A Quick Look at Development Progress on Manchester Avenue in The Grove

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{graphic courtesy of WUMCRC}

Manchester Avenue in Forest Park Southeast between Kingshighway and vandeventer has seen a lot of change in the past few years. Now and again I’ll point out a new development project or restaurant, but over time it’s easy to lose track of the cumulative change. So here’s a look at the status of parcels in the rebranded “Grove”.

Green indicates “complete or substantial rehab”, orange: “under development”, blue: “parking” and white is unchanged or undeveloped. According to the WUMCRC 52% of the parcels have seen substantial redevelopment while almost 10% is parking. It’s great to see the progress as a whole, but there are a few things to note on the graphic.

From west to east: the large green parcel is the McCormick-Baron retirement residences. It’s a good project in and of itself, but a number of homes were taken to build it and the three parcels on the northeast corner of Kingshighway and Manchester appear destined to remain unbuilt upon as a result. A small portion of those parcels is currently used as garden and for science education. I don’t know that I would call those parcels “complete or substantial rehab”.

The southwest corner of Kingshighway and Manchester is a bit of a disappintment as well, though maybe worse. A Jiffy Lube and Maaco auto paint occupy the larger parcel. The Maaco building did just receive a new coat of paint if that counts.

Further east on the same side is the creative resuse of an unattractive building by the White Flag Projects. The large Sitelines building several parcels east is a great example of the transformational development occurring on Manchester, though I believe it is still looking for its first tenant. This building could have easily been lost.

The intersection of Taylor and Manchester has seen some great development and some simply maintenance. Mia Rosa and Nancy’s Place are rehabs of long vacant buildings while the small church and Renard Paper Company have been adequately retained. To be clear, expectations are changing in The Grove. Renard is a good example as it’s well maintained and has anchored this intersection. But yesterday’s anchors are becoming today’s sore thumbs and development is never static.

Renard occupies the entire north side of the 4400 block of Manchester. With the development of more of Manchester this blank wall will unfortunately not add to the vibrant feel. During the planning for the new Manchester Avenue it was hoped that MODOT would allow angled parking adjacent to Renard. This won’t happen. Details of the new Manchester streetscape and the significant challenges faced will be another post.

Newstead Tower Public House
(4343) and the health clinic (4352) highlight development on the next block, while the Tower Grove intersection is quickly becoming the most completely developed along Manchester with Sweetie Pie’s, clothing retail and a yet-to-be occupied rehabbed three-story commercial building.

The next block boasts the Gramophone and the wedge building at Arco and Manchester waiting for a tenant. The reimagined Agave, now Sanctuaria Wild Tapas and other completely rehabbed commercial buildings sit at the intersection with Boyle Avenue. SPACE Architects are taking on the property on the southeast corner of Kentucky and Manchester for their new office, completely transforming an understated and overlooked light industrial building. The Atomic Cowboy, Novak’s, Everest Cafe and other businesses anchor the east end of The Grove.

Substantial redevelopment has occurred, but a significant number of commercial storefront rehab remains to be completed. The coming streetscape improvements and continued rehabbing of residential property in The Grove should boost the prospect of further redevelopment and additional restaurants and retail.

While that work continues, the opportunity presented by the Commerce Bank site (4001) at Sarah and Chouteau is very significant. A project is currently in the planning stages and I hope to be able to share more on that project soon. The two small markets serving the neighborhood near Taylor and at Boyle are excellent opportunities as well as they have not seen much investment.

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