Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tonic for Downtown as Others Twiddled or Fumed over the Deterioration of Historic Downtown Structures, Alex and Nila Paradowski Turned Their Little Broadway Office Building into a Nationally Recognized Showplace

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tonic for Downtown as Others Twiddled or Fumed over the Deterioration of Historic Downtown Structures, Alex and Nila Paradowski Turned Their Little Broadway Office Building into a Nationally Recognized Showplace

Article excerpt

THREE YEARS AGO, all Alex and Nila Paradowski wanted for their small but growing graphic design firm in Kirkwood was a new home. Preferably something small, but also fun and unusual. And certainly something economical.

What they've ended up with is a little three-story gem in the heart of downtown St. Louis. It's a combination of the old, and the new. And certainly not ordinary.

Some of what's new is crooked. On purpose. What they could salvage of the old - unusually fine, patterned terrazzo, mosaic tile work, green marble stairs and massive metal beams and wood joists in the ceilings - they kept. Some of that had been hidden away for decades behind drywall and other newer materials. The rehabbed building, constructed 86 years ago at 303 North Broadway, has gotten local awards, and now a national one. The National Commercial Builders Council of the National Association of Home Builders just named it the Best Urban Renewal/Revitalization small-building project in the country. Beyond that, Alex Paradowski is happy with how the money part worked out. He eliminated some costs by doing the job himself, with help from The Lawrence Group architects. He spent about $1 million to buy and renovate the building, now home for his Paradowski Graphic Design Co. He says he's spending less monthly to pay off the mortgage than he'd spend for rented space. He also says that what he did with his building could be a model for other firms. And that, in turn, could help revive downtown. "What we've done could be the answer for other buildings sitting vacant around downtown," he says. "And there are lots of them out there." What Paradowski started with was a nondescript building, kind of visually attached to the 6-story Boatmen's Bank office building on the north. A band of black granite covering the lower level of Boatmen's extended onto the front of Paradowski's building. The tall, skinny LaSalle office building, itself an architectural gem, soars skyward on the south side. "You didn't even realize our building was there," Paradowski said. No one knows much about the history of the building at 303 North Broadway. …

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