Saturday, June 29, 2013

Look Who Has Joined Our Team Of Real Estate Professionals

Clifton Heights of St. Louis, MO

Clifton Heights Neighborhood of St. Louis
A Historic Place to Live with One of the Most Beautiful Parks in the City
This quiet, serene community,located south of Arsenal Street and in the southwest part of St. Louis, is one of the city’s most beautiful neighborhoods, due in part to the lovely park that highlights the area. Clifton Park features a playground for neighborhood children, as well as a tranquil lake where residents and tourists can have picnics, play ball, walk their dogs, or just lay on the grass and relax.

The lake was created from a sinkhole in 1912 for residents of Clifton Heights; in 1922 additional land was bought and added to the property, which made the park a total of four-and-a-half acres. Stunning historic Victorians line the park, giving the park a feeling of another century, a time when the neighborhood was young and just starting out. The neighborhood began around 1880 when a subdivision was built in the area, and actually continued until 1955; the mix of Victorian and Arts & Craft homes, townhomes, and apartment complexes are all evidence of the community’s rich heritage of architecture and slow development.

There are few businesses in Clifton Heights, but the neighborhood is close to downtown, as well as being near to other, larger neighborhoods like The Hill community. A new theater—the Columbia Theater—is located in this area, plus there are small corner stores with great architectural features, a VFW post, a Drury Inn & Suites at the corner of I-44, a few small grocery stores, and the Mason School. This elementary school is in the St. Louis Public School System, was built in 1919 and serves preschool through the 6th grade. It’s a diverse school and academically strong, serving the residents of Clifton Heights, as well as neighboring communities. Other businesses in Clifton Heights include Seamus McDaniels and Chuy Arzolas Tex-Mex (both popular restaurants), a roofing company, small photography business, an animal hospital, and a billboard company.

Attractions in Clifton Heights are few, the largest one being the Clifton Heights Park that features a small lake, water fountain, and lush green grass for picnicking. The Columbia Theater is another popular attraction, as well as a playground, and basketball courts. Fortunately, Clifton Heights is close to many other attractions in neighboring communities, including the St. Louis Zoo and The Muny, which is America’s oldest outdoor musical theater. Every fall, the Clifton Heights neighborhood hosts a “Party in the Park”, a festival that features crafts, games, and other activities for families. It’s a popular event that draws people from nearby communities and a treasured tradition of Clifton Heights residents.

Demographically, Clifton Heights’ residents are mainly Caucasian (90%), with a small percentage of African Americans (3%) and Asians (1%). The average household income is approximately $50k, and a median home value of around $156k, which is a big draw for those who work in the downtown area and are looking for an affordable home that is close to their workplace.

The Helderle Team 2013 © All Rights Reserved

Friday, June 28, 2013

McKinley Heights: A Diverse and Historic Neighborhood in the Heart of St. Louis

A mix of the old and new, McKinley Heights is surrounded by some of St. Louis’s most famous communities, including Soulard and Lafayette Square to its south. The tree-lined streets and quaint brick homes makes the area a popular location for families, and since it is also close to downtown (where there’s shopping, restaurants and jobs), busy professionals live here and are able to commute to work in just a few minutes
There are two of the schools in McKinley Heights—McKinley School and Sigel Elementary—that are a work of architectural art by themselves, as well as being pretty good performers, test-wise (although McKinley Classical Leadership Academy that shares a building with McKinley Jr. High has some of the best scores and high-achieving students).
There actually aren’t too many businesses in McKinley Heights, although there’s plenty of restaurants and shopping in nearby neighborhoods like Richmond Heights (which is home to the St. Louis Galleria, a large mall with over 70 different stores). Businesses in McKinley Heights include a popular ice sculpture shop, contractors, art dealers, an animal hospital, and a few other small companies.
Growing up in McKinley Heights and attending both Sigel and McKinley High School, I spent a lot of time walking the streets in this great neighborhood. The country western star Barbara Fairchild grew up just a few blocks from McKinley High school and we both worked for the vice principle my freshmen year. Gone are places like Frentzel Market (Arsenal & Jefferson), Charless elementary, Big 4 Chevrolet (Jefferson Ave)and most of Fox Park, although the softball fields are still used.
Demographically, McKinley Heights’ residents are a mix of Caucasians (48%), African Americans (46%), and a small percentage of Asian and Native American. The average annual household income was around $51k in 2012, with a median home value of $125k, which makes the neighborhood one of the most affordable in the St. Louis area. This, coupled with the safety since crime is extremely low in the community, makes McKinley Heights a big draw for young families, business professionals who work in the surrounding areas of St. Louis, as well as retirees looking for a quiet place to spend their golden years.
The Helderle Team 2013 © All Rights Reserved

