Commerce Bank to Sell 4.5 acres in The Grove, Demolish and Replace Existing Branch

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Commerce Bank - 901 S. Vandeventer - St. Louis, MO

Commerce Bank is ready to move forward with plans to demolish their existing building at 901 South Vandeventer in The Grove. The large 5.5 acre site has just one building and has long been seen as a marquee development opportunity at the east end of the revitalizing neighbhorhood. The Commerce Bank plan calls for a new, much smaller, suburban, standard branch building at the corner of Vandeventer and Manchester Avenues.

The new building would be one-story and largely brick. Landscaping would be used to fill in spaces left by the positioning of the building. Drive-through access would remain off Papin St., meaning that street is unlikely to be closed as has been suggested in the past. No demolition permit has been issued for the current building and Commerce has not announced a project start date. The bank plans to sell the existing building lot and adjacent parcels, totaling 4.5 acres.

Commerce Bank - 901 S. Vandeventer - St. Louis, MO
{the new Commerce building would be smaller and to the east of the existing branch}

Commerce Bank - 901 S. Vandeventer - St. Louis, MO
{new Commerce Bank site plan}

According the to the City of St. Louis, the Commerce building dates to 1910. If true, it has clearly been reclad around the 1950's and significant additions have been made. The 1910 date would mean that it is the only building remaining from the era of the photo below, taken at the Vandeventer-Chouteau intersection and dated 1925. The building would have been just out of the photo to the left.

Vandeventer at Chouteau
{Vandeventer at Chouteau – 1925}

Regardless of its possible provenance, the building will be a loss. It is wisely built to the street and has a much more urban form that the proposed replacement. And it has style – a style which Commerce Bank likely believes doesn't portray a "modern" image. It's unfortunate that Commerce has not found a way to repurpose or renovate the existing building to fit its needs.

Leaving the building in place, or building the replacement in its footprint would be preferable for the neighborhood as it would allow for the construction of a more urban buiding along Vandeventer and Chouteau. This is recognized by the Park Central Development Corporation, as it has stated the site is appropriate for more dense development and that parking and the drive-through would be better positioned further west. Regardless, it appears that the Commerce Bank proposal continues to move forward as-is.

The development and the sale of 4.5 acres of surface parking and grass lots offers an enormous opportunity for The Grove. With continued business development, structured parking is needed and would fit well here. The lot size would allow for a substantial mixed-use project including residential, office and retial space.

Commerce Bank - 901 S. Vandeventer - St. Louis, MO
{the site, bounded by Vandeventer, Chouteau, Sarah and Papin, totals 5.5 acres}

Commerce Bank - 901 S. Vandeventer - St. Louis, MO
{Commerce Bank site from Vandeventer and Papin}

Commerce Bank - 901 S. Vandeventer - St. Louis, MO
{Commerce Bank site from Vandeventer and Chouteau}

Commerce Bank - 901 S. Vandeventer - St. Louis, MO
{Commerce Bank site from Chouteau}

Commerce Bank - 901 S. Vandeventer - St. Louis, MO
{Commerce Bank site from Chouteau}

Commerce Bank - 901 S. Vandeventer - St. Louis, MO
{Commerce Bank site from Sarah}

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  • John R

    My Crystal Ball says 100 residential units to come.

  • John R

    Any updates/rumors on the remainder of the site that is/was up for sale? Especially with the upcoming IKEA (and Midtown Station?)and the soon return of the I-64 Vandeventer exit, this Greater Cortex spot is very well situated for development.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Lots or rumors, no updates. đŸ™‚

      • John R

        You’re killing me here! I’ll take a stab at nextstl world headquarters.

