CORTEX Set to Grow With Contract on Laclede Gas Property, Other Moves

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Reddit0Share on LinkedIn0Print this pageEmail this to someone

Cortex_10-15_aerial_2
{Laclede Gas (red) recently added to its holdings (pink) – a contract in place would sell to CORTEX}

While the CORTEX district was created more than a decade ago, development of the 240-acre industrial area between the Central West End medical campus and St. Louis University is in many ways just getting started. The Solae headquarters and CORTEX I building comprised a first phase, and Phase II is rolling along with the new 200,000sf BJC building, the conversion of the 4240 Duncan building and a new Interstate 64 interchange. And yet the most significant projects are still to come.

The next big thing is coming to the area of Forest Park and Vandeventer Avenues. Parcels in this area continue to aggregate under the ownership of CORTEX and Laclede Gas. Now nextSTL has confirmed that Laclede Gas has a contract in place to sell their property along Forest Park Avenue to CORTEX. According to a Laclede Gas spokesperson, "there are conditions that must be met" and a final decision will come prior to May 2014. While the company has ruled out building a new headquarters here and is focused instead on moving into the downtown GenAm building, Laclede Gas has continued to acquire land within CORTEX.


{the new BJC building is near completion near Clayton and Boyle}

In May, Laclede Gas purchased three parcels along Forest Park Avenue (in pink above) from two companies owned by developer Rick Yackey. Yackey recently redeveloped the Midtown saucer building and converted the CORTEX-located Ford Motor Company Building to the residential West End Lofts in 2008. The purchases are likely the company’s last in the area unless they buy the recently demolished gas station and car dealer lot prior to executing a sale to CORTEX.

Other recent moves have cleared the way for large-scale development. CORTEX recently purchased the small vacant lot at 313 South Vandeventer. Crescent Realty has closed on the former Amerifile building at 3824 Forest Park and will move just a block from their current location on Duncan Avenue. United Refrigeration is expected to move next. That sale would leave the operational grain elevator and Laclede Gas as the only occupied buildings from Vandeventer west to Sarah Street. The grain elevator is the only structure expected to remain.


{CORTEX planning shows retail and residential development at Vandeventer and Forest Park}


{here, yellow represents residential and red, retail development within CORTEX}

This eastern end of CORTEX is expected to be a mixed-use residential and retail development. Planning documents show just three buildings on the expansive site, totaling 500,000sf of retail space and 600 residential units. As previously reported, we believe the largest retail tenant will be a well-known Swedish retailer. Across Vandeventer, Pace Properties is planning Midtown Station, a 166,000sf development focused on national retailers. Pace Properties is representing IKEA in its search for a St. Louis location. A block north, a 260-unit residential development, the West Pine Lofts, is planned.


{Midtown Station retail development is planned for across Vandeventer from CORTEX}

Cortex_10-15_aerial_2
{Laclede Gas=red, LG recent acquisitions=pink, CORTEX=yellow, Cresent Realty=blue, United Refigeration=orange, recent demolition (owned by Lopata)=green}

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Reddit0Share on LinkedIn0Print this pageEmail this to someone
  • Presbyterian

    As predicted, United Refrogeration is the next to move out to make room for Ikea. United Refrigeration has leased a 19,000 s.f. space at 601 Edwin Street, several blocks east of their current location. This means that *all* current users except Laclede Gas have pulled the trigger on vacating the land… and LG is under contract.

    • Presbyterian

      Cortex now listed as owner of United Refrigeration parcel, effective Nov 6.

  • Transit Planner

    @ Ann Wimsatt from Transit Planner: as a Millenial and Urban Planning professional I must say your perspective is rather undeveloped like someone being an urban enthusiast or very uneducated. The development proposal by Cortex may appear sterile compared to the historic housing stock but it represents much needed density and new housing. Though we would all prefer to have the rehab movement consume the entire historic city and old suburbs the reality is that the urban economics in St. Louis favor the central corridor. Cortex is essentially transforming an area from the former economy of manufacturing and industrial that was no longer attaining it’s highest and best use. Economics indicates demand for more office and residential in the central corridor regardless the design aesthetic of office park meets the street grid or old urbanism.

