It’s been a long time coming.
Since the early 2000s, many preservationists have wondered when, and if, Chouteau’s Landing would be redeveloped. Hope came in the early 2000s when the now defunct Chivvis Development Group, led by lawyer Steve Murphy, proposed a major project that would see all the old buildings in the district renovated, new construction added in along with 4th Street seeing buildings renovated and infill being built on parking lots and vacant lots. While Chivvis started on 4th Street, they ultimately only finished 3 buildings. Those being 756-58 South 4th and 904-08 South 4th. The remainder of the Chivvis plan went under due to the Great Recession of 2008, the lack of capital that came with it, and an overall sour taste by the property owners on the Landing.
Since then, a clerical error saw the demolition of a building at 4th and Lombard take place in 2012. In 2013, the Powell Square Building came down. In 2015, multiple fires at one of the Crunden Martin Buildings made it structurally unstable and even appearing on the brink of collapse. The district is, in its current state, a bit of a dump. It looks like something that would be used in a movie where all humans have vanished. Weeds grow out of cracks in parking lots, streets are crumbling and graffiti is plentiful. It’s a dystopian paradise. Now, plans are in the works to redevelop the area into office space, apartments, hospitality services, retail space, and a new parking garage.
The development will retain the name “Chouteau’s Landing” and will be developed by a yet to be named master developer and the St. Louis based Apted Brothers. “We’ve always been relatively neutral in what our role is in the overall development.” says Brett Apted, “This one is too important for the City as a whole”. St. Louis based Arcturis has been tapped as the architect on the project.
It’s the front door of St. Louis and probably the most visible site in the city. The current condition is a disgrace. In any other city in the country, this area would be a thriving mixed-use district or corporate HQ decades ago. It’s hiding in plain site. - the Apteds
The project is set to be one of the largest redevelopment project that St. Louis City has seen in decades. It will also be a project that will be praised by some and questioned by others, but all can agree that this will be a vast improvement over what is there currently.
Chouteau's Landing will see a few buildings demolished to make way for either parking, green space, or infill. The buildings on the demolition list include the remnants of the old Servco Building, a loading dock along Lombard Street, and the old factory on the lot bounded by 3rd, 2nd, Lombard, and Gratiot.
However, new construction buildings will help make up for the lost density. Two new mixed use buildings, a parking garage, and the potential adaptive reuse of the burned out Crunden Martin building will help add more usable space to the neighborhood.
The other buildings in the neighborhood will be redeveloped into office, retail, and residential space. The large Crunden Martin building, which is the biggest in the district, will be all office with unique retail space on the first floor. The sheer size of the building allows for 80,000SF floor plates on 5 floors. A rooftop deck is being considered for tenants of Crunden Martin. The office space available here, and in the general Chouteau's Landing district, will be some of the more unique in the region due to views and the amenities that will be offered. It is the hope that the space fills up with tenants with a “cool” employee culture or with companies that want to have a presence in the constantly evolving Downtown St. Louis.
There is also the opportunity of having a tenant sign on the Crunden Martin building which will let people know what companies call the building, and district, home.
“It’s really hard to beat the signage/branding opportunity of the Crunden Martin building. 300k+ cars drive by everyday. The prominence and significance of being on the riverfront adjacent to Busch Stadium and the Arch is something we feel is extremely attractive for companies or institutions. This is the atmosphere future employees want and parking isn’t an issue. Who’s going to step up? I don’t know but for the companies that have been looking for an attractive opportunity downtown, this is it. The investment fundamentals all make sense and the civic pride opportunity is huge.“ - Brett Apted
At the street level, all of the buildings will have retail space to help activate the neighborhood and make it pedestrian friendly. Even the parking garage will have some ground floor retail. In addition to this, street trees, bio-retention gardens, sidewalk lighting, and new street lights will be added to help beautify the pedestrian experience.
The retail and restaurant space being offered will also lean towards being more affordable than the nearby Ballpark Village. The hope is to fill Chouteau's Landing with locally owned shops and restaurants to truly make the area a destination and hub for local residents and tourists who want an authentic experience.
"Chouteau’s Landing needs participation from the big St. Louis companies and institutions that see value in the opportunity to revitalize our South riverfront." - the Apteds
The direct connection to the Arch Grounds, and the 4 million visitors it brings with it, could be a deciding factor for many of the district's future tenants. In addition to bordering the Arch Park, Great Rivers Greenway is planning to directly run their Chouteau Greenway project into the district along with developing a riverfront park. Combined, these projects will connect Chouteau's Landing to the City.
"People think that it’s bifurcated from the rest of the city but in our opinion that’s because most people haven’t taken the time to walk the sites. You have pedestrian and vehicle connections in almost every direction and access to every major interstate within a quarter-mile. The elevated train trestles and MacArthur Bridge create one of the most unique atmospheres in the city of St. Louis. It’s a lot like Fulton Market in Chicago.“ - Brett Apted
In relation to infrastructure and connections, the area under the highway bridges must be dealt with. The plan there is to landscape it and light it up. To finish the overall aesthetic improvements of the neighborhood, the power lines will be buried. Combined, these improvements will help make the walk through and to the district cleaner and more enjoyable.
A major anchor and draw to the neighborhood will be the redevelopment of the Brenntag Building on Chouteau Avenue. For that, the Apteds envision a brewery or distillery, grocery store, and other retail tenants. Other buildings along Chouteau, including the Gunther Salt building, provide excellent opportunities for Lofts or a hotel. For Gunther in particular, 15FT to 20FT high ceilings as well as floor to ceiling windows will flood the space with natural light.
The entire site, and the buildings within it, were placed for sale a few years ago as a "portfolio sale" and listed by CBRE. The sellers were made up of Lazarus Realty, Chouteau Point Realty, 800 South 4th LLC, and Gates Corporation. The Apted Brothers currently have all buildings and properties necessary under contract.
The hope and desire is to begin the project relatively fast but no timeline was given. A start is most likely dependent on final deals with the master developer and the final acquisition of the buildings. No cost figures have been given at this point but are expected to be released as they are finalized in the coming months.
"We understand the city street by street and we’ve always preferred to curate the projects that are right on the cusp,'' says Brett Apted, "There is no greater leverage point then Chouteau’s Landing for the City of St. Louis. A lot of capital and real estate development expertise is looking to secondary markets for continued development and yield in the later stages of this cycle. St. Louis has an unbelievable opportunity right now to become a target for investment. We think a project like CL will push St. Louis over the threshold and put us on the shortlist nationally. This project is one of the heaviest lifts in the St. Louis market. We knew that going in and have been working non-stop to get it done."
When asked about the current boom in St. Louis, the response was, "We have so much momentum right now but we have to take it advantage of our best real estate. Chouteau's Landing is part of our best real estate offerings“.
For more information on the Apted Brothers, visit aptedbrothers.com
Below are photos of the development area from November 19th...
The view from the roof of Crunden Martin is hard to beat.