By. Chris Stritzel
As the transformative Chroma project at Chouteau-Manchester-Vandeventer in the Grove starts to wrap up construction, other projects are anxiously waiting to begin. While some of the new projects are transformational, some add tot he streetscape in a new way while some mess up the form based code of the neighborhood. Either way, there is no denying that the Grove (in particular, the Manchester strip) is the City's hottest neighborhood and it is only going to get hotter. The Forest Park Southeast Development Committee held a meeting yesterday to discuss support for two projects in the Grove that would add space to the strip. continue development upward and bring more people to the neighborhood. One is Spencer Development's 7 floor 41010 Manchester project and the other is called "The Dogwood". Another that wasn't on the agenda is Greater Good's Station G redevelopment project on Chouteau.
If you think Chroma was a significant change to the Grove's main entrance, you may be fooling yourself. Spencer Development's 7 Flor mixed use building at 4101 Manchester will give the Grove it's own skyline. Currently Chroma, 4400 Manchester, The Chouteau Building and an abandoned school squeezed between Clayton avenue and Interstate 64 give this area it's own skyline. This building will be comparable in height to the Chouteau Building, if not, taller. 4101 Manchester will, include two retail spaces on the ground floor which one would have access to the 7th floor rooftop for additional seating. On the second floor will be a parking garage serving the building and the Manchester strip in general. Floor 3 will hold office space and an amenity deck for office workers and a fitness center. Floors 4-6 would hold 33 residential apartment units ranging in size from one to two bedroom units. Those are expected to go for top dollar.
Floor 7 will be the rooftop and it will hold the ancillary seating for the ground flor retail space and a swimming pool for the residents. The view from the 7th floor will surely be one of the best in the city as no nearby building, besides the Chouteau Building, would block it's view. The timeline for 4101 Manchester is also a timeline that will move really quick. Spencer plans to have the lot under their control by Mid-August of this year, break ground by the first week of September and have the construction complete and building opened by October 2019. However, some may see the request for tax abatements as a downside to the project when in reality, it wouldn't be that big of a deal. Abatements have become common place for St. Louis developments and most of the time, they are the only way developers are able to secure financing for their projects.
As this project begins, you can expect to see a "Project Update" page on this website to document it's rise.
The Dogwood in the Grove
The existing building at 4308 Manchester is run down and depressed looking. It was built for a Kroger store back in 1941. The building just seems to be an eyesore, but a $1.3 Million renovation and addition to the building is meant to change that look. Planned is an addition to the building giving it a second floor and a full on restoration. It is also a thoughtful design based on the rendering. The developer is "The Social Affair". They recently completed the 4321 Manchester Apartments right across the street from this. However, this project won't be a restoration opened all the time, it will be a event space. According to the FPSE Development Committee Agenda, "The proposed project is named “The Dogwood in the Grove” The project will be an 8,000-ft. commercial development at 4308 Manchester. The space will be a commissary kitchen for catering, catering office/headquarters, and an event space. The project will be two stories and feature a rooftop as a part of the project".
The current site has been under control since May 15th and they plan to start on August 1st. Completion is set for March 31st, 2019. Not only will the Dogwood expand the current street wall upward, it will also add to the dynamic architecture when driving or walking on Manchester. While this is a smaller project, it is surely one not to be forgotten about.
Other Projects Happening in the Grove
The Grove continues to grow in more ways than one. Here some of the projects happening in the already "hot" neighborhood.
Total Projects (including the two featured in this story): 16
By. Chris Stritzel
As many of you know, navigating on Building St. Louis, and getting to popular pages, has been perpetual hell for the past three weeks. Pages had to be closed down and locked and many were deleted and merged with other pages. I have been touting the Version 7 updates for sometime now. I have even said that Version 7 would bring redesigned pages, new features, better flow and integration and a not so zoomed in layout. I believe that I have accomplished this and I hope you all find it worth it. I am writing this story three days ahead of the release of Version 7 (the 27th at Midnight). This story will be a "sneak peak" at what I, and others, have even working on for sometime after the survey was sent out at the beginning of the month.