    • Alex Ihnen

      I think if and when we see significant residential and other uses within CORTEX, I (and maybe Ann) will agree. Also, part of the downside/danger of the Internet is not knowing one another. Perhaps there’s something on this site we can do to introduce ourselves. Assuming a particular level of education itself can be quite uninformed. Anyway, developing CORTEX will take time, but what we see now are office buildings surrounding by big new surface parking lots.What I’ll add is that the surrounding neighborhoods should be counted with CORTEX. CORTEX is big, but not massive. Residential can exist across the street or around the corner in the CWE and FPSE. Not everything built need be mixed-use by itself in order to create a dynamic and livable district.

      • STLEnginerd

        Also the plan (fully built CORTEX) mostly seems to show structured parking which everyone prefers. But its unrealistic to expect it all overnight.

        I think the end goal of the plan relative to parking is a good one with the exception of the Big Box Retail IKEA which i wish would somehow present a better street wall toward Vandeventer and perhaps some structured parking as shown in one of the unofficial NextSTL conceptual renderings when the story was first presented here.

  • STLExplorer

    I’m really upset about the huge expanses of fenced in surface parking that have accompanied the new cortex buildings. There is ample parking in the immediate vicinity. It reminds me of Ballpark Village, but I’m trying hard to be optimistic.

    • Marshall Howell

      Dude, for one STL is NOT a car optional city, and garage parking is super expensive (although there are new garages for the Cortex area in the works). Yes, surface lots are always just place holders there, but also they gotta clean out the junky buildings that are over there and surface lots make the most sense. Then it will allow the transition into garage parking and the new metro link station. And fences are also still needed due to some of the unsafe areas around the grove and cwe. Hate to break it to ya but people are still pretty scared of the area. (Grove resident for 4.5 years now). Sorry isn’t anything toward you, just read so many people that complain about parking on here.

    • Ann Wimsatt

      At the minimum, surface lots do not have to front the urban street where they instantly ‘suburbanize’ the street scape.

  • Do you think they could be convinced to change their surface lots to something, anything, else?!

    • Alex Ihnen

      Long term planning shows virtually no surface lots. How long it takes to get there likely won’t be known for years.

    • Ann Wimsatt

      Right now, it appears that cortex is building a slightly friendlier low-scale version of the WUSTL medical campus. It’s worth asking if these high-security, single use suburban office buildings will draw Brooklyn-loving Millennial Phds to Cortex, WUSTL, SLU and the city of STL. Having just spent a week dodging throngs of ambitious millennials in fizzing, popping London, I doubt it.

      You guys. Don’t kid yourselves. Low scale top-draw cities like London are getting better at developing dynamic urban environments–while STL builds sterile suburban office parks in what should have been a cool extension of the urban fabric.

      No Cool ’90s Brittannia for FPSE, sadly. Apparently, we’re content to wallow around in the 80s for a few more years/decades (“It will take years!”).

      All I can say is that if STL wants to attract top Millennial talent, they need to build a city that Millennials want to live in. Full stop.

      • Wump

        comparing london to st louis is just so stupid

      • Ann Wimsatt

        Comparing London to St Louis would be stupid if top talent didn’t care where their jobs were located–but the Millennial talent has a destination focus like no other generation. They’ve seen the world and they want to live in the great cities.

        Likewise, measuring Saint Louis against London’s would be stupid if WUSTL, STL Fortune 200s, SLU and Cortex didn’t need top international talent for their critical management, tech and science positions–but yeah. They recruit from the international pool.

        • dempster holland

          As i recall from my visit to the docklands in London
          over ten years ago, much of that appeared as a sterile
          suburban office park. But I agree it is hard to keep up
          with a city that once ruled nearly half the world.

