Clayco, Forum Studio Chosen for High-Profile Kingshighway/Lindell Project

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nextSTL has learned progress is being made on a much anticipated development at a choice Central West End intersection. Contracts have been awarded for the Koman Group and Koplar Properties mixed-use residential project at the corner of Kingshighway and Lindell Boulevards. The site is perhaps the city’s most prominent surface parking lot, directly across from both the Chase Park Plaza and 1,300-acre Forest Park.

Development lead The Koman Group recently selected Clayco as general contractor for the project. Forum Studio has also been hired to assist with design. The design house will work with renowned New York architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) in conceiving the approximate $100M high profile project. According to nextSTL sources the early plan imagines a mixed-use tower incorporating retail, office, and residential components.

nextSTL was first to report on the development, and KPF involvement, in June of 2014. KPF, one of the world’s biggest design firms, was recently named architect for a $1 billion proposed waterfront development in Boston. However, nextSTL sources say it was KPF’s Hudson Yards project in NYC that convinced the project team to choose the architect for the CWE project.

{KFP’s Hudson Yard project brought the firm to attention of Koplar and the Koman Group}

{KPF was recently named the architect for a proposed Boston waterfront project}

The Koman Group will finance and manage much of the project. The firm was founded by former St. Louis football Cardinal and two-time Pro Bowl selection Bill Koman. It has developed more than $1 billion of commercial real-estate projects since 1985. A $47M renovation of the General American Life Building on Market Street in downtown is the Koman Group’s most recent undertaking.

The postmodern building along the Gateway Mall was designed by inaugural Pritzker Prize recipient Philip Johnson, and was completed in 1978. The renovation will facilitate the Laclede Gas headquarters move. The Koman Group is receiving $7M in TIF aid along with private financing and state/federal historic tax credits to help fund the project.

Sources told nextSTL that prior to the General American Life Building deal the Koman Group came close to an agreement that would have put the new Laclede Gas corporate headquarters on the CWE development site. The gas company had optioned the land, but negotiations regarding a parking swap with the neighboring St. Regis co-op apartment building fell apart.

Koplar Properties owns the corner parking lot. According to records, the land has an appraised value of $1,911,900. The lot remained undeveloped through the construction boom surrounding the 1904 World’s Fair, and the 1920s which saw nearly 20 high-rise buildings constructed in the neighborhood. The site sat vacant through another building boom along Kingshighway in the 1950s. It is part of a block-long gap along with adjacent parking lots to the south, once the site of the Buckingham Hotel.

Sam Koplar, vice president of business development, is the project lead for the longstanding family-owned commercial real estate firm. Koplar Properties has built and/or managed many iconic St. Louis and regional developments including the Chase Park Plaza, Powell Symphony Hall, and The Lodge of the Four Seasons in Lake Ozark, MO.

In 1986 now defunct developer Cordage-Nivek proposed two 30-story limestone-and-brick towers at the Koplar and Parc Frontenac apartment building parking lots. The $100 million project was to feature a 320-room Hilton hotel, office space, and residential living according to Jeff Fister’s The Days and Nights of the Central West End. A television studio, four-screen theatre, retail space, and parking were also to be components of the unrealized development.

{the mid-1980s proposal would have spanned the Koplar property and adjacent parking lots}

The most significant mixed-use high-rise addition to the Central West End in recent years is the Park East Tower at nearby Euclid and Laclede Avenues. The 26-story, 89-unit building was the first new condominium tower in the City of St. Louis in 30 years when it was completed in 2007. The Koman and Koplar development site footprint is approximately twice as large, without adding the parking lots to the south.

The CWE lot is within Ward 17, represented by longtime Alderman Joseph Roddy. Roddy serves as chairman of the St. Louis Housing, Urban Development and Zoning Committee (HUDZC). Eight committee members consider all matters regarding housing, urban development and zoning, including the Community Development Agency and Commission, the St. Louis Development Corporation and the appropriation and disbursement of all federal funding administered.

