Within mere minutes of the overturning of the 50-year-old Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that enshrined the nationwide right to an abortion, MO Attorney General and Republican Senate Candidate implemented Missouri’s trigger law to ban abortion within the state. In the stunning 6-3 decision released today that effectively wipes clean a half-century of legal precedent, dozens of states are quickly adjusting to an uncertain post-Roe future.
For millions of women in states like Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and more – that means reduced or completely eliminated access to a healthcare procedure that has been relied upon for decades. However, the implementation of these various trigger laws and near-term legislation poses additional questions and legal possibilities. In Missouri, the abortion ban triggered today is decidedly extreme: abortion is entirely banned, even in cases of rape or incest, save for very specific exceptions for the life of the mother.
Political leaders across the St. Louis area are reacting quickly online, with strong statements from St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and County Executive Sam Page promising to protect women seeking reproductive healthcare to the best of their abilities. In the City, some legislative leaders have introduced legislation that would utilize ARPA funds to assist women seeking to cross state lines for an abortion. Even strong actions like these are likely to face future legal hurdles from the staunchly anti-abortion state legislators in Jefferson City who are considering laws like those in Texas that would criminalize and/or penalize travel out-of-state for abortions.
It remains unclear what clear avenues exist in the near-term for abortion advocates to embolden abortion access despite strong, majority national support for at least some access to abortion services. Although it may take years for the Supreme Court to change in political composition, reproductive freedoms will be challenged elsewhere across the states, including here in Missouri where some state legislators like Sen. Bob Onder are seeking to ban access to various forms of contraception. Though such legislative actions sound at first outlandish, they exist within the context of a state government that already was revealed to be tracking Missouri women’s period cycles.
It is likely that major demonstrations will take place at the St. Louis Planned Parenthood in the Central West End, the clinic that, until today, was the very last in the State of Missouri to provide abortion services.
The Missouri House Budget Committee, led by Republican legislators who carry a supermajority, voted 20-9 along party lines to deny funding to the Medicaid Expansion. Missouri voters authorized the Medicaid Expansion last August, with just over 53% of voters choosing to back an amendment to the Missouri Constitution that would expand Medicaid eligibility to individuals and families up to 138% of the Federal poverty line. As Missouri’s Medicaid program stands right now, most adults without children are not covered and its income eligibility is one of the lowest in the nation.
Republicans in Missouri have argued that Missouri cannot afford the expense of expanding Medicaid coverage. However, 90% of the funding is provided to states by the Federal government, and many believe that the program may even save Missouri taxpayers money. As reported by NPR, a Washington University in St. Louis study found that over 230,000 Missourians would benefit from the program in a state where over 9% are uninsured. The study also showed that Missouri may save nearly $39 million a year.
Although nearly 1 in 3 rural Republican voters in the August election voted in favor of the expansion, some Republican legislators are distorting the outcome of the election. According to House Rep. Sara Walsh of Ashland “Rural Missouri said no…I don’t believe it is the will of the people to bankrupt our state.” Democratic representatives have responded in force, arguing that with higher than expected state revenues, more than $1.1 billion from the Federal government specifically allocated to the expansion from the latest relief bill, and expected cost saves that Republicans are not following the will of the voters or the facts.
Missouri Democrats plan on re-introducing the funding measure to the broader House floor alongside the rest of the budget presented. However, there is no guarantee that their efforts will be successful. The end result is likely to still result in a funded measure, but whether it is through legislative action or lawsuits remains unclear.
Following the surprise announcement that Alderman Joe Roddy would resign from his long-held seat, multiple candidates are running to replace Roddy in the rapidly densifying and developing Ward. Roddy, who has served for more than 30 years, is the longest-serving member of the Board and has worked with civic and business leaders alike on major projects along the city’s Central Corridor.
Three candidates are seeking Roddy’s soon-to-be former Aldermanic seat: Michelle Sherod, a CPA with 30+ years of experience and former McCaskill staffer; Tina “Sweet-T” Phil, a former head of the FPSE Neighborhood Association and social entrepreneur; and Donald De Vivo, member of the Green Party. (Unfortunately, we cannot find an active candidate website for De Vivo).
