The anticipation for the new MLS stadium and team has been profound for St. Louisans across the metro area. A huge construction effort is currently underway in Downtown West, poised to bring significant activity to a neighborhood that has lacked significant investment, retail, or residential additions for decades. The new stadium and team are well positioned to help revitalize the area while also providing residents an incredible new entertainment option.
Still, the immense positives associated with the stadium and team do not immunize the project from criticism when promises and hype falter. The St. Louis CITY SC branding quite obviously leverages city imagery and loyalty for its brand. Their website for the stadium has an entire page dedicated to the “District” they hope to create alongside the stadium. A key note on this page is to “bring vitality and drive inspiration through inspiring architecture and public spaces, and through creative uses of infrastructure and technology”.
An ambitious plan is certainly good to have, and creating a true district “home to a diverse selection of restaurants, bars, living spaces and family experiences” has the potential to do wonders for Downtown West. Having a hub of entertainment, retail, and living options near the stadium contributes to a neighborhood that people stay in rather than simply attend for a game and then leave right away. For the City, that means dense, fun neighborhoods that contribute heavily to the tax base. For the stadium and team, it builds a true connection with the community that is longer lasting with higher revenue potential. While the Ballpark Village developments aren’t perfect, they are succeeding at creating a real neighborhood. With a hotel, office, high-rise apartment building, stadium, Starbucks, retail, and bars, the area supports a 24/7 atmosphere that is both convenient and enjoyable for tourists and locals.
Unfortunately, just-released renderings from St. Louis City SC depict a large parking structure on Olive with no activation whatsoever, save for a gaudy balcony and staircase. In order to build this parking garage, the soccer club demolished nearly an entire block of mixed-use buildings that could have housed bars, residents, and various other uses. If this rendering resembles the final product, then the built environment surrounding the stadium will be less of a district and more of a brief shop for a game and nothing else. The latter would be a loss for an area so central to the city and near many incredible amenities.
While pedestrians and the neighborhood more broadly lose out with this parking garage, the proposal also demonstrates a continued reliance on a mode of transportation that contributes heavily to our climate crisis. That is despite excellent transit proximity and St. Louis City’s ambitious climate goals, especially relating to new construction.
When developers promise the world and demolish the urban fabric of a city, ultimately underdelivering on their commitments and publicly stated mission, the city and its residents are harmed. This kind of practice is frequently applied, from Drury Hotels with their demolition-by-neglect strategy in Forest Park Southeast to Restoration St. Louis and its bait-and-switch just by The Grove. Until this strategy is reigned in, we are likely to see more developers preach wide ranging benefits and deliver little more than lipstick on a pig, like this very parking garage.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As the St. Louis City SC MLS Soccer Stadium continues to rise at the massive construction site in Downtown West, the team has frequently released exciting new renderings that showcase the entertainment district, style, and amenities that guests will enjoy.
The new renderings below include the team’s training center, lounge spaces, practice field, club HQ, fan pavilion, and a view of the larger campus overall.
Training Center & Lounge Spaces
Downtown West Campus
We already have an idea of what the stadium will look like from the exterior, as can be seen below, and on the interior in some lounge spaces.
It might come as a surprise that in 2020, a year that has been defined by a global pandemic, deeply negative and often anti-democratic politics, and unprecedented and unequal economic hardship, that St. Louis has been host to an absurdly productive and healthy year of economic development. As December comes to a close, there is a good chance that the city will surpass $1 billion in building permits. Second only to 2018, this year represents a continued growth of the St. Louis real estate market and a renewed sense of confidence for investors and locals alike.
2020 may also be remembered as the year in which St. Louis finally began making real progress in communities that have traditionally seen far less investment or attention. The region’s policy towards majority Black and Brown neighborhoods North of Delmar Blvd. could for decades be summarized by intentional neglect. Through redlining, restrictive covenants, urban renewal, predatory lending, and aggressive policing, populous neighborhoods declined significantly throughout the latter half of the 20th century and then some.
The results of institutional and cultural oppression don’t just disappear overnight, or for that matter, after decades. It takes real effort to support and uplift communities that were deliberately denied access to wealth, education, safety, and equality. A recent study of U.S. metro areas and their demographics and geography gives us a frightening glimpse of how far St. Louis still has to go. In 2017, St. Louis was determined to be the 10th most segregated metropolitan area in the United States, with 39.3% of its Black residents living in majority Black neighborhoods with 3.5x the poverty rate of white neighborhoods.
