Hotel, Bank and Mixed-Use Infill Proposals Come Before Forest Park Southeast Next Week

Restoration St. Louis infill proposal - FPSE
{Restoration St. Louis' proposed mixed-use infill at 4400 Manchester Avenue}

Next Tuesday, the Forest Park Southeast Development Committee will hear three proposals for new projects in the neighborhood. More information is now available for the Hilton Home Hotel proposal we reported in September for the corner of Chouteau and Taylor Avenues. A signature corner building at Manchester and Tower Grove may become a Reliance Bank branch and the first new mixed-use infill may be coming to a vacant lot near the new Urban Chestnut brewery

The five-story $8.7M proposal for a mixed-use building at 4400 Manchester Avenue would be the first for the neighborhood. Renderings show 14,000 sf of ground floor office and retail space with 55 Universal Design apartments above. The Restoration St. Louis corporate office would occupy much of the first floor. Current offices are located within the Corronado building on Lindell, which was recently sold along with several adjacent buildings. The developer would like to see a pizza or pasta restaurant fill the remaining retail space.

Restoration St. Louis infill proposal - FPSE
{floor plan for 4400 Manchester shows office space and a restaurant storefront}

Restoration St. Louis infill proposal - FPSE
{a slight variation with extended balconys and facade variation without material colors added}

The development site has been vacant since the 1970s according to Restoration St. Louis. While the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood has changed and changed again over the past few decades, many of the vacant lots are decades old. With the conversion of the Renard Paper Company building into a new Urban Chestnut Brewing Company retail and brewing facility, this long empty corner is suddenly attractive for development. The only item apparently not included in the current proposal is a parking plan.

Reliance Bank proposal - FPSE
{rendering of proposed Reliance Bank at Tower Grove and Manchester}

Reliance Bank is hoping to occupy the northwest corner of Tower Grove and Manchester Avenues. The building has been through a couple occupants over the past decade and been vacant for several years. The proposal would make use of the large adjacent parking lot for a two-lane drive up ATM and 13 parking spaces. The building has been partially restored by Red Brick Management and full build-out is estimated at just less than $1M. While it's apparent that the building was once adjoined to others along Manchester, it's been several decades since those buildings disappeared. With any luck, the building wont be allowed to be painted.

Reliance Bank proposal - FPSE

Reliance Bank proposal - FPSE

Manchester at Tower Grove_195X
{looking east at Manchester and Tower Grove, proposed Reliance Bank to the left}

The four-story, 107-room $12.8M Hilton Home Hotel proposal for Chouteau and Taylor is, according to our information, a vast improvement over the original plan that had the hotel surrounding by parking that abutted both streets. Let's hope that the current proposal is just one more iteration on the way to something much, much better. While the proposal offers different color schemes and the choice of building materials will get attention (again, what happened with Aventura?!), the site plan is what matters.

Hilton Home Hotel proposal - FPSE

Hilton Home Hotel proposal - FPSE

Hilton Home Hotel proposal - FPSE
{various color schemes have virually no affect on our urban form, focus should remain on the site plan}

Current site plans show the building sitting along Taylor Avenue, though not parallel to that street. The hotel is more than 100 feet from Chouteau and a worthless "pocket park" is plopped down on this urban corner. The hotel entrance faces north, looking over I-64 and towards the medical center and new Shriners Hospital. Next to the pocket park, surrounding by fencing, along Chouteau would be the hotel parking lot, with more fencing. This is an entirely inappropriate form for this urban neighborhood. Any building here needs to address the neighborhood, not turn its ugly back to it. While placing the entrance as far from the residences will be welcome be some, what's left is a lifeless institutional facade where activity should be.

Below are just two quick scribbles of better site plans (in orange and red). The building should front Chouteau and Taylor, or even better, leave space for additional development along these streets. The 65ft x 100ft does this, in theory. Better would be pushing the hotel to the corner and allowing space for a new ~100ft x 120ft lot infill project along Chouteau (in blue). The best scenario would be to leave the pocket park and area in blue below open to future development. Hopefully the committee forgets about color schemes, worries less about materials and gets the form right.


Chouteau-Taylor rendering 1
{this old proposal for the corner shows an ideal urban form}

Taken together, the three proposals represent yet another wave of development activity in the region's quickest changing neighborhood. The proposals show a market confidence in the neighborhood and the in turn, the neighborhood should have the confidence to demand better design. This will continue to be more important as the change is only starting. A new MetroLink station near the east end of the neighborhood will better serve residents and businesses, CORTEX will add thousands of jobs in the coming years, the Botanical Grove development is just down Tower Grove, and major retail will be announced soon for the Vandeventer corridor just north of the neighborhood.

{aerial view of FPSE proposals}

The Forest Park Southeast Development Committee is a function of Park Central Development, a community development corporation. This appears to be the first time the committee meeting agenda has been posted online in advance. The public posting and the clear statement that meetings are open to the public is a significant and welcome change. A major premise of this site is that changes big and small happen all the time in our city, shaping our lives for years to come, and too often residents are not aware of plans that will greatly alter their neighborhood and daily experience. Hopefully this trend continues at Park Central as well as other neighborhood committees across the city.

Mixed-use infill proposal for Forest Park Southeast neighborhood at 4400 Manchester – St. Louis, MO by

Reliance Bank proposal for 4301 Manchester in Forest Park Southeast neighborhood – St. Louis, MO by

Hilton Home Hotel Proposal for Forest Park Southeast neighborhood – St. Louis, MO 11/2013 by