Tina “Sweet-T” Pihl
With few options for neighborhood residents to safely meet the candidates due to COVID-19, the Forest Park Southeast Neighborhood Association is holding a candidate forum over Zoom at its next regularly scheduled meeting, on Tuesday, 1/19 at 6:45PM. To access the meeting, join the Zoom meeting at: Web: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82903905861. You can also view the event details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/3768466896544367
The winner will govern Ward 17 in an increasingly partisan political environment, both locally and nationally. While replacing Roddy could be transformative, the eventual victor will only serve a portion of their full term, assuming that Ward Reduction still reshapes the Board in 2023. The fate of Board Reduction is still uncertain, however, despite a citywide vote nearly a decade ago, with the Board voting narrowly to reintroduce the measure to city voters in April just this week. While proponents of the reduction are concerned about the Board’s actions that do not represent the will of the voters, they are cautiously optimistic that Mayor Krewson will veto the effort of the slim Board majority as she threatened to do in 2018.
They will also oversee a Ward that has been transformed over the past three decades. The Grove, now a major entertainment and dining district, is surrounded by tons of new residential infill and hundreds of new units in multifamily developments. The Cortex District, just East of the Central West End and North of Forest Park Southeast, continues to see more office-space and high paying jobs. With a new 11-story WashU Neuroscience building now under construction (the largest such facility in the country once complete), the district appears poised to maintain its momentum as the city’s premier innovation neighborhood.
Roddy’s tenure will certainly be celebrated for his consistent efforts to modernize his Ward and the city’s urban center, while critics maintain he represents interests of wealthy developers over lower-income residents in older housing stock South of Manchester Ave. Moreover, his politics is less progressive and sometimes more controversial than many of his younger peers, like Aldermen Green and Spencer.
Disclosure: The author of this article, Brian Adler, is the newly elected Vice President of the Forest Park Southeast Neighborhood Association. This article is simultaneously the first piece of Missouri-Metro’s Politics section and an effort to ensure that voters in Ward 17 are educated on a once-in-a-generation ability to reshape their Ward’s leadership. To read more about the Forest Park Southeast Neighborhood Association, visit its website here: http://www.forestparksoutheast.com/.
Often in St. Louis, we lose sight of projects that don’t bring hundreds of luxurious units to a booming Central Corridor, repairing the city fabric that St. Louis chose to bulldoze in the 20th century. We see incredible, dense apartments proposed in The Grove, Downtown, and the Central West End, remarking that they surely are the solution to the last half century of population decline in the City of St. Louis.
They help, quite a lot, but St. Louis is far more than its Central Corridor, with neighborhoods like Dutchtown hosting the highest density of residents in the entire city per square mile. Here in Dutchtown, potential is everywhere, with a commercial corridor coming together on Meramec St. and an impressive set of architecturally significant homes. Yet, interspersed throughout are perhaps hundreds of abandoned homes and vacant lots.
Restoring St. Louis is a much more difficult task than people often realize, where hundreds of new units in the wealthiest neighborhoods do not make up for the hundreds, if not thousands of residents lost yearly in North/South St. Louis’ communities. Neighborhoods that experience disinvestment invite crime, turn away potential residents and investors, and create a community that sees despair instead of hope. In Dutchtown, the vacancy issue consumes more than just homes, with the gorgeous Cleveland High School sitting boarded up with broken windows and fire damage.
“If people are living in uninhabitable conditions, they move,”
Vacant schools and homes pose incredible harm to communities, not just in reducing safety, but also pushing other long-term residents out. Combined with dampened new investment, these neighborhoods end up in vicious feedback loops as families move to other neighborhoods or outside suburbs.