Lets get started with the homepage.
It was the first change made after Version 7 was announced and the redesign was completed. It showcases a simpler design where the two primary story sections are under one section thus reducing the overall size of the page. What I mean by this is the amount of time it takes you to find your content when scrolling. It is faster now since the page was shrunk. The homepage even received new descriptions for all categories featured on it to make them easier to understand. Even the background images were refreshed. To see this change, please see the "homepage".
STL Projects List
At the beginning of the month, we introduced "The Map" on is own page. That began to be an issue so some people on the survey responded by saying that they want to see the Map and Projects List better integrated. In doing so, I tried to integrate it right onto the Landing Page for STL Projects. It fits in beautifully and works well on mobile and desktop devices. Another large change was the condensing of the regional projects buttons section. They have been combined into one to make the searching on the website easier.
Other changes include...
City of St. Louis Project List Page
The City of St. Louis Page was completely overhauled. All three sectors of the City (North, Central and South) have been combined into one page that was previously the Landing Page to go their individual profiles. The slideshow of renderings was replaced with a Gallery of renderings. Each gallery bookends each row of project names so it is easier to find what project is what. Each project name that had the status of it said project had the status removed for the date or year feature commonly known on this website.
In addition to the above features...
Question and Answer Sessions
I tweeted out this the other day showcasing the new "card" design of the Question and Answer Sessions Landing Page. Gone are the days of overly long descriptions and the dark gray color scheme and in is smaller descriptions, a clean white design as seen throughout the website and redesigned Sessions themselves (oldest ones only). This new design allows us to add many more participants to the Sessions over the coming weeks, months and years. It also allows for easier navigation when trying to find what participant you would like to see.
Other changes include...
Author Profiles have been updated to include new descriptions, new background photos and new profile photos*.
We have introduced a new way for the public to get engaged on our website. We are introducing Guest Stories and Contributor Sign Up pages. Each one will be linked in buttons under the current "Social Media" section on the homepage. If you want to be a guest writer, you can write a story and submit it to us to be reviewed. If we believe there is a photo, we will email you to get the photo and your story will be published practically immediately. To become a contributor, there will be a form and a set of rules you must follow to be a contributor. It is open to the public but only 8 contributors will be allowed on the website. That means that there will be a total of 11 authors on here if the 8 spots fill up.
In addition to this, we are in the process of coding pages for the future of the website which welcomes Drone videos and potential live streams to discuss new developments in the region. While the Drone is for sure happening, we always have the option to pull the plug on these if we don't see them as being a viable resource.
In the End...
...We hope Version 7 is what people asked for as it leads this website on into the future. It is a new foundation that we will build upon while keeping the same overall design that people love. This is the future of Building St. louis and we are excited to see what it brings!
By. Chris Stritzel
When the 2008 Recession came, St. Louis felt the shock of it pretty heavily. Multiple proposals were dumped, projects were pushed back and vacant buildings continually sat vacant in Downtown. But as the Recession came to an end, St. Louis developers were restarting developments ever so cautiously. Investors weren't so bullish on St. Louis like they were in other cities so financing was slightly harder to get but a big improvement what it was during the Recession. Fast forward 8 years since the Recession started coming to a close. Many long time vacant buildings in Downtown have been brought back to life. We have a entire street that is home to our nightlife (Washington avenue). We have abandoned buildings that have plans in the works and some that are still waiting for their second chance at life. We have numerous construction sites in Downtown, both new and historic. The Arch has been connected to Downtown via the park over highway and more.
