but I've been reading past posts about the various neighborhoods in St. Louis. I've never been there but I love the architecture in most of the neighbhorhoods - just gorgeous! How I wish I could live in some of those brick or stone structures.

    Very interesting blog - thanks!

  5. I think the renovations are a sad attempt (and complete failure) at some kind of urban bohemian look. I think there's some old saying about not putting lipstick on a pig...
    Anyway I'm praying for good management and better residential screening as that will make ALL the difference. I already have to put up with trashy sidewalks and abusive douchebags hanging out at the apartments further down on Delor and now...I probably get to look forward to MORE - yay me. I wish the place had been demolished.