By. Chris Stritzel
In March, I wrote a story titled "2018: The Year the New St. Louis Story Began". It was a story that I wrote to detail how we are changing as a city and region. I detailed that the worst neighborhoods began to change while development has become more widespread in the region. Now, as 2018 comes to an end, I look back on the year that brought us numerous surprises while being uniquely St. Louis. I have chosen the 12 most important projects announced this year (in my view) that are also my favorites and listed them in a random order. All are equally important. The order is 1 (oldest) to 12 (newest).
This is the 2018 Year in Review and this is how our new story began.
1. City Hospital by Pearl
The last buildings in the former City Hospital complex are currently being redeveloped by Indianapolis based Pearl Companies. I wrote about this in February and was 3 months ahead of the rest of the media in writing about it. The development comes as Pearl plans to expand their footprint in St. Louis. This project brings their expertise in historic building redevelopment to St. Louis ny creating a new building, out of s shell of the old, with 72 apartments and luxury amenities. This development is included in this list as it strengthens the surrounding neighborhood along with redeveloping the last abandoned buildings in the City Hospital Complex. So it's a win in a more than one way.
2. AC Clayton Hotel
This project came out of nowhere and has the potential to be something truly great. As Marriott continues their aggressive expansion into the St. Louis market, the AC Branding is playing a key role. The former Clayton Police HQ has been eyed for an hotel since last fall and nothing beats seeing the actual plans. The 12 floor hotel will be the first new hotel in Downtown Clayton in 30 years and will come equipped with a rooftop bar. The hotel will also be located block North of the MetroLink station for Clayton. This is being developed by Montana based Homebase Partners. This project made the list as it strengthens an already strong Downtown of the region and builds off of a TOD factor with the MetroLink a block away. The hotel will also help quench the strong demand for hotel rooms in the region, and in particular, Clayton.
3. Grandview Arcade
It's been a while since people graced the hallways of South Grand's Melba Theater (Grandview Arcade) building. Garcia Properties is acting as the developer and has a track record of getting things done. As of this writing, the project has began with a yellow tube draped out of the southern windows. When completed, in Late 2019, 20 apartments will fill the building and will help grow the Gravois Park neighborhood among others. Additional work space will be included to strengthen the South Grand district as it continues it's march Southward to Chippewa.
4. Lafayette Square
This was an unexpected development as the plans showcase a forward thinking development that takes into consideration the Northside-Southside Line before it is even built. The "Chouteau Corridor Redevelopment" will consist of a mega development with offices, apartments, retail space, a hotel, green space and parking that spans across 7 city blocks. While no official renderings have been released yet, it's safe to say that the development will look great since HOK is the architecture firm. The development will not only strengthen Lafayette Square but also make Chouteau pedestrian friendly. It will also remove large vacant lots and rundown things that are an eyesore for this sector of the city.
Leasing for the space is currently underway by Balke Brown-Transwestern.
5. Koman's Cortex K
Koman's plans for the corner of Sarah and Clayton were made public this year. The development, dubbed "Cortex K" makes it onto this list because of how it will displace a large lot in between Cortex and the Grove while bringing life to this normally dead corner. It further makes it onto this list due to the substantial amount of new office space included here. The first phase features the office building (see above). That office building should be completed by Early 2020 despite advertising saying Q4 2019. Future phases will consist of parking, residential and more office space. I personally like this project as it will help break up the industrial look of this part of Cortex that runs along I-64.
6. 3201 Morgan Ford
The Tower Grove South neighborhood is mixed on this project as it replaces a vacant lot to add to the dense neighborhood but fails to add affordable housing to the neighborhood. Some also believe that it will be a nuisance. The building, designed by JEMA and to be developed by AHM, juxtaposes new and old in design. The team is also behind MOFO a block North at 3172 Morgan Ford. The project makes it onto this list as it strengthens a neighborhood, eliminates a vacant lot and preserves a historic corner building. As of this writing, construction has yet to begin as all hands on deck are at the MOFO development.
7. Elevate Coworking on Delmar
A true early October surprise is what this project is. While small, it will redevelop an older building on Delmar just Northeast of the popular, and ever growing, Euclid business corridor. The coworking and event space, known as Elevate, will help improve the aesthetics of this part of Delmar and change it overall along with the Field's Foods Store at the Lofts@Euclid Building and Tom Saur's "Solire Apartments" across the street. The development will help educate the neighborhood's youth to do great things for the betterment of their own, and the city's, future according to Elevate. Construction has yet to begin on Elevate and the Solire Apartments (which were announced January 1st 2018).
8. America's Center Expansion
It's no secret that we have been losing conventions do to the America's Center showing it's age and lack of space. In October The Convention and Visitors Commission (CVC) unveiled plans to expand the convention center to be more competitive to markets of similar size. When it was unveiled, I was surprised, but I shouldn't have been as it has been brought up in the past. In addition to more space, a park, new ballroom, updates to the entrances and a future parking and retail garage, this expansion will remove some parking lots behind Washington making that area a bit more inviting than what it currently is which I like as it is sort of a forgotten area.
