Daily Archives: November 3, 2019

West County church building becomes new home for St. Louis’s Masons

A Fraternity Dedicated to Tradition and Service

John Vollmann is a third-generation St. Louis Freemason. When he first became involved in 1992, he was excited by the organization’s local history. A cursory review of St. Louis’s Masons brings up a broad range of well-known names:

  • Merriweather Lewis
  • William Clark
  • Charles Lindbergh
  • Harry S. Truman
  • Ernest Borgnine

Vollmann, now president of the St. Louis Masonic Temple Association, took pride in helping to care for the landmark building that served as the Masons regional home since 1926. The building at 3681 Lindell housed several historic artifacts as well, including beautiful marble features, handcrafted Emil Frei windows, and papers from President Truman.

The Masonic Temple serves as a meeting space for several local Masonic organizations. During the 1920s, there were 50 to 70 such groups. Over time, however, many of these groups have merged and there are fewer than 40. At 386,000 square feet, the Temple was far too large for their current needs.

Additionally, over the years, Masons who met at the temple had moved both south and west of the city. Their current location was no longer convenient to their membership.

The building itself required constant maintenance and updates. The financial strain of the work put them in direct conflict with their mission, which includes “social betterment via individual involvement and philanthropy.”

They were looking for a way to stop sinking money into an old building and increase their ability to give back. As beautiful as the structure is — and as intertwined with the organization’s history as it had become — it was no longer meeting the needs of the region’s Masons.

Scott E. MartinIn 2016, Vollmann enlisted the help of Scott Martin of Hilliker Corporation, who brokered the sale of the building for $3.2 million to Brandonview LLC.

Martin was able to negotiate a rentback agreement from Brandonview for a short time. However, they would eventually need to move all of their artifacts into storage and find alternative ways to meet.

Together, Vollmann and Martin went looking for a new Temple for St. Louis’s Masons, not wanting their membership to be without a home for long.

The Search for an Institutional Building in West St. Louis County

Though the Masons no longer needed a building quite as large as their old one, they still required a building with approximately 30,000 square feet of space. The layout had to include four main rooms:

  • A meeting room for individual Masonic bodies with ceilings at least 15-feet high and no columns.
  • A ceremonial room for the Ascalon Commandery with ceilings at least 25-feet high and no columns. (The walls needed enough space to install their stained-glass windows.)
  • A dining hall.
  • A collections room (to display their collection of artifacts).

As Martin and Vollmann toured available buildings, they were disappointed over and over again. Warehouses, which had tall ceilings and lots of open space, would always have columns that would require too much expense to remove.

Offices, though they may have the non-columned horizontal room, would not meet their height requirements.

There was another difficulty for the Masons. Their old building was beautiful and grandiose. The Temple needed a touch of the dramatic to completely serve the needs of the organization well. They hoped to find something that could lend itself to their sense of history and pageantry.

Finding a St. Louis Area Church Building for Sale

After three years of searching, Vollmann was driving down Clayton Road in Clarkson Valley. He was surprised to see a sizeable former church for sale. Constructed as Ellisville United Methodist, the building had been the home of Midwest Music and Electronic Services for several years and was not registered with commercial real estate data bases.

No longer optimized as a church, the building was divided into a showroom, a concert hall, and classrooms. However, the building featured a former chapel and former sanctuary that met the Mason’s requirements: large, high-ceilinged rooms with no columns.

Though the building was by no means perfect, Vollmann and his fellow Masons saw possibilities. Since it is cut up for classrooms, many rooms would have to be combined to make it work. Significant renovations would be required, but they believed they could deliver all updates and changes to the building on-budget.

At just under 30,000 square feet, the new building is the right size for the needs of the organization. The original asking price was $1,795,000.00.

Martin learned that a negotiated sale price would require the approval of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and advised the Masonic Lodge Temple Association through the negotiation process. The contract provided multiple purchaser contingencies protecting the Masons.

Upon completion of due diligence, Martin and the Masonic Lodge Temple Association further negotiated with the seller’s broker (TB Realty and Development) for an ultimate sale price of just over $1.5 Million.

The Deal

  • Buyer: Masonic Temple Association of St. Louis, represented by Scott Martin of Hilliker Corporation
  • Seller: Midwest Music Electronic Services, Inc., represented by TB Realty and Development
  • Address: 15977 Clayton Road in Clarkson Valley
  • Sale Price: $1,555,000.00
  • Square Footage: 27,416 square foot building on 3.89 acres

Vollmann enjoyed his partnership with Martin throughout their search. “We gave Scott a tall order, but he knows his business. Very knowledgeable.”

The Masonic Temple Association board members are in the final stages of choosing contractors and architects. The building will not be ready for ceremonies for quite some time. But when it is, it will contain all the marble features, historical artifacts, and Emil Frei stained glass windows once housed in the former building.

Additionally, some of the organization’s historical artifacts will be on display and viewable by members of the public.

In the end, a better location and lower maintenance cost will provide St. Louis’s Masons the ability to achieve their desired goals for the benefit of their members and the community.

Working Together for the Welfare of Our Region

When St. Louis institutions—both religious and secular—need to find new real estate, they deserve an advocate who will fight for their needs. Their requirements may or may not be the same as the typical business, office, or manufacturer. However, they are just as vital to the ongoing health of our community.

