Peter & Paul Will Open Expanded Shelter in North St. Louis

The massive 188,000-square-foot complex sits near Crown Candy Kitchen and the new NGA campus

The Little Sisters of the Poor site obtained by Peter & Paul is in north city’s St. Louis Place neighborhood.

By Kallie Cox
River Front Times

April 25, 2024

Originally Published in the River Front Times. Continue reading or visit riverfronttimes.com.

After years of struggle and community backlash, Peter & Paul Community Services closed on a building it says will serve as a new and expanded shelter in north St. Louis. The Little Sisters of the Poor site (3225 North Florissant Avenue) will replace the organization’s 60-bed shelter in Soulard as well as plans to open in a more industrial site nearby.

“The biz owners around Sidney Street were dead set against welcoming us there,” an agency spokeswoman explains of the site just east of Soulard where they had won city approval to move. “They didn’t change their minds after we won the zoning variance. This location is 188,000 square feet as opposed to the 44,000 square feet on Sidney Street, so way more opportunity to expand services.”

The organization closed on the new north city location on April 15. The site will now be known as the Peter & Paul Community Campus. Previously, the site belonged to the Little Sisters of the Poor until the order closed its home for St. Louis’ elderly poor in 2018. The sisters had a presence in St. Louis for more than a century, according to the St. Louis Review.

The property is roughly 4.5 acres and fills a block in the St. Louis Place neighborhood near Crown Candy Kitchen and the forthcoming campus for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, according to Peter & Paul. The new campus includes an eight-story tower, a commercial kitchen and dining room, a 15-unit apartment building, a 26-room convent, a large chapel, multiple secure parking lots and ample private green space.

“This purchase means more than doubling our service footprint over the next few years from helping 116 people each night to more than 300,” Board Chair Mike Banahan said in the release.

The organization’s plans include the relocation and expansion of the agency’s Soulard Shelter, the oldest continually operating shelter in St. Louis. (It opened in 1981.) They plan to add another 40 beds and also plan the possible relocation of other programs, per the announcement.

“The purchase comes after more than two years of searching and often contentious public debate about proposed sites for the new homeless services facility. Central to the debate was the larger question of how much power the surrounding community should have to stop the opening of a low-barrier homeless shelter when there is such a great regional need,” the organization said.

It is notoriously difficult to receive approval for a shelter in the city of St. Louis, and a new shelter hasn’t been built in the city in 15 years, according to 7th Ward Alderwoman Alisha Sonnier. During the last legislative session with the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, Sonnier introduced Board Bill 227 to make it easier to open shelters, changing the current system that relies on a burdensome plat and petition process.

This bill died in session, but Sonnier has promised to keep trying to pass the reform this session.

Peter & Paul spent $3 million to purchase the facility, using funding from the City of St. Louis and State ARPA awards, it says.

“Renovations and rehabilitation will be needed, and the nonprofit plans to fund $20 million, with $7 million already committed, $3 million of that spent on the purchase,” the organization says. “The project will be completed in phases with final construction expected in 2026 or early 2027.”