Missouri Apartment Building to Reopen a Year After Fire

July 30, 2013

A little over a year after a fast-moving fire burned most of a huge apartment complex in the St. Louis, Mo., Central West End, the complex is about to reopen.

The massive fire on July 17, 2012, damaged more than half of the 197-unit building. Everyone inside got out unharmed, but damage was so bad the complex had to be knocked down to its concrete foundation.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that tenants have already moved into a rebuilt section of the complex that was less-heavily damaged in the fire; the rest will reopen in mid-August.

Fire Capt. Dan Sutter says no cause of the fire could be determined because of the extreme heat and water damage. Investigators believe it began on the top floor of the four-story building.

The rebuilt four-story structure now has sprinklers in the attic, even though building codes did not require them, manager Brad Bootz said.

“If this happens again, God forbid, we’re on top of it,” he said.

Rebuilding the complex is expected to cost $25 million to $30 million.

The fire last year was the second at the complex. Arson was ruled in a blaze that caused $12 million in damage when it was under construction in 2007. No one has been charged.

Memphis, Tenn.-based Education Realty Trust, which bought the complex for $28.5 million in January 2012, plans an event Aug. 9 to honor firefighters, Red Cross workers and who came to the aid of residents last year.

Saint Louis University is near the apartment building, and many of the residents are students who have chosen to return, Bootz said.

J. Gumbo’s restaurant on the first floor will return, and a bubble tea cafe is a new tenant. Ground-floor retail space is still available.

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