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Benton Park in St. Louis, Mo

Benton Park, St. Louis and Why It Is One of the Best Loved Neighborhoods

Not to be confused with Benton Place, the affluent private street in Lafayette Square where some of the most notable St. Louis families [once] lived, Benton Park is a posh neighborhood in eastern St. Louis, named after the first U.S. Senator who represented Missouri, Thomas Hart Benton. Its boundaries are Cherokee Street to its south, Gravois Avenue on the north, I-55 to the east, and Jefferson Avenue is on the west.

Historically, Benton Park was a mecca for breweries thanks to the system of caves under the neighborhood that beer-makers use for “lagering”, a style of German beer making that requires the ale to be stored in a dark, cool place. Lemp Brewery is the most famous of the breweries in Benton Park; established in 1840, the brewery compound consisted of 27 buildings on almost 14 acres of land. It was founded and built by Johann Adam Lemp who migrated to the U.S. from Germany in 1836 when he moved to the St. Louis area to open a mercantile store, until he realized that his lager was selling better than anything else in his store. During prohibition, Lemp Brewery shut down and in 1920, the factory was sold to other beer makers and closed its doors. The building still stands in the neighborhood today in homage to the community’s history.

Named after Thomas Hart Benton—a celebrated Missouri senator of the mid-1800s—Benton Park owes its beautiful architecture to the influx of German immigrants who came for the caves and the lager-making. Many of the old homes and buildings left over from this era showcase St. Louis’s best ornamental detailing and styles of the Romanesque, Queen Anne, and Classic Revival. The 1970s brought rehabilitation and revitalization to the neighborhood, as with other nearby communities like Soulard, that saw a more urban lifestyle and setting than more industrialized areas. The 80s and 90s saw better housing units built and more urban renewal, and today Benton Park still retains its past but is updated for the large population of artists who call the neighborhood home.

Benton Park has many wonderful activities, events, and other tourist attractions to take advantage of when visiting the neighborhood. The Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion is a Greek Revival mansion that was built in 1848 and one of the last glimpses into the rich past of the historic neighborhood’s architecture legacy. It offers tours (closed every January) and provides a window into the past of two French families who lived in Benton Park when the city was still young.

Cherokee Antique Row is another of Benton Park’s attractions; it’s a beautiful tree-lined street with more than 40 antique dealers selling everything from art to quilts to pottery, all of it antique. Just minutes from downtown Benton Park, this street is a huge draw for tourists, especially on the weekends.

Another of Benton Park’s stunning attractions is Falstaff Brew House, located at Gravois and Highway 55, and is listed on the National Historic Register and another example of St. Louis’s architecture from a by-gone era. Other attractions and events include the Murder Mystery Dinner Theater at the famous (and reportedly haunted) Lemp Mansion, the abandoned Lemp Brewery, a farmer’s market in summer, Gus’s Pretzels which has been open since 1920, and several parks to enjoy (Benton, Cherokee, Carnegie, and Fremont).