This phenomenon is finally being tackled in St. Louis, both at the governmental and communities levels. With institutions like the LRA, city efforts like Prop N.S. that invests tens of millions in structural stabilization in low-income communities, and non-profits working tirelessly to reverse the feedback loop, progress is more visible than ever. One such non-profit, the St. Joseph Housing Initiative, is doing just that and more. Maureen McCuen, Executive Director of the SJHI, spent some time talking to Missouri Metro last week to detail their community-driven efforts to reduce vacancy, revitalize neighborhoods, and support new low-middle income homebuyers.
To accomplish its mission, the STJI works to rehabilitate vacant and historical properties in Dutchtown. McCuen emphasized that although Dutchtown holds incredible architectural assets and a diverse, densely populated community, it has a below average level of owner-occupied homes when compared to St. Louis City and Missouri more broadly.
As many of our readers know intimately, home ownership can often come with many surprises. We discussed in a recent article how low-income and predominantly Black communities in St. Louis have experienced predatory mortgages that purposefully leave out interest, insurance, and property taxes resulting in a massive and unexpected bill at the end of the year. Even without discriminatory and predatory lending, mortgages require a history of good credit and are but one of many expenses attributed to home ownership.
When purchasing a home, most buyers will have an inspector tour the property and identify potential problems with major home systems and interior assets. Even then, the most capable and experienced inspectors can miss major items and even if something looks perfect, systems can simply just break, particularly if they are old, without any sign of defects.
That is why it is common to have unexpected and often expensive repairs in the first couple years of ownership. For families or individuals without a safety net or substantial savings, these issues can threaten their ability to sufficiently maintain the home or, worse, might threaten their other financial obligations should they choose to get the issue fixed. Perhaps it might be a leaky roof, broken water heater, dying A/C compressor, or the need to tuck point (replace mortar between bricks), each of which might result in a $1,000.00+ bill.
Although these homes are intended for low-middle income families, St. Joseph Housing Initiative works to make sure that the interior finishes and amenities are durable, modern, and welcoming. While they might not find granite countertops or other luxury materials, the homes are well above average and, in my experience as a former REALTOR®, downright refreshing in homes of this price range. The kitchens sport stainless steel appliances and the houses have gorgeous decks, nice vinyl flooring, and open concept interiors worthy of an HGTV short.
St. Joseph Housing Initiative seeks to ease the transition for their buyers, making sure that they touch every single major system in the home, leaving no major surprises that might mean financial ruin for their buyers. Combined with their credit consulting, they have introduced an innovative initiative dubbed the “First Neighbor” program, which introduces the new hombuyers to their new neighbors McCuen describes this program as a thorough effort to ensure that their buyers are successful and integrated into the community.
The First Neighbor program is a group of current residents that support their new neighbors and maintain a long-term relationship with the new buyers. They serve as friends and mentors, and the group contains a variety of skills, talents, and interests among its members that can help their neighbors in a pinch. For the families or individuals that have never mowed a lawn before, they’ll find the necessary tools and mentorship handy through the program. Or, if they don’t know how to hang something on a plaster wall or when the dumpsters are emptied, they will find all the answers they need.
Dutchtown is a large neighborhood, so one home here or there might not feel like a substantial difference. With that in mind, St. Joseph Housing Initiative is working to cluster their properties together. As a cluster, the multiple homes together are able to create a better feeling of security and contribute to a better, more hopeful built environment free of broken windows and vacant properties. The hope is that this will continue to reverse the feedback loop that had for so long forced residents away.
St. Joseph Housing Initiative is looking to complete its 8th home in the start of 2021, and their goal is to rehabilitate 10 homes by the end of the year. Powered by volunteers and 100% funded through donations, the St. Joseph Housing Initiative has a bold and comprehensive plan that McCuen hopes will keep growing and make a tangible difference in the city. Providing a safe, healthy, and inspiring home and surrounding environment for their buyers is at the core of their mission. Combined with the efforts of neighboring groups and non-profits, Dutchtown is ready for a renaissance, and it will be one of its own making.
If you are interested in donating to or volunteering with the St. Joseph Housing Initiative, visit their website here. Missouri Metro thanks McCuen and the SJHI for taking part in our latest Dutchtown feature and for their hard, dedicated work to revitalize St. Louis communities.