{the Buckingham Hotel seen between the Chase-Park Plaza and Parc Frontenac buildings (center)}

{the Buckingham was renovated several times before being demolished in the 1970s}

In May of 2014 Alderman Roddy told members of HUDZ Committee that he was organizing a group to investigate how TIF and tax abatement is handled in the city of St. Louis. There are currently 122projects in the city of St. Louis receiving TIF funding. It remains unknown if incentives will be sought, but Roddy recently decided to not endorse TIF, or tax abatement for a 200-unit apartment project in the neighborhood, effectively canceling that project.

Proponents point to the Cortex development as an example of good St. Louis TIF in action. There, more than 2,500 jobs are expected to be created. These jobs will help St. Louis attract and retain more well-paid professionals throughout the city. However, detractors claim that rampant use of TIF for retail development and the benefit of individual neighborhoods is not good for sustained regional economic growth.

Roddy has stated that he wants to bring officials from the city comptroller’s office, the St. Louis Public School District, and the St. Louis Development Corporation into the working mix. He wants to discern how the subsidies are distributed. Attempts to reach The Koman Group and SamKoplar for comment were unsuccessful.

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  • jhoff1257

    I’m a little disappointed with the rumor that whatever is constructed here will only be 20 stories. I think 30 stories would be the perfect height for this corner. A bit taller then the Park Plaza and Park East and the coming BJC/Children’s additions. From there start filling other surface/empty lots around the CWE and parts of CORTEX with some modest 12-20 story buildings, maybe pepper in a few 25+ story buildings and you’d have yourself a nice skyline for the CWE.

    Regardless of what happens on this corner, Kingshighway is ripe for some nice high-rise development. The old Buckingham site could see a significant tower and you have two surface lots on either side of the Montclair that could have a couple nice pencil towers built on them. Hopefully the corner site is just the beginning.

  • Chris

    Right now the four season is kicking themselves for locating on the landing. A mixed use tower with a hotel like that taking 5-10 floors would help make an impact on the corner. Personally I would rather see offices fill the rest or at least part of the development rather than more condo’s.

    • moorlander

      The Four Season’s is kicking themselves for locating on the Landing? How do you know? If anything I think they are kicking themselves for partnering with Pinnacle who only a few years later abandoned them. If the Four Seasons is struggling, which I have no reason to believe they are, they could move locations. They don’t own that building.

      • Chris

        Simply stating that this corner would be a better location for a 5 star hotel. Not that we could support another one here in St. Louis.

  • Tim E

    Found it interesting that Koman is going to finance the project or least what is stated by Geoff. I believe they are flush with cash after they sold City Place. So curious how much of their own skin is in the game or how much they will be able to leverage. I also think it should give a rather high degree of confidence that this tower is going to happen. Just a matter of what is going to be proposed and a timeline on when you would actually see groundbreaking. Anyone have differing thoughts?

    • Gary Chutch

      I don’t think it really matters how liquid Koman is. I don’t know of any developer that would put up 100% of sources with their own capital.

      • Tim E

        definitely agree on your point, but it would interesting to know if they are going 25% in, 30% in, so on. I would assume they don’t want 100% of the risk but they do get a bigger pay day on more risk if successful. Also, I can only imagine that it will make it easier for them to secure the remaining capital if they are fronting some of their own money.

        • Gary Chutch

          It will all depend on what type of incentives/financing tools are involved. I’m not sure how they operate on new construction deals but having worked with them on a few historic rehab closings, I’m not sure we need to worry about their capital stack. That’s a smart group over there…

  • Tim E

    Twenty stories definitely seems underwhelming for this location. Ideally I think 30 stories or at least being the tallest tower in CWE if they truly want something to stand out. I honestly don’t see how economics pencil out on a plus 40 stories or more. Where is that much demand?
    .
    I also think residential/hotel or all residential makes more sense at end of day. To me, build out office footage in CORTEX and or utilize empty Downtown space. Heck, about to have an empty ATT one center!!! In the meantime, love to see a tall slender residential tower at Koplar’s site and a nice 15-20 story CORTEX hotel tower on Boyle within stone’s throw of the new metrolink station.

