From the Chicago Tribune June 2005

A new concept in St. Louis: Buying homes on the river
By Charlene Prost, Knight Ridder/Tribune:
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Published June 12, 2005

Downtown St. Louis is about to get something it never has had before: a condominium building overlooking the Mississippi River.

What's coming also will be the first new vertical residential building constructed in downtown since Mansion House opened in 1966.

Rodgers Group LLC in Clayton, Mo., intends to spend about $25 million to build the 10-level Port St. Louis. Developer Mark Rodgers said it will have 49 condos on seven floors, atop three levels of parking.

All the units will have balconies designed to take advantage of the river views. The glass and brick building also will have a rooftop deck with a swimming pool and entertainment area. Prices will run about $628,000 to $698,000 for units of 1,800 to 2,000 square feet.

Because the land slopes toward the river, the building will be seven stories on the west side, 10 stories on the east side. The 120 parking spaces, including two for each condo, will be tucked into the slope.

Designing a building on top of sloping land was just part of the challenge facing the developer and Shaughnessy Fickel and Scott Architects Inc. of Kansas City.

The building will rise just west of a working railroad trestle that shares the block. The site also is in a flood plain.

The solution for both problems: Put the condos above the parking.

"The first residential floor will be slightly above the trestle," Rodgers said. The trestle won't block views, he said, but "you will see the top of trains go by." The building also will have sound-resistant windows to block outside noise.

And it's being specially designed to withstand floods, earthquakes and vibration from trains.

"We will go to bedrock with our piers," Rodgers said. "Everybody's best guess is 20 feet down ... so, structurally, it will be a very sound building."

If flood waters do rise, the condos should be high and dry. "We know some parking will at times be flooded," Rodgers said, "but we're making sure the residential is above the flood plain."

He and his twin, John Rodgers, own the development firm that is planning its first project downtown. They got involved after Jo Ann Keeney, a broker and owner at Independent Brokers Network LLC, called to suggest that they take a look at the undeveloped block in Laclede's Landing.

Mark Rodgers said he and his brother didn't take long to go for it once they saw the vacant block. They own part of the land and have contracts to buy the rest. "The river is St. Louis' best asset. It has the best views," he said. "We couldn't believe there wasn't something on that land."

Rodgers said construction should start later this year or early next, as soon as about half the condos are reserved. Construction will take about two years.

As of early this month, Rodgers said, 14 buyers have signed on. Among them is Mary Jean Russell, development director for the Wings of Hope organization. She said she "can't wait" to move to Port St. Louis from a duplex she owns in suburban University City, now that her daughter has grown up and moved away.

"I'll have the history of St. Louis, the beauty of the river, the excitement of the riverfront, all right there," she said. "I wanted to find a place overlooking something beautiful."