9. Crestwood City Center
On September 11th, news got out that Walpert Properties was looking to buy, and redevelop, the former Crestwood Mall site. It wasn't until mid-October that we got to see these plans in all their glory. It's a mega development that will consist of new office space, retail space, residential units, a movie theater, parking and a Pharmacy among other things. The development seems like a much larger version of the Streets of St. Charles, only designed around a center street. Remiger Design is the architect of this project and it made the list because of the eyesore that it will eventually replace. In my view, it will also fill a void left by the now demolished Crestwood Mall.
I personally like this as I have been waiting to see something go in here, and this matches my expectations for the site.
10. Downtown West Collaboration Center and Park
This was a true surprise as I thought a garment factory was planned at 22nd and Washington. To my surprise, this nice project came along and is envisioned by Abbott Properties of Kansas City. Abbott has had great success in redeveloping buildings in KC's Crossroads District, so it was no wonder that they would embark on a project of similar scale to what they are used to. The $32 Million project will redevelop 5 Downtown West buildings into office space and retail space while creating a new park and parking lot. This development has a lot of good going for it which is why it ended up on this list. The project goes well with the eventual Tire Mart redevelopment and will help strengthen the Locust Street corridor especially with Midtown Village (The Jefferson Connector) coming to life a few blocks away.
11. Forest Park-Debaliviere TOD
I was surprised when I saw this as the Pearl Companies were immediately behind it. The Debaliviere strip, as it stands, is pretty boring but this project will surely change it. The $70 Million investment will displace a car centric strip mall and parking lots while adding 264 apartments and 34,000SF of retail space to the neighborhood along with an underground parking garage. It presents St. Louis City with a great example of TOD (Transit Oriented Development) and moving forward, I see other developers trying to emulate this project's design and scale so something like the Sunnen Station Apartments doesn't end up happening again.
This spot is reserved for whatever project is announced In December that I like and will benefit the community in some way.
Where we are.
So here we are. St. Louis is undergoing a dramatic change that is shaping our future. Abandoned buildings are going away for something new or they are being resorted. Cranes dot the region, especially in the Central Corridor, as they erect new towers and buildings that are sure to improve our looks. Elsewhere, smaller developments are under construction and are improving neighborhoods in more than one way. And while we know that there are problems with some of these new developments (TIFs and Abatements), we can all agree that they are adding something great to St. Louis as a whole.
This whole development cycle in general has brought more change than the 2000s boom. This specific boom started in 2012 and has been going for 6 years with each additional year bringing more and more developments of a wide ranging scale. Some neighborhoods are beginning to shows signs of enhancement as people make returns to them. Two of these are on the Northside and are Hyde Park and Old North St. Louis. These two neighborhoods are on the upswing and are continuing their revitalization. Other Northside neighborhoods could boom soon if things keep going the way they are. Carr Square, Baden and Riverview appear to be next for some development especially with developers growing their interest in these neighborhoods.
So what's in store for 2019? Well, I see this cycle start to cool down as a majority (70%) of the proposed projects that we have currently will start but the remaining 30% will most likely be cancelled or revised and make a return in the early 2020s. Developers may want to wait to see how the market does handling all the new office, hotel and residential space coming online before deciding what to build next.
Back when this website was young, I said that every 20 years St. Louis sees buildings proposed that are fairly tall and transformational. I think that this will happen in the 2020s with the first instance appearing in Late 2019. Some of you may be thinking, "well we have some pretty tall buildings going up right now", and while you're correct it's not like what the 20 year cycle shows. We have to remember that in the 2000s, we had proposals for multiple high-rises in Clayton, CWE and Downtown with the most notorious being McGowan's 1000FT tall tower (which many say was a fantasy). While we won't see anything of that height, we could see something cross over, or be proposed 500FT for the first time since the Eagleton Courthouse was completed.
While it is hard to tell what Koplar may be thinking in the Central West End or what Centene may be thinking in Clayton or whatever developer may be planning something, I have been told by multiple people that Alterra may pull the trigger on their Riverfront Tower which would be 50 Floors and top out over 550FT. Depending on who I asked, it ranges from 550FT-635FT. This is key to what we may see as these people were on the project's team, or were made aware of it, at some point or another. So a 2020s boom of tall buildings isn't astronomical, it's just who will start it and where.
But for now, the 2019 landscape will shape what happens in the 2020s and 2018 set the stage for things to watch out for in 2019. Now, whose to say this boom will end unexpectedly from a recession or some other form of crisis? The economy is doing well right now and while we are do for a correction overall, it's safe to say that we will still remain in good standing for a little while longer which would allow for the current cycle to wrap up and open the door for the 2020s.
This has been the 2018 Year and Review, thanks for reading.
Story not completed yet. Waiting on December to wrap up.