119 S. Main St.
St. Charles, MO 63301
A local entrepreneur purchased the 1908 post office building on Main St., with a dream of turning his hometown into a hub for high-tech, high-potential startups. The renovated 10,000-square foot facility was converted into a mix of offices, studio space and co-working space and now anchors the multi-building regional digital startup community in St. Charles.
In what is now called Historic Downtown St. Charles, the site was occupied by a vacant post office building, built around 1908 and opened in 1909. In the 1960s, the building became the office and warehouse for Roy Cox Plumbing. It also served as a real estate office and residential space. Lead-based paint and asbestos-containing materials were suspected throughout the site.
The department's Brownfields/ Voluntary Cleanup Program (BVCP) staff provided remediation oversight. Investigations revealed the presence of lead-based paint, asbestos-containing materials and various types of household hazardous waste throughout the building. The lead-based paint was mainly located on interior walls, as well as interior and exterior window components. Asbestos was found in floor tile, ceiling tile and thermal system insulation throughout the first and second floors. A small amount of asbestos-containing material was identified in roof materials. Household hazardous waste was mainly comprised of thermostats, assorted household chemicals and light ballasts along with florescent bulbs.
All asbestos-containing materials were abated by removal from the site. The lead-based paint was abated through wet scraping or component removal. Limited amounts of lead-based paint were encapsulated and will remain on site under an operation and maintenance plan. Florescent lamps and ballasts were properly disposed of through the department's Lamp Tracker program. All remaining hazardous waste and abatement debris was properly disposed.
- Brownfield Tax Credits
Randy Schilling, a local entrepreneur, purchased the old post office with a dream of turning his hometown into a hub for high-tech, high-potential startups. The $1 million historic renovation project – OPO Startups LLC – is the innovation hub and co-working center for these digital startups.
The bulk of the original building was occupied by a two-story sorting room. The previous owner split the sorting room into two floors, so it was restored to its original dimensions. The first floor now offers co-working and event space in the old sorting room. View slits used by postal inspectors to observe workers on the sorting room floor are still visible high on the walls. There also are conference rooms on the first floor and the old loading dock is now a glass-walled training room. The former basement boiler room has been converted into a mix of office spaces: dedicated offices, studio space and co-working space. The 24-inch diameter cast-iron door from the old boiler was repurposed and hung as a wall decoration.
The 10,000-square foot facility offers affordable workspace, meeting rooms, private offices, mailboxes, lockers and access to mentors, potential investors, programming, educational resources and a community of local entrepreneurs. The innovation hub houses lingerie designer Liviara; Chow Checker, designers of an app that increases awareness of allergens in foods; BoardPaq, a company designing a cloud service and apps to help boards of directors go paperless; several independent contractors and more.
OPO Startups promotes growth in the regional digital startup community in St. Charles, including itself. Anchored by the renovated 1909 "Old Post Office" and eventually including six additional surrounding buildings, the campus now provides over 50,000 square feet of space in historic downtown St. Charles.
- BVCP Project Managers
- Droste & Sons Construction
- LePique & Orne Architects
- Environmental Operations Inc.
- OPO Partnership
While all new systems were installed in the building, renovation over replacement was emphasized when it came to the finishes. Most of the trim and flooring is original, with new floor boards and trim pieced in where needed. The previous owner removed some of the marble from the lobby and stored it in the basement. This marble was returned to its original use in the lobby. The project employed subcontractors mainly from the St. Charles area, saving expenses and energy associated with obtaining services and resources from remote or distant locations.
Limited amounts of lead-based paint were encapsulated and will remain on site under an operation and maintenance plan.
BVCP Project Identification
- SMARS #12504
- February 2014 - Letter of Agreement Received
- November 2015 - Certificate of Completion Issued