        • Alex Ihnen

          You think that’s going to be big news, wait until you read what’s happening next in Cortex itself. đŸ™‚

          • Adam

            approximately how long might we have to wait to find out about this next development? you could just e-whisper it to me. i promise i won’t tell anybody. đŸ™‚

  • Steve Kluth

    I don’t get this. While there are several buildings in St Louis worth saving, is this really one of them? This is nothing more than a concrete monstrosity with no redeeming architecture. The inside is as dreary as the outside. I agree that Commerce could come up with a better replacement design. I agree that it is usually better to reuse than tear down and build anew. Commerce did a good job several years ago when they tore down the ugly behemoth on Grand and built what we see today. Something similar, which may be as simply as repositioning their site plan to put the building up against Vandeventor, would be better.

    • Martin

      Agreed. There will be no Facebook group, or rallies to save this one. It’s simply regrettable that it’s going to be replaced by something worse.

    • Mark

      the replacement building on South Grand is a blemish on a historical street. the former building had a grace on the inside and outside that was lost in the faux-historical replacement.

    • Imran

      It may not be the most significant building but I am pretty sure it is more solid than whatever will be put in its place. Respect it for this reason if nothing else. I actually don’t mind its monolithic simplicity.

  • STLgasm

    Once again, a new development resorts to the faux-historic look. It seems there is a fundamental inability to build contemporary structures in this city, but why? It’s definitely a hyper local phenomenon, because other cities understand that modern design complements the historic landscape, and trying to mimic it usually ends up looking cheesy and boring. Dare I say that St. Louis City could take a few hints from Creve Coeur! The new bank buildings along Olive are sleek and attractive. I’d much rather see something along those lines than the usual brick fast food prototype that local developers are stuck on. I think we need to organize a big road trip– pile all the developers into a bus and take them to Chicago, Milwaukee and Cleveland to show them modern infill done right. The above rendering is not appropriate for a high-profile intersection in first class city, period.

  • DogtownLA

    At least they are reinvesting in the neighborhood by relaizing that they dont need that much real estate, and allowing the rest of the parcels to be re-used. This is they typical Commerce Bank Prototype, so no surprise there. It has been sited in a much more uban fashion than thier typical sites, with parking surrounding the building. There is also a large raingarden along Vandeventer which will hopefully be a nice feature. There are worse things that could have happened…like the quick trip proposed across the street…

    • Jefferson

      It’s a challenge site and one that deserves better. The same building on South Grand works quite well. http://goo.gl/maps/WW9Z

  • Cheryl Hammond

    I had never noticed the front of this building. I have only used it by walking down Chouteau from the west and entering from the parking lot. I assume the front door is not actually available for use. So, when I first read it was being replaced, I thought great. But now that I see the front of the building, it seems like a loss.

  • that 1925 pic makes me sad

    • Same here.

    • dogtownbnr

      I was in Chicago last weekend and that 1925 pic reminds me of parts of Chicago. They managed to preserve a lot of their historic streets and our City has failed, in some respects, in that department.

  • STLgasm

    Looks like a drive-thru fast food restaurant. How does the neighborhood feel about this?

    • Jefferson

      The only item Commerce needed to consult the neighborhood for is a conditional use permit for the drive-through. The Park Central FPSE Development Committee supported the conditional use 8-1.

    • Kyle_AS

      As a resident, I say bulls**t. Build to the sidewalk! I travel Manchester to Chouteau twice a day. With the original building gone, NOTHING will be on Chouteau between Sarah and Grand (besides the reopened Imagine School). That angled corner of Vandeventer & Chouteau would be perfect for a sidewalk-hugging building on the scale of the Hemp Ave. building (think Grand/Gravois). Imagine the views…CWE, Midtown AND Downtown.

    • How does the neighborhood feel? Well as one business owner, (SPACE Architects), I can tell you, not very good. It’s a junkie suburban building with no real thought given to context. As an architect, I just want to know who are the
      architects that design these building? Are they really forced into something this bad by their client? OR are they simply so sold out they simply don’t even put forth an effort to help their client think differently, and plop down their latest regurgitation of the “prototype”. I walk before being forced to produce a building like this one.
      Tom Niemeier
      SPACE Architecture and Design
      Located in the Grove