Fox Park is one of those South St. Louis neighborhoods in the midst of a transition. Unfortunately, like many of the surrounding neighborhoods such as Benton Park West and Tower Grove East, the current downturn in the market has stalled the progress of redevelopment in the area. But all I see when I pass through the area is the untapped potential. When I say potential, I don’t mean potential for rehabbing quaint bungalows or converting four-families to townhomes. I’m talking about something with a greater impact potential: warehouse-conversions.
The section of the neighborhood bordered by Shenandoah to the north, Jefferson to the east, Gravois to the south, and California to the west is filled with warehouses and vacant lots. There are over six warehouses and large buildings of various sizes, some of which would make great residential conversions. At the very least, they could be made into higher quality commercial structures. When you look at the pictures of the some of them in the gallery below, you can’t help but image these buildings with a rehab treatment akin to those along Washington Avenue Downtown.
Considering the high prices of loft-style apartments and condos Downtown, the lower costs associated with a development in an area such as this would make the finished product quite marketable. People like the loft life, but it was originally popular because it offered a trendy lifestyle for an affordable price. Downtown developers have lost track of this fact and the relatively low acquisition costs associated with these buildings would offer developers an opportunity get back to the roots of the concept.
Of course there are issues to consider: Most of the buildings are currently occupied and there are undoubtedly environmental concerns with some of the properties. But perhaps in an improved economy, with the help of Brownfield Tax Credits and historic tax credits via an expanded Fox Park Historic District, this concept might one day become a reality.