Butler Brothers Building next on the Downtown Revitalization Machine

Downtown West has been picking up significant momentum over the last couple years. The most well-known project will bring a brand-new Soccer Stadium for St. Louis City SC, and advocates have long argued that it would contribute to positive growth in the corridor. It appears, not even two full years later, that those advocates may be pleased with their predictions.

Although there is lots of academic debate surrounding whether incentivized professional stadiums positively improve a city’s economy, the St. Louis MLS Stadium is unique in that it received no tax-incremented-financing (TIFs) from the city. Unlike many other Central Corridor investments, this one in particular is mostly privately financed without taking from future local tax revenues. Rather, the only incentives received by the stadium were granted by State lawmakers and still mostly a drop in the bucket.

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The Butler Brothers building is one of the largest vacant buildings within Downtown St. Louis with 8 floors of usable space and a presence that takes up an entire city block. In Downtown West, just East of Jefferson, there has been much less investment in recent years than neighboring areas. The stadium seems to have kicked off a recent spate of investments all seeking to capitalize on the anticipated success of the MLS site, with residential redevelopments like 1800 Washington, 1801 Washington Ave, and even a few more along the way totaling hundreds of new units.

Location of the Butler Brothers building – Google Maps

With the sheer size of the Butler Brothers building, it will activate a significant portion of Downtown West. Better yet, in addition to its anticipated 384 residential units (greater in number than recent towers like One Hundred on the Park), Development Services Group plans on adding 2 retail spaces with a total of around 15,000 square feet. Mixed-use could be something of a gamechanger for this part of Downtown and contribute to a growing neighborhood feel that St. Louis City SC hoped on achieving with their new stadium and adjacent developments. The retail spots add additional reasons for residents and tourists alike to stay in the area and spend their money locally.

The building will likely have similar amenities to other recent large developments. According to CitySceneSTL, the plans call for an “amenity lounge, fitness center, juice bar, bike storage, dog spa, game room, and screen room.”. Of the 384 apartments, 295 will be one-bedrooms units, 24 studio, and 65 two-bedroom. Some developers have found their one-bedroom units to be the most in demand, which likely explains the composition of units in this building.

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The developer hopes to begin construction in Q4 2021 and to wrap up construction in Q2 2023. This is a very ambitious construction and approval timeline, but there certainly is cause to shoot for wrapping up around the start of the new St. Louis City SC team at the neighboring stadium. In just a few years, Downtown West may well feel more like a natural extension of Downtown rather than a missing link in the Central Corridor.

Residential Conversion announced for 300 S. Broadway

The momentum downtown continues with the recently announced plans for 300 S. Broadway. With the occupancy and leasing at the new One Cardinal Way building inching closer to capacity, it appears the market for more residential units in the heart of downtown is strong, particularly near Ballpark Village.

Chris Strizel and CitySceneSTL first broke the news this week, revealing a historically conscious renovation with 80 new apartments, an extra floor added, and ground-floor retail space that will capitalize on the added commercial activity in the newest BPV phase. The apartments are tentatively called “Ballpark Flats”. It seems that rooftops are all the rage in recent city developments, from The Last Hotel to Form Skybar, and now this rooftop amenity space for residents. Tenants at the new One Cardinal Way will not have a monopoly on views of the game, with the 300 S. Broadway developers including a bleacher setup facing the stadium.

Ballpark Flats Exterior

For those who have been following 300 S. Broadway, this development, courtesy of Bamboo Equity Partners and Pier Property Group, should come as a relief. As I covered earlier this month, the location has seen its ups and downs over the past few years. From grandiose skyscraper renderings to potential demolition, this property with so much potential has waited for far to long to see its revival.

Broadway Flats Rooftop

St. Louis will now consider what incentives are necessary to help the project prevail, although CitySceneSTL reports a requested 10 year 90% tax abatement. While tax abatements are certainly controversial in a city with sometimes troubled finances, this appears to be a solid, long-term addition to the city poised to contribute to the tax base with increased sales tax activity in the area and the promise of substantial property tax revenue in the future. This, no doubt, is much better than the abandoned building standing today.

300 S. Broadway to be Redeveloped

300 S. Broadway, located just next to Busch Stadium, is one of the few office buildings still sitting vacant in Downtown St. Louis. Those who have been following development in the city know that the site has seen its fair share of excitement, ups and downs, and proposals. Unfortunately, none of them have been able to revive the storied location. It seems that in the wake of the nearly completed BPV Phase II development, that may finally change.

The last major development proposal for the site left enthusiasts thrilled and historians disappointed, as the proposed apartment tower would not seek to save the historic structure. The project, proposed by HDA Architects and White Oak Realty Partners, would demolish the base for an entirely new structure. The historic structure below would all but disappear, and be replaced by the following renderings.