  • Chris

    I would love to see a quick trip at this corner. The CWE is really lacking for good fuel options.

    • Adam

      yes! and hopefully they’ll raze the Chase, the Park Plaza, and the St. Regis because sight-lines.

      • Chaifetz10

        There’s not enough parking… Let’s create some strip malls facing Kingshighway and then we can add a McDonalds and a Walgreens too!

  • rsumc

    Keep the skyscrapers downtown or in Clayton!

    • Chaifetz10

      Why???

    • Mike F

      Hey, you kids, get that skyscraper off my lawn!

      • Yojimbo

        Hey, you kids, put down CAD, read a book! Start with Jane Jacobs! You want to play on our lawns, you best come correct.

        • Chaifetz10

          The city isn’t “your” lawn though. It’s ours too.

        • Adam

          Um, I’ve read Jane Jacobs. She doesn’t say that there can’t be tall buildings next to short ones.

    • Adam

      nah.

    • Yojimbo

      “Keep the skyscrapers downtown or in Clayton!” Agree. But beware the blowback from the Dukes of Density. The architecturally egregious highrise — ongoing NextSTL blind spot from day one.

      • Chaifetz10

        What would you propose instead?

      • Adam

        yeah, god forbid we emulate a thriving city.

        • Yojimbo

          That “emulate,” that’s the problem. A highrise tower is an emulation, rather than an indigenous, gracefully incremental expression. Deliver us from the emulators.

          Instead? Alex is right on — “modest towers and 4-6 story buildings.” A healthy admixture; vernacular modes. Autochthonous growth.

          • Adam

            “A highrise tower is an emulation, rather than an indigenous, gracefully incremental expression.”

            i don’t even know what that means. they’re not indigenous? why, because we don’t have very many? if that’s the case then the same can be said about any city at some point in time. they can’t be graceful? i beg to differ. the Park Plaza is one of the most graceful buildings in the city. they’re not incremental… because they’re big? i’d say filling a prominent, empty corner is pretty incremental. maybe if we looked to cities that are actually growing and emulated them a little more instead of always sticking to our status-quo guns, we’d do a little growing ourselves. man do St. Louisans hate change.

          • Adam

            P.S. we can do both high-rises and 4-6 story stuff. the number of high-rises will be comparatively small. the mixture makes for a dynamic city.

      • STLEnginerd

        So I’d agree that many posters here tend to be overly enthusiastic about height but AT THIS LOCATION anything under 20 stories would be a waste. I’d like to se 30, but 40 would be pushing it. This location for some of the best views in the city and if any new development could demand premium rates it’d be this one. I disagree with some who want to see an office component, but I think a national recognized 4 star hotel chain would be ideal, with luxury condos above it. I also think retail is a stretch here. A few anchor restaraunts sure, but kings highway is not going to be a retail corridor, those things work better on Euclid.

        Just my opinion of course. The owner has his own vision.

    • dick

      Fuck Clayton

  • raccoozie

    I do hope there is office space in there as speculated. I think the CWE would be a great spot for some non-service industry and non-medical industry jobs. Its a great location.

  • opendorz

    I sure hope this plan involves a building of at least 50 stories. Yes, we have he Arch, but a city this size without a high rise over 40 floors is rather underwhelming.

    • dick

      And a building of that size would look much better downtown

    • D.C. must be downright depressing by this metric.

      • opendorz

        DC is the only major metro area with mostly mid rise buildings, by design. And partly because of this their sprawl is horrendous.

        • Gary Chutch

          I love DC’s density however.

        • John R

          I’m not so sure about that…. D.C. has a high population density that approaches 10,000 people per square mile. That is significantly higher than places like Seattle and Minneapolis and not terribly far behind skyscraper darling Chicago. The D.C. Metro just has a ton of people, so its sprawl is unlike ours, which eats up land like it thinks it is a growing metro or something.