This past year in Downtown, many new businesses and apartment/loft buildings have opened or will open up to great success and some others were announced. Most notably, historic buildings like the Monogram on Washington, Level on Locust, Peper Lofts, 705 Olive, Mercantile Library, LaSalle Building and the International Show Building have been brought back to life or are in the process of doing so. Those three will bring additional residential, hotel and retail space to Downtown. Other restorations announced and/or are ready to get underway are the Jefferson Arms, Chemical Building and 1820 Locust Street. Those will bring the same uses as mentioned above. But the other historic buildings that sit vacant have an uncertain future. Structures such as Butler Brothers, YMCA and the NLEC all haven't had any plans talked about them recently or at all. Others have plans like the Municipal Courts and the Railway Exchange but those appear to be stalled. Newer buildings that sit vacant are the AT&T Center and the Millennium Hotel. North of those structures are giant roadblocks for future development in downtown.
The AT&T Center is supposedly going to be bought by Clayco and redeveloped but no plans have been announced on that one. The Millennium Hotel just seems like the next structure to have a redevelopment plan as it is close to Ballpark Village, the Arch and major highways but no one seems interested. Besides all the negatives, the positives greatly outweigh them. With more residents Downtown then ever before, more jobs following suit and now the need for new construction in parts is driving a renaissance that is quietly (as in no cranes) reshaping our Downtown. All you need to do is walk or drive around down there. There are multiple construction fences, infrastructure Improvements and other things going on to make way for the continued revitalization of Downtown.
But the future appears to hold more than just historic reconfigurations, it also includes new construction. Projects such as Ballaprk Village Phase 2 and 300 South Broadway give us a glance at what could be coming in the future if the revilization continues. Towers of varying heights could sprout up all over the place in Downtown. A few years ago, Drury wanted to build a tower on Lacledes Landing, the chances of that happening now have gone up significantly since the lot it would be built on is not subdivided. Then you have a second tower for the Gateway Tower. The building that holds KMOV and Shipworks may have a second tower built next to it. But that could've been a marketing gimmick to sell the building. It is said that the podium base of the Gateway Tower can support another tower of the same height. The grandest of them all could be the 50 Floor Riverfront Tower that Alterra is working on.
I have received confirmation that it is indeed being designed and the general location of it but Alterra wants to get a start on the Jefferson Arms first before announcing a 50 Floor Tower. As many cities similar In size to us have seen a ton of Downtown new construction, we are taking it slow. Taking it slow is actually good because it seems developers here build for market demand and don't over build. People are moving in ever so steadily but a drastic increase or decrease in moving in could wreck havoc on future development plans. While other cities are beginning to notice the effects of a "apartment bubble" St. Louis doesn't seem to be witnessing or experiencing these effects. Our buildings, whether they be in Downtown or the general city, fill up quick, so there is demand just not a ton of demand.
In an interview with KMOX regarding city projects, I said, "As the Central West End and The Grove build like no tomorrow, they are running out of space quickly, and you don't want to displace current residents for a new project, you need land. Downtown has parking lots and vacant lots scattered all over the place that can hold new construction. Those with the ever decreasing amount of abandoned buildings Downtown means that new construction is eminent." I still believe the new construction is eminent in Downtown. All signs point to it. It's not just because the entire City is slowly coming back but it Is the fact that there is an entire generation interest in our downtowns across the nation. In St. Louis, that generation is very much at play here. Then you have people my age who see Downtowns coming back and what to live in them. It is a domino effect. These people are opening businesses, starting families and contributing to the revilization of our downtown and others so the future looks more bright.
On top of that, you have DowntownSTL Inc. a company that is dedicated to making downtown the place to be. These public private partnerships are strengthening our Downtown while making new development possible. For me, I give Downtown 4 years to fully explode into construction mode. Many of the abandoned buildings must be dealt with first and I see their redevelopments taking place, or starting, within the next 4 years. At the end of those 4 years, we will have skyline changing and infill projects going up primarily on vacant lots. Some of these developments will be small but will contribute to the density of Downtown while some will be fairly large.
