Monday, August 19, 2013

The Carnage of Cupples 7

Although I pass within 400 feet of Cupples 7 at least 10 times a week to and from my daily destination of the 8th & Pine station, I had managed to stay away since the City turned down the final effort by Vertical Realty to save the building and it was announced that demolition would begin. Out of site-out of mind. Finally though after seeing a few photos posted online curiosity got the best of me and I figured I should go photograph the carnage in progress.

Approaching from the Stadium Station at 8th & Spruce, once the epicenter of the Cupples complex and home to its most massive warehouse (rivaling the Butler Brothers warehouse in size), you pass through a uneasy checkerboard landscape that alternates between restored warehouses and asphalt parking lots with a few highway ramps thrown in for good measure.

I was surprised to see that almost half the building is gone. A portion the Spruce Street elevation was removed and the interior structure ripped out and knocked down. A resident in the Cupples Station Loft Apartments across the street shot a video of this process and posted it on Youtube on August 1st. Now the exterior walls are slowly being taken down. When I visited on Thursday morning, some remaining interior timbers were being loaded onto a flatbed truck.

From the 11th Street corner you can see the stark effect of the removal of the east half of the building on what was recently a fully intact block face.

Spruce Street in front of the site is piled high with brick debris.

A pair of men on a lift were chiseling apart the east wall brick by brick, which I would have assumed are being salvaged, but I'm not positive of this with the debris piles around the site.

Much of the rear wall remains as viewed from the parking garage behind Cupples 7 and its neighbor, the renovated Cupples 8. With its full height masonry dividing wall and the opposing elevator shafts made the center of the building quite stable despite the loss of much of the roof and interior structure.

The former alley between the two buildings is also littered with brick debris.

A close of of the slow process of taking down the massive exterior walls, which are 5 wythes thick at the top and grow thicker by a wythe every few floors going down.

Once Cupples 7 is gone, the Cupples garage will have quite a view.

The garage, built to serve the buildings north of it and anticipated mostly office use, which typically requires a more spaces than other uses, is now and will be for quite some time mostly empty. The garage was built by Bank of America in 2001, when they owned the Cupples complex, and was purchased by the City Treasurer's Office in 2003

At 8:15 am on a weekday morning levels seven through four were completely empty except one car on four.

Level "T REE" (all the floor signs have been vandalized or stolen) had a few cars and it seemed like some people were still trickling in, but overall the garage operates far under capacity.

Once Cupples 7 is gone, the site will probably sit empty for quite some time as the building that is being destroyed was far more desirable than the site itself. Hopefully I will be proven wrong. As we have seen with phase one of "Carpark Village", demand is not yet present for new large scale office or residential construction, and new structures are likely to go up first on more high profile sites at the "Village". While the Cupples Station Loft Apartments are very attractive across the street, the view west of the Cupples 7 site is challenged by the 11th Street off ramp and a large Ameren sub-station. One thing it does have going for though: parking capacity.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Thanks for posting — I learned what a "wythe" is. I work in the recently rehabbed Cupples 9 — which I think turned out very well — so it's disappointing to witness the daily demise of Cupples 7. It's pretty remarkable how stalwartly they built these load-bearing walls — no wonder they remain standing after 100+ years, despite an open roof! On a brighter note, the 4th level of the garage usually begins filling up around 9 am.