          • opendorz

            Again, DC’s height limit is by design. Our is not. We simply lag virtually every major metro area in that we have no signature skyscraper over 45 stories. Preferably one would be built downtown, but the CWE is next best location, followed by Clayton.

          • John R

            I agree; I just took a bit of issue with the comment that D.C. area sprawl can be connected in part to its by-design height limits.

    • Geoff Whittington

      One year ago I heard twin towers. Now I am hearing one tower potentially 20-stories tall.

      • Richard O

        If that’s the case don’t bother with 20 stories we already have enough of those

        • Alex Ihnen

          IMO – the CWE could use a dozen more 20 story buildings. The places I remember/enjoy to most in other cities are the dense neighborhoods. They’re generally filled with modest towers and 4-6 story buildings.

          • Richard O

            Actually the CWE, CORTEX and Grand Center could use about a dozen 40 to 50-story buildings along with the four to six story buildings that are being developed right now. I’m not necessarily advocating a canyon of high-rise buildings but spread around they would add vibrancy to our skyline as well the density needed for our neighborhoods

          • dick

            Um, there is no demand for that at all. St louis is the most overbuilt city in the world.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Underbuilt in places, overbuilt in others.

          • Adam

            under-built sure, but is there really a part of the city that’s overbuilt? or do you mean the region?

          • dick

            I mean st Louis. The entire city is way overbuilt. Its easy to tell, high vacancy, no demand, low property value=over built.

          • Adam

            i disagree with characterizing St. Louis as overbuilt. the vacancies are due to population loss, not too much construction. when most of St. Louis’ structures were built, there were more than enough people to occupy them. i’d say the better term is “underpopulated”.

          • Adam

            or better yet “depopulated”.

          • dick

            Same thing bruh

          • Chaifetz10

            So we shouldn’t continue momentum in the parts of our city that are booming? The CWE and Central Cooridor should remain stagnant even though there is demand in the area? Yeah, let’s refuse to evolve as a city because there are some areas that are underpopulated. I don’t get what your argument is…

          • Adam

            not really, bruh. to “overbuild” something means to “build” more than is needed. when most of St. Louis was built, there was no shortage of people. that there is a shortage now does not mean the city was “overbuilt”. semantics, i know, but let’s use our words correctly.

          • dick

            I didn’t say it WAS over built, I said it IS overbuilt, right now.

          • jhoff1257

            Not even remotely the same thing. When the City “built out” it had a population of nearly 900,000 people. All of what we have today had a place and a need at one time. We can’t just knock everything down and rebuild for a smaller city, there is no money for that. When it comes time to replace pieces of the City’s infrastructure they do build smaller. For example, the Grand, Jefferson, and (future) Kingshighway viaducts were rebuilt with fewer lanes. Roads have undergone diets with the declining number of cars (Chippewa and Arsenal for example). Multifamily buildings have been converted into single family buildings. The City is slowing “right-sizing” itself as we speak. Takes time, bruh.

          • Adam

            and in any case, demand in the parts of the city where construction is occurring is in fact keeping up with construction.

          • Adam

            well, it wasn’t when most of the stuff was actually built.

      • Presbyterian

        Twenty stories would give it a potential envelope something like this. The Chase is ten; the Park Plaza is twenty-eight.

        • moorlander

          For Comparison purposes
          Chase is – 27 stories @ 310 ft.
          Park East Tower – 26 stories @ 320 ft
          Roberts Tower – 25 stories @ 312 ft
          Plaza in Clayton – 30 stories @ 409ft

          • imran

            Since there isn’t a standard floor height for buildings, maybe we should be advocating for a certain building height rather than number of floors.

      • Guest

        For Comparison
        Chase is – 27 stories @ 310 ft.
        Park East Tower – 26 stories @ 320 ft
        Roberts Tower – 25 stories @ 312 ft
        Plaza in Clayton – 30 stories @ 409ft

    • Yojimbo

      Oy.

