Four Builders Seek Approval for Infill in Forest Park Southeast Neighborhood

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At a meeting this evening, the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood will consider the future of the majority of its remaining city-owned vacant lots. For the first time in decades, the area perhaps better known today as The Grove may have its pick of development.

At least four developers would like to build new homes at a total of 10 different sites. Reviewing the development proposals together should help the neighborhood consider not only what’s on the table, but what’s possible as demand for housing continues to increase.

Just one site, 4211-15 Chouteau Avenue has drawn interest from all four parties. Another, 4351 Gibson has three proposals. Two sites may have two, while the remaining six appear to be targeted by one developer. The developers are Grove Investments (Anthony Duncan Architect), Loni Properties (Ken Burns Architect), HDC: Homes Without Limits (Brendel Architects), and The Building Pros.

Four proposals for 4211-15(19) Chouteau Avenue:

Park Central Development Corporation has been working with the developers to ensure that proposals presented an urban context. The Forest Park Southeast Development Committee, part of Park Central, will review the proposals.

Park Central Executive Director Brooks Goedeker told nextSTL the neighborhood committee is best positioned to consider sometimes competing projects. “We have a lot of developers and homebuilders who want to do a project here. We feel this is the best way for the neighborhood to decide which proposal could work best on each site.”

Over the past decade, Forest Park Southeast has filled many long vacant storefronts on its mile stretch of Manchester Avenue, and dozens of homes have been renovated. As empty historic buildings become less common, new development is taking off.

“This is the next wave of single site development in FPSE”, Goedeker stated. “We’ve had a lot of success with the historic tax credit program and rehabs, making new construction possible.”

While the Aventura apartment project seemed to have snuck through the process before the neighborhood gained confidence, newer projects appear more urban and sustainable. UIC has received support for a contemporary mixed use building at 4321-29 Manchester (and contemporary single family infill on Gibson). The $85M Chouteau’s Grove project is set to introduce an eight-story, 300 apartment building, as well as 78K sf of retail.

The Grove may be on the verge of being home to significant contemporary urban infill. It may be one of the few places this is possible in St. Louis, where market demand and lack of a local historic district meet. Many of the city’s well known neighborhoods are local historic districts. Fox Park, Benton Park, Soulard, Shaw, Lafayette Square, and others have detailed guidelines regarding what is and isn’t allowed to be built.

In Lafayette Square this week, plans to build a new faux historic home on Dolman Avenue were denied. It was apparently too much faux, and not enough historic. Some guidelines are bent more than others, but if you want to build a contemporary home, or mixed use building, Forest Park Southeast may be the place where an interesting mix may evolve.

Typically, vacant city lots, owned by the Land Reutilization Authority, are not sold without an endorsement from a neighborhood development corporation or alderperson. Some proposals for Forest Park Southeast are faux historic and may fit in well on particular lots and along certain block faces. The amazing thing for the neighborhood is that it appears for first time in a long time it may have a choice.

{4351 Gibson Avenue}

{4351 Gibson Avenue}

{4351 Gibson Avenue}

{4351 Gibson Avenue}

Other sites:

Example projects:

{Olive Boulevard condos by Anthony Duncan – under construction}

Building Pros proposal - The Grove{prior proposal by The Building Pros for 1303 S. Boyle Avenue}

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  • Imran

    Love the building pros designs. Duncan’s are cool and modern but remind me of some of the boxy wood-clad 70s style complexes in the county. At risk of looking dated in 20 years.

  • Kevin Martin

    This all looks very nice, old and new alike…. BUT the reality is these proposed homes are being build on lots developers will be purchasing for pretty close to free. How viable is a future market around here for these home builders if they paid market rate for lots? Lots in this area will soon be anywhere from 50K to 100k? Who will pay upwards of 400K for a new home where much of the surrounding properties still look like they are about to fall over? Sorry to be Debby Downer, just a little dose of reality.

    • John R

      Well UIC has a client for an estimated $500,000 home (incorporating an existing home and utilizing two adjacent vacant lots) south of Manchester near Adams School. You probably are right that suitable lots may go up in price as they become more scare and property values increase, but I believe within 5-10 years both FPSE and McRee Town/Botanical Hts. largely will be infilled as long as general market conditions continue. It is a very desirable area that capable urban builders will be able to thrive in.

      • TGE

        Kevin Martin, we can cross that bridge when we come to it. If prices become too high in this immediate area, it’s not unreasonable to assume that development may spread out. I remember what McReetown was like before any of this redevelopment occurred, and that the fact that it or FPSE/the Grove are becoming desirable areas is nothing short of a miracle.

    • Kevin Martin

      Guys, you are right. After I drove through this area today, thing are definitely on the right track for further infill. Let’s all pray that more existing run down property gets turned over real soon. Plenty of opportunities here for the rehabbers in town. This will help tremendously for the new construction market. Plus location, location, location will sell new homes here alone, even if the rest of the block needs tlc. FPSE is just minutes from anywhere in the city. Plus, it seems this area has 1/10th the congestion of the neighboring CWE. Easy in, easy out. Very nice new access to HWY 40 by the way….

  • moe

    I think there is room for all. However…..I am concerned, and no mention is made of, with tax credits/abatements. When we decided to add on to our City home 7 years ago, we were denied a tax abatement because we “would have made the investment anyways”. (and yes, that was the language in the denial letter we received).
    At what point do we say to the developers “NO, you would have made the investment anyways.”?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Just curious, in which ward do you reside? Our city planning is done by 28 little lords. I’ve seen abatement denied, but I’ve also seen it approved after a project is well underway.

      • moe

        Around TGP

  • moe

    I think there is room for all. However…..I am concerned, and no mention is made of, with tax credits/abatements. When we decided to add on to our City home 7 years ago, we were denied a tax abatement because we “would have made the investment anyways”. (and yes, that was the language in the denial letter we received).
    At what point do we say to the developers “NO, you would have made the investment anyways.”?

  • Chris Cooper

    This exactly what this area needs! Both contemporary and traditional designs coming to this area shows just how bright its future is.This looks the beginning of a new era for residential projects in this area. Amen!!

  • matimal

    How can we make the Land Reutilization Authority an active force for redevelopment?

  • Presbyterian

    For sophistication of design, Anthony Duncan takes the prize here. Infill houses in St. Louis are notoriously squat, with an awkward facade proportion that is closer to a square than to a golden rectangle… but not a square.

    Squares are good. Golden rectangles are good. But ‘squectangles’ make for some uncomfortable facade proportions. You look at them and think, “It either needs to be four feet narrower or six feet taller.” Any of these buildings will be fine, but Duncan is the only one of these architects who gets the proportions right.

    Duncan also exhibits an economy of design… clean, not fussy, not trying to do ten things (poorly), but just one thing (well). I hope all of his get approved, with the other developers filling out the remainder of the sites.

  • Mikey H

    Ken Burns and The Building pros designs are gorgeous!

  • Mike

    some pretty ugly renderings…

    • Adam

      i don’t know. out of all of them, the only renderings that jumps out at me as truly ugly are the Brendel ones. i really like the Ken Burns and Anthony Duncans.

      • John R

        Duncan’s Gibson design is a two-family, three-story, btw.

  • John R

    Great to see the increasing single-family demand and it looks like there are some good designs among the bunch…. I hope that Pagano continues its interest in the area as well; I believe their infill on Chouteau across from the Aventura is finishing up. Seems like just about everyone is presently working in the Grove except for the Gills, which is kind of weird.