          • Ann Wimsatt

            True, the docklands look like downtown Clayton and are in fact 5 miles away from central London. I was impressed by the mix of new and old buildings in London’s burgeoning ‘Silicon Roundabout’ in Islington. The new hi-tech Angel building is beautifully detailed with a good mix of plaza, retail, cafe and office function–a good contributor to a bustling but low density urban London. http://www.derwentlondon.com/images/sized/assets/uploads/properties/Angel_Building/SJS3_Angel_Building_Tim_Soar_May_2012_N10_medium_536_402_60_c1.jpg

          • wump

            nothing looks as bad as downtown clayton. you keep trying to keep up with london, we will see how that works out for ya. probably better to think a little more realistically and stop our talent from going to places like denver or minneapolis

          • Ann Wimsatt

            True, Clayton started out with a decent low density fabric but then they compromised themselves by tearing out the heart of the city to make room…for a jail? Greed got the best of Clayton officials as they allowed tower after ‘value engineered’ tower; without much thought to the street scape. (There’s a cautionary tale for Cortex, ahem).

            Your mileage may vary but my friends at WUSTL are not competing with Denver or Minnetonka. Nor are they losing staff or colleagues to other flyover destinations. Two top (female) senior WUSTL scientists left in the last three months–1 to Harvard (Boston) with other WUSTL staff and the other to UPenn (Philly).

            Neither were Millennials. Both were Boomer MD scientists who also happen to be Destination Driven.

          • Adam

            i don’t think two academics leaving WU for northeast schools is particularly telling of trends. academics move around a lot. prominent ones shoot for top-name institutions and less prominent ones are largely restricted to places with open positions. i’m sure many of WU’s faculty came here from other schools as well. and there will be no shortage of applications to fill those two position.

            in terms of the new development not being “London” enough, weren’t you recently lauding the new Pace strip mall along FPP as a step in the right direction? similar to what Chicago has been doing?

            St. Louis will never be London, or NYC, or LA. it will likely never be Chicago, San Fran, Philly or DC either. it will, however, be a better St. Louis. and that’s enough for some of us.

          • Ann Wimsatt

            There are global trends for Empty Nesters and Millennials choosing cities over suburbs. There are also academic trends awarding endowed chairs to senior scientists in the aftermath of NIH budget cuts.

            We disagree about where to set the bar for Saint Louis. There are universal components to good city-making, whether we want to compete with London or KansasCity. It’s only my opinion, but I believe that low-scale, high design, global magnet London is a more valuable tutor for Saint Louis.

          • Adam

            “There are global trends for Empty Nesters and Millennials choosing
            cities over suburbs.”

            agreed.

            “There are also academic trends awarding endowed
            chairs to senior scientists in the aftermath of NIH budget cuts.”

            but i think this has less to do with location and more to do with opportunity. in the cases of the two researchers you cited, career advancement probably has more to do with their decisions to move than their boomerism.

            “We disagree about where to set the bar for Saint Louis.”

            i’m not really sure where you’re setting the bar. in one instance you say that big box stores are progress and in the next you say that STL should be building like London. i agree, but it’s going to be a long, incremental process to get there. lamenting that STL is doomed because it’s not building like London right now isn’t really constructive IMHO. that kind of demand just doesn’t exist here yet. besides, London will soon be too expensive for nomadic millennials. maybe some of them will move to STL.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Location and the city is a big challenge to overcome for Washington University in its efforts to bring the best scientists and teachers here – and to retain them. Those looking for top jobs in many academic fields are increasingly looking at lifestyle and geography. While the opportunity must be right and competitive with Harvard and Stanford and others, the city must be competitive as well, and on many counts, St. Louis is not.

          • Adam

            most of the recent or soon-to-be PhDs that i know who are looking to stay in academia are applying for a handful of open positions and praying to get an offer. sure, the “best” get to choose where they want to be, but there are many more PhDs being conferred these days than there are positions for them to fill. some will come to WU and leave. others will stay. is WU really hurting for quality applicants?

          • Alex Ihnen

            Yes, and so are many of the major companies in the region. One of the biggest challenges is recruiting someone to St. Louis. Wells Fargo moved hundreds of people here and found a lot of resistance. Many simply refused to relocate and left the company. Of course many apply for a professional opening at WU (or SLU, or wherever) and many will need to take any job that comes along. However, when recruiting leadership, accomplished researchers, etc. these institutions have to sell the city, and that’s tough to do.

          • Adam

            it would be interesting to see the rate of recruitment vs the rate of retention for “top” researchers, leaders, etc. coming here from elsewhere. i want to know how much preconception and reputation (both deserved and undeserved) play into their decisions.

