As our city's building boom enters its second decade, redefining development in the Grove might just lead to a positive change in development patterns elsewhere in the city.
Two proposals are looking to break the mold of new development in the Forest Park Southeast (Grove) neighborhood. One is at 4100 Manchester and the other is at 4210 Manchester.
In recent years, development in the Grove has focused on larger multi-family developments consisting of over 60 apartment units. Even Green Street's "Union in the Grove" project consists of 168 apartments, albeit split up among 6 different properties. One new proposal, by the AHM Group, could demolish the former Attitude Bar at 4100 Manchester (southwest corner of Manchester and Sarah) and replace it with a 5-story building.
The new building, designed by Midtown-based JEMA, will include 24 apartment units (19 one-bedroom and 5 two-bedroom units), 10 parking spaces (ratio of .41 to 1), 20 bike spaces, and about 1200sf of retail space. The building will also feature a rooftop deck (offering residents views of the surrounding city and neighborhood), two murals (one on Sarah Street and another on the west side of the building), and some pink brick at the apartment entrance (a nod to the current building). According to an elevation diagram, 4100 Manchester will be clad in brick, fiber cement panels, glass, and metal.
Some might wonder why areas where windows should be on the building are shown as gray brick. The explanation is fairly simple. Ceiling heights in the units will stand around 10ft, versus the typical 9ft, and windows will rise around 8-9ft in height. The tradeoff for higher ceiling heights, and larger windows, is the need for additional sheer walls. If more glass was added to the building, more steel would have to be added to the plans. And if more steel was added, the plan to build the project without an incentive from the city would fizzle away.
Beyond the windows, the design could change from what we see as community outreach begins. AHM is wanting this project to be a win for everyone in the community, so getting community feedback is incredibly important. So far, 4100 Manchester has been reviewed by the Grove CID but has yet to be reviewed by the Neighborhood Association.
The Attitudes bar closed in 2020 due to the pandemic and resulting decline in visitors. The proposed project is estimated to cost around $8.3 million.
A couple blocks west, at 4210 Manchester, Cheung Investment Group is planning to construct a 3-story infill building and add a third floor to an existing building at 4216 Manchester. The new building will include 7 apartments (1 studio, 5 one-bedrooms, and 1 two-bedroom) and a commercial space (1880sf). Each apartment in the new building will feature a balcony. The existing building will feature 4 studio apartments plus a 970sf commercial space. Parking will be provided via an 11-space parking lot on the alley side.
Scott Siekert, the project's architect, went before the Forest Park Southeast Neighborhood association on August 16th to present the project for the first time. The project was well received at the meeting and its next step is going before 17th Ward Alderwoman Tina Pihl's development committee this Thursday. That's the first meeting of this committee. A timeline on construction has not yet been established.
Both the AHM and Cheung Investments projects mostly conform to the Forest Park Southeast Form Based Code regulations. Both projects will have to seek minor variances for things like setbacks and roofing materials, but not much else.
Both projects are typical of what you would see in neighborhoods in cities like Chicago, Washington DC, and Philadelphia, but rarely in a city like St. Louis. The good thing with these is they represent a shift away from typical development practices and will reshape the neighborhood in a much more organic way (like what was done back in the day). In a neighborhood like the Grove, change came fast, and big projects sped that process up considerably. Now, as development attitudes change, a shift back to the small, but economical, is taking place. In the end, a stronger neighborhood will be had with key examples for how to do small projects efficiently and correctly.
AHM Group has gotten more active in St. Louis recently. About a month-and-a-half ago, they proposed a massive development in Downtown West consisting of what will be the world's tallest mass-timber building as well as smaller infill buildings and the renovations of several older structures into housing and office space. They're also the firm behind MoFo at 3172 Morgan Ford and YO at 3201 Morgan Ford (both in Tower Grove South), The 22 in Downtown West, and the renovation of the old Bavarian Inn at Arsenal and Minnesota in Tower Grove East.
4210 Manchester is Cheung Investment Group's first known project. The firm, led by Alan Cheung, acquired the property in March 2019.
The gallery below shows the development sites today.