McKee Seeks to Add Bottle District Site to NorthSide Development

As reported by Tim Logan at the Post-Dispatch, developer Paul McKee is seeking to add the 17-acre Bottle District site immediately north of the Edward Jones Done to his NorthSide development (board bill embedded below). The biggest lure may be a $51M TIF ordinance for the site currently sitting dormant. According to the P-D, the site could also become eligible to claim state tax credits equal to half its purchase price. If the deal can be closed, it will be a very heavily subsidized bargain.

The initial Bottle District plan was announced with much fanfare in 2004. The site was to be home to a bowling alley, go carts, numerous restaurants, 500,000 sq. ft. of entertainment in all. Also in the plan was 250 residential units, a concert venue and a full-service grocery store. Things got out of control with renderings appearing from Daniel Libeskin. Seems a bit unrealistic, doesn't it? Certainly any new plan will be quite different than what was once envisioned. Several ideas have already come to downtown since 2004 and also-dormant Ballpark Village stands as a better opportunity for new office, restaurant and entertainment development.

{the Bottle District viewed for the north with McGuire building in foreground}

The hope is that a deal may kickstart development at the site, but the question remains: what can and will be built at the Bottle District? Given its isolation due to the barriers of the convention center and dome, as well as I-70 to the east, the site may best be suited for a somewhat suburban corporate campus (think Wells-Fargo in Midtown). Perhaps a new Rams stadium? If Kroenke wants, or thinks he can get a new open air stadium, the Bottle District is the most likely location. But none of this works with the elevated lanes of I-70 in place.

Without a development plan and financing in place, the subsidized transfer would push the site no closer to development. It is rumored that casino magnate Steve Wynn toured the area a number of months ago and couldn't envision a workable solution. The McGuire building on the site was more recently set to become artists lofts but failed to secure financing. The primary issue cited: immediate proximity to I-70.

Generally, a property changing hands results in hope for development, but given the potential low-low cost here, the site could continue to sit for years. And until the presence of the urban Interstate is resolved, the property will likely overpromise and under deliver, whether in the hands of McKee, Kroenke or any developer you can name.

City to River boulevard site plan
{the Bottle District may benefit more than any other site with the removal of I-70 – new Mississippi River Bridge approach is shown at top of image, yellow = vacant lot, purple = existing buildings, orange = "new" land – site plan from City to River}

NorthSide business centers
{the NorthSide Regeneration plan with planned employment centers in yellow }

{once-proposed Libeskind designed towers at the Bottle District}

{one of the early site plans for the Bottle District}

City of St. Louis Board of Alderman BB216 – Bottle District/NorthSide