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Another Post-Dispatch article by Charlene Prost, dated January 13, 2000, reflected further progress on the scheme, as well as the debate over the fate of the Wagoner Building, a former funeral home in traditional Gothic dress that stood next door to Continental:

"Renovation of the long-vacant Continental Building in Grand Center will likely get underway this summer now that financing and other pieces of a $23.5 million plan are falling into place.

"That's the word from developer Stephen Trampe following the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Develpment's conditional approval of a loan guarantee for up to $11.58 million.

""Our staff review the project and concluded it is doable," said Kenneth Lange, a senior official at the St. Louis HUD office. "But they still have to bring in finished drawings and final details."

"...Trampe said this week about $8.5 million more for the project will be raised by selling state and federal historic renovation and Brownfields tax credits. To get the remaining #3.5 million, he said, he'll defer payment of developer fees and is seeking help mainly from foundations and institutions.

"St. Louis University has already contributed more than $150,000, and Grand Center has tossed in $120,000 from its new low-interst revolving loan fund, plus some property.

""...I think we've got everything we'll need to get it renovated," Trampe said. "There's still an immense amount of work to be done. ...But I don't see any significant obstacles in the way."

"After working on the project for more than two years and investing close to $750,00, Trampe and his associates have a plan for:

  • 107 apartments, includign three penthouses at the top where Edmund Mays, president of the old Continental Life Insurance Co., lived with his family... rent would range from about $700 a month to more than $6,000 for a penthouse.

  • A restaurant and retail at street level.

  • 7,000 square feet of office space and a conference room for tenants wanting to live and work in the building.

  • A four-story parking garage with nearly 2000 spaces and a swimming pool and bocce courts on top.

    "The garage would rise just west of the Continental alongside an outdoor courtyard with a fountain. A glass-enclosed terrace at the new restaurant in the Continental would overlook the courtyard.

    "...Property for the parking garage, contributed by Grand Center, contains the vacant, 94-year-old Wagoner Funeral Home and Chapel, a Tudor-Gothic structure some preservationists want to keep.

    "But Trampe and James Holtzman, Gand Center's director for real estate and development, said the Wagoner stands on the best spot for the garage, so it would be torn down. "You have to offer enclosed, attached parking to make the Continental work, and there's no other place to put the parking garage," Trampe said.

    "He said he would save at least the ornate facade and a staircase from the demolished Wagoner, "and do something with it."

    "Carolyn Toft, executive director of Landmarks Association of St. Louis, is among those wanting to see the Wagoner saved. She advocates alternatives to demolition, and said the Wagoner shouldn't be razed until the Continental's renovation is a certainty.

    ""I think the little Wagoner might be an absolutely divine lobby through which you could go into the parking garage," Toft said."

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