164-Unit Residential Infill to Replace Mobil Gas Station in Burgeoning Midtown

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“The Standard” a 164-unit 465-bed residential apartment project is set to replace the Mobil gas station at Forest Park Avenue and Vandeventer in the city’s Midtown neighborhood. The infill project adds to a continuing boom in central corridor residential construction and continues the complete remaking of this corner of the City of St. Louis.

More than 2,000 residential units are planned or now under construction in the area of Forest Park and east to Saint Louis University roughly along Forest Park Avenue. What isn’t standard is that this project is quickly moving forward without any subsidy. There’s no tax abatement, no TIF, no CID, or other money acronym attached. With each project and each subsidy, the stated plan by the city has been to reach a point where development occurs without millions of dollars of assistance. This will be the first large scale project in this area to do so.

The project is being developed locally by Sangita with backing from Landmark Properties and Harrison Street. Sale of the property is expected to close in the coming weeks with groundbreaking to immediately follow. The project is planned for a August 2015 completion. The area will see a crush of construction as construction of the IKEA on the opposite corner of the Forest Park and Vandeventer Avenues gets underway.

Although no announcement regarding tenants has been made, it’s expected that Pace Properties will soon be underway with their Midtown Station development on the southeast corner of the same intersection. A discount clothing retailer, grocery, and other retail is expected. Until recently, development in this centrally located area was scoffed at by knowledgeable longtime residents. Too many proposals had come and gone to not be cynical. With multiple significant projects now confirmed, the recent boom shows no signs of ebbing.

{164-unit The Standard in green, CORTEX – yellow, IKEA – light blue, SLU – dark blue, Midtown Station – orange}

The Standard will offer approximately 400 parking spaces in a structured garage wrapped by the residential building. Access will be from the existing alley on the north side of the site. Marketing primarily to students, amenities will include study rooms and social spaces. The property will feature several five bedroom units. There is no planned retail component, but a 7,000 sf clubhouse space could be converted to retail if there is future demand. Developers are currently scouting nearby retail space and hope to open a 3,000 sf leasing office, likely on nearby Lindell Boulevard.

The Mobil station will be the second gas station at the intersection to close in recent months. A BP station was closed and demolished last year on the site of the IKEA. The Mobil station offers a more distinctive presence than the average gas station, and was known for their car wash specials – free wash for all green cars on St. Patrick’s Day.

Additional central corridor residential and mixed use developments:

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  • mc

    Very happy this is happening! Great improvement to this corner. This petrol station (as most petrol stations are) is such an eyesore.

    • dempster holland

      An eyesore it may have been but there are those of us who love it

  • Adam

    “Standard” seems apt. Definitely better than a gas station but is it too much to ask for a non-suburban design? Especially considering that it’s targeted at students. And the lack of a retail component is disappointing-particularly since the Pace development is basically going to be a pedestrian nightmare.

    • guest

      What’s not urban about this design?

      • dempster holland

        I am curious. Exactly what should be changed in the design to
        satisfy those who dislike it?

        • Imran

          Maybe loose the pitched roofs and wrap more of the penthouse level with large glass window areas.
          How about a roof top gathering space?
          Then again at 5 stories tall, the roof line probably will not be visible from the street and when you drive/walk by its usually just the first 2-3 floors that really matter and the rendering makes them look fairly decent.

      • Adam

        i’m talking about the materials/aesthetics, not the form.

    • krl

      I’m afraid “cookie cutter” is the name of the student housing game. Take it from a native St. Louisan living in Columbia, MO, where a rash of barely distinguishable apartment buildings and hotels are popping up all over town. The rendering above reminds me of Brookside’s numerous identical blocks.

  • John

    With the insane amount of traffic that will result from the construction of Midtown Station and IKEA all across the intersection, surely a retail component should be a major priority! Midtown Station had best be urban in design, first of all. Second, it’s not going to have everything. Surely there will be some businesses it lacks that SLU students want, and this would be the perfect place to put them. Now if that vacant lot and those run-down buildings just to the west are redeveloped, this whole area will be teeming with activity late next year! What is now arguably the worst looking intersection in all of Midtown will soon be a vibrant COMMERCIAL district, and these developers need to acknowledge that.

    “If” there is demand for retail is silly. It’s “when.” And that’s going to be soon.

