My Top 12 Projects List of 2020
Updated: Jan 14, 2021
2020 was a year full of unexpected twists and turns. While the first half of the year was relatively quiet in terms of new project announcements, mostly due to the then ongoing economic downturn due to restrictions put in place to "slow the spread" of the coronavirus, the second half of the year was full of announcements. It showed, and continues to show, us that developers are still optimistic and bullish on St. Louis's future. Coupled with a growing Geospatial sector and continued growth in the Crop Science and other technology sectors, St. Louis is positioning itself for a bright 2020s. The start of this decade, while wild, gives us a glimpse at what to expect moving forward.
According to my count, St. Louis City and Clayton saw 36 projects of varying size and usage revealed. For this list, I took my 12 favorite projects from the 36 announced this year and graded them. On my end, I did a Pros and Cons list and figured what the grade for each project would be when the cons are subtracted from the positives. The overall grade is what lands each of these projects in their respective place. I do want to make it clear that I like all projects that are proposed in the region, but these 12 just stuck out to me a bit more than the others.
12. Verve/3765 Lindell - Midtown/Grand Center Neighborhoods
The largest new-construction apartment building under construction in the Midtown/Grand Center neighborhoods is the 79-unit "Verve" building at 3765 Lindell (or where McPherson meets Lindell). Originally envisioned as a redevelopment of the former mansion that once stood on site, Collegiate Development Group later opted to demolish the building to make way for a modern, 7-story building with parking included. According to the building website, the Verve will be luxury, student-oriented housing with as many amenities as they could pack into such a compact site.
At the time of this post's writing, the new building is up to the 3rd floor and the scale is becoming known. The project, upon competition, will be visible from a few vantage points in the City with the most prominent being along Lindell and on Olive (a block and a half north of here). Based on the Verve's social media, it appears leasing is doing well here. We won't know for sure how many units are occupied until the project opens, but I feel that the success of this project will lead to additional apartment projects in this part of town.
Overall Grade: +2
11. 121 South Meramec - Downtown Clayton
KDG, a development company formed out of the merger of the Koman Group and Keeley Development Group, proposed the demolition of the 7-Up HQ building in Downtown Clayton and the construction of a new, 13-story, 244-unit apartment building with 12,000sf of retail/commercial space. It's the second tallest building announced this year within this website's primary focus area (City, Clayton, University City, Brentwood, Richmond Heights, Maplewood, and Kirkwood).
Chris Cedergreen and The Lamar Johnson Collaborative are the architects on this project. It is estimated to cost about $70 Million and contribute to the continued growth of Downtown Clayton. Because this is apartments, the hope is that it makes the sidewalks a bit busier after the workday is over.
Overall Grade: +2.5
10. Bemiston Place - Downtown Clayton
Last year, preservationists and urbanists alike cringed at the high-rise that was planned by the HBE Corporation in Downtown Clayton. The condo building was harsh at the street level, would demolish several human-scaled buildings, and had a design that was compared to the failed 1950s and 60s public housing projects. After that project went away, Balke-Brown/2B Residential stepped up and proposed Bemiston Place, a 236-unit apartment building with 10,667sf of retail space fronting Central Avenue and the preservation of the historic Shanley Building at Bemiston and Maryland.
While the human-scaled buildings along Central Avenue will be coming down to make away for this development, I do commend the architect, Baltimore-based Hord Coplan Macht, on the attention to detail that they put into these plans. Fronting Central Avenue will be a 6-story building with a design similar to an old warehouse or industrial building typically found in the City limits. The entire sidewalk frontage along Central Avenue is activated as well. Overall, it's a pretty handsome development and I look forward to it happening.
The City of Clayton recently approved of the plans. Construction wont start until February 2022, so there's still some time until we see visible progress on this project, but I believe that Balke Brown/2B Residential will pull through on this one.
Overall Grade: +3
9. 1801 Washington - Downtown West Neighborhood
Downtown West is a neighborhood to watch over the next 10 years. With the St. Louis City SC Stadium going up on a former interchange, the neighborhood is set to be transformed with infill and building rehabs. The first new construction apartment building since the Plaza Square buildings (1960s) was proposed this December at 1801 Washington Avenue. The 7-story, 184-unit apartment building with 7,375sf of retail space is a project that finally adds a touch of new housing to Downtown West, and, in particular, Washington Avenue.
Developed by King Realty Advisors and designed by HDA Architects, 1801 Washington will replace a block sized parking lot with a meaningful development. And while the plans we have all seen (and pictured) are still early on, it's expected that we will see finalized plans, as well as a construction start, in 2021. This project made the list because of how it replaces a parking lot, adds retail/restaurant space within a short walk to the St. Louis City SC Stadium, adds apartments that will add residents and in turn contribute to more sidewalk traffic, and adds to the urban fabric.