The Helderle Team 2013 © All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

St. Louis Summer Events

Summer Events In And Around St. Louis When most people think of St. Louis Missouri they think of the arch that marks the Gateway to West, but there is far more to this city and the surrounding communities that simply an arch. St. Louis is an exciting city that offers locals and visitors alike a variety of things to see and do from dynamic concerts to fun festivals. Summer is a great time to visit St. Louis and the surrounding area, as these communities offer a wide range of fun and excitement from quiet movies under the stars to loud and fun filled festivals and blazing Fourth of July fireworks. From the city of St. Louis itself to smaller outlying communities such as Alton/Grafton and Herman/German Town you will have an amazing time. Whether your think is cruising down a river or dancing in the street, the St. Louis area will have activities that appeal to you regardless of age or interest. St. Louis Proper The city of St. Louis itself has a number of events that are extremely popular. The Range Red Bicycle Tour that begins on June 1st and is held on Saturdays through to August 31 is a great way to get some exercise, see the beautiful riverfront and lean a little about St. Louis history including information about the Lewis and Clark expedition and the Underground railroad. Visitors to the city over Independence day aren't going to want to miss the O'Fallon festival, which takes place from July 2, to 4 2013. Visitors to the festival can enjoy the music of both Country and rock bands, a carnival complete with midway, children's activities, crafts, food and of course a parade. Surrounding Communities Of course as exciting as St. Louis is, the surrounding communities also offer a wide variety of activities for you enjoy. The Alton/Grafton area offers several movie nights, concerts, and of course a 4th of July fireworks display. There is also a summer flea market where shoppers can get some great deals as well as day cruises complete with dinner. Belleville Illinois, which sets right across the river from St. Louis offers a number of professional performers in concert through out the summer while in Herman/German Town you can join in the community 4th of July celebration complete with food, fun, and fireworks or visit the Cajun concert held on July 12 through 14th 2013 where you can enjoy real Cajun music as well as authentic Cajun Cuisine. Herman/German town also offers locals and tourists alike to the Berries, BBQ, and wine trail and their August Sausage making class. Granite City, Illinois offers a Melting Pot Open air market on July 13. It's a great place to shop for local arts and crafts and pick up some of those collective items you have been looking for. For those who enjoy fine dining you aren't going to want to miss visiting Chesterfield August 31 for the Forks and Corks. This upscale and free event features the finest cuisine from local restaurants.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Hill In St. Louis, MO

The Hill: One of St. Louis’s Best Neighborhoods to Live and Play

Named for the highest point in the city of St. Louis (formerly known as St. Louis Hill), The Hill neighborhood is a mainly Italian-American area that lies to the north of Manchester Avenue, south of Southwest and Columbia Avenues, and to the east of South Kingshighway Boulevard. Known for its number of locally famous Italian restaurants and strong Roman Catholic influence, The Hill also features the St. Ambrose Roman Catholic Church which is a landmark in the neighborhood and a big part of the Italian-American population’s daily life.

Historically, The Hill has seen two of the biggest icons in baseball grow up on its streets: Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola, Sr. both lived their childhoods on The Hill, and their houses were right across the street from each other, on Elizabeth Avenue. Also, four of the five soccer players from the US team in the 1950 FIFA World Cup (beat England) grew up on The Hill.

The Hill’s affluent residents are mainly Caucasians (93%), with a smaller percentage of African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics. An average household income of its residents was $55k as of 2012, with a median home value of around $300k. Safety in this community is not really a factor for tourists and potential residents, as the neighborhood is one of the safest in St. Louis, especially when compared to other communities surrounding it. There are so many attractions on The Hill for residents and tourists to take advantage of, including many Italian-American restaurants, bakeries, and small grocery stores. A few of the most popular include Amighetti’s Bakery, Cunetto’s House of Pasta, Fazio’s Bakery, Di Gregorio’s grocery store, and even a tavern/bocce garden on the corner near St. Ambrose Catholic Church.

Restaurants and shops aren’t the only draw for tourists to The Hill; there are also events here that bring travelers to this historic neighborhood, such as the (Second) Annual Hill Wine Walk, a soap box derby and car show, two bocce gardens that is very popular with the Italian-American residents of The Hill, the Annual Italian Film Festival of St. Louis, the Annual “Edges for Pledges” event hosted by Bertarelli Cutlery, and even bocce tournaments throughout the year held in the gardens near St. Ambrose.