  • Presbyterian

    I’m glad this project keeps making progress. I really hope they push the design in an iconic and edgy direction. I look out my windows at the Chase Park Plaza and long have wondered whether a tower with a tall and slender profile would balance out the Park Plaza’s mass.

  • All I can say is be carfeul with Joe Roddy. He was the alderperson along with Marlene Davis who did not inform the Tiffany Neighborhood Association or its residents about SLU tearing down the Pevely building and 3 years later it sits empty and is now an eyesore because he bent rules with the city historical buliding dept. to allow SLU to demolish that area. I lie in the Tiffany neighborhood and not one resident was informed of this occurence which sits within the bounds of our neighborhood.

  • Guest

    This spot is the ideal place to create something very dramatic to call attention to St. Louis (and for those who don’t know, there are dozens of web sites whose members run from professional architects and city planners, to college kids and to merely interested urban lifestyle lovers that monitor such things nation wide). The Cordage-Nivek proposal would have been okay, but the towers look too squat. Anyone who keeps up with architecture knows that most such developments go for tall and slender. Something at least twice as tall as 30 stories (I’d hope considerably more…perhaps 70 or 80 floors) would really draw attention and would be fitting for St. Louis’ premier high rise neighborhood, and especially this desirable spot.
    And the lady who protested the proposed highrise at Lindell and Euclid blocking the sun from her flowers or the “out of scale to the rest of the neighborhood” folks need to be told to put a sock in it and wake up to the realities of urban living in today’s context.

    • dick

      80 stories? That is stoopuhd bruh

      • Alex Ihnen

        Would love it, but it’s not going to be that tall (I don’t think). There’s no height restriction on the site, but I’d be surprised/excited to see it reach 40+ stories and be clearly the tallest building in the CWE.

        • John R

          yeah, Geoff’s reporting that this will be about a $100 million project should tampen our optimism for something reaching to the heavens. But hopefully it will be at least a bit higher than Park East and more importantly, be a striking, modern and well-executed compliment to the Park Plaza across the street.

          • Luftmentsch

            What is it with this height fetish?! I suppose you guys think the Eagleton is just wunderbar? (Never mind that it’s a forbidding fortress with no street presence that does nothing for downtown). The concerns with neighborhood scale are not “anti-urban” and certainly not nimby-ish. Bigger is better only in porn movies.

          • Adam

            the Eagleton isn’t a bad looking building. and it interacts poorly with the street not because it’s a skyscraper, but because it’s a federal courthouse. do you think the Park Plaza interacts poorly with the street?

          • Alex Ihnen

            The Plaza isn’t the worst, but it’s not great. The retail proposal for the Maryland side would make a huge difference. Haven’t heard anything on that for a while.

          • Adam

            not the best, but it has a level of aesthetic detail at the street that many others lack (e.g. Park East) and, as you said, it has the potential for retail with some pretty minor changes.

          • Luftmentsch

            We’ll agree to disagree on the Eagleton’s aesthetics. In terms of its contribution to downtown, however, it’s a disaster. Part of this is because it’s too large and too isolated. The workers never go anywhere. They drive in and out of the building. They have everything taken care of right there. If the federal workers, judges, lawyers and staff and visitors were scattered among three or four midsized buildings, they’d have much more presence. Skyscrapers add to the city when there is surrounding density (and when commuters rely on public transportation or distant parking lots.) St. Louis has no good reason to build (real) tall right now.

          • chaifetz10

            Unless there is demand for a mid to high rise tower at the corner of Kingshighway and Lindell. Because a federal courthouse downtown isn’t a bustling open area (and with security reasons it’s kind of hard to expect it to) we should not build tall anywhere else in the city? I get that you don’t like the courthouse, but why does that impact this site?

          • Adam

            But, again, the isolation is due to it being a federal courthouse, not due to it being a skyscraper. and don’t skyscrapers = density (when not intentionally isolated)?