Overall Grade: +4
8. The SoHo - Soulard Neighborhood
The largest apartment building in the City of St. Louis, in terms of unit count, is on it's way to the Soulard neighborhood. LuxLiving proposed this behemoth of an apartment building in Early 2020. At 320 apartments, it beats out 100 Above the Park, which is the current largest apartment building in the City of St. Louis, by 15 apartment units. The project also replaces the old Broadway Ford Truck Sales at 1507 South 7th. However, Broadway Ford did not leave the City. Instead, they moved just a few blocks away. So, jobs are kept in the City and a new apartment building contributes to the growth of a popular City neighborhood.
The SoHo also pushes Soulard a full block Northward as a connection to Downtown becomes more and more viable. With retail/commercial space included in the plans, the SoHo will contribute to additional street life that does not presently exist. The project is currently underway with the parking garage being assembled on the Northern most portion of the site. Throughout 2021, we should see the apartment frame rise, thus revealing the full scale of this development.
Overall Grade: +5
7. Gate District West/Park Avenue West - Gate District Neighborhood
Back in February, the SLU Midtown Redevelopment Corporation announced that they had selected UIC Homes, Blank Lab Development, and Habitat for Humanity to develop 43 parcels that SLU owned in the Gate District West into 35 single family homes and 12 condo units in 3 buildings. The new homes and condo buildings fill in gaps in a portion of the Gate District neighborhood that falls within the Midtown Redevelopment District. Right now, construction is underway on the condo buildings as well as some of the houses.
The goal with this overall development was to strengthen a neighborhood and brighten it up with new housing that coexists with the old, historic homes.
In terms of pricing, the 35 new homes will be two-stories, with three or four bedrooms and are priced in the $300,000’s. The 12 condos will be two-bedroom/two-bath units priced in the $200,000’s.
Overall Grade: +5
6. 300 South Broadway - Downtown Neighborhood
In 2017, a 33-story tower was proposed at 300 South Broadway and caused quite a bit of controversy when it was proposed. After a while of it remaining in planning, the project fell through and the property went up for sale. Over the summer, Bamboo Equity Partners, a Creve Coeur based company, acquired the property and announced a redevelopment that appealed to both preservationists and urbanists. The redevelopment includes...
Preservation of the existing building and/or the facade.
Inclusion of apartments and activated ground floor.
Designed by Arcturis, the building's redevelopment will include 80 apartments, 3800sf of retail/commercial space, a rooftop deck, pool, and more amenities. The cost is set at $21.3 Million. Construction is currently underway on the interior demolition aspect of the project. Throughout 2021, we will see this building brought back to life with the most visible change occurring when the 7th floor is built.
Overall Grade: +5.5
5. 3600 Texas Phase 2 - Gravois Park Neighborhood
The Southside's Gravois Park neighborhood has been improving for a while now, but new construction has been very limited to non-existent. This year, Blackline proposed a 12-unit apartment project on the 3600 block of Texas Avenue. The new apartment building, based on renderings, is clean and simple with a white facade, black roof, wood accenting, and small front yards. Parking will be in the back. All of the units in this building will be one-bedroom units and be market rate. As it is market rate, and new contraction, the success of this project could lead to additional new buildings being built and proposed in the neighborhood as time goes on.
I call this "3600 Texas Phase 2" because of how Blackline previously redeveloped the Louis Lange publishing company building at 3600 Texas into apartments. that project came out great and looks like a brand new building.
Overall Grade: +5.5
4. City District - O'Fallon Park Neighborhood
2020 was a year when North St. Louis saw a flurry of project announcements that were meaningful and all with the goal to revitalize parts of the City that have been forgotten about by many people, both politicians and developers alike. A surprise, but great, announcement this year, in my view, is the City District, a large redevelopment of portions of the O'Fallon Park neighborhood.
The $81 Million project focuses on the redevelopment of about 10 blocks in the neighborhood with a series of new construction and redevelopment initiatives. In total, the plan will reimagine 610,000sf across 128 parcels into retail space, single and multi-family homes, and community green space. AMJ Investment Group is the developer, Kwame Building Group is the contractor, and the Jackson Design Group is the architect. In all, the goal seems to be to create a strong anchor for future development initiatives to grow off of.
Overall Grade: +7
3. 1014 Spruce - Downtown Neighborhood
1014 Spruce was one of two new-construction developments announced in Downtown St. Louis this year. The plan, by the OPUS Group, calls for 146 apartments and 3000sf of retail space on a grassy parcel that was once home to Cupples 7. The design is simple, but does a decent job at blending into the area without going for a historic look. Based on what we know right now, 1014 Spruce will be clad in brick, stone, glass and metal, which are all primary materials found within the Cupples Warehouse District (sits West of Busch Stadium). The project is also the first new construction apartment project proposed outside of Ballpark Village since the completion of One Cardinal Way within the Downtown area.