The Hill is regarded as one of the best communities in St. Louis for living, playing, and also wonderful for tourists. From the trendy Italian-American restaurants, local bakeries, the bocce gardens, and its rich history, The Hill is a destination in St. Louis not to be missed.

Thinking of buying or selling a home on the Hill or another area in St. Louis? Contact The Helderle Team at 314 714-7225 or email them at

Frank J. Helderle St. Louis, MO June 2013 © All Rights Reserved The Helderle Team

Existing Home Sales Increase

From DS News June 20, 2013

Existing-home sales rose a solid 4.2 percent in May to an annual sales rate of 5.18 million, the highest level since November 2009, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Thursday. Economists had expected existing home sales to hit 5.0 million. The median price of an existing home jumped $16,200 (8.4 percent) for the month and was up $27,700 (15.4 percent) from May 2012. The inventory of homes for sale rose to 2.22 million from 2.15 million in April, translating to a 5.1 month supply compared with April’s 5.2 month supply.

The 210,000 increase in the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate was the largest since last August, when the sales pace jumped 240,000 to 4.84 million. According to NAR, sales in May were up 12.9 percent over May 2012, the 16th straight month of year-over-year sales gains. By the numbers, the sales rate was 590,000 ahead of May 2012, the sharpest year-over-year increase since August 2011, when sales were up 730,000 over the year earlier pace.

The NAR report tracks completed transactions and closings and followed a 1.5 point gain in the NAR’s own pending home sales index for March. The index improved 0.3 percent in April, hinting closings may not grow as quickly next month. At $208,000 in May, the median sales price topped $200,000 for the first time since August 2008, when it was $203,200 and falling from the record $230,300 in July 2006. The median price, as reported by NAR, has increased for four straight months. The median price has increased on a yearly basis for 15 straight months.

The average price of a new home increased $24,500 in May to $269,600, the highest level since May 2008, when it was $278,400. It remained below the record $292,200 in June 2007. Year-over-year, the May average was up $29,600 (10.0 percent), the strongest percentage gain since the 10.6 percent gain from June 2001 to June 2002 and the largest dollar gain since August 2005, when the average price was $37,000 higher than one year earlier. Those price increases, however, have not been accompanied by an increase in the inventory of homes for sale. In the same 15 months, the inventory of homes for sale has dropped to 2.22 million from 2.32 million, though it has increased in each of the last four months.

Inventories continue to be plagued by competition with sales of lower priced “distressed” homes. According to the NAR, distressed homes—foreclosures and short sales—accounted for 18 percent of May sales, unchanged from April but matching the lowest share since monthly tracking began in October 2008.

Fewer distressed homes, which generally sell at a discount, account for some of the price gain, the NAR said. Foreclosures accounted for 11 percent of May sales, and short sales made up 7 percent. Foreclosures, NAR said, sold for an average discount of 15 percent below market value in May, while short sales were discounted 12 percent.

After falling to a cyclical low in August 2010, existing-home sales have been improving steadily, helped in part by the federal homebuyer tax credit program. Sales in the last 12 months have averaged 4,858,000, up from 4,386,000 in the previous 12 months. The median time on market for all homes was 41 days in May, down from 46 days in April, and was 43 percent faster than the 72 days on market in May 2012. The median time on the market, NAR said, is the shortest since monthly tracking began in May 2011. First-time buyers accounted for 28 percent of purchases in May, down from 29 percent in April and 34 percent in May 2012. All-cash sales were 33 percent of transactions in May, up from 32 percent in April and 28 percent in May 2012.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast were up 1.6 percent to an annual rate of 650,000 in May, 8.3 percent above May 2012.
The median price in the Northeast was $269,600, up 10.0 percent for the month and 12.3 percent from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the Midwest jumped 8.0 percent in May—the largest gain of any of the four Census regions—to 1.21 million and were 16.3 percent higher than a year earlier. The median price in the Midwest was $159,800, up 7.5 percent over April and 8.2 percent from May 2012.
In the South, existing-home sales rose 4.0 percent to an annual level of 2.09 million in May and were 16.1 percent above May 2012. The median price in the South was $183,300, 9.2 percent higher than in April and 15.0 percent above a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the West increased 2.5 percent to a pace of 1.23 million in May and were 7.0 percent above a year ago.
The median price in the West was $276,400, up 4.1 percent from April and 19.9 percent from May 2012.

