Contemporary Architecture by UIC Proposed for The Grove

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Finished project image added April 2016:


Pending support from the neighborhood development committee, The Grove is about to leap to the forefront of contemporary urban infill design in St. Louis. As many of the City of St. Louis neighborhoods seeing investment are local historic districts, the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood is one place where contemporary infill can find a home.

Proposed  by Paramount Property Development and Principal & CEO Kyle Miller, the project is designed by UIC. Paramount has most recently completed the renovation of the Lacassian Lofts and previously completed the Magnolia Place development. UIC is best known for their nearby Botanical Grove project.

The proposal for 4321-29 Manchester calls for the demolition of the single-story white “Donut” building on Manchester, to be replaced with a three-story mixed-use building. The ground floor would consist of two 1,400sf commercial spaces and 20 parking spaces. There would be 20 apartments above (15 1BR, and 5 2BR units).

The Paramount/UIC project would bring the first new mixed-use construction to the Manchester strip. UIC introduced a custom designed home to the neighborhood in 2011. Several blocks north the heinous Aventura project was completed this past year, and equally awful townhomes were built at Chouteau and Tower Grove by the same developer.

Aventura received millions of dollars in property tax abatement after the project was well underway. The townhomes, built on former city-owned vacant lots, received no public subsidy. Paramount is requesting 10 year tax abatement, support to demolish the existing building, and purchase city-owned property. The developer estimates property taxes after completion would be $32,000 per year (current taxes are $1,115 annually).

The Donut and adjacent lot are owned by Paramount. The city-owned vacant lot across Manchester Avenue would be utilized for retail parking. If all goes according to plan, the project could break ground this fall and be completed as early as fall 2015.

The Grove has been gradually redeveloped over the past decade, adding restaurants and retail, offices, bars, to historic spaces along Manchester. Urban Chestnut Brewing Company’s recent conversion of the Renard Paper building represented a new phase of development. The Paramount/UIC project will be presented to the Park Central Forest Park Southeast Development Committee at their June 24 meeting.

The neighborhood is adjacent to the Washington University medical campus and adjoining Cortex development and other medical institutions. The region’s first IKEA is being built nearby, and significant development is coming to the eastern end of The Grove with the eventual sale of the Commerce Bank site, and development of Midtown Station.

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  • Thomas Szczesniak

    Will the third floor match the floor plan of the second floor?

    • Alex Ihnen

      It’s another level of apartments – more or less the same. Street windows look a little different, so maybe a different mix of units?

  • Daron

    What’s wrong with the donut building? Why not focus infill on places where there are holes?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Mostly that people aren’t just allowed to build anywhere. We require them to own the land, etc. This is the land that was able to be acquired. I completely agree with your sentiment, but replacing the long vacant donut building with this is a big win.

  • Now what really happens is this, hood cleaning companies are in business to make money. That being said if they have a customer or are giving an estimate to a potential customer. They happen to notice an issue that is not in compliance with the codes. As soon as they put a sticker on your hood the technician who is licensed and signs that sticker becomes liable for that issue if it catches fire. Furthermore if some one else came in for any reason and they reported it the technician is in big trouble they can lose their license or a number of other bad things can happen.

  • tpekren

    The one item that sticks out to me as a big positive, street facing outdoor decks for the upper apartments.

  • opendorz

    Looks like an updated version of Travelodge Hotel. Remember those? Not so good looking.

  • T-Leb

    Looks good, but not enough of these for me to find one and live there affordably (is that a word?)… hopefully that changes.

  • SnakePlissken

    Great to see such positive commercial development…now we just need more residential rehab and construction in and around these commercial districts to truly make an impact, in time I suppose. That being said, I’m 100% behind the growth of these neighborhoods and cannot be more excited. I can’t wait to see what the South Side and Central Corridor look like in 5,10 and 20 years!

  • Mike F

    Nicely proportioned, if a bit large in sq ftg and height for its lot, but a good design nonetheless. Of course, I’m curious as to materials and finishes, plus the idea of taking a vacant, City-owned lot for parking, but I can see the benefits of this design fronting Manchester. Definitely an asset not only for the nabe, but the City. Raises the bar which was dropped to the floor by the Aventura.

  • Presbyterian

    I think this project will do a lot for the image of the neighborhood. I have seen neighborhoods attract increased investment once a modern infill project goes up.

