Pace Tweaks Midtown Station Retail Plan Across from IKEA

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Midtown Station - St. Louis, MO

Just more than a year after Midtown Station, Pace Properties’ 166K sf strip mall in Midtown St. Louis, was revealed on nextSTL, it’s undergone some small changes in search of tenants. Pace has yet to publicly announce any leases for the project just across Vandeventer from its IKEA store, which is set to open fall 2015.

Now 151K sf, the “lifestyle center” has decreased the size of its largest tenant space from 80K to 70K sf and includes seven tenant spaces with five being 12K sf or smaller. The earlier site plan offered just five spaces (80K, 35K, 25K, 15K, and 11K sf). The original 812 parking spaces now number 712.

Midtown Station - St. Louis, MO

Little else has changed. Retail buildings line Forest Park Avenue and a portion of Vandeventer Avenue, but no detail is revealed. It remains unclear weather businesses would have street fronting entrances and windows, though revisions make that appear less likely. Sources tell nextSTL that Pace can be patient as they’re likely confident of landing tenants with the near 1M IKEA shoppers soon to be next door.

The one detail well worth mentioning is the apparent inclusion of the abandoned railroad trestle in the updated site plan. Although difficult to see, the new images show the trestle crossing Vandeventer and connecting with a sidewalk or greenway at the south edge of Midtown Station. Early plans assumed the demolition of the structure. Great Rivers Greenway has been working with the developer to include the structure. It would serve as a bicycle and pedestrian connection to the new MetroLink station two blocks west, the larger Cortex area, and Saint Louis University and Midtown.

{Midtown trestle shown in red – IKEA site outlined in blue}

Midtown Trestle

Three historic homes next to the Midtown Station footprint remain. The three were recently purchased by long time developer Tim McGowan. He recently told the Post-Dispatch that he may renovate the century-old homes as rental properties. The surprise is that these isolated buildings, marketed for $500K, have not been added to Pace’s retail project. The fire station on the corner remains as well. Crescent Electric Supply Company sits between them, having moved from the IKEA development footprint.

The Standard residential project is rising across the street, and Cortex is set to add both residential and office space just to the west. A half block north, the historic Gerhart Block is undergoing renovation. Many observers believed more land consolidation and demolition would follow the IKEA announcement, but it appears at least for now, development hasn’t increased property values to a level that would clear more space for retail use.

Simply for reference, newer urban Target locations are near 80,000 sf, average size of a TJ Maxx or Marshalls is ~30,000 ft and the average Trader Joe’s grocery is 10,000 to 15,000 sf.

Midtown Station
{the Federal Mogul site today – looking southwest from Forest Park Avenue and Spring}

Midtown Station
{Midtown Station site plan}

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image added 06/08/15

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 10.06.44 AM
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image added 08/17/15

Midtown Station 8_17_15
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image added 09/16/15

Midtown Station retail - St. Louis, MO

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  • kjohnson04

    So, judging from the more recent renders, has the project drastically reduced in scale, or is it dead?

    • John R

      ^ I think it is alive…. they have a permit in for the three buildings but a zoning change is first up on the docket; I think that may be because of drive-thru but not for sure.

  • Pace wants to take a site that you can’t find anywhere else in the region and use it to build dreck that you can find everywhere in the region. Ann Wimsattt is spot on: “blight in the making.” We’ll get the next St. Louis Marketplace, surrounded by projects that are adding to the city’s density and walkability. The land will only gain value, so killing this proposal won’t shoot anything down except the worst proposal for this site. The best proposal might have a chance.

  • Dickweed

    Here is the contact info and names of the monsters responsible for this horrific sack of monkey shit:

    http://www.paceproperties.com/about-pace/team-members.aspx

  • STLEnginerd

    A Boulevard-esque proposal would kill here. If it is feasible then definitely hold out for better than this.

    That said one has to be reasonable with their demands. So… Any word on whether enviromental concerns with this site are a limitation to demanding better site planning? ie is mixed use unworkable because of enviromental contamination, or is it a non issue..?

    They need to play the IKEA card as hard and as often as possible to shape the direction of this part of town. On some level they sold their soul by letting IKEA dictate the form their store would take. Now the city needs to get something for it.

    Also I wish PACE would work out a deal to move the Veiled Prophet organization into the Old Armory, so they could work that parcel into the development as well. In NOLA Mardi Gras World is basically a big parade float factory, and a pretty big tourist attraction as well. It’d be interesting to see Veiled Prophet try to emulate that.

  • Imran

    I fear that the best Pace will be able to afford is what was done on Manchester road in Kirkwood/Glendale area. Fake windows towards the street 🙁

    • Adam

      department-store-style windows would still be better than no windows. at least they would break up the visual monotony of a blank wall.

      • Imran

        Yes, better than blank walls. Though I wish they would consider splitting the retail and have compact bays facing FPP reserved for pedestrian uses like a coffee shop, pharmacy, dry cleaners or even a post office and the bigger stores could face inwards towards the parking wasteland.

        • Adam

          agreed.

    • JZ71

      These were (and are) “real” windows – the tenants CHOSE to make them into billboards . . .

  • Ann Wimsatt

    This blight-in-the-making is a City of STL moxie problem–and a non-representational government problem. The City of STL is giving the landscape away, with tax breaks no doubt. If you voted for this administration because of their sensitivity to ‘urban planning’ issues, you were conned.

