Botanical Grove Development to Break Ground, City Garden Montessori School to Relocate

UIC+CDO is set to break ground on their Botanical Grove development this Friday, March 18th (press release below). In October 2010, nextSTL published an article titled: "4200 McRee: The Anti-Botanical Heights," providing a preview of the planned development. While much development in the City of St. Louis continues to ignore context, Botanical Grove shows that we can and are, doing things better.

In addition to 14 new and 17 renovated LEED-certified homes, Botanical Grove will be the new location for City Garden Montessori charter school. The school, with a waitlist a mile long, will be an incredible anchor to future development. UIC+CDO will renovate several contiguous structures to house the growing school, which is currently stuffed into a portion of a repurposed church at 2109 Spring Avenue in the Shaw neighborhood. The new City Garden will occupy several buildings on the northeast corner of Tower Grove and McRee Avenues.

{several buildings will be renovated to house City Garden Montessori}

City Garden Montessori
{rendering of new City Garden Montessori}

City Garden Montessori
{rendering of rear of new City Garden Montessori}

Botanical Grove will focus initially on the 4200 block of McRee, hoping to continue the development to include 4100 McRee and 4100 Blaine. The new home designs work well with, but aren't mimics of, the historic homes to be renovated. There are no cul-de-sacs or vacated streets. CDO will also focus on the streetscape, introducing rain gardens and other green features. In a city that suffers greatly from its established neighborhoods lacking connectivity to one another, this project aims to fill the gap between Forest Park Southeast and Shaw. Home prices will range from $165,000 to $250,000.

{Botanical Grove site plan}

{Tower Grove at McRee looking southeast at cafe}

UIC+CDO Press release:

Botanical Heights Homes, a division of local construction and design firms Urban Improvement Construction and Central Design Office, has announced it will hold a ground-breaking ceremony at the intersection of Tower Grove and McRee Avenues on March 18th, at 4:30 PM, to launch its Botanical Grove development. The new homes are an extension of the Botanical Heights community and support the efforts of the Garden District Commission to redevelop the area north of the Missouri Botanical Gardens. The revived community will also feature a corner café and a new home for City Garden Montessori Charter School into a renovated neighborhood building on Tower Grove Avenue.

Unique to the new homes will be standard geothermal heating and cooling systems, rain gardens, as well as many available green features. All homes will be LEED Certified to ensure low and earth-friendly operating costs. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally-recognized green building certification system. “We are positioning Botanical Grove as the new center of city green living,” reported Brent Crittenden, AIA, managing principal at UIC+CDO. “Sustainable city living is something more and more homeowners are seeking, and this project offers them the option of new construction or the charm of a renovated brick home with the added benefit of an environmentally-friendly lifestyle,” he added.

The homes, which will be priced between $165,000 to $250,000, will line McRee Avenue along the block just east of Tower Grove Avenue. The development will include 14 new and 17 renovated single family of varying sizes and types. Construction on two display homes, one new renovated home, will begin immediately after the ground-breaking ceremony and is expected to be completed by late spring of 2011. The developers are offering special pre-construction pricing and upgrade options to buyers. For sales and pricing information, contact Chris Hulse at 314-881-2325.

The development is centrally located, just a few blocks from the popular Missouri Botanical Gardens, Shaw Neighborhood, and Tower Grove Park to the south, Forest Park Southeast and the Grove district to the north, and in close proximity to the campuses of  St. Louis University and Washington University Medical Center. Crittenden stated, “What makes Botanical Grove so special is the combination of it being a green development and the central location of being right in the middle of so many desirable St. Louis destinations, parks, schools, and places of employment.”

The redevelopment of the Botanical Heights Neighborhood has been lead by the Garden District Commission a non-profit, community-based organization, with the support of the Missouri Botanical Gardens and 17th Ward Alderman Joseph D. Roddy.

Urban Improvement Construction/Central Design Office ( opened its doors at 4301 McRee Avenue in 2006, and has been involved in numerous development projects throughout St. Louis, including assisting the Garden District Commission in its efforts to redevelop the area around the Botanical Heights redevelopment area. The firm offers expertise in general contracting, architecture, urban design and custom fabrication. The Botanical Grove development team includes Brent Crittenden, Chris Hulse (principal, Botanical Heights Homes), Sarah Gibson (design principal, UIC + CDO), and Dean Wright (project manager, UIC).