Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Cortex Begins Demolition of the Brauer Supply Building

Brauer demo 6-9-15
This week demolition began on the Brauer Supply building at the southeast corner of Forest Park and Boyle in the Cortex district. A gaping hole is visible at the back of the Brauer building to the left and beyond the rehabilitated @4240 building which opened last summer and has already and recently achieved 90% occupancy.

A view of the Brauer Supply building from Forest Park. Back in April 2011 the St. Louis Preservation Board was to consider three buildings for listing on the National Register: the @4240 building, built as a SWB Telephone Distribution House, the Crescent building on Duncan west of Boyle, built as a printing facility for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and the Brauer Supply building, which was constructed in 1919 as the J.I. Case Threshing Machine Company Branch House. This presumably was a sign that the three buildings would be rehabilitated using historic tax credits to serve new functions. 

Brauer Supply
Unfortunately the Brauer Supply building was not listed and no listing seems to be present for the Crescent building either, although I have heard people say that it is earmarked for renovation.

Instead of renovation, the Brauer Supply building will be demolished for a new 3-story 60,000 s.f. building to be built by Cortex. The new building cuts and pastes designs from the Cortex I building across Boyle that opened in 2006 and the BJC Commons building to the south that opened in 2013. So much for innovative architecture in an innovation district!

Brauer Building
According to a story by Maria Altman of St. Louis Public Radio, there where no less than two assessments of the Brauer Building with intentions of rehabilitation, but the decision to demolish and build new apparently came down to costs. Above is a reuse study completed by Cross Street Partners which included concept plans for rehabilitation of the Brauer building and a series of adjacent one-story historic buildings on the north side of Duncan with a total of 95,000 s.f. of renovated space.

TechShop SF Exterior
I find it odd that Cortex's CEO stated in the STL Public Radio story said that the Brauer Building would have been difficult to make work for Tech Shop, who will be an anchor tenant in the new building. The Streetview shot above is of Tech Shop's San Francisco location, which is housed in an old warehouse building in the SOMA district that appears to date from the 1920's or 1930's.

TechShop SF Interior
Here is a photo of the interior of the SF Tech Shop from their website.

Case Threshing Machine Co - Fargo
In Fargo, North Dakota another J.I. Case Threshing Machine Company Branch House with almost the exact same footprint of the Brauer building continues service as an office building. It will soon lose its sister in St. Louis.


Anonymous said...

Some renderings of the proposed Tech shop show a driveway and ?parking to the east of the new building. I wonder if that means the building to the east of Brauer is also being needlessly sacrificed.

samizdat said...

Frankly, I think it really all comes down to branding by CORTEX. The Brauer would be highly resistant to the attempts by CORTEX to overlay the craptastic Clayco-style tilt-up dreck across the street, and the form of the former Solae, now DuPont building. Why the phone factory stayed may have something to do with the more open-minded out-of-town tenants. Who knows? I keep hearing the words "residential and commercial district", "thriving", "walkable", "sustainable", etc., and I am finding it impossible to see how the actual CORTEX plans jibe with their wordy and mendacious hype.

Vanishing STL said...

^ I agree. I was wondering if much of the motivation to replace the Brauer building was to give a flashy new entrance to the district on Forest Park. Also agree that the district needs to make some major changes to even remotely be considered "walkable".