$700M Second Phase Expected For Monsanto Chesterfield Campus

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Monsanto is preparing to make Chesterfield a center of the flowering global biotechnology industry, which is forecast to be valued at $453.3 billion by 2017. First the agribusiness giant announced a $400 million expansion at their Chesterfield Village Research Center last year to augment a corporate commitment to sustainable agriculture. Now nextSTL sources are saying the expansion will include a second phase that will dwarf the first in size and push the projected budget over $1 billion.

Phase one will begin following Tarlton’s completion of a $40 million garage currently under construction. The first phase is expected receive more than $31 million in state incentives, and be completed by the end of 2016. It will aid development of Monsanto’s seed and trait pipeline. Greenhouses and plant growth chambers can be programmed to represent any climate around the world offering company scientists an opportunity to observe and select the best performing seeds for in-ground testing.

The first phase will also facilitate consolidation of Monsanto’s research and design team. Additional components of phase one include construction of, 13 controlled environment agriculture rooms, 250 new labs, a $70 million conference center, a $140 million biotechnology building, and 36 greenhouses to be built on top of the new garage. Bids will be sent to subcontractors this summer by project manager Alberici.

Multiple sources are saying the company is actively planning for a $700 million second phase to the Chesterfield campus expansion. Phase two will shift focus to the undeveloped side of the Monsanto campus situated on 210 acres close by the Missouri River bluffs. Contractors are already pursuing, and planning for the expected second phase.

The company has stated it expects to add 675 high paying jobs throughout the area by 2017. The average salary of the new hires will be approximately $85,000. The St. Louis region is already considered a mecca for plant scientists. Aside from Monsanto, the Danforth Center and Washington University are prominent area biotech players. Monsanto has 4,500 area employees including 1,000 working at the 1.5 million sq. ft. Chesterfield facility. Upon completion of the first phase employee capacity at the campus will bloom to 2,000.

Monsanto spent $150 million in 1984 when it first developed the Chesterfield campus. In 2000 the company merged with Pharmacia & Upjohn and changed its name to Pharmacia Corporation. The current company spun off from Pharmacia in 2002. The independent company focused solely on agriculture and leased space at the Chesterfield site from Pharmacia. The lease continued after Pfizer purchased Pharmacia in 2003. In 2009 Pfizer cut 600 area jobs and then sold the campus back to Monsanto for $430 million in 2010. The pharmaceutical giant still occupies space and conducts research at the Monsanto campus.

Sources say there is another possible factor for the enormity of the Chesterfield expansion. Monsanto is seriously contemplating shutting down their Creve Couer campus and making the Chesterfield Village Research Center corporate headquarters. This move would take place in 2020 following completion of the second phase to the billion-dollar Chesterfield project. Both the company commercial and corporate teams are currently housed in Creve Couer. Monsanto moved to the suburban community in 1957 after outgrowing its headquarters in downtown St. Louis.

Monsanto supplies approximately 90% of the world’s GMO seeds. At the official groundbreaking ceremony last October company chairman and CEO Hugh Grant commented, “Our Chesterfield expansion is focused on strengthening our world-class capabilities in the discovery and development of innovations for farmers around the world.” According to the company website, the company is specifically working to double yields in core crops by 2030.

GMO technology is highly controversial and has many detractors. A major 2008 UN /World Bank-sponsored report compiled by 400 scientists and endorsed by 58 countries concluded that genetically modified crops have little to offer to the challenges of poverty, hunger, and climate change. The report recommended organic farming as the sustainable way forward for developing countries. Additionally, the United States is the only developed country in the world that does not have mandatory GMO labeling laws.

nextSTL was first to report on the Monsanto expansion in January of 2013. The company denied the nextSTL item in a Patch article. An official announcement came four months later. An attempt to reach Monsanto for comment regarding phase two was unsuccessful.

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  • Presbyterian

    This is good news for the St. Louis region. We continue to grow as one of the major research hubs in plant sciences.

  • rgbose

    Here’s hoping for announcements like this for Northside.

    Here’s some nearby housing. I was going to lampoon it, but then I remembered Aventura.

