Developer presents plan for senior housing at Immaculate Conception site

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Developer, Chad Hartle, president of RCH Development, on Tuesday at the Maplewood City Council meeting presented his plan for senior housing (age 55 and over) to be built at the Immaculate Conception site. The St. Louis Archdiocese has closed the church; its last service was held on Feb. 10.

Hartle was joined by representatives of Catholic Charities and Cardinal Ritter, who support the plan. He said in 37 years he has built 40 such developments, and he’s been working with Mayor Nikylan Napper for the past three years on this project.

See also: Developer still needs to buy Immaculate Conception property from archdiocese; project not a deal “by any stretch of the imagination”

His plan for Maplewood is for 42 two-bedroom apartments. Most would rent for an estimated $800 per month, which is below market rate. Eight to ten of the units would rent at the market rate ($2,000 plus), helping the building population mirror the community.

Six to ten of the units would be for “special needs,” which could include apartments for homeless or disabled, he said.

The development needs to be approved by the state, which he said is not a sure thing. He said about one in four are approved overall, though the acceptance rate on his projects is close to 50%. He estimated that the possibility of this project being accepted is close to 75% because it has the support of the mayor and council.

The social services historically provided by the church, such as the food pantry, would be maintained, they said.

The site plan, showing the Immaculate Conception church building being saved
Plan of one of the two-bedroom apartments. The plan is to have 42 units.
Rendering of the building. This is facing north, toward Anna Avenue.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Let’s not even think about tearing down the viable, wonderful, historic brick building that was The Immaculate Conception Church’s parish school and is currently in use by the School for the Irish Arts and for other community events. This school and the building are an essential part of our urban fabric. They contribute to making Maplewood the attractive community it is. It’s still a good and useful building. Why would we needlessly demolish part of our community’s built environment? It doesn’t make sense energy-wise or environmentally-wise. Empty lots are available elsewhere as others here have commented – using a lot already cleared would save money too. Ripping out the past is incredibly wasteful when buildings are still working. Maplewood’s older architecture is one of its main assets. The proposed construction of new, multiple apartment units that would replace this school could not be build with such traditional quality materials and construction. Too many buildings, businesses, and homes here in Maplewood have already been hit by the wrecking ball. Look at the buildings missing from our main business district that were taken out! 40 South News has featured photos of this destruction many times. This included the terribly misguided urban ‘redevelopment’ plan that replaced a major part of our historic downtown setting with a throw-away K-Mart structure and an ugly parking garage. All had to be torn down in a fairly short time and were a deterrent to our beautiful community in every way. The wise decision would be to reuse the church property, not tear it down. Something like the apartments now in place inside the historic former Wilkinson School on Canterbury would make more sense. Why do we so often tear unique buildings of character down? Who benefits? Definitely the developer. Why not preserve our irreplaceable built environment? Too many other buildings and family homes have already been torn down and replaced by apartment buildings in Maplewood. Don’t let this property become another! Let’s think a little harder for a good solution.

  2. I want to emphasize that securing low income housing tax credits is a big feat. It’s a very competitive process and requires engagement with the County Executive’s because that office is responsible for prioritizing projects for submission from StL County. A similar project in Webster Groves did not get their LIHTC request recently and that’s not unusual. This could take years.

  3. What excellent ideas, Mary. I hadn’t thought of all of them. Currently, a food pantry also exists there and the gym is used for numerous events as well as for soccer and basketball.
    I, too, am a senior living in Maplewood, and also have a workshop in the former I.C. school building. It is true that all of the rooms are filled, and it is thriving.
    I hope the mayor will push her agenda on an empty site in Maplewood, rather than the ‘land’ on Marshall. The ‘land on Marshall’ is not vacant land. There is an existant building there with numerous thriving people there already. Why would one destroy this, when there surely are other options in the city.
    Also, just as an aside, I asked the developer if this suggested demolition and new building is for Maplewood seniors. He told me, oh no.This is for anyone. So, there you are. This is not a proposal for Maplewood seniors.

  4. The former school will be torn down to accommodate this development. Presently the building houses the School for Irish Arts and a number of very talented artists. All the classrooms are rented out at very reasonable prices. It would be a great loss to demolish this historic part of Maplewood history when the city itself owns a piece of property that sites next to the Sunken Industrial Park and bordering Big Bend Blvd that this type of property could be built on. The IC school building would make a wonderful Maplewood Resource Center, an affordable day care in affiliation with MRH school District, Or as
    a meeting place for our many community groups that aid those in need in our community.
    I myself am a senior would prefer to remain in my own home with a resource center which could help me find aid in my home when I am in need. I would love a place where I can remain a vital part of my community without giving up living in me own home.gg

  5. Is there any way that I can get access to one of the music books or missalettes that the church had in the pews? I’ve been kinda interested in getting one to practice music with.

    It would be a shame to lose the church.

    • Jason, you might speak with someone from Mary Magdalene church in Brentwood. They might know how to get that for you.

  6. I think that is a great idea. My aunt lived in Florrisant at the school of St Thomas parish it was an ideal location . The facility had a lot to offer. She had friends & her family was only 1mile away. Since senior housing is so limited that is an excellent idea. It is a shame that the empty city schools could be made a center for the unhoused & poor

  7. Doug: Has this plan actually been signed off on by the archdiocese? I am confused by archdiocese bureaucracy so wasn’t sure if the statement that Catholic Charities STL’s approval means the archdiocese of stl has in fact approved and the only current hurdle is the states’ approval of low income housing tax credits.
    Thanks for any clarification you can provide and for all the reporting you’ve been doing on city issues recently.

    • Good question Jon-Erik. I’m not clear on that either. I’m looking into it and I’ll let you know what I find out.

    • Jon-Erik, the answer to your question is that the developer still needs to buy the property from the archdiocese, which is far from certain, he says.

  8. This sounds like a great project. I would ask the city planners to consider a site plan that emphasizes walkability and community, especially considering seniors likely may not have cars. As such, connect the building directly to the sidewalk, with parking behind. With the large parking lot, there is tons of opportunity to work with the developer on this. Prioritize people, not cars.

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