The City of Clayton, just outside of the City of St. Louis limits, is in the middle of a fast-paced transformation that is reshaping its skyline and densifying its streets. From the under construction Forsyth Pointe towers, the Ritz Carlton renovation, Centene Centre, a new Bank of America branch, a new AC Hotel, to a new Residence Inn, there is so much underway that it would seem unlikely for the municipality to have a geographical area only 1 square mile larger than Tower Grove South.
And yet, that list is actually incomplete. Missing is the Le Meridien on Bonhomme, opening this Fall in the middle of a pandemic and a historic decline in tourism and business travel. While that might sound crazy, the demand for nicer accommodations in Clayton has been publicly stated by officials for years. The Clayton government has sought a Ritz Carlton competitor for years, which would help shore up solidify business travel in the hottest St. Louis area office market. Moreover, the development is a top-to-bottom renovation, so it is not actually bringing more rooms on market than existed prior to its renovation.
While the exterior is nearly covered in windows bringing a nearly floor-to-ceiling view experience to all guests and abundant, fresh accent lighting gives a modern feel, the original structure dates back to 1965. HOK Architects was chosen to take what is something of a landmark in the City of Clayton, with its wavy, brutalist street facing wall and overall aged façade into a hotel worthy of the wealthy visitors gracing Clayton with their business.
The Sheraton, a value-focused Marriott brand, was slowly becoming a poor fit for the neighborhood. With high-priced consultancy firms, tech startups, and banks filling Clayton’s impressive Downtown, a market strategy based on value exclusively – coupled with a need for massive capital improvements – led to the Sheraton’s demise. The structure, which occupies a large and visible parcel in the core of Downtown Clayton, was also quickly appearing less and less impressive in the face of the development boom surrounding it. The glass-clad towers and newly renovated spaces made its age all the more apparent.
The top-to-bottom renovation and upgraded brand position to a Le Meridien by Marriott is an admirable attempt to change course and bring about an offering more suited to the Clayton market. 268 modern rooms with luxury amenities, a rooftop pool and event space, “state of the art fitness center”, and proximity to neighboring businesses are all part of a new value proposition hinging on far more than price, which is still likely to be lower than its neighbor, the Ritz Carlton.
The panoramic views of Downtown Clayton, an attempt at a stylish mid-century modern design, and a fresh brand will really complement the Downtown Business District. The changes are comprehensive, going beyond improving the amenities and finishes inside, with a complete re-design of the exterior. Even the wavy street-facing wall is seeing a modernization. The wavy design is a much brighter gray, replacing the dirty beige seen for decades. It is important to note that although this is a big change, it is still a preservation of an old design – bringing it closer to today’s standards, but respecting the original intent in 1965. The guest room windows are perhaps the most striking difference to me, replacing small windows with nearly floor-to-ceiling glass panels, which not only makes a huge difference on its appearance, but also makes for a better experience inside.
St. Louis has experienced explosive growth in its hotel sector over the past few years, and it is certainly possible that the pandemic will significantly harm the service and hospitality industry in the region. With that being said, I would highly expect this renovation to withstand the economic challenges better than the many innovative spaces in Downtown St. Louis. While St. Louis City is resilient and hosts plenty of attractions, the Clayton office segment is incredibly strong. Even as the national conversation about office space centers around the work-from-home and its devastating impacts on commercial real estate, Clayton is leasing new towers before they are even complete like in the under-construction Forsyth Pointe. St. Louis City is not yet in that position, even though it is headed in that direction.
Regardless of where the development is in the region, the good news is that the St. Louis area is strong and attractive to businesses and developers alike even in these challenging times. From the Arch to Chesterfield, not even a pandemic can halt the progress and explosive growth of the region. Let’s keep that progress going.
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.
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.
Development in The Grove is continuing at a rapid pace, with lofts at 4440 Manchester now under construction.
