In what is clearly described as a “conceptual development”, Meridian Hospitality Group is envisioning a multi-building development just North of Downtown in the Carr Square neighborhood. The buildings are planned on lots currently owned by Paul McKee, but as that deal collapses, other developers look to capitalize on the area that has so much potential. Meridian, a Cleveland based firm, is co-developing this with Berkeley-Calhoun of Hyattsville, Maryland. Both are minority owned businesses and have a record of working in depressed neighborhoods while creating vibrant communities. This planned development is part of a 20 year contract to rebuild multiple city blocks near the “Preservation Place Apartments”. It is also envisioned just a block or two from the future Northside-Southside MetroLink line meaning that this could be the first example of TOD (Transit Oriented Development) on the Northside.
Besides the TOD factor, it also brings a good amount of density to the area. Buildings of 8 floors each (office and residential) are compacted onto lots with retail and restaurants at the base of them to provide a community meeting place. Generous open areas between the buildings allow for leisure and more gathering space. Elsewhere, green roofs are meant to showcase the environmentally sustainable new construction, something that is becoming more and more common in St. Louis and across the nation. It also makes the buildings roofs look better when viewed from the sky.
The new buildings are designed to be Affordable Housing. Doing so allows for many more people to live in brand new buildings than what is currently going up around town. There will also be some office space which is welcome to make this a truly dynamic area. If this and the MetroLink line are built (remember, this is conceptual), people living and working here will have the option to live and work in a car optional neighborhood. The Carr Square development has the potential to reduce crime as great security measures will be put in place to keep criminals way. Doing so will make people feel safer when walking around this area at night or at anytime of the day. It will also make the experience more enjoyable. This project will give motorists, coming across the Stan Span, a new look that shows progress rather than a suburban grocery store and gas station.
The current site (bounded by 13th, Biddle, 14th and Cass) isn't home to many businesses which makes this a prime redevelopment area. Only a few businesses exist such as a car work shop, Kram Fish, a Church and a city office. The preliminary site doesn't include a car dealer but that could change as the option is available to acquire the car dealer and some other buildings. All of the businesses listed above are ageing and, in some cases, add to neighborhood blight. While the loss of Kram Fish is sad, there is always a brighter future ahead for the neighborhood as we can see in this conceptual proposal.
The good greatly outweighs the bad in this situation as we can see.
What appears to have been designed earlier this year, the project will bring some much needed new development in a depressed neighborhood. A project like this brings hope, new faces, much needed safety and it becomes a landmark the moment it is completed. The Carr Square Development is a multi phase project. The development's first phase consist of three buildings... 1A: Residential and Retail 1B: Office, Residential and Retail 1C: Office, Residential and Retail Phase 2 could continue down to Cole Street but that is way into the future.
As stated earlier, this development is just a concept right now. Because of this, there is no defined timeline or rough cost estimate for the project besides the “20 year” contract, whatever that means. The Carr Square development may not even be built as envisioned which is ok considering the factors. Even though this project isn’t as urban as many of us would like to see, it is a start and that's really all that matters. The Carr Square development though has the key pieces to be a vital piece in the urban revitalization of the City and the renaissance of the greater Downtown area. Those include retail, density and future proximity to the MetroLink line (transit). MY THOUGHTS...
It’s developments like this that are getting me excited for the future of St. Louis in the Post-McKee era. Developers are stepping up and something like this may be the first instance of a dense development on the Northside in years, if ever. Once the MetroLink line is funded and begins construction, I could see more developments popping up around the line to truly energize the Northside, all of which would be dense and be a neighborhood to themselves. As for this project, it is a bold start to the race rebuild the Northside and bring the communities back that once thrived there but in a new way.
In the end, I hope to see this materialize as presented but if not, I’ll be happy if anything gets built (which I am sure something will).
Here you can find a map of the location, a site plan and two additional renderings not featured in the main part of the story. The Google Map was created by me, in this map, the Red is additional land, Blue is Phase 1 and Gold is Phase 2.