Photo sourced from Google Maps Street View
300 South Broadway
Photo Provided by STL Post Dispatch
Rendering of the proposed 300 South Broadway apartments
Photo Provided by STL Post Dispatch

The proposed tower would rise to 33 stories and have views looking toward the Arch and inside the stadium, much like the nearly completed One Cardinal Way tower. If this project had persisted and been approved, Downtown would have seen two modern residential high rises under construction and completed at approximately the same time, representing an unprecedented level of development in Downtown. While One Cardinal Way and the rest of Ballpark Village Phase II look like wonderful additions to the city, as I covered earlier, this would have been something truly phenomenal.

The good news is that another development is supposedly on the way. There are not any renderings available yet, but Chris Stritzel (author of CityScene STL) has indicated that plans may appear in the next few weeks. Bamboo Equity Partners has completed their $3.6 million acquisition of 300 S. Broadway.

“This was a once in a lifetime deal to be next to one of the most iconic stadiums in the world,” Bamboo founder and Managing Principal Dan Dokovic said. “Cardinals baseball is a religion here and to get the opportunity to be this close … that’s what excites us.”

Notably, Dan continued that the historic structure would remain in the upcoming plans.

“There’s no reason to tear down the building. It’s beautiful,” Dokovic said.

Although not many details have been revealed, Chris has detailed that it is likely there will be enough height in the proposal to look into the stadium, and that the project will be mixed use. That likely means that the building will add several floors, preserving the historic structure, and probably include residential and commercial units. While we don’t know what this will look like, or if it will match the level of excitement seen with the former proposal, this could be a huge step forward for Downtown.

STL Development Unfazed by COVID

Despite the economic downturn and rising COVID cases, St. Louis economic development is still churning along in a surprising manner.

Construction photo of One Hundred in the CWE, provided by CLAYCO: https://app.oxblue.com/open/clayco/100kingshighway

It’s true that St. Louis has, over the past several decades, been reeling from its industrial economy withering away and has not been a shining star of economic stability. Yet, the forces that made St. Louis economically unstable are themselves disappearing as new industries take hold in the metropolitan area and a greater trend toward regional collaboration and workforce development. With a steadily growing Biotech sector, incredible research universities including Washington University, SLU, UMSL, and others, a blossoming Geospatial Intelligence sector, and a diversifying startup community, St. Louis of today is much stronger.

The metropolitan area is starting to make a name for itself with these new industries, and with coordinated workforce development and more competent leadership, these industries are growing.

With the new NGA facility just north of Downtown, the Geospatial Intelligence sector is poised to create thousands of jobs and revitalize a section of St. Louis City that has historically struggled. At the same time, the Federal government is bringing over 1000 USDA jobs to Downtown St. Louis, just as Accenture announced 1400 new jobs in Town and Country, with many of those jobs working in Federal contract related roles.

In the Cortex, KDG is still planning its Cortex K development, and Washington University has a crane up for its 11-story Neuroscience facility, which would be the largest in the nation once complete. The Aloft hotel just opened its doors to visitors, supporting the innovation and startup community. Cortex leaders have signaled that there will be more to come soon.

Strong industries do more than provide jobs to their direct beneficiaries. They add to the tax base, supporting city functions in the future. Moreover, they contribute to the strength of their communities, making other new jobs and developments possible. With all of the activity in the Central Corridor, there is the capacity to support hundreds of wealthier residents, with the One Hundred luxury apartment building nearing completion. In Lafayette Square, a new luxury apartment building was just announced which presumably will house the residents occupying these higher paid positions in the growing industries.

Of course, there is also the City Foundry development in Midtown, which is supposed to open its doors this Fall with a new grocery store, cinema, and a food hall with a dozen or more entrants. We also covered on this site the hotel planned on Jefferson at the Wells Fargo campus.

Not everything is so rosy – there have been some developments that have stalled, such as the Armory building in Midtown. Although the developers at Green Street have completed most of the exterior work, potential leasing issues and a lawsuit are delaying further construction, much in part due to difficulties with financing and finding tenants during the age of COVID. It’s all but certain that developers are going to present new projects at a slower pace, but this is far from a situation where St. Louis stalls. Instead, St. Louis will keep seeing cranes in its skyline.

From the Chelsea apartments in DaBaliviere Place, Forsyth Pointe in Clayton, Clarendale in Clayton, to the Iron Hill development on Grand, we’re set to see so much more new construction over the next several years.

This is anything but a dull time in St. Louis, and hopefully this means our city and community will be in a good place for a solid recovery as our crises end sooner rather than later.  

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