  • STLEnginerd

    I really think people need to get off the Adventura soap box. It was a missed opportunity and there are some less than ideal design elements, but it was hardly “heinous”. It has minor issues, where as the major form issues (built to the street, parking in rear) are followed. Please move on. Browbeating the people who are investing in and bringing residents to a neighborhood just because they used vinyl siding, is pretty counter productive. Suffice it to say I think alderman Roddy has stated that in the current climate they would not have approved vinyl cladding for a building in that location but at the time it was the only game in town. So the architecture is reflective of its time, as it should be. Let’s move on.

    Not everything in the Grove should look like this project. Not everything should look like Adventura. Style is subjective, form is not.

    • GHSTL

      If you’re saying that Aventura is spilled milk, and people need to get over it, fine. Fair point. But it is an unqualified stinkbomb of design–I call it “design to decline”, a disposable product that in 25 years people will want to demolish or substantially rebuild/redesign. When you look at superior public housing developments (yes, I said public housing–though I realize Aventura is head-scratchingly a high-rent, market rate building), it almost makes you feel like a mixed income public housing building would have been a much better use of subsidies for a building on this site. Just take a look at the Jazz at Walter Circle building in East St. Louis: Would I much rather pass by this building than Aventura every day? 1000% yes.

      Aventura is undoubtedly one of the city’s most drearily designed buildings. Sometimes a boring new building will do just fine–but Aventura misses that mark entirely and accomplishes an offensive level of thoughtlessness in design. I’ll try to take your advice and get over it (and I agree with your assertion that not every building should look like this UIC design, but no building located in a dynamic neighborhood should look like Aventura).

      • SnakePlissken

        I don’t think fault should rest on the developer, they saw an opportunity and took advantage of it. I would suggest that whomever approved the design should be tar’d and feathered. My question is, who did? Why are they still in charge? Why aren’t we letting our displeasure known to them?

    • Adam

      just want to point out that Adventura isn’t exactly built to the street, which would be fine if it weren’t also surrounded by a cheap, ugly fence.

    • Mike F

      Sorry, but no, the Aventura is a trainwreck of a design. (I’m giving them the benefit of a doubt with the word ‘design’). It’s nothing more than parts bin architecture, and bears no resemblance to the surrounding vernacular in form, proportion, materials, siting, and respect to extant stock. I cannot speak for others, but to allow the bowdlerization of a neighborhood and its character for the base reason that the ‘climate’ was not conducive to a more appropriate alternative is, to my mind, one of the primary reasons that we continue to find our choices limited to dumb and dumber. Or ugly and uglier.

      I am a preservationist, but I’m also a modernist, so I think contemporaneous designs should be considered as well when a developer responds to RFP in neighborhoods such as “the Grove”. However, the Aventura is no more contemporaneous than a fifties ranch, nor is its neo-colonial facade an acceptable starting point in the design process for this neighborhood. It should have been rejected out of hand.

  • John

    When is the shipping container building supposed to start construction? Also, the one on Cherokee?

    • rbeedee

      I would guess the Grove shipping container building is dead. The vacant LRA site where the shipping container building was going to be is the same site proposed to become a parking lot in development discussed above (4312-4314 Manchester).

      • Alex Ihnen

        Not dead yet, but we’ll see.

      • John

        A parking lot? Boner killer!

  • Kyle Steffen

    After visiting Detroit for the first time last winter, I have been jealous of some of their modern infill around Wayne State/Cass Ave. This is what they are building and it works. This will be a great addition to the neighborhood.

  • JohnThomas52

    Typically, these kinds of new construction end up being way too pricey for the area. It just doesn’t make sense to have 20 new, shiny apartments where the rent is too damn high for most people ( or median income) in an area that looks kind of dumpy, IMHO. Can the working poor even afford to live in one of these fancy, modern apartments? I wish developers would keep in mind what working class people earn and make affordable, new housing for them. What’s the point of having an overpriced property that takes too much in rent from ordinary folk? I would like to see affordable, new housing options for working class or lower, middle class people. The shiny constructions is always geared towards the high earners, which drives out the poorer folk. I haven’t been to The Grove in a while but what I remember of it is that is was, like I said, kind of dumpy. Could be very noisy in the bar/restaurant area. Not sure if people would even want to live there. I haven’t followed crime report for that part of town.