    Don’t forget that the weensy municipality of Richmond Heights was able to force Pace to build a street front along Brentwood Blvd for The Boulevard, their inward facing retail development. Meanwhile, the supposedly mighty City allows developers to put 3 loading docks on emerging avenues.

    • Mike F

      The City acts like some pathetically desperate suitor, who is willing to subjugate, degrade, and humiliate himself just for the sake of getting a peck on the cheek at the end of the night. City management is peopled by some folks with s-e-r-i-o-u-s insecurity issues. It’s almost like some warped D/s relationship.

  • Jim McMullan

    I stopped reading after a few paragraphs. There were two typos already. Enough.

    • jhoff1257

      It’s a blog. Not a paper of record.

      I wonder if the Grammar Police know their condescending comments are far more annoying then a hardly noticeable typo?

      • Jim McMullan

        It’s still his public reputation.

        • Alex Ihnen

          I’ll keep my fingers crossed that my public reputation doesn’t hinge primarily on typos, but point taken.

          • Daron

            Nah, I think even a single typo torpedoes a decade of outstanding service to the community. You screwed up man. Your ‘art’ sucks. It’s over. Nobody’s going to read this outstanding blog any more.

            Jim’s public reputation however is doing great. He’s the guy that made us realize how foolish we have been all these years. How could we have not noticed before that content does not matter? Why did we spend so much time constructively commenting on the events of the day when we could instead have just attacked random things that bothered us?

            I’m sorry Alex, I’m going to Jim’s publication of record now. He’s going to provide us with all the breaking news we’re looking for.

        • Flim FcFullan
    • Adam

      Yeah, that’s way easier than addressing the content of the post.

      • Jim McMullan

        If the author doesn’t care about the tools he uses, then he must not care much for the article he produces. Why bother with his content if the author doesn’t care much for his art.

        • Alex Ihnen

          Sorry again. I write too fast, and following the news and maintaining this site as a not-for-profit hobby can be challenging.

        • Adam

          stop hyperbolizing. two typos does not negate the entire content of the writing, despite your attempt to frame it that way.

        • tbatts666

          WTF Alex Ihnen is awesome. This website is free and informative.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Thanks Jim. Sorry for the typos, definitely cringe-worthy. I think I’ve fixed them, but please feel free to let me know if you find more.

  • jhoff1257

    This certainly took a turn. The first proposal wasn’t all that great but at least it appeared to hide the loading docks and front Forest Park Avenue. If the design doesn’t include windows and entrances facing Forest Park and Vandeventer (and hidden loading docks) then the City should toss this back to the developer’s drawing board. The City needs more retail but not a mini Chesterfield Commons.

  • tpekren

    Ok, Why not take the original rendering and extend the scope and size of the two buildings along Vande to be mid rise mixed use structures using the surface parking spaces to the immediate east while incorporating the GRG/trestle trail? It would significantly increase the leasable square footage of this development in an area that can support it while offering a much more favorable outcome for the immediate surroundings.
    .
    The developer seem to be missing the boat on this one and can’t think beyond some retail market study that says the only way you will make money is put a big box store facing a heavily travelled freeway. Which I’m even more perplexed why they built Boulevards Way in Richmond heights and propose this here. Of course, the city isn’t helping matters by the fact that they can’t look beyond a sale tax receipt.

  • Imran

    Question. In the Nextstl image with the red/yellow’blue outlines, the trestle curves in next to a cluster of buildings on the southern end of the property along the highway. The plan shows them to be demolished for surface parking. Do we know if these are generic one-story warehouses or something more significant?

  • John

    Doesn’t Midtown have form-based codes prohibiting suburban development like this yet?

    • Alex Ihnen

      No, it doesn’t. A small part of the Central West End does, and Forest Park Southeast is considering it. That’s it. By my count, form based code in the CWE is currently 0-3. Each time it could have been applied, it’s been ignored.

      • STLExplorer

        Granting variances is different from ignoring – most of the compromises made so far have been relatively fair. I’m playing the devil’s advocate here, but I really think that the developments currently underway will continue to provide evidence that the market is strong in this area and that conforming to the form based zoning makes sense.

    • tbatts666

      Slu has already made midtown look like a wasteland. Especially south by the medical campus. This is really sad.

  • T-Leb

    Never heard of this Major Tenant corporation, why do they need so much space? 😉

  • Brian Guy

    Where is the internal sidewalk across the massive parking lot? Are trail users just supposed to hop across the cars?

  • JBoogie

    Am I the only one that thinks this concept has gotten more suburban?

    • Adam

      you are not.

  • Ann Wimsatt

    Are those loading docks facing Forest Park Parkway? If so, this plan is much worse than the first plan.

    • kjohnson04

      Particularly telling. The first plan was “meh.” For some reason, they’ve doubled down and and forcing a suburban design where it really doesn’t belong. Note the afterthought inclusion of the GRG trail.

    • Adam

      wow… good eye. those do seem to be loading docks facing FPP. this plan is absolute sh*t.

    • Mike F

      But, but, the plans depict a wall along FPP…sooo…

      Wait. No, never mind. This plan is shite.

  • Presbyterian

    Pace would do well to involve a landscape architect to help tie the project into Cortex and make for an urban and pedestrian-friendly environment. My hope is that the alderman makes that his priority. With market forces favorable, he has all the power at this stage.

  • Adam

    meh all around. if there are no entrances or windows facing FFP then this is going to suck big time. and i highly doubt the McGowan houses will be sticking around.