Right across from, Urban Chestnut Brewing Company these lofts are poised to add significant density to The Grove closer to Kingshighway. The building will reach five stories and supposedly should have retail fronting Manchester, helping activate this end of the corridor. This development is also highlighting the neighborhoods roots and culture, specifically in regard to The Grove’s historical acceptance and celebration of LGBTQIA+ individuals. As such, the building will be clad in rainbow colors to show their support and pride for the community.
Tower Grove Pride released the photo below as a preliminary rendering of the project, which also appears to include patios for most, if not all, of the units. Park Central Development Committee indicates that there will be 60 units with retail on the first floor, at a total cost of $13,350,000.
With Chroma Phase II nearing completion near Vandeventer and other apartment projects on the way, The Grove is showing no signs of slowing down even in the middle of a pandemic.
Despite the economic downturn and rising COVID cases, St. Louis economic development is still churning along in a surprising manner.
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.
Even as St. Louis has experienced record levels of development over the last few years, Midtown still tends to lag other neighborhood, particularly near the Wells Fargo Campus. That’s all set to change with the Jefferson Connector, part of the Midtown Alley project.
The Midtown Alley project is set to include more residential units with the Beaumont Lofts, office space, and of course the new hotel project dubbed the Jefferson Connector. The hotel portion will renovate a large section of the Wells Fargo campus, as pictured below.
This stretch of Jefferson will benefit from significantly more activity and should make the Western edge of Downtown far more welcoming to visitors. The hotel will boast just over 200 rooms and should be completed sometime in 2023, according to the developers at Green Street.
With the new MLS Stadium, a rehabilitated Union Station, and this new hotel, Midtown should look and feel very different in just a few years time.
Although St. Louis is home to lots of vacant housing stock (which I detail extensively in a prior story), COVID-19 has made St. Louis’ housing market hotter than it has ever been.
As a REALTOR and current buyer, the market has created an extraordinary environment that we’re not quite used to in this city. With the virus, new listings are down significantly versus where they were last year, with sellers not looking for extra foot traffic in their homes or investment properties.
And yet, despite the economic fallout, there are many, many buyers still looking for homes and investment properties in a market with substantially less inventory.
St. Louis was already in a real estate renaissance, with over $8 billion in investment in its central corridor neighborhoods, changing the landscape of a city long reeling from its post-industrial past. And today, prices are finally being pushed up as demand exceeds supply, in a market that has not seen a similar dynamic for decades.
One of my first buyers looked for a duplex rental property starting in February, and within days, we had toured about a dozen or more properties. Sellers were not yet avoiding showings, and inventory was everywhere the proverbial eye could see. We never made an offer near list price, and were almost always able to at least see counteroffers or go under contract outright. However, due to poor inspections, he was forced to keep looking into late April. By then, each offer was entered into a bidding war, and the only hope was to use an escalation clause. Not only were the offers higher, but they came in fast, with properties going under contract before we could ever step foot inside.
Unsurprisingly, the situation has become more and more difficult since then. For sellers willing to take the risk, the current economic situation is a dream come true. As my fiance and I looked for our first rental property, starting in April, we knew we were entering a market that was catering to the opposite party. However, when you’re ready to invest, you shouldn’t look away, there’s never a perfect time.
We never would have expected, even with prior experience, the difficulty we faced finding our first property and getting it under contract. Nothing new was listed, with dead weeks in the neighborhoods we loved. As soon as one came on market, it was instantly given a bidding war. For those in the area, I’m talking Compton Heights, Forest Park Southeast, Skinker-Debaliviere, etc. The most desirable neighborhoods had a glut of demand that, despite the times, had receded far less than supply.
We finally found one we love and have it under contract, post-inspection, set for closing in July in a great neighborhood. The catch? It’s a for-sale-by-owner, allowing us to avoid some of the competition we faced. We were forced into a new market altogether, with the MLS void of what we were looking for.
Sellers: Now’s the time. There are proper protocols to keep your home safe, and if you’re willing to sell, this is perhaps the best chance we’ve seen in STL for decades.