    The design is lackluster at best (and that was the nicest word I could come up with to describe how shitty it looks). I hope this isn’t their final design. This might pass in Atlanta, Denver, or Seattle, but in St. Louis we should really try and keep our standards higher than this. OPUS Tower, CityWalk, and Cortona are all far nicer looking than this. It has the potential to be a defining structure in what is quickly becoming one of the City’s most rad neighborhoods, but they’re passing that opportunity up. Maybe that’s how they’re able to make it so cheap.

    I’m glad it’s being built at all, but it’s definitely a missed opportunity to build something grand.

    • john w.

      I haven’t the remotest clue as to what you could possibly be referring to when mentioning Seattle or Denver. If you’ve been there, you’ll see that the quality of new infill far outclasses ANYTHING being built in St. Louis both in terms of urban nature and architectural quality- progressive or otherwise. St. Louis would be LUCKY to boast the types of infill development and other marquee projects that Seattle, Denver and even Kansas City regularly sees. Our city can boast great historic architecture (though it seems to want it to disappear by any means possible), but a frustrating dearth of progressive architecture. City Walk? Really? I’ll trade just about anything being built in the other cities you mentioned for that crapheap. The city of St. Louis has a steady and reliable tradition of missed opportunity, and though this new apartments project is no different I’m genuinely confused as to how you can say that standards of quality in St. Louis are basically higher than in places like Seattle or Denver, when the opposite is so plainly true.

      • Ann Wimsatt

        STL developers don’t realize that the Millennial market has moved past ‘themed architecture’ which vaguely resembles the past. Developers in other cities are staying with the trend toward a more modern architecture.
        The Millennial generation lives in their IPhone, literally. Their lives could not be more modern. They flock to genuine historic architecture–but not faux historic design or architecture.

        • http://donspoliticalblog.blogspot.com Don

          Literally?

        • John

          I don’t think “themed architecture” is what’s necessary. It just needs to look…Not shitty. This isn’t accomplishing that at all. It’s like they picked it out of the same pamphlet as Aventura. New construction doesn’t have to be faux historic, but it should still be attractive.

          • Presbyterian

            I’m not seeing it. Of course my preference is very modern, but this is a decent student housing infill building. It has your basic tripartite base, middle and top, each articulated with a different material. It’s not going to win any awards, but the massing and orientation are good. I wasn’t expecting high design.

            I would like to see more modern infill, though.

          • John

            It’s not too-too terrible, no. It’s “okay.” This City just deserves better. I know we shouldn’t expect something gorgeous that’s going to redefine the Midtown skyline forever, but is it so much to ask that we get more developments like the Loop Living building? It’s more urban and made mostly of glass. St. Louis could use more glass. I do not think every building should be faux-historic since it usually doesn’t turn out very well, but that doesn’t mean they need to be as blegh as this.

        • http://donspoliticalblog.blogspot.com Don

          I’m the furthest thing from a design snob, but I will join those tired of themed and/or faux historic (faux anything) designs. Still, this is student housing which necessary has cost constraints and as such, we could do much worse.

      • John

        Seattle is hell on earth. It looks exactly like Downtown Clayton but full of fly-covered hippies. I lived up there, and buildings like this would be common there. Their high rises are nice, but that’s it.

        I don’t think CityWalk is very good, but it would have stood out as something unique in Seattle. St. Louis deserves better than anything it has been getting lately, though.

        Denver looks like Chesterfield.

        • Joe Schmoe

          I agree, Seattle has a beautiful setting and progressive politics but St. Louis kills Seattle in the architecture department. There seems to be this assumption that St. Louis infill is so much inferior to other cities, but it really isn’t. Unfortunately, cheap materials and questionable design are national epidemics not limited to cities “like St. Louis”. What Denver/Seattle/Portland/Minneapolis are doing is breaking their back to have the kind of urbanity that St. Louis has in abundance in our historic architecture. Most other cities would cherish our 19th century housing stock and prices would be unaffordable to most St. Louisans. We have been tearing down our historic architecture for the better part of 60 years trying to look like them, while they are trying to mimic our old world vibe with dense development.

      • Adam

        Denver has plenty of shitty looking modern construction. and it’s been a long time since i’ve been to Seattle but i don’t recall being very impressed with anything outside of downtown.

