$78.9M Boulevard South Project in Richmond Heights Wins TIF Support

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Tonight, a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) Commission voted to recommend a 23-year TIF to support the development of the long stalled Boulevard South project. Pace Properties is proposing a $78.9M mixed-use development that would significantly mirror the adjacent Boulevard St. Louis project.

With the TIF Commission endorsement, the project moves to the Richmond Heights city council, where it’s expected to be approved. The proposed development would extend from the existing Boulevard south to Antler Drive. The parcel further south, currently the site of a Burger King, was hoped to be part of the larger redevelopment, but has been excluded from the latest proposal.

Boulevard 8

IMG_3355{the existing Boulevard St. Louis development}

The proposed project would include up to 95,000sf of retail and dining space, 30,000sf of office, and 165 residential units. An 860-space parking garage would be built to the east, abutting Interstate 170. The Clayton School District, in which the development is located, opposed the TIF, expressing concern regarding possible increased school enrollment without an offsetting increase in tax revenue. The City of Richmond Heights is comprised of four different school districts, including Brentwood, Clayton, Ladue, and Maplewood/Richmond Heights.

According to the redevelopment plan, a TDD (Transportation Development District) is expected to be created. The TDD would levy a 1% sales tax on retail sales and the TIF would capture of portion of new taxes generated to repay development costs. Eligible costs to be reimbursed are listed as $18.7M (23.7% of development cost), and include acquisition, site prep, public parking, and more.

The existing Boulevard mixed-use project was granted a TIF when it was developed a decade ago. It features 123,000sf of retail and 74 apartments, named Allegro at The Boulevard. Units feature 10ft ceilings, custom finishes, and room service from Boulevard restaurants P.F. Chang’s, Maggianos & Nadoz. The apartments have maintained a 90%+ occupancy rate according to the developer. Current leasing information shows no retail vacancies, and two office vacancies totaling less than 9,000sf.

Boulevard South{draft site plan and retail allocation of Boulevard South}

An inner ring suburb, Richmond Heights has pursued big box and major retail development for decades. At the same time, its residential population has plummeted. The 1960 Census recorded 15,622 residents, showing a population that had increased each decade of the century. By 2010 there were just 8,603 residents. The community has lost at least 8% of its population each decade since 1960.

Population decline has been a predictable outcome as residences have been bulldozed for retail development, and suburban flight has exacerbated the trend. Most recently, a neighborhood was removed to make way for a Menards big box store. New apartment projects including the Boulevard, Manhassett Village, and others may begin to reverse the trend.

Looking north at existing development from Boulevard South site:



Looking south from existing Boulevard development:


Boulevard South would replace one-story retail buildings:



Boulevard 3{aerial view of Boulevard St. Louis, Brentwood Boulevard in foreground}

Boulevard 4{streetview of Boulevard St. Louis from Brentwood Boulevard – looking southeast}

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  • kjohnson04

    I wouldn’t mind if they would replace the parking with more apartments. That’s what density is. The County might need to step in and start overruling idiotic land uses. As many a city can be a testament to, a parking space per unit is neither required or needed, particularly in close proximity to mass transit.

    • moorlander

      They’ll (PACE) counter with the fact that the parking garage is often mostly filled as is the large surface lot to the south where phase 2 will go.

      • Brian Lewis

        I’d be curious to know what parking availability looks like in the garage now. If anecdotes and memories are accurate, parking at the Boulevard is fairly-well budgeted.

    • Adam

      The County has no control over land uses within a municipality and TIF laws allow a local city council to overrule the County opinion on TIF.

  • JZ71

    TIF’s are like crack to developers, and our multiple local governments are the pushers. If a development is viable, makes financial sense, financing should be doable without taxpayer assistance . . . and if they’re not finance-able, they probably shouldn’t be built, in the first place! And I don’t blame developers for asking, I blame city councils for saying yes . . . over and over and over . . .

    • Alex Ihnen

      At some point the argument is made that the next development is only viable with TIF because it’s competing against the last development project with TIF. And round-and-round we go.

    • john

      Richmond Heights City Council cares little about education unless it’s Little Flower and creating a safe and walkable neighborhoods is not a concern either. You’re right TIFs are like crack and RHCC loves handing it out. The New 64 created a Berlin Wall of highway ramps and walls as the one pedestrian bridge in the nearby neighborhood was removed and not replaced.

      Raising taxes which are already too high is another huge mistake. RHCC supported Prop U and it won by just a few votes. Proposition U would be a “new” tax, one that residents and commercial businesses would report to the State if the accumulative purchases amounted to more than $2000.00 in a year and were purchased out of the State of Missouri. “Residents would have to keep track of these purchases and
      report them on their tax forms.”

      The other huge problem in that area is the pedestrian unfriendly walk from the Metro station on Galleria Pkwy. It’s the worst after a heavy snow as RHCC allows The Boulevard to pile their snow onto the sidewalk requiring pedestrians to walk on the street (Galleria Pkwy).
      With only 9500 residents, RH muni expenditures in 2014 were $26.5 million or over $11,000 per family of four.

