Reviving East St. Louis from economic turmoil defined the inception of the Broadview Hotel in the early 20th century.
Constructed in 1927, the Broadview Hotel was part of the city’s efforts to recover from the 1917 race massacre when white people killed up to 200 Black people in East St. Louis. The attacks caused thousands of dollars in property damage.
East St. Louis needed a resurgence. The Broadview Hotel, at 415 E. Broadway, was the answer. Built in brown brick and terra-cotta, the Broadview was known for its elegant style that attracted many visitors.
“(The hotel) was kind of the exclamation point on the process of rebuilding the city not only physically, but trying to rebuild its reputation after the massacre in 1917,” said William P. Shannon IV, executive director of the St. Clair County Historical Society. “The First National Bank building on Collinsville Avenue was (built in) 1926, and the Broadview Hotel was the year after that. For a long time, that’s one of the things that hurt the city in coming back. People weren’t willing to invest money here.”
Today, the physical appearance of the seven-story building belies its rich history. Graffiti fills some of the exterior, and its windows are boarded up. The Broadview has been vacant for nearly 20 years, but plans are underway for the building—that was designed to initiate East St Louis’ halcyon days—-to be a part of another economic resurgence for the city.
East St Louis aims to transform the Broadview into affordable housing for residents ages 55 and over and veterans, along with providing a place for small businesses and public spaces. With finances for the development, dubbed “The New Broadview,” to be tentatively finalized in August, East St. Louis Mayor Robert Eastern III hopes that it’ll spark more economic activity.
“We ask that the East St. Louis residents and surrounding communities get involved in what’s going on here locally,” Eastern said. “It’s going to be a lot of things. I want to make sure that local contractors and local vendors get everything they need so when it’s time to ask for participation and minority goals need to be met, I need them to be ready because the time is now, and this is the birth of a new Black renaissance in the city of East St. Louis.”
The New Broadview
Amenities for the 110-unit mixed-use facility include:
97 one-bedroom units
13 two bedroom units (serving households between 30%-50% of Area Median Income)
10% of the bedroom units for veterans
Street level: Grocery store, fitness center, coffee & sandwich shop
Lower level: 20,000 square feet of commercial space, beauty & barber salon, banquet multipurpose center, minority business incubator, senior technology center, modern public space (for special events, catering, meetings, etc), public kitchen (for nutritional classes)
Development costs for The New Broadview total $37.9 million, which include roughly $30 million for construction. The project received $25.3 million in state tax credits (low-income housing and historic tax credits) that’ll be leveraged for private equity to help finance construction. Red Stone Equity Partners, based in New York City, and Sugar Creek Capital, based in Webster Groves, MO, will provide the funds for the credits. State sources also will provide more than $10 million for the project.
Efficacy Consulting & Development, based in St. Louis, is the lead developer for the project. In 2017, the organization was selected by the city (under the leadership of former East St. Louis Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks) to be the developer. Since then, Efficacy has worked on securing financing for the project.
Yaphett El-Amin, president and founder of Efficacy, said redeveloping the Broadview Hotel has been her life for the past five years. The pandemic has created a roadblock for the project’s finances, but she’s happy that her team is nearing the end of getting those details finalized.
El-Amin served as a state representative for Missouri from 2002-2006. She founded Efficacy in 2007 initially as a political consulting and community relations firm before shifting its focus on real estate development and affordable housing in 2011. The firm’s portfolio includes working on affordable housing and senior living projects in Missouri like Finney Place, Village at Delmar Place, Scott Manor Apartments and more.
Renovating the Broadview Hotel is Efficacy’s first project in East St. Louis. A date for a groundbreaking ceremony hasn’t been officially announced, but construction for the project will take 16-18 months to complete. The firm is partnering with Community Lifeline, an East St. Louis nonprofit, and Fulson Housing Group, based in Lee’s Summit, MO, to redevelop the project.
“Over the last decade, we have primarily cut our teeth in communities that we understand and communities that we feel kinship to,” El-Amin said. “For me, being an African-American female developer, it was important for me to be a part of the solution in our communities and no longer wait for people to come from outside of our communities to be a part of solving our problems.”
State agencies like the Illinois Housing Development Authority and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity have helped fund the new project. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) and Rep. LaToya Greenwood (D-East St. Louis) also aided in securing funding.
“This development is a village,” El-Amin said. “It has had many mothers and fathers to help ensure its birthing and upbringing. We are extremely excited about The New Broadview and what it stands for within the community. It sits at the front door of the city of East St. Louis, so we’re excited about cleaning up the first room of the house.”
‘First room of the house’
The site on East Broadway served as a hotel until 1957, according to the St. Clair County Historical Society. It was later used as a facility for developmentally disabled children and eventually redone as a sports-themed hotel before it served as Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville’s East St. Louis Center in the 1970’s. The school ceded the hotel to East St. Louis in 2009. The center is now located at James R. Thompson Blvd.
The hotel was supposed to be a symbol of progress for the city.
“It was said that for as big of a city and as influential of a city that it was at the time, we really need a good hotel here,” Shannon said. “It’s the East St. Louis building that spurs Belleville, one of the things that nudges them to build Hotel Belleville in 1929. It’s kind of a ripple effect. There was no small amount of competition between Belleville and East St. Louis back then. Belleville was often envious of East St. Louis because of the kind of money they made.”
A popular radio station, WTMV, operated from the Broadview in the 1930’s, and, a decade later, Wiley Price became the first Black radio announcer in the St. Louis region with his R&B and jazz show that hit airwaves at night.
Reginald Petty, an East St. Louis historian, doesn’t remember the place being welcoming for Black people during its early years. Petty said he only frequented the hotel when SIUE owned it.
“Blacks could never stay there,” Petty, 86, said. “That was white only. It was a famous hotel. In fact, they had a lot of shows like the Fox Theater in St. Louis (does now). In fact, there was a radio station out of there too. A classical pianist Eugene Haynes (who was a classmate of Miles Davis) was there. He had a program there.”
Greenwood, the state representative, remembers taking dance classes and going to the dentist there while the building was owned by SIUE. She hopes the redevelopment of the hotel will have the same impact in the community. Greenwood secured about $2 million from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for the project.
“I am looking forward to seniors and veterans having some affordable, quality housing,” Greenwood said. “I believe a part of the model would be for some small business from the community to have space there that will not only service the residents of the building but the community as well.”
“We have so many residents in East St. Louis and the surrounding communities that have great ideas about sandwich shops or clothing whatever their specialty area is, so I’m looking forward to seeing what type of business will go into that space and continue to grow.”
The New Broadview will be more than just brick-and-mortar development for residents, according to Yaphett El-Amin. She plans to make it a space where everyone in the community can benefit from.
“When you see the new Broadview, yes, there will be 110 families living there, but there will also be community commercial space there that will house Black businesses on the lower level–a beauty and barber salon, coffee and sandwich shop—so places that we understand speak to a need in downtown East St. Louis, but also speak to the mature population that’s there has what they need in order to have a good and enhanced quality of life.”
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