      • http://donspoliticalblog.blogspot.com Don

        Here is a “big apartment project planned for Seattle’s ‘Silicon Canal’”
        http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/news/2013/11/18/big-apartment-project-planned-for.html?s=image_gallery

        Looks strikingly familiar and this is targeted for tech workers, not students.

        Another familiar apartment development here: http://㟢恜.sl.pt

        • John

          Looks a lot like Cortona.

          I think what could make The Standard better is if they got rid of the beige at the top and used a flat roof. It wouldn’t quite be faux-historic but it wouldn’t be so generic either.

      • http://donspoliticalblog.blogspot.com Don

        This is planned for the former Daily Camera properties at Perl and Walnut in Boulder CO. This will be replacing the brick buildings at that location.

  • Presbyterian

    This is a great urban development replacing a 2-acre gas station. Student apartments are not an ultra high-end product, but they are necessary and contribute to the energy of the neighborhood. Kudos to Sansone and Sangita for pulling this one off… and doing so without taxpayer subsidies!

    • matimal

      Why do you call these “student apartments”? You can’t legally rent only to students. It violates federal housing law.

      • Presbyterian

        They are marketing them to students, much like The Flats at Grand and 40. Nationally, private student housing is a big market with big companies like Asset, Peak and Student Housing Developers.

      • T-Leb

        Anyone that wants to live in a complex with a bunch of college students… probably other college students, that happen to have enough $$ to afford this place.

      • PRS1

        Students are not a protected class. Its not a violation of fair housing laws.

  • Jon Pritchard

    What a great contribution to this area, especially considering no subsidies were needed. This should be the model for urban development going forward.

  • Jon Pritchard

    What a great development for the area especially considering no subsidies were needed. This should be the recipe going forward for urban development

  • Stel Pontikes

    Sorry to see one of the best car washes in the entire metro area shutting down after 50 years at that location. But kudos on the future development of that corner.

    • http://donspoliticalblog.blogspot.com Don

      I too will at least miss the Mobile station. I’ve been buying gas and washing my car her for more than 25 years. And I really have no idea where I will go to wash my car. But I’m thrilled for the new life coming to this neighborhood and this particular development seems very well suited for the urban environment.

      • Presbyterian

        I must admit I had the same thought about car washes. I washed my car there on Friday. There’s the Hi-Point Amoco-BP, I guess. Anything further east?

        But these two acres (just under, actually) were listed for $5 million. I’m sure the owner is happy with the deal.

        • http://donspoliticalblog.blogspot.com Don

          Ha! I’m sure he is and frankly, until now I had not considered just how large a footprint this station occupied.

      • Imran

        Do QT’s jave car washes. There’s once about to bloom on VandeventerChoteau

  • billiken guy

    “A discount clothing retailer, grocery, and other retail is expected.”

    Old Navy, Trader Joes, and–hopefully–Target?

    • Imran

      Or Ross Dress for less, Aldi’s and ….Value City.
      (smacking myself for saying that)

      • John R

        For grocery, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Trader Joe’s…. I believe they tend to follow Whole Foods into areas.

  • TR

    This is going to be great for the SLU community and the entire mid-town area. It is moves like this that bring life back to the city. So glad to see advancement and development particularly not on the tax payers dime.

    • T-Leb

      No taxpayer dollars does allow me to be less critical of the parking. Didn’t Whole Foods development basically get 10 million for their garage?

      • http://donspoliticalblog.blogspot.com Don

        Mills (who is doing the apartments that includes the Whole Foods) is redoing the street scape from FP to Lindell to ‘match’ the look of the City Walk development. It’s my understanding that this is the basis for the TIF money.

  • Ann Wimsatt

    Retail on the ground floor = Urban design = A Walkable City. This Sangita/SLU project is a big improvement over recent midtown projects (namely Cortex, Pace and IKEA). This project actually has an urban focus. The other three are basically suburban designs in urban settings–which the developers build at their peril. Midtown will soon be a denser city with crowds walking the streets and no one will want to walk or visit the blank, suburban sections of midtown.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Agreed, but the importance of urban development is that it’s the city that is at peril. Developers won’t still be invested in the project by the time it become evident that something better should have been built – that’s the role the city must play.