          • Marshall Howell

            I do know a position in the IT department has been open for a while due to lack of good applicants, they ended up just taking the position down and decided to wait a few months and try again. Prob would of been a 70-80k job.

          • dempster holland

            As a former college teacher at slu, I am skeptical
            about the value for stidents of attracting “star”
            professors/ It does nothing for the totality of aca-
            demic research: it is no different than a TIF which
            moves walmart from one suburb to the next. Students
            seldom see these “stars”. The only real benefit is
            for fund-raising, and that too is a zero sum game
            among all universities The only real-world effect
            is to raise the cost of college. If you want to know
            what a given “star” has to say, go to the library and
            read his book.

          • Dogtown Dude

            What’s with this London stuff? Really? London, London, London, London. Are you from London? I’ve lived all over the world and travel frequently to more than 30 countries. One thing is for sure, London is frequently referred to by young people as “the most boring city in Europe”. And I think its true. See it and get out. But anyway, why London as a comparison? I think its better to figure out how to be the best St Louis we can be, and if we need some tips, perhaps look to some other global cities within the US would be best. Since we have quite a few (in their own rights) in this country.

          • Ann Wimsatt

            Why so twitchy? At a stretch, the US has four or five ‘global’ cities. I’ve posted on Chicago, Boston, Brooklyn and San Francisco. Of those, Boston has the most similarity to Saint Louis but the revitalization of the inner ring of Chicago is also fascinating. Brooklyn could well be the new vanguard for cities like Saint Louis.
            Overall, like London and Saint Louis, the majority of the Boston and Brooklyn is low scale, medium to low density. In Boston, academic institutions drive major developments. In my opinion, London has a similar urban fabric ‘scale’. It holds more lessons for Saint Louis than, say Manhattan.
            Since we’ve both lived all over the world and traveled extensively, it’s a mystery why we hold opposite opinions of London. I was just there and it’s crammed full of global Millennials from all over the world. The few dozen Millennials I know who live there adore the lifestyle. Perhaps it was boring in the 70s or 80s, but that isn’t the case now among the Millennials. Scores would love to have a chance to live there. London is absolutely one of the top destinations for top talent at the moment. (Saint Louis wouldn’t make that list).
            Interestingly, the ridiculed ‘Cool Brittannia’ campaign apparently had the desired long term impact.

          • dempster holland

            And how many global cities does England have?
            Are Liverpool and Manchester global cities? Most
            large countries have, at best, three or four global
            cities. St Louis is not and never will be a global
            city–because is we are, then you also have to
            include Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, Cincinati etc
            and then the term becomes meaningless

          • Dogtown Dude

            Amen, to that brother. I would just make one adjustment. Let’s keep NYC in its own grouping. There is NO city like NYC. 😉

          • megrot

            Minor correction: Harvard (Cambridge/not Boston):

            1350 Massachusetts Avenue
            Cambridge, MA 02138

          • Alex Ihnen

            Sorta like saying WUSTL isn’t in St. Louis, but instead University City.

          • wump

            which would be correct

          • Alex Ihnen

            Correct and completely uninformative.

          • wump

            am I in a suburb or the city proper? sounds pretty informative to me

          • megrot

            Which is a straight up fact. But it feels good to not talk about facts. I’ve been to Cambridge, it’s quite different than Boston.

          • wump

            no it isnt

          • dempster holland

            The buildings are nice-looking, but I don’t see any
            people,(correction: there does seem to be on fellow
            riding a bike in the street)

  • Presbyterian

    I just noticed that the first building permit was issued last week for Cortex Commons, the park along Boyle between Duncan and Clayton. I’d expect to see that end of Cortex start to take shape as well. So far, we’ve just seen buildings. Soon, we’ll start seeing the district emerge as a place.

    • John R

      If executed well the Commons should be a huge improvement for the area. It certainly is an area that could use place-making and some greenery.

      • Alex Ihnen

        Absolutely, but what the area really needs in residential, you know, people at all times of day and night. Apparently there’s been significant interest from restaurants for space along the commons. That’s great and will help enliven the area, a hotel would help as well, but it will be interesting to see how residential can be added. In the blocks surrounding this area, there are currently ~700 new residential units planned. Can the area support more?

        • John R

          The great thing is I think we’ll see!