In a remarkable and unusual turn for St. Louis, some developers appeared interested in proposing real developments in the region’s North side. Many of these, like the Delmar Divine, Kingsway Development’s plans at Delmar & Euclid, Jefferson + Gamble, and the NGA expansion bring much needed infrastructure improvements, affordable housing, community spaces, and jobs. There is a school of thought in St. Louis that the recent announcements are a result of North St. Louis “bottoming out”, something that regional leaders have historically seemed to exacerbate, and whether that is true or not, it seems apparent that the momentum is certainly shifting.
2020 also brings an exciting new era for Downtown St. Louis with multiple high-density residential proposals that would fill vacant land and surface-level parking lots. Even more surprising, we saw a new residential tower completed at Ballpark Village, new Class A office space, residential conversions for historical buildings, and companies moving from the county back into the city. After decades of stagnant Downtown STL development, even as our peer cities like Kansas City and Indianapolis saw impressive proposals and infill, St. Louis finally seems to be making headway in improving its Downtown core.
As we all embrace the hope that comes with a new year, something to save us from some of the most tumultuous times in recent history, we can hopefully look forward to real progress in our region as we may finally be turning some important corners. Much work remains – activists must hold regional leaders accountable, medical personnel must keep working to curb the spread of a deadly virus, and Americans and St. Louisans must continue supporting one another and act responsibly to keep our neighbors safe. We will get through this. We have a better year on the horizon.
Until then, continue reading to see some of the most promising developments of 2020 that are poised to substantially change our region.
ONE | 100 Above the Park
100 Above the Park is the first tower designed by renowned architect Jeanne Gang in St. Louis, named the World’s Most Influential Architect of 2019 by Time Magazine. Rising 36 stories above Kingshighway and sporting direct, sprawling views of Forest Park and Downtown, 100 Above the Park brings perhaps the most luxurious residential units yet to the city and a unique geometric design. It also is one of the first new residential skyscrapers in the region, following the recent completion of Two Twelve Clayton just a few miles West in the County.
With studio, one, two, and three bedroom units ranging from $1,975 for a studio and over $7,000 for some three bedroom units, the building introduces a new price range for a city known for inexpensive housing prices. That said, the amenities, views, technology, design, location, and finishes go a long way toward justifying the high cost.
All units sport quartz countertops, 9″ ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, in-unit laundry, porcelain tile backsplashes, stainless steel appliances, custom solar shades, LED lighting, soft-close drawers, etc. Some units host humongous balconies overlooking the city and/or park, with the rest simply taking claim to some of the finest views in the city. Moreover, residents will have access to world-class amenities from a pool deck on the 7th floor to a secured parking garage, pet spa, electric car charging stations, secured bike stations, an onsite retail location (could be a café), covered dog run, and more. The building also is Green Globes certified for Sustainable and Energy Efficient Design.
100 Above the Park Under Construction – Brian Adler
St. Louis has long been known for some incredibly gorgeous and historical brick architecture, but we won’t complain one bit about a world-renowned architect completing a residential skyscraper on one of St. Louis’ most dense and active neighborhoods. 100 Above the Park definitely serves just a small subset of the population that can afford its units and lifestyle, but it is a good sign for a the city as it works to rebuild its economy and attract individuals and families to a region with a stagnant population. It is perhaps a sign of hope for an old city that hasn’t seen, until recent years, a sign of confidence that we are now beginning to get used to this year. We hope that incredible architecture and dense developments keep gracing St. Louis for years to come.
TWO | Kingsway Development & Bridging the Delmar Divide
Kevin Bryant, President of Kingsway Development, recently unveiled a massive, $84 million development at the intersection of Euclid and Delmar Blvd. Looking to leverage the strength and momentum of the Central West End neighborhood and bring its success due North where investment abruptly ends, Bryant is taking aim at reducing vacancy, providing affordable housing, and creating a community of mixed income levels.
The project is predominantly located within the Fountain Park neighborhood, lying just North of the Central West End. In 2015, 84.4% of Fountain Park residents were Black, whereas just south of Delmar in the Central West End, only 29% of residents are Black. Despite its proximality to the CWE, it has seen its fortunes decline over the past several decades. Even as rents rise consistently just South of Delmar Blvd., the buildings in which Kingsway Development hope to redevelop mostly sit vacant.
The first phase will include a mix of rehabs and new construction for affordable housing, capitalizing on historic, vacant housing stock and filling in vacant lots. The first phase will include 22 affordable homes, below market-rate, aimed at creating a more “mixed”, dense neighborhood that residents of different incomes can enjoy. Bryant hopes to “set the precedent” with these homes, creating a model for other developers and investors to follow as he opens up later phases to other developers who go through their community approval process.
