Contemporary Single-Family + Condo Project Proposed for Vista in The Grove

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For more than a decade, dozens of vacant lots have sat unused south of Manchester Avenue in The Grove (Forest Park Southeast neighborhood). The largest real estate holder is Forest West Properties, Inc. (AKA Washington University in St. Louis). Now, with the expansion of the medical center and adjacent Cortex, a market is emerging for the area. Developer UIC has found success a few blocks south and Forest West appears ready to begin chipping away at its inventory.

A proposal set to go in front of the Park Central Development Corporation would introduce an interesting residential form. Proposed are three buildings on a combined three lots at 4326-30 Vista Avenue. Two stand-alone homes, one behind the other, and a garage with second-story condo, would frame common space. Each owner would have one parking garage space. The proposal states the exterior material will be all wood.

From the project description: “Each owner will own 3ft of land around their individual homes. The rest of the site will be held in common and governed by a homeowners association. The open space consists of a shared courtyard and vegetable garden. There will also be a sitting area and flower garden accessible to both residents and the general public.”

Park Central will recommend the neighborhood development committee support the requested zoning variance and tax abatement on the condition that the Vista sidewalk be replaced, exterior materials be wood, and that a fence not be constructed along Vista. The developer is listed as Scott Siekert, a real estate agent at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices real estate brokerage network.

Forest West owns 85 properties south of Manchester in The Grove, by our count, and in effect controls another dozen or more with an option to purchase vacant parcels from the city’s Land Reutilization Authority. In February of this year, a Request for Information (RFI) was issued for the properties. It’s expected that several developers will be chosen from among the respondents.

In the meantime, individual parcels are being chipped away for various developments. In December of last year the Park Central Development Corporation endorsed a dozen development proposals from four different developers for vacant homes or lots across the neighborhood. Earlier that month, a proposal for a $500K custom home on Hunt Avenue that would repurpose an existing vacant home and occupy two vacant parcels, was given the green light.

4201 Norfolk proposal by Grove Investments{one of the approved infill projects for The Grove}

{custom home planned for Hunt Avenue}

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  • Jake

    What’s with the prison like exterior

    • Alex Ihnen

      Given the size and breadth of our prison industrial complex and the astonishing number of Americans who have been incarcerate, the “prarie prison” architectual style is finding success in the housing market.

  • Presbyterian

    I think this is great. This neighborhood’s strength lies partly in its diversity of housing type, architecture and price point.

  • Presbyterian

    The new FPSE Neighborhood Plan stipulates that site is Neighborhood General Type 2. The Plan hasn’t yet been codified into a Form Based District. Here’s the description:

    “NEIGHBORHOOD GENERAL TYPE 2
    “These mostly residential areas have been identified as the heart of the residential community, which should be preserved. These areas are almost exclusively residential with a range of building types from single family homes and duplexes to stacked fl ats and courtyard buildings. These areas should contain a great deal of diversity in housing types; and range from 2 story building height minimums to 4 story maximums (north of Manchester) and 1 story minimums and 4 story maximums (south of Manchester).”

  • The Vista project and the Hunt project offer a strange contradiction: hyperdensity versus spatial sprawl. As always, it’s hard to tell much about finished appearance from a chipper digital rendering, so the jury will be out on the architecture for awhile. But the site plans are telling. There is no master plan for this part of Forest Park Southeast, and no push to increase residential density. A few blocks away, there is a suburban-style Commerce Bank and QuikTrip on a major bounding artery. St. Louis is still shying away from embracing consistent density. Maybe that’s just the return of our agrarian Creole roots, and the continued slumber of our 19th century cosmopolitan urbanism. Maybe we’d rather be Portland than Brooklyn. Who knows.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Well said. The Commerce Bank site is a trade-off. Commerce was allowed to build what they want so that density could be added to the rest of that expansive lot. QT? Well, it feeds tax money to the neighborhood, so it was easy for some to accept.

  • Framer

    The rendering’s a bit confusing – is the blue-gray area a parking lot, or the common space? Is that a curb-cut on Vista, or a walkway?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Right. From the description, the blue-gray is a shared space between the homes and condo – not a parking lot. Not sure if this is meant to indicate pavers, simply different plantings, or what, but it does kind of look paved since it is the same color as the sidewalk. There isn’t a curb-cut on Vista. That’s the sidewalk in blue-gray, and what is described as a public garden in yellow.