          • John R

            Well as a I said it is more important to have quality buildings rather than a simple focus on height, I hope that I don’t have too much of a porn problem! But there is nothing wrong with a city having a range of building types, including a district or two with taller buildings…. buildings in the 20-30 story range are rapidly rising in growing cities across America these days and I hope to see a few rise here in CWE and downtown as well while at the same time infilling with workhorse mid-rises, etc.

    • Richard O

      I agree with the “out of scale to the rest of the neighborhood” comment because high rise housing is a definitive part of urban living. Unfortunately we have too many NIMBYS in St. Louis that keep holding this city back in a time warp. I recently visited Denver and Seattle and they both have mixed-use low–rise, mid-rise and high-rise residential units in the same neighborhood. This area along Kingshighway between Delmar and Manchester and around Forest Park is our opportunity to make a statement like Central Park in NY or Lakeshore Drive in Chicago. A couple of years ago I talked to Sam Koplar who has visions of the tallest building between Chicago and the West Coast, which makes it over 1,000 feet tall, thus the interest in KFP but $100 million will not be enough money for that of development. Lets keep our fingers crossed there is much more to this story.

    • dick

      I would rather have multiple midrise developments than one giant tower.

      • Guest

        Variety in housing options is what makes a city work well. There are many who would love to live/work in such a structure. Can you really say that with a straight face after looking at all the other successful cities that have left us in the dust? Look at that picture of Boston. I remember naysayers of that city complaining of the John Hancock Tower plan (late 60’s, early 70’s?) ruining the grass on the commons. They were ignored and since then the skyline has grown taller and taller and therefore much more “visible” to the nation.
        This is a prime location. This should be a prime project. And significant height should be a part of it as well.

        • dick

          Bruh, towers dont mean anything, that is alll in your head

          • Adam

            it means that Koman thinks there’s enough demand to warrant spending tens of millions of dollars on a tower whether you like the aesthetics or not. and demand is a good thing in a city starving for people whether it’s demand for high-rise or low-rise.

  • matimal

    “sources” …..how mysterious. St. Louis’ secretiveness is its Achilles heel. St. Louisers need to see the benefits of openness in order to expect more from local government. How can that happen, especially after Ferguson?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Well, in this case it’s a private developer working on a big signature project. At some point they have to share more if they seek tax abatement, TIF, re-zoning, etc., but at this point it’s simply private planning and not nefarious like some political action around the region.

      • Gary Chutch

        Alex, I’m assuming you haven’t heard a floor count for the proposed building?

      • matimal

        I’m not suggesting there is anything nefarious. But “sources” gives the impression that there is. It is the impression of political horse-trading that leads many, usually smaller investors, to not want to invest in St. Louis, I’d argue. They think you have to have a friend in city hall to get anything done. I just think more openness in St. Louis, and not just in government, would help to give people more confidence in investing in St. Louis.

        • Alex Ihnen

          I get it, but here it is simply knowing who the contractor and local architect will be. This isn’t something any developer shouts as soon as it’s decided. Of course these aren’t national security worthy secrets either.

          • matimal

            “national security” hmhm…cute. Why would contractors and architects not want to reveal their involvement?

          • Chippewa

            Because they have competitors, and are spending a good amount of money.

            Why WOULD they want to reveal their participation a.s.a.p? Whats the rush for something like that?

          • matimal

            Shameless self-promotion is one of the secrets of success in boomtowns like Austin, Atlanta, Nashville, or Charlotte. Hiding your actions gets you nowhere in those towns or really anywhere for that matter.

          • Alex Ihnen

            What’s happening here in this case is exactly what’s done elsewhere. I’d venture to say that “secrets” like this are much more closely held in other places. In St. Louis there’s always someone who knows someone who knows someone they went to high school with who’s at X company.

          • dick

            Tru

          • matimal

            really? St. Louis’ problem is it has TOO MUCH social capital?

  • John R

    It was interesting to read that the parcel was never developed previously. Hopefully something truly stunning rises up (and up and up) here.