And while I can't tell where the projects will be built (North or South of Market), I can tell that the outlook on downtown is improving and with just a little more work on the pedestrian experience, Downtown will be ready for the next generation of hustle and bustle on the streets and sidewalks. We already have people on the sidewalks of Downtown at night but more will join them as time goes on. Creepy streets are being lit up with lighting and restaurants and what not making people feel safer. And while it is a perpetual hell to navigate by car Downtown, I believe that in the future, you can park your car anywhere down there, or take the metro, and wander around like you would in Chicago and NYC and enjoy the urban atmosphere.
The new downtown is coming soon, and I can't wait to see what it brings.
By. Chris Stritzel
Laclede's Landing is all what St. Louis has of it's original riverfront. A majority of the riverfront was demolished for the Arch grounds and even some of the buildings on the Landing have been demolished because they were neglected to the point of no return. That dreary time was then, this is now. The Laclede's Landing of today is rising in a new form, that is reinventing itself with Lofts, Modern Office Space and Restaurant Attractions to draw people down. Today was the Laclede's Landing open house and anyone could learn more about businesses down here, sign up to learn more about the Peper Lofts and enjoy views of the City and River while drinking wine and taste testing cheese. It was held at the 612North Event Space (also known as the Cutlery Building) on the 5th floor (the building on the far right in the image).
While at the event, I asked the Advantes Development people about the "Peper Lofts" project and the lady at the table said, "we are excited about bringing the first residential development to Laclede's Landing. We believe it sets the bar for which every other residential development on the landing will be defined. With unbeatable amenities like a rooftop deck with views of the Arch and skyline, 5 Star in room amenities, higher than average ceilings, easy access to public transit, highways and easy access to the Gateway Arch park, we believe this is the prime location for such a building". While the lady didn't say what percentage of the 49 units are leased, I expect it to be quite a few as the view from 612North was spectacular and comparable to those residents of the Peper Lofts will get. And with rents not being that high (One Bedroom Units will start at $925 and Two Bedroom Units will start at $1250), I expect them to go fast and lead to more residential development on the Landing, which is already happening.
Near the Peper Lofts building, and on 2nd Street the main street in the district, a Philadelphia based developer, Red Rocks Group, wants to buy the buildings at 618-624 North 2nd (Building left of the Cutlery Building) and 700 North 2nd (left of the Lucas Avenue gap). About 60 apartments are planned, so roughly 30 per building. The purchase of those buildings could be completed by the Summer. That means 109 apartments could be on the Landing by December 2019. Another potential residential redevelopment is the Traders Building at 801 North 2nd, but I haven't heard much on it for in a while.
If the Traders Building were to be turned into Apartments, I could only see 30 being added here. It isn't that big of a building and would do very well if it was converted into affordable studio and one bedroom units. Residential on the Landing can and will lead to it's rebirth. Before Washington Avenue was removed for the Arch Park construction, Laclede's Landing had 17 restaurants, that number has collapsed to 7 but many are in the works and will be opening soon. One is an Axe Throwing Bar on 1st Street called Lumberjack Saloon, another is a place at 612 North 2nd called Kimchi Korean Chicken, then a new recent addition is a Mexican Restaurant (Mas Tequila) next door to The Lou on 2nd Street. That puts the amount of restaurants on the Landing at 10.However, numerous empty store fronts litter the Landing but that could change as these residential developments come online among other infrastructure Improvements.
Another way that Laclede's Landing can change, and will change, is with the recently approved plan to extend Lucas Avenue into the district and open up a new way in from Downtown for both pedestrians and cars. The new Lucas connector will divide the Drury owned lot in two and break up the super block so future development plans can be easier to accomplish. While Drury has been quiet with their plan for a 30 floor tower on the Landing and a parking garage, they do plan on renovating the historic Witte Hardware Building into luxury office space that will hopefully bring some technology companies to the Landing. There is no timeline for that renovation but does show us that Drury is ready to invest money into Laclede's Landing. Could that mean that Drury will move forward on their Tower and Garage? Probably not, but it is worth the speculation!
