UIC’s Botanical Grove Development Continues to Roll With Tower Grove Mews

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UIC Botanical Grove - St. Louis, MO
{Tower Grove Mews rendering – looking west from Tower Grove Avenue}

UIC’s (Urban Improvement Company) Botanical Grove project continues to roll. Financing has been secured for another phase of development. The Tower Grove Mews mixed-use project will continue the work of repurposing unlikely buildings with the renovation of nine buildings in three clumps comprising a challenging and not quite attractive urban hodgepodge of 17,000 square feet. The former carriage house, the most attractive of the bunch, is planned to become a taco bar. A children’s clothing maker will occupy a portion of the building facing Tower Grove Avenue, and the existing printer will remain. The rear buildings will become 11 apartments and the new office of UIC. Additional details regarding commercial tenants will be announced when finalized.

Back in 2010, the UIC proposal appeared to us to be the anti-Botanical Heights (in a good way). In 2011, the project broke ground and announced a new home for City Garden Montessori. Then Olio, then Elaia, then Chouquette opened. In the meantime, sales of new construction and historic rehab residential has been steady. The 4200 block of McRee, the center of development to-date, has just one lot and three renovated homes remaining for sale. As a result, UIC has begun an “East Phase” centered at Blaine and Klemm. Two corner lots already have contracts. For anyone familiar with this area prior to even 2010, the investment occurring is as stunning as it was unlikely.

UIC Botanical Grove - St. Louis, MO
{Tower Grove Mews project outlined}

UIC Botanical Grove - St. Louis, MO
{Tower Grove Mews siteplan}

UIC Botanical Grove - St. Louis, MO
{the carriage house today}

And there’s more around the corner from UIC. The group that put together the Vandegrove vision, sees opportunity everywhere. Projects beyond the tightly focused geographic area of their existing work may get rolling soon. Beyond the basics of development, these projects matter as proof that a market exists for urban projects presented with a coherent vision and plan. This, in fact, is likely how St. Louis will be rebuilt in the coming decades. There’s enormous value in the in-between places in the city and stitching together places like the burgeoning medical center and The Grove with Shaw and the Missouri Botanical Garden may begin to create a more livable city.

{Elaia (left) and Olio (right) show off UIC’s ability to re-imagine buildings that St. Louis often choosing to demo}

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  • Lew

    Wow what a transformation of a neighborhood. I owned the
    building on the corner of McRee and Tower Grove which is where my hardware
    store was located. This positive change is the results of visions of people
    like Floyd Wright.

    • John R

      How long did you own the building? I’d be interested in hearing what the area was like in the heyday with its strong mix of jobs and residential — and what impact the arrival of I-44 may have had in its deterioration before the current rejuvenation. It still has some challenges with isolation, but the progress these last 12-24 months is unbelievable.

  • Ann Wimsatt

    Nice to see UIC’s efforts, especially their modern architecture for these modern, modern times.

    Please encourage UIC to use better construction materials and detailing. The plywood exterior on their Grove infill housing is delaminating–after just two winters. It looks awful.

    Brunzeel makes a fantastic marine grade plywood panel cladding system that will withstand STL climate variations. We used it in Ohio 26 years ago and it is as good as the day it was installed with minimal maintenance.


  • STLgasm

    Very exciting. I love McRee Town (I will never call it Botanical Heights). Botanical Grove is an amazing transformation and I love the mix of new and old. My only gripe, petty as it is, is the name. How many “groves” do we need? Tower Grove, Webster Groves, The Grove, Botanical Grove… it’s confusing enough for locals, not to mention visitors who aren’t familiar with the city.

  • John R

    Pretty awesome seeing how far this area has come in such a short time.

  • city jane

    Interesting, but please identify the organization’s name (not just acronym) at beginning of article.

    • John R

      They pretty much go by just UIC, but I believe it stands for Urban Improvement Company.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Done. Thanks for the comment.

  • Brian

    Really nice to see the success they are having. I have traversed this intersection for the past 29 years on my way to work, and the transformation has been amazing. When UIC moved moved into their building (I remember a time when part of the roof was gone), I figured they were foolhardy & would be out of business in a year’s time. I have never been so glad to be so wrong. I used to drive through the neighborhood; about 10 years ago I started to take the Shaw bus. Now, I walk to work on those previously mean streets. Keep up the good work!

  • T-Leb

    Taco bars have become indicative of urban revitalization from what I have found in my travels.