  • tpekren

    The only downside, You would wish at some point that a hugely successful expanding St. Louis company would be willing to bite the bullet and make downtown home for their new corporate HQ. Maybe with a signature tower in BPV or Bottleworks or McKee’s northside tower bookending the west end of Gateway Mall with a killer view of the Arch. Instead, It sounds like Phase II will continue the epic corporate suburban campus campaign..

    • Hannah

      I had hoped that the new massive Cortex phase meant Monsanto was moving some employees there (a perfect location for them), but now as they move even farther out it sounds doubtful.

      • tpekren

        I thought a good fit would be for Pfizer to move out of its remaining space in Chesterfield and consolidate at Cortex. They could probably fill a nice mid rise infill, 150k to 250k sq feet of space, as well as give Cortex a decent corporate tenant that might see bringing a bigger presence back to the region.

        • Geoff Whittington

          I have heard the Pfizer Chesterfield lease is believed to expire in 2014. However, the company also holds two one-year options according to sources. 2017 would seem like a good fit with the timetable I have heard regarding construction.

    • jhoff1257

      True, but when you’ve made the investments Monsanto has at that location over the last several years, you don’t just throw it away and move it all. They just recently broke ground on a $400 million expansion at that same location, a move at this point makes no sense.

  • MRNHS

    Very interesting, and does seem like a positive for the region. Your post got me wondering, though. Where exactly was Monsanto’s headquarters downtown? I searched online and couldn’t find much on that.

    • Geoff Whittington

      1800 South Second Street. Old Monsanto HQ featured 30 buildings and occupied nearly four city blocks.

      • rgbose

        Plenty of room there now.

        • brian

          Monsanto is a completely different type of company than it was then. The only thing that is the same is the name. Not sure if that area could work for plant research.

          • rgbose

            I wasn’t suggesting the whole operation move there. Downtown would be just fine for HQ, IT, HR, accounting, sales, etc

  • moe

    I’m torn. The is excellent news for Monsanto and of course, for our region. However, Monsanto has many gray areas with GMO’s, patent protection lawsuits, and a host of other issues many environmentalist and farmers have issues with. So are we going to profit as the expense of the environment of the world?
    Hence, I’m torn. And please…let’s not get side-tracked into the whole GMO mess. I mention these issues because, let’s face it, Monsanto is not exactly “embraced” by segments of industry, etc.

  • Randy

    I have to ask: Why Chesterfield? I can’t imagine that the young, upwardly-mobile talent that Monsanto is going to need to acquire in the coming decades will want to live in or commute to Chesterfield.

    I think it makes more sense for them to expand (add density) to their Creve Coeur campus, which is an easy commute (by car) from Clayton, U City, and even parts of the City.

    Of course, the most forward-thinking approach would probably be to anchor a building or two in Cortex or even have a Cortex campus.

    • Geoff Whittington

      All according to Google. 29 minutes from the Arch. 28 minutes from Soulard. 25 minutes from the Shaw neighborhood. 22 minutes from the CWE. 22 minutes from Clifton Heights. 19 minutes from Clayton. 18 minutes from Kirkwood. 11 minutes from Ballwin. I do not see the commute being that bad. This is a fairly diverse offering of popular neighborhoods all under 30 minutes each way.

    • Liz

      I was in my mid-20s in ’07 when I moved to STL for a job Chesterfield and chose to buy in CWE – yes, I was fully aware of the I64 closure was pending. It really is only about 25 minutes and you learn the tricks and shortcuts soon enough.
      I’d love being able to bike to an office at Cortex. However, Chesterfield allows for those of us that prefer the city to live in it, while still attracting talent that may prefer the western/far west suburbs or areas south. The “young, upwardly mobile” descriptors make me think you’re expecting a work force of straight-out-of-undergrad tech wiz kids. You can’t make that assumption with R&D. The upwardly-mobile workforce can just as easily include a fresh 30yo PhD with a family as a single 22yo BS, with every combination, personality, etc., possible in between.

    • random employee

      As i understand, there are a variety of complicated issues with the Creve Coeur site related to zoning (height and building density vs green space) and the residential neighbors to the site (who aren’t fans of the idea of increased density)

  • Jason

    What do you think the options are for their current HQ in Creve Couer if they moved to Chesterfield? It is a huge property with a ton of potential.