Lawrence Group Plans $100M Mixed-use Development at Long Vacant Midtown Site

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The Lawrence Group is planning a $100M+ mixed-used development at the long vacant Federal Mogul site in Midtown St. Louis. A first phase including office and retail in renovated space could begin late this year, with completion in 2018. Future phases would introduce residential and more office and retail space.

In 2013, before IKEA had been confirmed, this site broke the news that Pace Properties planned a big box retail strip on the 13.5-acre site combined. The Pace retail plan died in late 2015 when it let an option on the larger parcel lapse, and focused on a smaller 3.5-acre development adjacent to Vandeventer Avenue. That plan, for three small standalone buildings surrounded by parking never got off the ground either. Then in December, Cortex, the non-profit entity developing the 200-acre innovation district to the west, bought the smaller parcel for $3M.

Planned by Lawrence Group is as many as 240 apartments, a food court, office and retail space. The early plan would preserve several of the existing buildings on the site and work on historic tax credits is underway. Residential development is expected to be new construction. The Lawrence Group purchased the 10-acre site for more than $6M.

The plan represents another big urban investment by Lawrence Group. In October we reported on the developer’s big vision for Grand Center, beginning with the Missouri Theatre building and new offices of Bull Moose. Other rumors have the company exploring options for some of the city’s most challenging redevelopment sites.

The Pace retail plan was met with support from 17th Ward Alderman Joe Roddy, who stated at the time regarding the big box proposal, “We have been working for several years in the neighborhood to try to do something down there that is really special.” Others decried the big box strip mall development pattern of the proposed development. The Park Central Development Corporation had long stated its hope for something more urban at the site.

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 1.53.14 PM{this building at Spring and Forest Park Avenue is expected to be renovated}

15026349787_1d07d1576c_c{the initial Pace retail plan}

21492547016_2160ffa5ce_c{the smaller 3.5-acre Pace retail plan}

The new proposal is an unexpected twist for the site many had presumed would see complete demolition for redevelopment. Cortex has seen significant development with IKEA and nearby office buildings. It is expected that more development announcements for the area will come early this year. And the Central West End-Midtown area has seen a boom in residential development as well (see A Tour of the Central West End’s Biggest Building Boom in Half a Century).

No further information has been made available regarding the intentions of Cortex and its parcel fronting Vandeventer, though it is expected that new office buildings will be developed on the site. The acquisition by the Lawrence Group likely is good news for the Great Rivers Greenway plan for the existing railway trestle spanning Vandeventer and entering the site. The big box retail development as planned didn’t easily accommodate the trestle, which is part of a planned Midtown loop greenway.

14294713806_1a242a04b1_c{the view from atop the Trestle}

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 1.56.24 PM{view of the Trestle from I-64 – from over Vandeventer at left into Federal Mogul site}

Midtown greenway

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 1.54.02 PM{the industrial site has long been a prominent eyesore on I-64}

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 1.54.54 PM{the industrial site has long been a prominent eyesore on I-64}

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  • kjohnson04

    While sad we may not get a 2nd Target in the near term, I’m glad somebody is taking serious strides to make the Federal Mogul site something more urban.

  • The Louminator

    All interesting comments here. In the wake of all the perceived negativity our city receives it is so great to see positive contributions to the community. No person, team, or organization ever achieves 100% of their goals. What is encouraging about Lawrence Group is they continue to try to make a positive impact on STL. I can’t wait to see how this project evolves.

  • Stacy H

    It will be interesting to see The Lawrence Group’s success with tax credits following the termination of their development director.

    • Tim Ek

      I think you get the half full half empty scenario. Who knows, maybe the find a development director who can do a better job or better connected. I’m someone from the outside looking in and don’t have a clue on these tax credits are applied for let along how a project gets picked over another. Obviously you need someone with experience and how the system works just to know where to start.
      This site will no doubt need help and can’t see how any financing will happen unless some tax credits are involved one way or another. I would assume Lawrence will be or already has started the process and that brownfield tax credits is one of many being sought. I believe the Gills stated that their downtown project is relying on at least securing two or three types of tax credits before work will begin. Anyone have an idea what Lawrence Group would be able to go after for this site??

      • The Louminator

        If anyone knew…..wouldn’t they have purchased the site?

  • Tim E

    The big test in al this is if COREX can continue to attract businesses and jobs. I believe they will have most of their available space leased or committed shortly. It will take the Crescent building to be rehabbed and or Wexford to break ground sooner then later. Otherwise, I fear a near term development stall until the next major CORTEX announcement.
    I agree with Don, Lawrence outright purchase of this site @ $6 million makes it much more promising prospect where as Pace is more common approach by developers If not mistaken – get option on property, propose what they think the market is interested, and see if demand & tenants push it ahead. Now a question of what credits can secured and cleanup needed and so on. Green Street properties development of the old Coke site in South St. Louis City was a drawn out process before they broke ground and expect to be the same here.

  • So awesome. Before this plan was revealed, I was quietly heartbroken by the impending loss of the foundry building. While it may not be all that remarkable architecturally, it has always been an unapologetically urban feature of the cityscape. I remember taking field trips downtown when I was in elementary school, and as the bus descended on 40 eastbound into midtown, surrounded by the dense, gritty canyon that includes the foundry, the Famous-Barr warehouse and the Armory, there was no mistaking that we were in the big old city now. It was like Sesame Street. I am so relieved that this slice of the big city will be preserved to welcome suburban school kids and visitors passing through for generations to come.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Hoping the grain elevators stay as well – as a functioning grain elevator for as long as possible, then repurposed eventually.