The first batch of construction will also include a $6.3 rehab of the building at 4731 Delmar Blvd. into office and commercial space, creating a more mixed-use neighborhood once each phase is built out. Late next year, perhaps the biggest portion of the project is slated to begin – a $43 million apartment complex, “The Bridge”, with 156 residential units. These units will add significant density to the Fountain Park neighborhood and fill out the vacant Northern section of the Euclid and Delmar intersection.
Rebuilding the North Side and responsibly tackling vacancy, affordable housing, and the lingering affects of segregation and oppression is vital to St. Louis and its future. This development will hopefully be a model for others to create diverse, mixed-income, and dense communities in neighborhoods that have seen little to no positive investment.
When St. Louis lost the Rams a few years ago in a bitter dispute still playing out in the courts today, there was a common sentiment that a passionate sports town was losing its steam. Thankfully, St. Louisans won’t have to wait long for a new sports team to remake its professional trifecta alongside the Cardinals and the Blues. A little over a year ago in August of 2019, the MLS announced that St. Louis would become the league’s 28th franchise. On August 13, 2020, the St. Louis MLS Expansion Team announced the team name and crest, officially introducing the St. Louis City SC to the city.
The project is moving very quickly, with a brand new stadium slated to be ready in time for the 2023 debut of the St. Louis City SC. Construction began in February on the site that will eventually seat up to 22.5 thousand guests and completely reshape Downtown West along Market St. The development will activate a less travelled section of Downtown, adding commercial retail space, infrastructure improvements, restaurants, and thousands of people to the neighborhood.
As can be seen in the rendering above, the project is more than the stadium itself. The proposal includes other new infill, including the corner building with a large terrace and commercial space on the left side of the photo. There will also be practice fields nearby that will host community soccer clinics and youth sports activities. The grand vision is to create a district comprising of bars, restaurants, concessions, retail, and open community spaces that will lead to street activation even on days without a game.
MLS Stadium with Union Station Wheel in the Background – St. Louis City SC
Located just west of the newly revitalized Union Station and at the end of the Mall that leads straight down market to the Courthouse and the Arch, the new MLS stadium will help create a unique attraction corridor built for walkability and activity. Combined with other recent developments like two residential proposals included in this article and new hotels sprouting up in Downtown West and Midtown, it appears the stadium is capping off a huge year for Downtown.
The Skinker-DeBaliviere and DeBaliviere Place neighborhoods are an excellent example of a dense, urban mix of residents across the income scale. Bordering Washington University, Forest Park, the Central West End, and Delmar Boulevard, the neighborhoods are home to those with extraordinary wealth to those with very little. The rapid growth of the Central West End and Washington University, however, have certainly been skewing the neighborhoods toward the wealthy end of that spectrum.
Three massive developments are underway right now, which will bring hundreds of expensive units and replace existing infrastructure. The three developments include The Chelseaon Pershing, the Expo at Forest Park on DeBaliviere, and The Hudson, also on DeBaliviere.
The Chelsea will rise seven stories above ground, add 152 apartments to the street, and several other impressive amenities. Some noteworthy additions include a two-story fitness center, “lobby bistro”, arcade bar, golf lounge, and even a rock-climbing wall. Lux Living hopes to open the Chelsea in late 2020, introducing some of the most unique apartments in St. Louis at one of the most uncertain times in recent history. Such a bet is supported, at least, by one of the most dense neighborhoods in St. Louis, rivaling even parts of New York City.
The Hudson is set to bring added density and more options for residents in the city looking for a car-free lifestyle. With 150 units proposed and direct access to the Metrolink, residents will not need a car if they work within the central corridor or otherwise near a station. This is an amenity that, while growing in popularity in St. Louis, is still rather difficult to find given the limited size of the light-rail Metrolink. TOD is critical for good urban landscapes, helping people achieve healthier lifestyles, avoid traffic-filled commutes, and interact more with local businesses and their neighbors.
The Expo at Forest Park will be directly adjacent to the Metrolink platform as well, but will stretch down DeBaliviere all the way to Waterman as well as down De Giverville. This development is a behemoth, bringing 471,000 square feet of new construction and 287 new units, nearing the number of new apartments at the new One Hundred skyscraper in the Central West End. Current plans also call for 30,000 square feet of retail space across the two buildings (separated by De Giverville).
