The long wait for something great on this site is now over.
92 years after the completion of the Park Plaza tower by the Koplar Companies, Koplar Properties, led by Sam Koplar, has unveiled a building worthy of the family's legacy and it's proposed for the parking lot his family has long owned at the southeast corner of Lindell and Kingshighway (which is directly south of the Chase and just north of 100 Above the Park). The address is 4974 Lindell.
The tower, which would be the second tallest in the Central West End at 30 floors in height, will complete an 7.5-block stretch of Kingshighway overlooking Forest Park. This stretch of Kingshighway includes a mixture of architecture styles, building heights, and usages, making it a prime example of St. Louis's rich architectural history. The plans call for the tower, presently named "Albion West End", to include 293 luxury apartment units, 340 parking spaces (some of which are expected to be public), two ground floor retail spaces, and a ton of amenities for building residents.
Koplar will codevelop Albion West End with Albion Residential, a developer of high-end apartment buildings based out of Chicago. The name of the building fits into the names Albion has given other buildings in their portfolio. Outside of Chicago, Albion is presently developing a curvy building in Nashville's booming Gulch neighborhood. Chicago-based Hartshorne Plunkard Architects, a long-established firm, but new name in St. Louis design, is the architect on this project. Landscape design will be provided by Nashville-based Hodgson Douglas.
The building's design elements, such as the building's glass curtain wall, are clear examples for what's trending now in the world of architecture. The gentle curve on the front of the building, with apparent bronze-colored accents, adds some eye candy to what's a simple yet symbolic landmark building. The building echoes back to the old Central West End high-rises by including a step to a taller portion at the top, which will hide the building's mechanical systems. At the ground level, the building will be raised a few feet, offering a small, landscaped plaza and entryway, which is something found at the neighboring Chase Park Plaza.
On the amenity side of things, residents will have access to a pool on the top of the podium, world-class gym, sky lounge with sports lounge and a "stargazing room" among other amenities found in high-end apartment buildings. Apartments on the 24th floor will have access to walk-out terraces providing views of Forest Park and the Central Corridor. The entrance to, and exit from, the parking garage will be on Lindell where a current curb cut exists.
In a press release, Sam Koplar of Koplar Properties said...
“Our family has been part of the Central West End neighborhood since my great-grandfather built the Park Plaza nearly a century ago, so its stewardship is extremely important to us. This is the ideal development site for a project that forever enhances and benefits the neighborhood, but we took our time because it had to be done exactly right. The advancement of this project is truly a tribute to my father (Ted Koplar) and his vision and love for St. Louis, and I’m excited that with Albion Residential we have found a partner that shares our values, our attention to detail, and our commitment to exceptional projects that are positively transformative. I grew up in the Central West End, and having the opportunity to build across the street from my great-grandfather’s masterpiece is something I’ve always dreamed of.”
On the Albion Residential side of things, Jason Koehn, the President of Albion, said,
"This project will send a signal that St. Louis is a viable and thriving city to invest in. We’re proud to be in partnership with the Koplar family to execute on what is a labor of love for them, and we look forward to working closely with the city and community to advance this project.”
Pending approvals by the City of St. Louis, which includes a run through the tricky incentive process, construction could begin on the $135 million project sometime this fall. Construction could be completed sometime in 2025, which would coincide with the 95th anniversary of the Park Plaza's completion and a fitting completion of a goal of Koplar Properties for decades - develop that parking lot into something iconic and significant. A Zoning-Only permit application was made to the city back in December but has yet to be approved.
Reaction to the proposed building hasn't all been positive. A few members of my St. Louis Development Projects Facebook Group wished that the building had a more daring design, was taller, and/or included less parking. However, the general sentiment seen across the social media profiles of urbanists is positive. As many believe, including myself, one less parking lot is better for the city and neighborhood. Even with tax incentives, it's highly likely that just getting a 293-unit apartment building built will generate far more tax revenue than current the parking lot does (which city records show as $63,955.73).
Most recently, Koplar Properties opened the AC Hotel in the Central West End, a 195-room hotel on York Avenue, the first new hotel in the neighborhood in 30 years and the first AC Hotel in the region. That project was co-developed with Bozeman Montana-based Homebase Partners and Raleigh North Carolina-based Concord Hospitality. Koplar is also a partner in the AC Hotel Clayton project. Previously, Koplar Properties redeveloped the York House and Maryland Plaza.