I didn’t get around to it as soon as I would have liked, but I finally had the chance to tour the inside of the new Shock City Studios and the rest of the Polar Wave Ice & Fuel Company building. It was worth the wait. If you’re not familiar with this former Benton Park ice manufacturer turned music studio, you can check out my previous posts on the subject (Shock City Studios almost complete & Shock City Music Works in South St. Louis).
When I toured the building, the studio was up and running. They were actually recording and mixing when I came by so I was limited on the number of pictures I could take of certain areas. It was interesting to seem them work though. The equipment seems to be top-notch and the atmosphere is spectacular. I haven’t been in any other music studios before, but owners Doug Firley and Chris Loesch set out with the goal of creating the best recording studio in the region and I think they succeeded. The amount of engineering that went into the sound dampening and insulation alone is mind-boggling. They cut no corners.
My biggest surprise about the building was just how much additional commerical space was built out for uses other than the studio. Of the 18,720 sq ft in the building, only 7,000 sq ft is used by the studio. They are now seeking tenants for a large street-facing unit, an upper level office space and a large meeting-hall styled room in the back. There are a few pictures of each of these areas in the gallery below. It seems that the owners are currently trying to work out arrangements with a few potential lessors right now. I’m not really at liberty to say what the uses might be at this point, but its pretty exciting stuff.
As of my tour, the residential component of the project has not yet broke ground. Located directly west of the commerical portion, this second phase of the $9.8 million project will include 16 townhomes. Thankfully, funds are in place and its just a matter of finishing up all the paperwork. It should be underway very soon. I hope to have some rendings and additional information to post soon.
Overall, I couldn’t be happier with what I saw on my visit. This is a good model for the kind of things that can be done with all South City developments. It goes to show that you don’t have to be Downtown or the Central West End to think big. This mixed-use development sets a new bar for the near Southside. Hopefully someone else will come in and challenge it soon. I know the Falstaff and Lemp Breweries could stand this kind of treatment.