      • John R

        Nextstl World HQ plus mixed-use apartments/wall climb/bungee jump

      • Let’s hope we always need to transfer grain in St. Louis. #urbanag

      • Don

        A grain silo in Oslo Norway was converted into a 19 story student housing structure. The Grünerløkka Student House was recycled in 2001 and has 226 residences.

        • Alex Ihnen

          There’s this hotel in Akron, OH as well:

  • Joseph

    I hope this plan materializes. Lawrence Groups announces many projects that never come to fruition.

    • tim e

      I think their is a long list of developers who announce and can’t make it happen. Heck, Lawrence Group is picking up pieces from Pace and believe before the housing crash their was something proposed in the back of 2006 when Biz Journals featured a proposal a week… so you go a very credible point.
      Got some more confidence on this one. First, Lawrence also has a track record of successes and still viable developer. In some respects I see this as a developer who might have a better approach then the previous developer who came, proposed something that did not work and moved on. Both developers are viable. Also, read the articles and it appears that they have a slow long term approach to the project. None of us should expect a lot to happen quick.

    • Don

      Exactly my thought as well. No question Lawrence has the ability to complete such a development, but will they? I’m encourage in this instance by their having purchased the parcel.

      This site is such an eyesore that depresses me every time I drive past. I’ve always been afraid environmental contamination would prevent redevelopment. Federal-Mogul manufactured brake drums and rotors at this site with site was full of asbestos (at least at one time) which makes me question the ability to cost effectively clean up enough for residential use.

      I’m excited and my fingers are crossed.

    • John R

      Just curious, do you have some local post-recession examples?

      • Stacy H

        The proposed partnership between Lawrence and Drury for residential development on Laclede’s Landing and Millenium Tower renovations might be more along the lines of the quasi-announced projects.

        • John R

          Thanks. At least those didn’t have formal announcements (at least to any degree like this one) so I’m more optimistic they are committed to this. Plus they own it now.

        • Tim E

          Drury I believe went out of its way to secure the Laclede’s Landing property outright. If not mistaken or if someone can please correct me, I believe they have purchased most of the parcels needed for a Kingshighway/I64 hotel that they floated renderings on a few years back.
          It would be nice if they would pull the trigger on Laclede’s landing and put little bit of its wealth into speculating on the city or at lease show some additional confidence. However, believe the will follow through on the Kingshighway/I64 interchange property first and wait on next round Convention Space/ballroom expansion and or North Riverfront stadium going forward before something happens on Laclede’s Landing. I think either place will happen in time considering they are well establish, successful hospitality company with resources.

    • Alex Ihnen

      I would say that Lawrence Group explores many big and challenging projects.

  • opendorz

    Anything, anything is better than that smoldering eyesore.

    • That smoldering eyesore is slated to be rehabbed, not demolished. If every once-smoldering eyesore had been torn down, we wouldn’t have a city at all.

  • Superdave_312

    This is fantastic news. It’s great to see the old asbestos company buildings being torn down to usher in the new economy–first Brauer Supply at Forest Parkway and Sarah; and now Federal Mogul.

    • Imran

      A little confused by you comment. Federal Mogul is not being torn down. And while I celebrate the transitioning economy, it’s never ‘great’ to see old buildings being torn down.

      • Superdave_312

        That’s my bad, I read the article wrong. I’m all for preservation of historic buildings and look forward to seeing what Lawrence Group does with this old Foundry.

        I represent victims of asbestos for my work, so my hate of Federal Mogul spurred my comment.

        • Imran

          Ah, No worries. Mesothelioma sucks.

        • John R

          If you sue Carl Icahn, more power to you, brother! (I think he owns Federal Mogul now?)

  • DCWind

    Just eliminating the possibility of a Pace Properties big box suburban eyesore plunked down in the middle of one of St. Louis’ sites with the most potential (and adjacent to one of the nation’s most innovative districts) is a worthwhile development. I will be anxious to see some preliminary plans from the Lawrence Group and possible ideas for the railroad trestle

  • Alex P

    I hope they can preserve the industrial character. St. Louis really needs a cool post-industrial project à la Bethlehem, PA’s Steel Stacks or Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord in Germany. While both of those are parks, this city as a pretty good reputation turning some weird buildings into apartments.

  • Ashley

    ONE MILLION LIKES! (as long as the building materials are more aesthetically pleasing than the Standard)

    • DCWind

      Amen to that!

    • moorlander

      Aventura > Standard

      • The Standard is like the Taj Mahal compared to the Aventura. Both are embarrassing, but the Aventura is like a caricature of bad taste. They should be re-named The Low Standard and The Aventurda.

        • matimal

          The Standard appears to be made from papier mache and hot glue.

          • Tom of the Missouri

            My favorite touch are the 50 cent white plastic dryer vents all over the facade. I guess the owners think they are a positive aesthetic touch that advertise their W/D hookups. What an insanely awful aesthetic mess is “The Low Standard”. Sure glad we have the city and its fiefdom Lord Aldermen looking out for us. A do agree though that the “Aventurda” is worse.

          • Think of it as St. Louis’ Centre Pompidou(doo).

          • Tom of the Missouri

            True, but I have been to, rode the escalator and had a drink at Centre Pompidou and it was a bit better than St. Louis Center or The Low Standard.

        • DanSTL

          I see the “Aventurda” everyday and frown.
          Thanks for now giving it the most appropriate name.