    • Kyle Steffen

      I’ve lived just a few feet from this site for about four years now. I grew up in Bevo, my father has worked in/near Forest Park Southeast for over 40 years, so I certainly remember the days you speak of. I am nothing more than blue-collar, but have managed to make a great life here in The Grove. Yes, it is loud sometimes and it gets old. But being in the center of the city and not having to rely on a car EVER (but I do because I’m a St. Louisan) is a great trade-off for putting up with the noise. Visit the old ‘hood sometime. You’ll be surprised!

    • Imran

      Saint Louis is in no imminent danger of being overly gentrified. There is still a large number of affordable units in the area. And diversity in housing options is a good thing. I hope the project does well.
      And, to many, noise = life

    • rgbose

      This building could draw high rent payers keeping them from pushing up rents elsewhere.

      Quiet can be found in the blocks off of Manchester

    • jhoff1257

      Maybe you should go check it out…

    • Adam

      No offense, but that’s a whole lot of pointless, generalized negativity directed toward a neighborhood that, by your own admission, you haven’t even visited lately. Why bother to leave a comment like this? And how do you propose that a neighborhood elevate itself out of “kind of dumpy”-ness if not by attracting residents that actually have money to invest in it? And are you really suggesting that St. Louis doesn’t have enough low-to-middle income housing? The MAJORITY of housing in St. Louis is low-to-middle income. Some of it is even NEW!

      • moe

        I have to agree in part. First, I think many of the rents are too high so on this I have to agree with JohnT. Take the new apartment building at Tower Grove ad Gibson….rent is $1800….one can buy a house for less than half that.
        Having typed that though….just yesterday we were talking about the hotels going up in the Grove and a life-long city resident friend of ours piped up and complained about the crime, “those people”, run-down homes etc. To which we asked…when was the last time you’ve been to the Grove? “It’s been years, but I don’t think it’s changed much.”
        My point is that sometimes we cloud our vision with what was, and many refuse to get with the current times, much less the current century. Luckily for most of us, these naysayers are becoming fewer and fewer.
        As for this new construction….I’m split. On one hand I think it’s too much for the neighborhood. On the other, I’ve seen such infill in places like Providence and I’m wowed. I think maybe 1 or 2 such pieces would be a fine addition but more than that and it will work against the neighborhood.

      • JohnThomas52

        I just question whether that kind of new construction really helps the people of St. Louis or just the power-that-be that profit off of it. Who really benefits from shiny, new apartments? You think the people who will live in those over-priced apartments are gonna give a damn about the area? Why not help the pre-existing people directly rather than import outsiders into those shiny, new apartments? I just don’t trust monied people to do right by the people and The Grove is just not Europe and never will be. If you want to live in Europe, then go to Europe is what I am saying. Don’t make it out to be something that it is not. Leave it alone and find a way to really help the pre-existing people in the area on their terms rather than top-down as an external force imposed upon them. Shiny, new apartments doesn’t seem like a very good solution to me. I’m skeptical of the intentions of monied people and whether the result is truly positive for the people who live in The Grove. Yeah, I’ll admit, maybe too harsh by calling it a dump but an honest, initial reaction. I’m open to criticism. I like that. I’ll give The Grove a drive by this weekend for a second look.

        • Adam

          “If you want to live in Europe, then go to Europe is what I am saying. Don’t make it out to be something that it is not. Leave it alone and find a way to really help the pre-existing people in the area on their terms…”

          Really? REALLY? If you don’t like it being a dump (your words) then move to Europe? I don’t even know what to say to that… it’s just a ridiculous, melodramatic statement. St. Louis has a shrinking population, a high poverty rate, thousands of vacant lots, and more infrastructure than money to maintain it. Where do you suggest that the money come from to “help the pre-existing people on their own terms”? Do you happen to have a list of their terms? How do you know that the pre-existing people don’t want new homes and new infrastructure and new businesses and decreased crime in their neighborhood? How do you know that potential new residents don’t give a damn about the area? Why wouldn’t they give a damn about the place they choose to call home? What, in your opinion, would be the “good solution” that somehow doesn’t involve anybody with money investing in the area? Sorry, but IMHO your complaints just sound unreasonable and bitter.

