$72M Twenty-Four Story The Crossing in Clayton Receives Tax Abatement

The City of Clayton approved 353 tax-abatement status on July 22 for phase one of The Crossing; a 26-story upscale apartment tower to be built on 0.69-acres adjacent to the Central Ave. Metrolink station. Chicago-based real estate developer CA Ventures is spearheading the project. The firm along with their partner real estate investment company White Oak, also headquartered in Chicago, are seeking institutional partners to secure financing for the development.

CA Ventures vice president of investments John Diedrich told nextSTL Friday afternoon he anticipates the firm will get zoning approval later this month. He further related that the company expects to close on the land in October. Diedrich then added that it is too early for CA Ventures to commit any involvement with regard to future phases of the project.

The Crossing in ClaytonThe proposed $350 million multi-phase mixed-use development is the creation of former CA Ventures and Duke Properties vice president Jerry Crylen. His Chesterfield-based real estate firm GTE Properties is currently serving as a consultant for CA Ventures. Crylen has spent years pursuing this project and his company is currently focusing on entitlements and zoning issues of the development’s first phase.

Total project cost for The Crossing is estimated to be $72M according to documents filed with the City of Clayton. An accompanying tax impact summary shows the project could produce $16M in estimated property taxes over its first 20 years. This puts the 20-year tax abatement value at $8M.

The Crossing will offer an urban setting within close proximity to mass transit, being adjacent to the MetroLink Blue Line that opened in 2006. Professionals, corporate travelers, and students seeking to rent will be targeted as potential tenants.

Current Bi-State Development Agency CEO, John Nations commented several years ago, while an attorney at Armstrong Teasdale, that a proposed project at this site, “will benefit the entire St. Louis metropolitan region by fostering and accelerating transit ridership goals of Metrolink.” The development site is next to Forest Park Parkway, and ¼ mile east of I-170 making for easy access to the metropolitan area. Downtown St. Louis and Lambert-St. Louis international Airport are within 15-minutes of The Crossing.

Under 353 tax-abatement provisions, five parcels within the first phase of the development zonelocated at the southeast corner of South Meramec Ave. and Bonhomme Ave. have been designated as blighted. Phase one will require demolition of five buildings. Three homes built in 1910, and sense converted to commercial use, on Meramec will be razed along with two on Bonhomme.

The buildings to be demolished include 212 Meramec owned by Alice Todt along with 214 and 216 Meramec owned by the William J. Connolly trust. The Guild Building at 7912 Bonhomme was built in 1954. 7922 Bonhomme owned by 7922 Bonhomme LLC care of GTE Properties was built in 1920.

{streetview of Meramec at Bonhomme, site of Phase I}

{$350M The Crossing in Clayton development site outlined in blue, Phase I in yellow}

CA Ventures successfully argued that the buildings within the development zone are in a state of decline. Primary and secondary building components including interior and exterior walls, floors, wiring, plumbing, and roof expansion joints, doors, windows, wall coverings, and frames display evidence of cracks, damage, warping, mold growth, and lack of maintenance. The company further claimed these deficiencies could not be corrected through normal maintenance, and require replacement, renovation, or rebuilding.

Architectural historian and founder of the Preservation Research Office Michael Allen commented, “The Guild Building remains a significant work of modern commercial architecture. Architect Meyer Loomstein designed the Guild Building, working in splendid collaboration with sculptor Sasha Schnittman, who designed the figural reliefs at the entrance.” Loomstein and Schnittman had also teamed on the Washington Ave. Dorsa Building redesign in 1946.

The Guild Building was also the site of one of the region’s most notable recent unsolved murder cases. In 2006 a Guild Building janitor working on the third floor found well-liked St. Louis attorney Ernie Brasier dead in his Boggs and Bates office. The murder remains unsolved, though it took place directly across the street from the St. Louis County courthouse, and only a couple of blocks from both the St. Louis County and Clayton Police headquarters. Brasier’s murder was the first in a number of strange occurrences for the Boggs and Bates law firm.

Clayton Guild building{the Guild Building at 7912 Bonhomme – built 1954}

While heralding the building Allen also commented on the lack of Clayton preservation standards, “The Guild Building embodies postwar growth in Clayton and experimentation in architectural design, and it likely is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Of course, the real problem is not the specific demolitions proposed as much as the lack of any preservation ordinance at all in Clayton. The cultural and urban design implications of these demolitions will never be reviewed at all.”

The Crossing will be CA Venture’s first project in St. Louis.  The “CA” is abbreviation for Campus Acquisitions. With nearly 30 U.S. and Canadian student housing projects, the company looks for development opportunities in metropolitan areas with large universities that are lacking in residential housing for students.

White Oak is an investment group focusing on property acquisition, capital raising, financial structuring, leasing, and asset management. Bankrolled by Michael Alter, president of developer Alter Group Ltd., the firm was founded in 2010. Alter’s company currently has 4,000,000 sq. ft. of space, worth $600,000,000, under development in national markets from Florida to Arizona.

Chesterfield-based HDA Architects is design lead for the project. The new 250-unit glass-and-aluminum tower will feature a rooftop swimming pool, ground-floor retail, and four levels of underground parking. In December of 2013 nextSTL was first to report on this development. We will continue coverage with additional financing information as soon as it becomes available.

Previous design was rejected by the Clayton Plan Commission Architectural Review Board. Revised project renderings added 9/9/2014:

The Crossing - Clayton, MO

The Crossing - Clayton, MO

The Crossing - Clayton, MO

The Crossing - Clayton, MO

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Additional renderings of final design:

212-s-meramec-night 212-s-meramec-day