FPSE Under Siege: Developer Envisions CVS, Gas Station, Demo of More Than 120 Residential Units

Forest Park Southeast neighborhood - St. Louis, MO - K2 Commerical Group development plan
{rendering of development vision by K2 Commercial Group}

A development vision proposed by K2 Commerical Group would demolish more than 120 residential units on Kingshighway, Oakland, Arco, Gibson and Chouteau Avenues in the Forest Park Southeast (The Grove) neighborhood to make way for low-rise office buildings, a gas station and a pharmacy.

Forest Park Southeast has seen an impressive revitalization in recent years. Buildings vacant for decades have be rehabbed, the Manchester streetscape transformed and the main thoroughfare put on a diet. There have been dozens of residential rehabs, a growing number of successful bars, restaurants and retail, a new language immersion charter school, a skateboard shop…but, small scale revitalization often becomes a victim of its own success and that time may be now for The Grove.

Forest Park Southeast neighborhood - St. Louis, MO - K2 Commerical Group development plan
{demolition required to build the development vision shown above}

K2 Commercial Group has now listed 13 lots for sale along Kingshighway, Oakland and Arco. These properties along with those owned by Drury Hotels have long been assumed to constitute the holdings for a long discussed Drury development that at one time was depicted as two 16-story hotel towers with nearly 700 rooms. That plan met neighborhood resistance and led to a meeting where several dozen residents outlined priorities for development of the land left vacant by the new I-64 interchange. Among the concerns were maintaining limited traffic access to the neighborhood, placing any parking underground and avoiding added light and noise pollution.

Given that context, it's unlikely that 17th Ward Alderman Joe Roddy, the Washington University Medical Center Redevelopment Corportation, or other city entity has signed on to the K2 vision, or perhaps is even aware of it. The plan may seem a bit far-fetched, almost certainly unlikely. Maybe it is. But now is the time for residents, the local development corporation and the local elected representative to make clear that a plan like this is not going to move forward, that it has zero chance of making it off the drawing board. It's simply never too early to oppose misguided development plans.

FPSE - Chouteau Avenue
{north side of 4500 Oakland – development vision would require demolition}

FPSE - Chouteau Avenue
{apartment building on north side of 4500 Oakland – development vision would require demolition}

The development on Chouteau would require the demolition of the aging St. Louis College of Health Careers building and the entire north side of the 4500 block for what appears to be low-rise offices surrounding by parking. In all, the vision would require the demolition of more than 125 housing units. And all of this within a housing convervation district, a ward with preservation review and a National Register FPSE Historic District. It should go without saying that the loss of this number of housing units, and to suburban-style development, is unacceptable for the city and The Grove neighborhood.

Forest Park Southeast neighborhood - St. Louis, MO - K2 Commerical Group development plan
{residential buildings facing Kingshighway are for sale – second from left owned by Drury Hotels}

Forest Park Southeast neighborhood - St. Louis, MO - K2 Commerical Group development plan
{Arco properties for sale by K2}

The rendering shows a standard CVS Pharmacy south of Oakland on Kingshighway and a large QuikTrip-type gas station north. This would require the demolition of all residential units facing Kingshighway, including the Lambskin Temple apartments.

Perhaps this is simply an overreaching vision proferred by a too-eager commerical real estate agent (all the more reason for the idea to be soundly rejected now), but it's rooted in a real estate listing of 13 contiguous lots on Kingshighway, Oakland and Arco, listed for $3.9M. If no longer part of a Drury development plan, the Drury properties will soon be up for sale as well. With a few additional lots, this would nearly account for the gas station and westernmost office building depicted in the rendering.

Of course this isn't the only potential development happening in The Grove. Recently, Commerce Bank received neighborhood approval to replace their branch at Chouteau and Vandeventer with a standard model and sell the adjacent 4.5 acres. The Station G building, once the pump house for the now gone gasometers, narrowly escaped the 200-unit Aventura development, and one of the more unique historic "add-on" storefronts on Manchester Avenue may lose what it's added-on to as the residential building is under threat of demolition (Google maps).

Forest Park Southeast neighborhood - St. Louis, MO - K2 Commerical Group development plan
{QuikTrip and CVS standard prototypes shown at Oakland and Kingshighway}

Forest Park Southeast neighborhood - St. Louis, MO - K2 Commerical Group development plan
{low-rise office buildings would occupy the northwest corner of the FPSE neighborhood}

Forest Park Southeast neighborhood - St. Louis, MO - K2 Commerical Group development plan
{medical building shown on site of 13 lots currently for sale by K2 – does not appear on larger plan}

KH Ventures - FPSE property
{lots currently for sale by K2}

Forest Park Southeast neighborhood - St. Louis, MO - K2 Commerical Group development plan
{aerial view of 13 lots currently for sale by K2}

Forest Park Southeast neighborhood - St. Louis, MO - K2 Commerical Group development plan
{yellow = K2 listing, blue = Drury parcels, light blue = MoDOT land for sale, red = historic boundary of Forest Park}

 {once proposed Drury Hotel towers in FPSE}

From the Chase and Company website property listing:

Incredible Development Opportunity!

Located in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood, these properties are conveniently located by Washington University Medical Center, Barnes Jewish Hospital, the Central West End and of course Forest Park. This up and coming neighborhood is bound by I-64 / HWY 44 to the north, I-44 to the south, Vandeventer to the east and Kingshighway to the west, which only enhances its prime location.

Over the last 10 years, community-directed change has brought many new improvements and services to the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood including reopened schools, improved public transportation, as well as an increase in the police force. 

These recent improvements, developments and investments in the neighborhood have positively impacted the community and the community's ambitions. There is now a general consensus to encourage and continue the rehabilitation and rebuilding of the neighborhood, not only for the benefit of the current residents, but to benefit the city of St. Louis. The Forest Park Southeast Neighborhood will only continue to prosper attacting all types of people to live, work and play.