By. Chris Stritzel - 7 Minute Reading Time
On December 18th, 2017, Ballpark Village Phase 2 broke ground. That project includes a 29 story, 300 unit apartment tower known as One Cardinal Way, a Loews Hotel and Office Building. The Residential Tower will top out at 320 feet in height and the other portion around 130 feet. Just across the street, and announced the Friday before the groundbreaking on the 14th of December, 300 South Broadway was unveiled and proposed. It was passed by the Preservation Board on February 26th, 2018. That tower will top out at 33 floors and 337 feet tall according to documents obtained by Building St. Louis and will have 246 Units, 10 of which are badly needed 3 bedroom units. That project should begin in September of this year.
In Central West End, after a Year and 2 months, on February 27th, 2018, One Hundred broke ground. That building will be 36 floors and 385 feet tall. It should be open by Summer 2020. What am I getting at here? Well, it is fairly simple, we are pushing buildings that will make a difference in the City’s skylines, and we aren’t finished yet. In the case of Central West End, the hottest neighborhood in the City, more high rises could be unveiled this year if all goes well, and it appears it will be. MAC Properties hinted at their Commencement Ceremony on Tuesday, that they have other projects planned in St. Louis and that one could be unveiled this year.
St. Louis City is entering a building boom not yet seen in decades. This one is so far outpacing the Pre-Recession boom that brought us the Park East Tower, The Tower at OPOP, Lumiere Place and 4545 Lindell. But several buildings were proposed at the time that would have dramatically changed the City in many ways. Some of those projects are the Bottle District, the original Ballpark Village Plan and Skyhouse among other things but the fact the City had far more abandoned buildings at the time didn’t help get these built. Many were ready to go, but the recession took its toll. Fast forward 10 years and St. Louis is booming. Downtown has rebounded big time with restorations of buildings going on all over the place and more are planned. Big buildings like the Railway Exchange Building and Jefferson Arms Project are ready to go but financing is still being lined up.
Other buildings like Butler Brothers, the old Downtown YMCA, AT&T Center and the Millennium Hotel are still massive eyesores that are abandoned. All but the AT&T Center have been thought about by developers. The Butler Brothers Building and YMCA Building have been thought about by Alterra International (they are working on the Jefferson Arms Project) and while nothing much else has been said, I expect to see something announced soon for those sites. As for the Millennium Hotel, it was on the radar of a developer from Chicago up until last month. The company wanted to demolish both buildings and build a mixed use building similar in height to the Mansion House buildings according to a reader who works for the company. The AT&T Center is what is holding us back, and if that were to get a plan, the demand for new construction would soar.
For now, several structures are rising or are ready to rise. As mentioned before, the largest ones are Ballpark Village Phase 2, 300 South Broadway and One Hundred. Others, that won’t make an impact on the skyline but will at the street level, are HIBERNIA in Dogtown (which just began and will add 100 Residential Units and a grocery store), the EVEN Hotel at Jefferson and Locust, 4101 Manchester in the Grove and Sansone Group's massive "The Hill" Complex where the old Magic Chef factory stood. This building boom though sure has brought creativity among design and master planning.
When 300 South Broadway was proposed in December, the Preservation Board did their job and put a stipulation on the design of the structures to incorporate at least the 1890s portion of the existing structure and to make the exterior of the building 75% glass. Doing this would’ve derailed the project but HDA did not give up and presented a great plan at the most recent Preservation Board Meeting (pictured). The brick base is not the existing structure but rather something new made to look like the existing structure. Needless to say, it wasn’t approved by the Preservation Board who wanted the 1890s façade saved, but it shows the creativity that can be produced when architects and developers put their minds to it.
In other projects in the city, buildings are being designed to match their neighborhoods. In Central West End, One Hundred has a Art-Deco vibe for the numerous Art-Deco buildings nearby and it has a ton of glass and steel to represent the modern buildings nearby and the Arch. New homes in the Grove represent the neighborhood’s change from rundown and industrial to a hip and modern neighborhood. In many cases, historic buildings are being saved in the Grove, while others go to make way for new homes and apartment buildings that are beginning go give the neighborhood its own “skyline”.
Elsewhere, infill is being designed to fit into the neighborhood context. Tower Grove South’s MOFO development on Morgan Ford has odes to the neighborhood’s dark colors with a modern twist while going no higher than 3 floors so that it doesn’t tower over the neighborhood. In Lafayette Square and Soulard, buildings are being planned and built to resemble neighboring structures in materials and looks. All of these things help push St. Louis forward and make it new again in an innovative way.
Worst Neighborhoods Begin to Change
On the Northside, large swaths of land are disappearing to become new housing. It is a start. Many of these developments are happening in some of the worst neighborhoods (in crime and dilapidation). Three of those are Hyde Park, Jeff-Vander-Lou and The Ville. On top of the those, Old North St. Louis is one of the examples of what revitalization can look like. Several buildings were renovated and the surrounding streets are going to get new homes and apartments in the coming years to create the most densely populated area on the Northside (for now). Other areas like Hyde Park and The Ville are getting housing developments that displace vacant buildings (that can House crime) for bright new houses that move crime away from them.
Also on the Northside, the NGA is taking a stand by redeveloping 24 City blocks for their new HQ. The area around this could take off if the land was taken from Paul McKee and sold to other, trustworthy developers. This area could hold some retail and housing so that NGA employees have something good to see than tons of vacant lots and decay. Just South of the NGA site, the old Pruitt Igoe Site has been cleared for Paul McKee’s Healthworks Village and whether anything gets built there is anyone’s guess, but one thing is for sure, it looks better than having an urban forest.
Elsewhere on the Northside, vacant hospitals and schools are being given a new life as Apartments and new mixed use developments which will eventually be catalysts for more development, and badly needed development. But what about Population Growth?
Well, with everything I mentioned in this article, the last piece is Population Growth and the answer is not in the upcoming Census. The crime has been insanely high these last two years and it should bottom out in 2020. At that time, our population should bottom out around 309,000 people (We haven't been below 310,000 since 1870) before rebounding to roughly 325,000 by 2030. The reasoning behind this is that several young people who cannot live on their own now will most likely move into the City’s “hot” neighborhoods and have a family. Most of these will be ones that are…
Once that happens, the population will rise and crime will decrease. By the end of the century, our population may push 600,000. It all depends on if we can continue restoring and improving our city and we are well on our way to doing so. It’s not the old guard that is saving the city and seeing its potential, it is the young people and urbanites who see the city’s potential and are bringing it back with the help of risk taking developers.
If you think Detroit’s revitalization is amazing and big… you clearly have been blind to St. Louis (which is doing far better than Detroit). In the end, 2018 will go down into St. Louis’ history at the year our new city was born and St. Louis was rediscovered by everyone.