StL Hills Remodel: The Retirement Center

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6543 Chippewa
St. Louis, MO
The St. Louis Hills Retirement Center got new owners last year and is now deep into the projected $5.5 million renovation (story here). An addition goes up on the east side (looks like the size of an elevator) while they replace all the windows, floor by floor.

This is one of several mid-century buildings in the immediate Chippewa/Watson section of St. Louis Hills; the St. Louis Hills Office Center is a close pal. Built in 1964, the former retirement center is only 6 years younger than the office center.

I am thrilled by the emerging new face. It’s one of those buildings that never offended nor commanded my attention. But now that the owner’s have applied some sharp aesthetic thought to the revamp, I think it looks as cool and lovely as Jean Shrimpton.

The black window frames with green tinted glass (so Lever House, don’t you think?) provides the backbone of contrast for the white concrete window wells and dark brown brick verticals to properly pop. I’d love to see them erect a more appropriate front entrance canopy, maybe taking a cue from the back balcony of the fabulous house right behind this building, to the east (Rob Powers photo). But it is a senior living community, so hip is probably not the goal, though those replacement windows belie otherwise.

A slightly younger building of the same vintage being remodeled nearby should be good news for the St. Louis Hills Office Center, still standing in a truncated state, awaiting its own revamp. But there’s motion from 3 sides that communications have wilted and that St. Louis Hills residents may have soured on any renovation for the entire plot of land surrounding the Office Center.

Can we safely assume the Retirement Center renovation was approved because it’s a smart idea? As one of the co-owners said in a press release: “We are excited to be part of the history and re-investment in the St. Louis Hills neighborhood.” To outsiders, exploring something similar for the Office Center seems plausible, yet there’s another snag. So, Provision Living setting a nearby example of appropriate remodeling (remember, the greenest building is the one already built) is the stylish poster child for possibility, and underscores St. Louis Hills’ mid-century heritage, which is something to be proud of.

2 thoughts on “StL Hills Remodel: The Retirement Center

  1. Sure is a shame that the neighbors were against an addition to the building. Instead they just got a split face block enclosed elevator addition. Besides that, the building sure is coming along nicely. I’m wondering if they went the concrete block route on the elevator hoping they would win approval for an addition in the future, and not wanting to spend a lot on the facade treatment just to have it covered up.

  2. I’m surprised you didn’t mention its previous incarnation as a hotel! I want to say it was part of the Congress Inn chain. (Yes, related to the infamous “Sexual” Congress on Lindbergh.)

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