If you represent:

  • A non-profit
  • Synagogue
  • Mosque
  • Church
  • Health care organization
  • Or school …

… you can call Hilliker. We respect who you are and will work with you to find the right place for you and those you serve.

Get in touch with a broker today.

Trimarc Metals purchases industrial warehouse in North St. Louis County

A Kootman Family Legacy

Marc Kootman has spent his career in the scrap-metal business, and it’s a family affair. His grandfather worked in scrap metal, as did his father.

Kootman began by working as a scrap-metal broker for an Atlanta firm, but soon joined his father’s North St. Louis company. In 1988, he and his brother Mike Kootman formed their own firm, a strong partnership that lasted twenty-five years.

Here’s how businesses like Kootman’s work.

First, employees collect scrap metal from clients, mostly in manufacturing. Then, they separate the material by kind:

Ferrous metals, like steel, contain iron. They’re sturdy but rust when exposed to the elements for long periods.

Non-ferrous metals—like aluminum, copper, and lead—which are non-magnetic, less corrosive, and more valuable.

Next, they ship it to a recycler. The recycler melts it down, purifies it, and forms it into sheets, blocks, or other usable forms.

Finally, they sell the now usable metal back to manufacturers, saving them time and money in the process.

Marc always hoped his three children — Jason, Jonathan, and Katie Kootman — would have an interest in starting a company with him. However, Marc had a prerequisite. He wanted them each to work for a boss that “wasn’t their father” for at least two years.

By 2016, all three of his now adult children had gained experience in other fields. They agreed to begin working together as Trimarc Metals for a one-year trial.

Marc said to them, “We can proceed if all of you remain committed to making the company more profitable and can work together as a team, we can continue to grow our own business.”

Their clients, concentrated mostly in the St. Louis metro area, range from mom and pop shops to Fortune 500 companies.

Working out of a space shared with another recycler, Trimarc started growing immediately. Kootman said, “My kids were really 100% committed. That’s what I wanted to see. I wanted proof they were going to be committed and that this business would have a future.”

North St. Louis Industrial Warehouse Space for Purchase

H. Meade Summers, IIIFrom the beginning, Kootman started looking to purchase industrial warehouse space to store and process Trimarc’s inventory. His attorneys at Lathrop Gage recommended he enlist the help of Hilliker Corporation’s President, Meade Summers.

First, Summers got to know Trimarc’s needs. The business model relies on a lot of space for both outdoor and indoor storage.

Outside, Trimarc keeps trucks, cranes, front-loaders, and corrosion-resistant non-ferrous metals. Inside, they sort and store their ferrous metals. They also needed a small portion of the building dedicated to office space.

Kootman estimated the company needed 80,000 square feet of warehouse and office space combined with several acres of outdoor storage to run the business properly.

They also hoped to stay near their current location in right around the corner in St. Louis County. Close to I-270, I-170, and I-70, they would maintain easy access to clients throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area.

Summers and Kootman looked at several properties. Unfortunately, the available buildings lacked the right combination of indoor warehouse and outdoor storage. When they found buildings with enough space, it was clear the zoning would be an uphill battle.

When 665 Cyr Road came on the market, it looked like it could be a perfect solution. Just across the street from where they were leasing, it boasted 85,783 square feet of warehouse and office space on more than six acres of land. With three docks, two drive-in doors, high ceilings, and M-1 Industrial zoning, Trimarc could move right in.

But when Summers and Kootman took a look at the building together, they discovered a problem — one that just might kill the deal.

Working Together to Find a Solution

665 Cyr Road is attached to another similar building — 667 Cyr, which has 20,000 square feet of space and sits on nearly 15 acres of land. The building was on the market as well, but Trimarc didn’t need the extra square footage or nearly that much acreage.

However, Summers caught an issue that would have made it difficult to close the deal at 665 Cyr. In order to meet code, the two buildings needed to build a two-hour fire wall between them. The owners of both properties would have to work together on the project, and the cost could be prohibitive.

Fortunately, Summers was able to help the sellers of both buildings come to an agreement with Trimarc. He worked closely with the brokers for the two owners:

  • Dennis DeSantis of Colliers International represented 665 Cyr Company.
  • Mark Hejna of Gundaker Commercial represented the Thomas R. Moss, Jr. Revocable Trust, owners of 667 Cyr Rd.

In the end, Trimarc was able to purchase both buildings.

  • $800,000.
  • 106,279 square feet of industrial warehouse and office space.
  • 21+/- acres of land.

Though it’s more than Trimarc needs currently, it’s an investment for the future. Kootman will not only be helping his three children grow a profitable business, but they’ll be able to grow into the building over the length of their career.

On Summers’s recommendation, Trimarc hired Shamel Contracting to complete the what little renovation the new space needs to be move-in ready. Work should be completed by mid-September 2019.

Together, Mark, Jason, Jonathan, and Katie Kootman look forward to fourth-generation success.

Real Estate Brokers Who Understand Your Unique Business

Many entrepreneurs will only need to make a significant real estate purchase a few times in their life. And while they’re busy looking and preparing to buy a property, they have a business to run.

They need experts who know the industry, understand the market, and catch possible money-saving deals in places where even well-informed entrepreneurs might not look.

Hilliker Corporation knows commercial real estate. We know what to look out for, and we understand how to negotiate deals that will benefit your organization in the long run. We do so in a manner consistent with our reputation of honesty and fairness.

If you’re ready to move your business — or you’re ready to sell or lease your property — give one of our experienced brokers a call today.