By. Chris Stritzel
It was 2014, CityArchRiver was picking up steam, and beginning construction, and the demolition of the former Arch Garage was announced. This sent the city to issue an RFP for a new parking garage on Laclede's Landing. The most notable developer was Drury whose modest proposal for a 7 floor parking garage, at 3rd and Morgan, was supported by the City. It ultimately won approval. Among the talk of a parking garage was another parking garage, of 6 floors, topped by a 24 floor residential tower that offered views of the Arch grounds and the skyline. The tower plan was contingent on the 7 floor garage being built, and the success it would have. Yet, here we are over 4 1/2 years later and nothing has happened on these key parking lots in Laclede's Landing. The sites where much change could happen have been left behind with all of the development taking place just West of I-70.
The residential tower was originally envisioned in 2012 by the Lawrence Group and Drury. The two firms wanted to design and build an iconic tower to bookend the East end of Washington Avenue and give travelers coming across the river on the Eads Bridge, a new entrance into the City. The 30 floor tower would've been an instant landmark and would've been included in many skyline shots of St. Louis and would've been visible from Washington Avenue's MX District. But once again, here we are 4 1/2 years later and nothing has been done. Drury still owns the parking lots that I am talking about but not even the chosen parking garage has moved forward. Drury does have it's hand in other projects on the Landing, of which they are involved in two projects directly.
Drury's Witte Hardware building renovation was meant to take the nearly half vacant building and restore it into new office space for technology based firms. So far, those plans are working and while the interior of the building is being modified, the exterior also got a facelift in the form of the restoration of the Witte logo on the South side of the building. The restoration project is the biggest investment made into Laclede's Landing by Drury since 2014 but it's peanuts compared to the Peper Lofts project, but that's another story. Drury's second project is the dividing of their large parking lot (from the Eads Bridge to Morgan on 3rd Street) for the construction of the Lucas Street Extension. Lucas Street will connect to 2nd (within Laclede's Landing) and open up a easier way to get into the Landing from Washington. The extension allows both cars and pedestrians to enter the Landing earlier rather than walking to Morgan or driving to Laclede's Landing Boulevard.
You can see the Witte Hardware logo restoration and future Lucas Street Extension in the images below. The Lucas Street Extension will be along the parking lot's main drive way.
Drury's involvement in the two projects mentioned above does give me hope that they are still looking into building something new here. They could build a parking garage to replace the ageing garage along the riverfront and build the actual residential tower without a garage. In order to do that, they would have to cut the parking element out of it and build a 25 floor residential tower in it's place. A garage could be built at 3rd and Morgan and that would also serve the residential building. The parking lot closest to 2nd Street (see above photo) could be home to a Drury Hotel or something along those lines. Basically, Drury has a lot of options here but I'm starting to think that the idea of building something large here is going away completely.
St. Louis City, especially Downtown, has seen or is seeing tons of new construction apartment wise. Old buildings are being converted in apartments and there is even some new construction. The flood of apartments is putting a damper on Drury's plans for a tower on Laclede's Landing. Downtown itself is seeing upwards of over a thousand new apartments coming online by 2021. Laclede's Landing itself will have about 49 on it following the completion of the Peper Lofts. Depending on how these go, more apartment projects could spring up. In this June 13th blog post, I stated that two other apartment projects were planned on the Landing, but since then, one folded and the other remains in limbo.
Laclede's Landing can use more residential. It will do good for that part of Downtown but Drury isn't realizing it yet, or if they have, they certainly aren't acting in this hot real estate market. If the tower is even being thought about anymore, I wonder where it is in the planning process. Is it still in design? Is it shelved? Is it cancelled? Or is Drury waiting till the remaining buildings on Laclede's Landing are redeveloped? I don't know the answers to these but I do know that Drury is missing it's chance on this round of development in St. Louis. As far as I know, the concept is fading away, or has completely disappeared and while I have faith that Laclede's Landing will continue to evolve, I don't see Drury being part of that future as far as building new things go, but that's my opinion.
I want to hear your opinion. Do you think Drury is still planning the tower or have they scrapped it?