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Southside National Bank update

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West End Realty pitches plan for old South Side Bank

By Linda Tucci

Of the Post-Dispatch



Photo from www.builtstlouis.net

The old South Side National Bank at Gravois and Grand might yet be flush with mortgages.

Arjomand Kalayeh's West End Realty Inc. is floating a $4 million plan to turn the art deco landmark into luxury condos and to reprogram the old Melba Theater across the street into 11 street-level shops with offices above.

The condos certainly would be luxurious in size. The proposal presented last week to the city's Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority shows a 2,400-square-foot unit on each of the seven upper stories.

The building is rich in history. It was built in 1928, operated for years by the family of August A. Busch and, at the turn of the new century, threatened with demolition to make way for a Walgreens store. Neighborhood activists took the bank by the horns, persuading then-owner Allegiant to convey the building to a nonprofit housing corporation.

Steve Trampe stepped forward with a plan to turn the upper floors into apartments. But that deal was contingent on Allegiant's staying; the bank opted out of its lease in August.

Alderwoman Jennifer Florida likes West End Realty's record. But there's work to be done, she says. The redevelopment depends on historic tax credits and tax abatement. As important, Grand Oak Hill Community Corp., the organization that saved the bank from demolition, must give its blessing.

There could be another wrinkle. Kalayeh's plan shows a bank operating on the first floor. But Allegiant's largesse had its limits. When it conveyed the bank, Senior Vice President Richard Fellhauer says, the transfer included a deed restriction prohibiting another bank from moving in.

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