      • Ann Wimsatt

        Agreed, but without a formalized and forward-thinking 2040 plan, the City is left to plan by (back-room) bits and pieces. By contrast, the newer city of Abu Dhabi has a staff of hundreds of intl architects working for its Urban Planning Council. Abu Dhabi developed a 25 year 2030 plan in 2005. It’s a big global world out there. Every city wants to attract the best millennial migrants. Every city wants to boost their start-up scene.

  • John R

    Hopefully this influx of activity will soon mean occupancy for the retail storefronts across the street on Vandy. With the propensity for some of the anchor institutions to knock things down, I’ve long worried about the future of that collection of handsome, historic buildings. Getting unique retail there with apts. above would be awesome and further advance walkability in this difficult auto-dominated area.

  • STLgasm

    Yay for development, boo for the crappy design. Straight outta Creve Coeur.

    • Sam Snelling

      I have to agree. Exactly the kind of development that neighborhood needs. Exactly the opposite kind of design.

  • http://www.gatewaystreets.org/ Herbie Markwort

    400 parking spaces for a 164 unit/465 bed apartment building marketed primarily for students?!

    • T-Leb

      That is excessive. Parking is not a right on a college campus. SLU is not really a commuter campus is it?

      • http://donspoliticalblog.blogspot.com Don

        This isn’t on a college campus. This is a privately own, off-campus apartment project.

  • Mike

    I have to say that at least what is being proposed is better then a 2-arce gas station. However it would not take muck to bring up the suburban look of these apartments and create even a slightly modern look. I definitely say it needs more glass and to integrate into the area.

  • John Warren

    I give the design of this a 2/10. It’s certainly more “urban” than other new developments (aventura) but this design is awful. How is St. Louis behind Cleveland, Milwaukee etc when it comes to quality, modern infill? It’s like it was designed on some architecture app. I’d almost argue keeping the Mobil than some garbage “campus housing” that belongs in rural Missouri.

  • moe

    I think it is great that there are no public incentives being used for this project. This section of town is going to be amazing in the next few years. I do hope that the Armory is put to good use. My concern is that even though the student enrollments are projected to steadily rise over the next decade, all this could be in jeopardy if the student loan bubble pops as many are predicting it will.

    • John R

      I heard SLU enrollment was actually down a bit the past few years…. maybe it will turn around. Are there more young ‘uns in the demographic mix than usual?

      • ChesterfieldForever

        That’s where the increased Chinese enrollment comes in…. And if you think they have enough students that can pay the huge tuition, just go down to SLU bursar office and ask how many pay tuition in full with no aid. Then go to a BMW dealer and ask how many buy a car cash translation.

  • Adam

    compare with this (much better) student housing development currently under construction in Charlottesville, VA:

    http://vimeo.com/76238457

    • http://donspoliticalblog.blogspot.com Don

      What makes this much better? The retro all brick facade facing the street?

      And I’m not trying to be snarky. I’m really curious.

      • Adam

        the massing and window spacing is better (IMHO), there are 6 retail bays, and yes, the “retro” all brick facade gives it a higher quality appearance (i.e. it doesn’t look like cardboard). even the modern cladding on the side looks better than EIFS. this building is a good mix of classic and modern. to me it looks a lot less like a suburban Holiday Inn than the Standard. and i just want to say that i don’t get the whole anti-classic bandwagon. sure, cheaply-built faux historic looks bad. but cheaply built modern looks bad too (often worse, frankly). classic design is classic design.

        • Adam

          actually, the stuff on the side might be EIFS. but it’s textured and it’s not beige. and for the record, i mostly like Cortona. that’s probably all EIFS as well but it’s colorful and varied and well proportioned.

        • http://donspoliticalblog.blogspot.com Don

          Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

  • Presbyterian

    Detail… what you’ll see from the street.

    • stldoc

      I think it looks pretty good. And no subsidies! Lets hope this is the beginning of a new era with more subsidy free development. But as someone that foams at the mouth when I look at the catastrophe that is the Aventura, I’m surprised by some at the strong opposition to this design.

  • John R

    As this area starts to pull itself out of the mire, FPP needs a lot of streetscaping, particularly between Grand and Sarah — and maybe even a road diet. It will take a long time, but this ugly monster just might be tamed one day.