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