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Long empty Arcade Building reopens as apartments

Updated Friday, Dec. 11, 5 p.m. Developers say that construction is complete on the Arcade Apartments. Construction crews wrapped up their work last week and the first residents have moved in.

Jeff Huggett, a developer at Dominuim, says more than 100 of the apartments have been reserved. In a statement, he says the Arcade Building project is the largest apartment renovation in St. Louis in decades.

Our original story:

The Arcade Building in downtown St. Louis is set to reopen in December for the first time since it closed in 1978.

The long-vacant building in the 800 block of Olive Street will now be known as the Arcade Apartments and will include 282 units, many of them aimed at artists. Minneapolis-based Dominium bought the building in 2013 for $9 million from the city of St. Louis’ Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority.

The Arcade Buildingfirst opened in 1918 and boasted a two-story interior shopping gallery that was capped by vaulted Gothic ceilings. Project spokesman Mack Bradley said many St. Louisans have fond memories or stories about the place.

"Their grandfather bought their grandmother’s engagement ring here," Bradley said. "This is where you came to buy diamonds and fine jewelry in the Arcade itself."

Webster University will lease that former shopping area when the building opens, including the first two floors and mezzanine level. Many of the historic details will remain, including carved marble, the vaulted ceilings, and some of the original store signs. The university’s space will also include a 170-seat auditorium, administrative offices and an art gallery.

Art is the focus of the Arcade building’s renaissance. Many of the apartments will be geared toward artists, with affordable rates and work space. There will also be 13,000 square feet of shared artist studio spaces. Bradley said the goal is to create community.

Arcade Apartments, Arcade Building
Credit Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio
A view of construction through the bay windows of a nearly finished apartment. The Old Post Office is in the background.

"In those apartments they’ll have both living space and studio space, so that they can work here and live here," he said. "We think that’s a vital component to the fabric of downtown."

The building will also have about 80 luxury apartments with a 19th floor rooftop terrace and clubroom, accessible to all residents.

The $118 million project is the biggest development Dominium has undertaken in St. Louis. Paric Corp. began construction on the 500,000 square-foot building last August.

The Arcade Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.