Adaptive reuse, the practice of converting old, abandoned buildings into apartments, has taken off across the country in the last two decades. While the practice was relatively rare prior to 2000, the 21st century has seen an explosion of developers taking old office buildings, factories, hospitals, and other structures and converting them into housing. St. Louis, specifically the city proper, is one of the top cities for such adaptive reuse.
According to a recent survey of 30 cities by RENTCafe, a total of 1,876 buildings across the United States have been converted into apartments. Between them, these repurposed structures contain nearly 240,000 apartment units. Chicago leads the way, with 91 converted buildings and over 14,000 new apartments. St. Louis is not far behind, with 62 buildings and over 7,000 apartments.
Old factories are the most popular type of structure for these kinds of conversions both in St. Louis and nationally. A more colorful example hails from the 19th century. The former St. Vincent’s Hospital now holds 62 apartments as Castle Park. Constructed in 1891, this grand old building with its red brick edifice and numerous spires looks like something out of a Gothic novel. One of the most prominent conversions is that of the Arcade Building. The historic but long abandoned shopping gallery and office building at 800 Olive St. now holds 282 luxury apartments.
New projects in the same vein are currently underway in Downtown. Screaming Eagle Development is planning to convert both an old 115,000 sq. ft. TireMart warehouse at 1815 Locust St. and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch building on 300 N. Tucker Blvd. into apartments. This trend is likely to continue both nationally and in St. Louis as remote work becomes the norm and office space remains vacant.