Even though Phase I of the City Foundry hasn’t yet fully opened to the public, the food hall, retail space, soon-to-be grocery store, and offices are set to bring new life to the corner at Vandeventer and Forest Park Parkway. This stretch has seen significant investment over the past few years, with the city’s first IKEA, the new ELEMENT hotel by Westin, and the Standard St. Louis apartments. This is all part of a larger pattern of investment now reactivating St. Louis’ midtown corridor, bringing tons of new density, retail, and residential to the city.
The office space from the first phase is already 95% leased and open, giving The Lawrence Group confidence that there is real demand for their vision to continue. As CitySceneSTL reported earlier this December, the second phase is set to include two large structures pictured in the rendering above that will host:
Nearly 300 luxury residential units, many with balconies
Around 60,000 square feet of office space, complementing the over 100,000 square feet already built and leased
20,000 additional square feet of retail space, some of which will be located on the ground floor of the parking structure activating Vandeventer and Forest Park Parkway
490 parking spaces
The Lawrence Group hopes to begin construction on the second phase in the middle of 2021, hopefully at a time when guests may be able to safely begin patronizing the businesses like Punch Bowl Social and Alamo Drafthouse that make the first phase so exciting. The 14 story residential building, parking structure, and office space will also help complete the City Foundry, which always was intended to host a large residential component.
It turns out that these were just the tip of the iceberg. Developer Green Street has huge plans for The Grove and Forest Park Southeast, making a hew headquarters for themselves alongside hundreds of new residential and commercial infill. Moving from Clayton, Green Street is hoping to double down on the city and these particular neighborhoods, creating a lively district home to mixed-income families and fun concepts like BarK, a bar and dog park combo that will join the many new developments planned.
The largest singular element of the proposal is Green Street’s ‘Terra at the Grove’, described as “Chroma on Steroids’ by a member of their team. For those unfamiliar with Chroma, it is a large residential building at the East end of The Grove, featuring hundreds of apartments, retail storefronts including Seoul Taco and Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea, and luxury amenities that has consistently been essentially full occupancy.
Terra will contain over 300 residential units and massive amenity spaces. It will have a 50,000 square foot courtyard and pool area, in addition to walking and running paths, a dog park and pet wash station, fitness and yoga studios, club and movie rooms, convenience store, and a playground. The apartment building will have nearly as many units as the humongous One Hundred on the Park skyscraper in the Central West End, all situated in the Southwest corner of The Grove.
However, Green Street also has six other developments planned in the neighborhood, dubbed the Union at the Grove, each with a unique style and size. Together they will completely transform the streetscape, filling empty lots and adding tons of density. The six buildings will be called Booker, Blake, Knox, Ashe, Iva, and Marshall – each pictured in the gallery below.
Together, they will have 163 residential units, in addition to the 300+ at Terra and the 100+ at the just completed Hue. They offer some of the most contemporary and urban architecture to be found in the city, and may well begin to resemble a neighborhood with similar density and walkability to the nearby Central West End.
We talk about gentrification all the time here, something that is a real concern but contextually different in St. Louis than other bigger and higher in demand cities. We believe that there is a lot of nuance to the topic, especially so when we are talking about projects with a massive scale that fundamentally reshape particular neighborhoods like is being proposed here. That being said, we do want to let our readers know that we have spoken to people at Green Street who emphasize a commitment to mixed-income neighborhoods and affordable solutions, something that they are also committing to with a new investment group dedicated to affordable housing and investment in low income communities.
We won’t say what the verdict is on this large and complicated discussion, but this development certainly will add lots of new activity and plenty of new residents to a growing and exciting neighborhood.
SEVEN | Delmar Divine
St. Louis’ Delmar Divide has plagued the region for decades. A miles-long physical manifestation of a racial and economic divide spans the metropolitan area from East to West, separating communities and hindering investment North of the boulevard. 2021 seems to be the first year in a very long time that substantial investment has been aimed at resolving this this pervasive issue. The Delmar Divine will consist of national and local non profits, capacity building and social innovation organizations that improve the lives of children and families in the metropolitan St. Louis area.
Maxine Clark, Founder of Build-a-Bear Workshop is heading the redevelopment of the former St. Luke’s Hospital closed in 2014 on Delmar Blvd. The large site will see a humongous renovation that will bring over 150 apartments “reasonably” priced and aimed at young, diverse working professionals.
The Delmar Divine tenants will consist of national and local not for profits, capacity building and social innovation organizations that improve the lives of children and families in the metropolitan St. Louis area.