Hear Mark Lieberman every Friday on P.O.T.U.S. Radio, Sirius-XM 124, at 6:20 a.m. Eastern.

Downtown St. Louis, MO. Living, Playing and Visiting

Downtown St. Louis: A History, Its Attractions, and What Makes it One of the Best Areas in the City

Known as the city’s central business district, the Downtown area of St. Louis is home to dozens of tourist attractions, entertainment venues, shops, restaurants and more. It is the hub of the St. Louis metropolitan area, and is bounded by Cole Street, the river front, Chouteau Avenue, and Tucker Avenue. Not only is Downtown home to retail stores, but major companies like the Laclede Group, Stifel Nicolaus, and HOK are all located here as well.

Historically, Downtown St. Louis was founded by Pierre Laclede, who decided on that particular area due to the cliffs and river access to use for trade, transportation, and as a fur trade with the Native Americans. In 1817, with the arrival of the steamboat, the Downtown area became a crucial center of the young America’s commerce and residents were able to trade products from the Gulf of Mexico and across the country via the Mississippi River. The late 19th and early 20th centuries brought a huge building boom to Downtown St. Louis, due in part to just a lack of room for new and existing businesses to expand.

The 1970s saw many historic buildings decimated by their owners in order to put in parking lots, so many of the area’s earliest homes and buildings no longer exist due to the demand for more parking. Washington University and St. Louis University were both founded in the Downtown area; the former in 1853 and the latter in 1818. Recent history has brought redevelopment, with an estimated $4-billion being invested in the Downtown area between 1999-2006.

Downtown St. Louis has many different attractions for every tourist’s whim and fancy, including: the Ambassador Theater Building, the Arcade Building, Balmer & Weber Music House Co. Building, and the Beethoven Conservatory, all of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Downtown is also home to museums like the City Museum on 15th Street; America’s Center & Edward Jones Dome on Convention Plaza; the St. Louis Citygarden which is a stunning oasis in the heart of the Downtown area and features a splash plaza, a bronze statue of Pinocchio, and beautiful shade and flowering trees; the famous Gateway Arch on Riverfront; the Soulard Farmer’s Market, located at Lafayette and Seventh Streets, is a popular tourist draw and one of America’s oldest farmer’s markets that is still in existence.

Not only does Downtown have a rich history, dozens of tourist attractions, shopping and restaurants, but it’s also great for families who are on vacation, couples on holiday, and even for events like birthday trips, anniversaries, and bachelor/bachelorette parties. Start off that special birthday at upscale restaurants like 400 Olive Restaurant, Basso (a St. Louis Gastropub), Angelo’s Taverna (perfect for a family birthday party), and the Capri Restaurant located inside the Renaissance Grand Hotel. For lots of shopping, make sure to check out hundreds of shops and boutiques located in Downtown St. Louis, with stores ranging from small, upscale boutiques like Eve’s Apple Vintage (a great vintage clothing shop), to more widely known stores such as Foot Locker and Macy’s.

Downtown St. Louis’s other attractions and entertainment include art galleries like 10th Street Gallery, Art Saint Louis, and the CafĂ© Cioccolato Gallery, wonderful museums such as the historic Campbell House Museum, City Museum & World Aquarium, and Laclede’s Landing Wax Museum. Looking for something more lively? Check out Downtown’s bars and nightlife, with such notable joints as Encore Comedy & Karaoke, Hard Times Lounge, Nightclub Europe, Route 66 Brewery & Restaurant, Stardust Nightclub, and the Velvet Lounge.
Frank J. Helderle St. Louis, MO June 2013 © All Rights Reserved