Finally, a vacant lot (formerly home to Switzer's Licorice) at First and Lucas will soon be home to a controversial pocket park known as the Katherine Ward Burg Garden. It will be built by Great Rivers Greenway and will be a half acre. The Garden Park will border the Eads Bridge. It is the subject of controversy as many find the plan redundant as the Gateway Arch park is just on the other side of the Bridge, plus, the location of the Garden Park is one where many people coming from the Arch enter the Landing, so it makes more sense to have a commercial building here rather than another pocket park. The Garden Park is part of GRG's plan for the North Riverfront which includes a park with trail, ponds and other things from the Eads Bridge up to the Stan Span.
The Katherine Ward But Garden, as described by GRG says...
Laclede's Landing is ready to become part of the St. Louis night life scene again very soon. With an estimated 220 people living on the Landing by the end of next year, the chances of new construction and things grows substantially once Lucas is extended and abandoned buildings are dealt with. The Landing will fill in naturally with new buildings that are built as the market sees as necessary. While I believe Laclede's Landing will be 80% of a neighborhood once the Peper Lofts open, it misses out on that other 20%. That 20% is a grocery store so office tenants and residents don't have to travel far to get their groceries. Another good thing for the Landing is the visible trend of moving away from a "tourist gimmick" to a real neighborhood.
While Laclede's Landing still has a long way to go before it reaches "peak occupancy" again, I think it will arrive far sooner than many of us think but for an exact year, I would expect 2022. By then, vacant lots will have proposals and the demand for more space will only continue to grow.
GALLERY: Photos from the Open House
By. Chris Stritzel
We have an issue in St. Louis, to much open space. Even though St. Louis ranks in the top 30 densest cities in the United States, we have tons of vacant lots from past (and failed) urban renewal efforts and buildings that have been neglected so much that the least expensive option is to demolish buildings. Infill is rare in the City and the projects that do come along are often small but significant. In the main urban center of the city, Downtown, parking lots are prevalent to where very few street corners are even urban anymore. Urban is considered buildings on all four corners. Downtown has only 9 of these (but 5 of them are completed by parking garages). It is a shame but the ever changing, and more positive, outlook on Downtown could lead to things that make Downtown denser than it currently is.
Several factors that can and lead to infill and new construction are as follows...
- Abandoned buildings are brought back to life
- Public Safety
- There is demand
In St. Louis, we have multiple abandoned downtown buildings with plans to be brought back to life. Those with increased public safety have lead to the massive number of people moving into Downtown. There is demand overall, but the remaining abandoned structures must be dealt with first, and we are well on our way. As that demand grows, there is no doubt developers have plans to build new things. They don’t have to bug big or tall, but just significant.
What I mean by “significant” is that the projects add DENSITY. Multiple parking lots are wide and long enough to support a building of 5-10 floors comfortably. However, in some cases like on Laclede’s Landing, Prime development land is sacrificed for a ampitheater on the Riverfront which hold back on density and new developments. Elsewhere in Downtown, like at 17th and Locust, companies are tearing neighboring buildings down form employee parking lots. The latest example of this is Aetna demolishing the building at 17th and Locust for a parking lot. It is a shame that the city would allow the demolition of a historic structure for a private lot. But money ultimately talks.
Open space is a disease here in St. Louis. We have to much of it. Many owners are unwilling to sell their lots. Eminent domain can be put to use, but that would be an over stretch of power and could potentially lead to costly legal issues and cases against the city and said developer. We can’t let that happen in any form, so what do we do about the open space in this city, and in particular, Downtown? Well, we have to continue promoting City development and that the more developments are made, the more people that come which translates into more revenue to get more cops and community policing efforts on the ground to reduce crime to start the process back over. It’s complicated, but could work if all sectors work together.
A way for the city to make some extra money on new developments is to institute a maximum 75% tax abatement for 10 years like Kansas City. You can still get great developments like this development at Barney Allis Plaza in Kansas City (see photo above). Developers who are willing to invest in our City also must make sure they pay to help improve this city to get people to use their developments. Developers who ask for handouts are hurting this city by not contributing to the Tax Base for, sometimes, a full 10 years.
