One of the last two remaining developers hoping to save the historic Cupples 7 building in downtown St. Louis has decided not to purchase the historic property given the high cost of fixing the structure and the immediate threat of collapse.
That leaves one interested party: Vertical Realty Advisors, a St. Louis firm whose plan to rehab Cupples 7 we outlined in detail last week.
The city announced yesterday that Reed Realty Advisors, a firm that "expressed serious interest," will officially not be purchasing the building, which means the city is immediately starting preliminary demolition work this week. City officials and Vertical Realty both say they still want to work out a plan to save the site -- but, at this point, it appears they are not on the same page. And time is running out.
See also: - City Says Historic Cupples 7 Will Be Demolished Unless a Developer Steps Up - Demolition To Begin Next Week On Cupples 7, Advocates Push For Rehab - Cupples 7: Vertical Realty Says It Can Save The Historic Site In Downtown
The city formally announced last month that Cupples 7 is in very poor condition, posing a serious safety risk to the public, and thus needs to be stabilized -- or demolished -- immediately.
The property is a seven-story brick building and the only structure in the historic Cupples Station complex that has not been fixed up. Eames and Young constructed the site for Samuel Cupples between 1894 and 1917. Cupples 7 on 11th and Spruce streets was condemned by the city in 2008. Efforts to rehab the site by Ballpark Lofts III, headed by developer Kevin McGowan, have failed.
On Friday, Treasurer Tishaura Jones -- as per an agreement arranged by her predecessor -- officially bought Cupples 7 from Montgomery Bank for $850,000 with plans for demolition unless a developer can purchase the building outright and immediately stabilize it.
"City engineers and others who have inspected the building are afraid that it will collapse and hurt someone," the mayor's office says in a news release.
And now, a demolition company has begun the preliminary work on the process, which will take about three months. Reed Realty Advisors, after twice touring Cupples 7, decided costs to stabilize the property are just too steep, the city says.
Meanwhile, the Vertical Realty developers say are trying to hammer out a deal with the city and are confident that they have the financing and plan to save the property, stabilize it now and develop it without putting taxpayers at risk.
"Our plan, from the beginning, has always been to acquire the property from the treasurer and assume full responsibility," Hasan Adelani, senior associate with the company, tells Daily RFT in an e-mail. "We will purchase, develop, and own the building; the city will not own it. There seems to be a misinterpretation of the terms. We hope to clarify these terms and move in the proper direction to get a deal done and to save the building from demolition. We would plan to purchase and begin the stabilization within 30 days of an agreement being made."
Sounds like what the city is looking for?
It appears, however, that the city and Vertical Realty have not been able to agree upon terms surrounding a potential "lease agreement."
Continue for more commentary from city officials and for the full statements.
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