Clark aims to create a space where innovative and social minded professionals and their organizations can gather and build off of one another. It will essentially function as an innovation hub for non-profits and social-good organizations, as well as additional space for retail with easy access to nearby public transportation. At the heart of the proposal is a dedication to removing the racial and economic barriers in St. Louis, helping organizations and individuals reach “solutions faster while being more cost efficient”.
Racial segregation is at the heart of many of St. Louis’ biggest and most pervasive issues, and an effort that combines the talents of our many hardworking, innovative, and social-focused individuals and organizations is one that deserves praise and recognition. We cannot wait to see this come to fruition on 2021.
EIGHT | Blackline Investments 12 Unit Infill in Dutchtown
Blackline Investments is moving toward the first new infill in Gravois Park in several years. Capitalizing off of the vacant land next-door to their original rehab, Blackline is planning a 12-unit, two-story building that with a decidedly modern aesthetic. First reported by Chris Strizel and his CitySceneSTL website, this development manages to introduce new residential units without demolishing historic brick homes. Each unit will be a one bedroom in a shotgun style, with a small parking lot behind the structure.
Coupled with the restoration of “Downtown Dutchtown” along Meramec St., with businesses offering innovative concepts like the Urban Eats food hall or cute clothing boutiques, Dutchtown is building its own unique character and picking up steam. With its very own retail corridor, residential conversions, and affordable housing stock renovations coming from Rise, the stabilization is already well underway. The Dutchtown CID is providing infrastructural support to retail along the street, and the Neighborhood Innovation Center is setting up its own plans to invigorate and support the business community.
That Dutchtown and Gravois Park neighborhoods are seeing positive developments that support current residents, maintain and restore historic architecture, infill vacant lots, and increase density is something of a wonder for the city. With development having catered to predominantly wealthier individuals and staying primarily within the central corridor neighborhoods, many St. Louis communities saw very little outside investment and contributed to tax subsidies for projects that did not benefit their residents directly. This finally seems poised to change.
NINE | 1014 Spruce St.
Opus Group’s proposal at 1014 Spruce St. is poised to bring 146 residential units to the heart of Downtown St. Louis, directly adjacent to the popular Start Bar and just a couple minutes from Busch Stadium. Filling a large, vacant lot with a productive and dense residential development is a remarkable feat for Downtown, which has long struggled to attract significant new infill.
The structure will also host a 3,000 sq. ft. commercial space along Spruce, depicted in the rendering above, that will further activate a busy street already used to large crowds. While one new residential proposal in a Downtown area might not seem like a big deal at first, it has been a long time since St. Louis’ urban core has seen dense infill. The area is still resolving vacancy issues, particularly in the office sector. That being said, Downtown’s residential occupancy has gone up considerably and leaves very few units available – indicating a market need that 1014 Spruce will help fill.
This is a phenomenal indicator for the city, and we can’t sait to see more like it.
Just North of the new MLS Stadium and on a lot currently used as parking for the iconic City Museum is the future site of 1801 Washington, a 184-unit multifamily proposal. First reported by CitySceneSTL, this apartment building will rise 7 stories and consist of over 5,000 sq. ft. of retail space fronting Washington Blvd. Parking will be in a hidden 220 space garage accessible from 19th and Lucas, allowing for a more consistent and activated corridor along Washington. The project is being developed by King Realty Advisors, an investment group that feels Downtown West has real momentum going forward.
There will also be just over 2,000 sq. ft. of retail space constructed on the 3rd floor, slated to become a restaurant or bar with a large outdoor terrace facing the street. This will likely help create a more exciting atmosphere along the already busy street, with activation both on the ground floor and above.
With 184 new residential units consisting of studio and 1 bedroom floorplans, 1801 Washington is poised to introduce some of the first new multifamily infill in Downtown and Downtown West. Moreover, it will replace a low-productivity parking lot with a dense, modern, and street-activating structure more well suited to a city and its urban core. The apartments are also going to be very modern, with granite countertops, in-unit washer and dryer, and individual balconies for each unit. There will also be a dog park and other amenity spaces like a beer tap, pool table, community kitchen, and more.
The apartment building itself is fairly consistent in terms of amenities with other new structures completed recently in the city and the county, with the exception of being located in a neighborhood that hasn’t seen new large-scale residential development in decades. This will significantly modernize and densify our urban core, and it hopefully represents a change in momentum for our city and its Downtown neighborhoods.
2020 still had way more to offer – check out our runner-ups below! 2020 was a phenomenal year for development, and we cannot wait to see what 2021 brings. Most importantly, we hope it is a year where our readers are safe, healthy, and happy, recovering from a year like we have never seen before. Thank you for reading.