That 75% maximum tax abatement should be implemented across the city. More tax money the better because that way it will help our most runs down the neighborhoods get a good footing at redevelopment. This whole story is about making downtown a great entrance into our city, and then using the reduced maximum tax abatement to improve the entire city overall. Implementing this would allow our Downtown’s surrounding area’s to redevelopment themselves thus leading to us our problems being solved in the process. We can be a strong city again if we put our mind to it and go Progressive on things, fixing the maximum tax abatement is one of them. Taxing ourselves to prosperity doesn’t work but reducing other things across the board will benefit us greatly without the need to hike taxes via a ballot initiative.
But in the end, this is only a opinion so I don’t expect it to change much at all.
By. Chris Stritzel
Long before East St. Louis began to rot away and before the Coal and Manufacturing Industry left East St. Louis, it was a boom town. The population approached and topped off at 82,000 people in 1940 with estimates of the population skyrocketing to nearly 200,000. In the 1920s, Civic Leaders in East St. Louis wanted to give the City a skyline to show its "wealth" as growth seemed inevitable. Out of this $4 Million plan came the Majestic Theater, Murphy Building, Broadview Hotel, First Bank Building and the Spivey Building. The Spivey Building was named after Allen R. Spivey, the owner of the East St. Louis Journal (Newspaper) at the time. The Spivey Building would house the East St. Louis Journal and Printing room. The neighboring Journal Building was constructed in 1936 to be additional office space for a Newspaper that continued to grow.
The building was opened in 1929, just a few years before the Stock Market crash. At the time, Mr. Spivey himself saw lofty goals for East St. Louis and a Downtown that would forever grow. The building itself was situated in the best location in all of East St. Louis. It was close to a theater, shopping and everything East St. Louis had to offer at the time. The upper floors of the building was office space. The offices included lawyers, doctors and dentists and it remained that way to the building's closure in 1980. According to people whose doctors were in the building, "the lobby was nice and included some terra cotta accenting". "There would always be a man waiting outside the elevator to take you up since it was manually controlled". "There was a cigar cart located just outside the front door". "When you would walk in, the elevators would be to your left, but if you walk past them and turn right, you would be in the "Journal" offices".
According to sources who would like to remain unnamed, the last tenant to leave the building was a dentist office who moved to nearby Belleville. After the Spivey Building closed in 1980, it sat vacant while vandals removed the copper wiring, smashed windows, graffitied it up and squatted in there. It has also become a common place for Urban Explorers to explore. In recent years, developer have come and gone with their plans to restore the building. I the early 2000s, a developer by the name of Phil Cohn bought the building and planned to make it high end office space and street level retail. Several tenants were lined up to move in but Mr. Cohn was caught disposing of Asbestos the wrong way and caught in a corruption case which ended up having him thrown into jail. Since then, the building has remained a shell where pieces of the roof have fallen off and crashed to the ground causing nearby business owners to call for the Spivey Building's demolition.
Because of the calls for demolition, the Spivey building has been placed on the "critically endangered" list of buildings in the St. Louis area. It is at the top of the list. Last month, I posted a photo of Facebook that went viral, in some cases, which was practically an "in memoriam" for the building. After being seen by nearly 16,000 people. a developer came along and is continuing to contact the City of East St. Louis and St. Clair County Illinois to prevent the demolition. Scottie Porter, who owns Historic Restoration LLC of Birmingham, wants to save the building by securing it of vandals, adding new windows into it, cleaning up the façade, restoring the terra cotta accenting and holding it all in place so no more will fall off. While the exterior is being dealt with, the interior would be cleaned up and new elevators would be installed. Following this, the building would be marketed but as what remains a mystery.
No matter what happens, the Spivey Building will remain a symbol of the East St. Louis oft he past and one of the future, if it comes back to life. The Spivey is East St. Louis' icon like the Arch is to St. Louis.
The Spivey Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in 2002.