Another benefit of this project is that OPUS went back and requested a lower property tax abatement than what they were planning on getting before. Instead of a 10 year abatement worth 75% for 10 years, the new and approved, ask is for a 10 year abatement worth 40%. This shows that for some developers, they can develop within the Central Corridor without having to request such high tax incentives. However, I understand if this is not possible for other developers. Still though, 1014 Spruce is a bonus for the City.
Overall Grade: +8
2. Foundry Phase 2 - Midtown/Prospect Yards Neighborhoods
A surprise announcement at the very end of November brought us our first look at the City Foundry Phase 2. With the City Foundry not even open to the public yet, with the exception of the office space, many were surprised to see the announcement for the $115 Million Phase 2 come out of the blue. Phase 2 includes 282 apartments, 60,000sf of office space, and 20,000sf of retail space. It's been known, from the beginning of the City Foundry project as a whole, that eventually a residential component would rise at the City Foundry site. At 14-stories in height, the apartment building is the tallest building announced within my focus area this year.
For the office component, and I was glad to see this, I find it unique and special that Cross Laminated Timber will be used here. This is the first project built with this material in the City of St. Louis, Region, and State of Missouri. CLT is a fairly new building material and is deemed sustainable but strong. Based on the current timeline, construction on Phase 2 should begin sometime in mid-2021.
Overall Grade: +8.5
1. The Bridge @ Delmar and Euclid/Fountain Park Projects - Fountain Park and Central West End Neighborhoods
Sitting just North of Delmar and Central West End, Fountain Park is seen by many as the natural extension of the Central West End and Central Corridor northward. This year, word got out, as well as renderings, of Kingsway Development's, led by Kevin Bryant, plans to redevelop several building in the neighborhood as well as build new buildings Ultimately, this is to burst through the infamous Delmar Divide in a new and creative way that benefits people on both sides of Delmar.
A TIF District for the development of several buildings along Delmar was recently reviewed by the City of St. Louis. Kingsway's TIF district application revealed a 5 building development, that will come to life over the next two years. Plans also call for streetscape improvements to Delmar Boulevard.
Redevelopment of the former bank and Vault Club at 4915 Delmar into the "Impact Performing Arts Center".
Redevelopment of 4731 Delmar into creative office space.
Redevelopment of 4701 Delmar into office space for an emerging business center. This phase also includes the construction of another performing arts theater.
Construction of a 156-unit apartment building and 325-space garage known as "The Bridge" (pictured). The building will also include 10,000sf of ground floor retail space.
Construction of new medical office and clinic at 709 North Taylor.
The total amount of TIF requested is $6,177,900. The total cost of the development of these 5 projects + the streetscape improvements will total $84.4 Million.
I look forward to this project in particular as it's one that can make the divide between North City and the Central Corridor indistinguishable for at least a few blocks. It's this type of development, and vision, that we need more of in this City, and I'm glad to see Kevin Bryant stepping up.
Overall Grade: +9
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2021
In 2021, we have a lot to look forward to, including a new apartment proposal in the Midtown/Grand Center area, additional development in Cortex, some project announcements Downtown, and some more news on additional projects in the Grove and North City areas. In 2021, we should be expecting updates on numerous projects, and even the groundbreaking for Iron Hill (if it is in fact still planned). St. Louis has a lot going on right now, and we're riding on momentum that few of us may have thought would exist just a decade ago. In many ways, we are emerging stronger from this last economic downturn than we did from the Great Recession.
2021 will bring us a new Mayor, likely bring us new Board of Aldermen members, and bring an overall different outlook on our future based on the 2020 Census results. 2021 should also bring us a return to normalcy. We should be able to return to seeing shows at the Fox Theater, seeing a game at Busch Stadium, or just going out in general. For many, 2020 was a wasted and negative year, but the positives are there in all of this, but finding them is the task of each and every person.
Through all of this, 2021 should boost civic pride. We have a City that is slowly, but surely, rounding the bend and turning a page in our history. We're firmly establishing ourselves as a Geospatial, Crop Science, and Pharmaceutical hub in addition to strengthening our other business sectors. If all projects in the pipeline by numerous developers move ahead, parts of our City will be transformed, and even rebuilt. The boundaries between some neighborhoods will become indecipherable. Some neighborhoods, after being disconnected from neighbors for decades, will be reconnected to one another.
As I said a few years ago on the old website, the New St. Louis Story was beginning, and it seems like we are firmly in that new story. It is exciting to see and I look forward to 2021, where we will continue the story.