  • STLEnginerd

    Its about time there was some movement on this site. One of the biggest no-brainer development opportunities in the metro IMHO.

  • Felipe Naranjo

    Ugh, hate these “drive for 15 min. so you can walk around for a block or two” types of development… It would be bordered by highway to the east and south, and a giant mall to the west; what’s the end game here?

    • HolyFrijoles11

      Maybe an extension north and better connectivity to Clayton’s CBD?

      • TIm E

        Property to the north owned and developed by other parties if not mistaken. I believe the original vision was more mixed use/dense space surrounding the University Tower and an additional hotel and structured parking in then middle.
        Thought it looked promising but you essentially got a underwhelming bank branch built just to the north of Boulevards and only one hotel of two originally proposed. I think a quite a few could envision a pretty impressive east side of Brentwood Ave/sidewalk Promenade if their was more mixed used/office development along with a Drury that anchored the corner of Eager/Brentwood instead of a parking lot.
        In the meantime, I think you will see great Central Corridor build outs, infills along metrolink and underwhelming TIF driven underwhelming projects for the likes of Richmond Heights, Maplewood for their cross county/metrolink stations

    • Alex Devlin

      Not far from current metro station. It’d take a lot of cooperation and planning, but a dense, connected neighborhood is possible. Currently a narrow sidewalk under an overpass connects the two, not ideal.

      • kjohnson04

        A narrow sidewalk broken up by the Northbound on-ramp to the 170, and a unsignalled one at that. A seriously hazardous location for pedestrians.

    • jhoff1257

      Or you could ride the MetroLink to it…

  • Presbyterian

    I’ve been looking forward to this next phase for years. So glad to see that the new phase will triple the amount of residential. I am curious to see what retail tenants they line up. They tend to go with unique tenants with only one location in the region.

    • Tim E

      Pres, do you have any details on additional residential? How it fits into phase II. I’m with Moorlander as from the site plan can’t make out any residential. Just some more retail and parking.

      • Presbyterian

        The article specifies 165 residential units. I would expect them to be above the parking garage and retail spaces, just like they are in Phase I. Until we get renderings, though, we can’t be certain.

        • Tim E

          It should be interesting. Someone posted original Phase I, II and III renderings with a hotel over retail for phase II and a residential tower for phase III. Assuming they scrapped hotel for apartments over retail or at least my best guess.
          Believe your construction costs increase substantially on structured parking as soon as you put something on top. The best example would be Park Pacific downtown where the original proposal had new construction over the garage but scrapped and tilt up was used for the garage. Cost savings but pretty much killed any structure above

  • moorlander

    Where on the site plan would the 165 resdidential units be located?

  • Tim E

    Alex, Aware of any residential on top of the proposed retail? or on top of the structured parking? Not a fan of another TIF for retail for a slow growth region if that is all it is for..
    Like Brian noted, good access to transit if it can be maximized. Which gets back to the original vision is not mistaken that included a phase III residential high rise before selling off the burger king parcel to Sansone family I believe, which promptly turned around and had proposed a strip mall, but a high end strip mall.as per the brochure

  • Brian Lewis

    Not usually a fan of TIFs, but the high occupancy rate of the sister development, plus the generally good look of the thing and the mixed-use development make this fairly well palatable. Plus it’s right on a Metrolink line and one bus route (#2) and close to another (#58).

    • Don

      Doesn’t the success of the adjacent development indicate that taxpayers shouldn’t be asked to subsidize this development?

      I don’t have a problem with TIFs to push a development in an area with a need for new development, but in Richmond Heights? This is really disappointing.

      • pat

        Concur. No TIF needed. TIF abuse is rampant in STL county.

      • rgbose

        Funny, ironic, or sad that the cost of car storage is about the amount of the TIF. Socializing the cost is more important than the schools apparently. “Won’t someone please think of the children!”

        • Alex Ihnen

          If parking spaces can be TIF’d, why wouldn’t a developer build as many as theoretically needed?

      • Brian Lewis

        You’re not wrong, but until massive change occurs at a statewide or at least county-wide level vis-a-vis TIFs, their allowable uses, and the types of regions where they can be used, this kind of development seems to just not happen otherwise.

        A counter-question to yours could be (and I ask this without intending to seem as if I’m disagreeing with you, because ultimately I’m not really), “doesn’t the success of the adjacent development indicate that this could or should have happened already WITHOUT a TIF?” So why hasn’t it already? It’s because several retail-property developers and owners have realized that they can simply say “No public support = no development,” and local governments have bought into that.

        If the choices are no development or development with flawed/subsidized risk and financing, which unfortunately seem to be the only choices ever available anymore in Richmond Heights and places like it, well, which choice are we forced to make?

        I guess I could have rephrased my opening: I don’t like that developers have figured out that they can simply hold parcels/plans hostage without TIFs, thereby making them functionally necessary. But if they’re going to do it, it could be done on worse parcels and in worse ways, stylistically-speaking.