          • Alex Ihnen

            This is sliding into an interesting, but different conversation. Let’s stay on this project here.

          • Adam

            Agreed. My apologies.

          • JohnThomas52

            Take a look back to history. When 40 blocks of residents were forced to clear out to make way for the Arch grounds because a new, shiny thang needed to be built for the sake of the city, those folks were marginalized and their communities destroyed. When shiny development happens in this town, it is the lesser-powered people who get the short end of the stick or are simply moved aside. We all know how this town works with the powers-that-be. The “Ladues” have never helped the “north city” folk. I’ve not seen it. If a developer were to build a palace hotel in the middle of East St. Louis, do you think the people of East St. Louis would benefit in any substantial or meaningful way? I seriously doubt it at all. The people who benefit are people with monied interest. Follow the money. Building physical structure does not equate to building human capital, which is a more meaningful and substantial pursuit for building stronger communities. Greater attention must be paid to the people rather than the new, shiny thang. Money ain’t got soul.

          • Alex Ihnen

            I (we) are with you, I think. Here, 20 apartments would replace a one-story building that’s been vacant for a decade, and an empty lot vacant for longer than that. While we don’t and won’t purposely ignore social equity issues, I believe development of all kinds is sorely needed. Hopefully we’re (mostly) past the urban renewal clear-cutting of existing communities. Change is inevitable in cities, instead of hoping to stop it, we can work to shape it so that existing residents and those who have been marginalized time and time again don’t become victims of the new investment.

        • mc

          Um.. first of all St. Louis was founded by Europeans and actually most people who live in the city are immigrants from continental Europe or descendent of immigrants from continental Europe. Not many Anglo-Americans actually settled here compared to other parts of the States. So, St. Louis, like New Orleans, is more of a “European” city than most. There’s nothing wrong with going back to our roots.

          Secondly, as I have lived there, Europe is a very large and diverse place and not all of it is quaint and shiny as you think. So, your comment sounds quite ridiculous actualy.

          As a young professional, I see a lot of potential in St. Louis and I’m for its regentrification all the way. I just moved back into the city and I’m pushing for the complete regentrification of the south side. Next step is reforming the public schools… but that may take a generation or two..

        • jhoff1257

          “You think the people who will live in those over-priced apartments are gonna give a damn about the area?”

          As someone who lives in a high rent district, I have to say I give a huge damn about how my neighborhood looks and is treated. If I didn’t care I wouldn’t pay the money to live there. I imagine you’d feel the same way if someone started trashing your street.

          Your intentions for lower income people are admirable. But as many others have pointed out, St. Louis has significant amounts of low income housing all over the City. I still haven’t figured out what makes you think the Grove and it’s surrounding areas are filled exclusively with low income people (maybe not having been there in a number of years has something to do with it). There are major institutions nearby that employ thousands of people, some of which are moving into these neighborhoods.

          And comparing The Grove to Europe? Really? Let’s be honest, St. Louis has many more neighborhoods that look more like Europe then The Grove.

    • Stacey

      Drive the prices up and clean house in St. Louis! That’s what we need. Back to being a world class city like it was built!!

  • RyleyinSTL

    Love it….but I could do without this: “The city-owned vacant lot across Manchester Avenue would be utilized for retail parking.”

  • Brian

    I used to buy doughnuts for the office at that place 20 years ago. I like the new design. First floor retail is a huge plus. Manchester is such a polyglot of architectural idioms that this is a good addition. It may not be great, but it is a welcome bit of infill.

    • John R

      First-floor donut shop would be awesome!

  • dempster holland

    Are we supposed to like or dislike this proposed building?

    • Adam

      i’m typically not a big fan of modern architecture, but i think this design fits in beautifully.

      • STLEnginerd

        It’s not my preferred style but I guess it’s fine. Would like to see the, what I assume to be metal, cladding in the front painted with a colorful pattern, or mural.

    • John R

      I think it is a decent contemporary infill, if nothing earth-shattering. I do think we need more modern infill in parts of the city…. I’d love to see a large presence of contemporary residential infill in Northside Regeneration, Grand Center and Laclede’s Landing as parts of those neighborhoods inevitably get new construction.

      • SnakePlissken

        I’m with you. Is no one using floor to ceiling glass in contemporary construction anymore? I like that element but it seems to have fallen out of favor.