After about a dozen or so years living in downtown St. Louis, Rachel and I eventually had to move out of our Locust St. loft space, in 2006. I had gradually converted the 5000 sq. ft warehouse area into a live/work loft space, adding the necessary electrical work, plumbing, walls, etc. Aside from the fact that they had filmed “Escape from New York” in downtown STL, the area was always a pretty nice place to live. There wasn’t much crime downtown simply because no one actually lived there.
Unfortunately the dreams of two consecutive STL mayoral administrations eventually caught up with reality. Their various imaginations seem to have been filled with visions of a loft building on every downtown corner… each featuring a gourmet restaurant at retail level. Having already opened up two different restaurants in the same downtown area, I was skeptical to say the least. Finding enough dishwashers for all the planned restaurants seemed enough of a major obstacle.
Finding enough customers for all the planned restaurants obviously paled in comparison to the task of finding enough buyers willing to invest in a new loft downtown. Eventually the real estate bubble burst, and it all went to shit. Five years on, the Leather Trades Building, at 1602 Locust St., is finally accepting rental applications. Applications can be submitted solely by artists, for 86 live/work rental spaces.
When the building I lived in was actually occupied solely by artists, there were about 35 different spaces… and no one living there ever had an easel set up in their living room.