Historic Shaw Theatre Set to Become Wild Carrot Event Venue

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Wild Carrot 1 Back in July 2015, Salamah’s Market (formerly Shaw Place Theatre) was shuttered after the building was purchased by the City of St. Louis from the previous owner. Later that same month, the city opened an Request for Proposals (RFP) for the building at 3901 Shaw.

It appears the building will soon find a new life. On May 3, the TGNCDC Tweeted “SNIA (Shaw Neighborhood Improvement Association) approved Wild Carrot event space proposal last night. Massive renovation coming to the N/W corner of Shaw and 39th [email protected]_STL”. While not the not final step in the approval process, the SNIA endorsement is a crucial step forward. The project is now in the hands of the city’s Community Development Administration. If all goes according to plan, the venue could open as soon as this November.

The proposal, designed by UIC, would include a 6,000 sf event space with a two bedroom apartment above and a 1,200 sf retail space with an entry facing 39th Street. The event space would be operated by co-developers Laura and Casey Bunch, operating as The Newell Post LLC. According to the proposal, the couple will reside in the upstairs apartment.

Wild Carrot 4Wild Carrot 3Wild Carrot 2

The proposal described the site work as follows: The applicant would like to acquire both the property at 3901 Shaw and the two City owned lots located at DeTonty and 39th. The patio area located immediately to the south of the building and at the corner of Shaw and 39th, will be repaved in concrete and a new low simulated wrought iron fence and shrub row will be added at the border to the sidewalk. This landscaped patio will serve as a gathering a pre-event space, or occasional outdoor event space. The vacant lots on DeTonty will be left primarily as green space, with new concrete parking areas located on the alley. The property at 3900 DeTonty will be re-landscaped to serve as an outdoor event space and the property at 3866 DeTonty will be used as a garden to support the functions of the event space.

The 7,400 sf theatre building is one of several that the neighborhood development corporation has focused on as a priority for redevelopment. Last month TGNCDC selected restauranteur David Bailey (Rooster, Range, Bridge, Small Batch, and the Chocolate Bar) to redevelop a long vacant gas station at 4175 Shaw.

3901 Shaw

TGNCDC Executive Director Sean Spencer detailed some of the organization’s recent projects when he joined the Future Great City podcast [listen here]. Other projects include expanding its tenant screening service The Screen Door (a nextSTL advertiser), a nuisance property becoming a police substation, funding for improved access to Tower Grove Park, a meth house now remade, pushing the redevelopment of the vacant Detonty site forward, and others.

From the TGNCDC site:
The Shaw Theatre opened in 1915 as part of the Arthur Theatres chain (Franchon & Marco) and seated 1,140. Located in the Shaw neighborhood just six blocks from the Botanical Gardens. A single floor theatre with and plain front. Rather large lobby for a small neighborhood theatre.

Located right on the corner of Shaw Avenue and S. 39th Street in the middle of the neighborhood shopping center it was rather unique in that it was built up from the street level and you had to climb about five steps to get to the entrance level. The marquee was made to stretch around the corner so that one side was on S. 39th Street and the other on Shaw Avenue. The theatre gave way to television in 1957 and was converted to a drug store, today operating as a supermarket.

Wild Carrot Proposal for 3901 Shaw Boulevard – St. Louis, MO by nextSTL.com

RFP for 3901 Shaw Boulevard – St. Louis, MO by nextSTL.com

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  • STLrainbow

    Don’t know if the project is in any kind of trouble, but it certainly doesn’t look like “If all goes according to plan, the venue could open as soon as this November” is realistic. Ownership hasn’t changed and no permits applied for, etc.

    • Alex Ihnen

      There is a dumpster outside FWIW, but maybe that’s been there for a while.

  • Jennifer

    Going to be an awesome project, thoroughly looking forward to how the Wild Carrot will play a role in the neighborhood!

  • Bummed


    “So what would you have proposed be done with the property that has been a problem since the 80s”

    It is clearly NOT hurting property vales, why not hold off and find the right fit instead of just giving it to the first candidate to put together a proposal?

    How about something people use every day/week/month instead of something I would use maybe once in my lifetime?

    Things like a market/grocery, more retail space, movie theater, restaurants, brewery, etc.

    Us residents do not need another event space.

    Sure, if they want to buy a building on the open market and make it an event space, then by all means, go for it. I hope you do well.

    But for them to get a sweetheart deal like this, for something that isn’t going to improve the residents lives is pretty shady in my opinion, especially once you connect all the dots between those making the decisions.

    P.S. Good call on the thurman/russell site mike, another potential commercial space being wasted on residential.

    • pat

      Sweetheart deal? Spending $1.25 million is a sweetheart deal? The property cost would have been what it is for anyone putting work into it.

      There’s the mini-market/grocery at Klemm and Shaw and a grocery store at Magnolia and Grand. Feel free to use those.

      The brewery was voted down by neighborhood residents, not by SNIA or TGCDC. Neighbors were worried about noise and parking.

      Thurman and Russell is going to have a retail component on the corner of the lot, likely a coffee shop.

      The project will have retail space, 1200sf. They already have 2 potential clients, one of which is a yoga/fitness type business.

      They claim it will be more than just an event space. They want it to be part of the community. If you had gone to the SNIA meeting, you would have seen how much the husband wanted to get that point across.

      • Mike

        That is not my understanding of what happened with the brewery. First, don’t say “voted down by the residents” because that makes it sound like Shaw’s communal decision which it clearly was not. If you really asked all Shaw residents if they’d rather have a microbrewery/restaurant or a private residence in that space, I suspect we all know what the answer would be. True, some of the immediate neighbors balked at the plan because of noise concerns, but only immediate neighbors were even involved in the discussion. Moreover, as I understand it the plan wasn’t even allowed to proceed on a questionable claim of funding issues, which the plan’s proposers still say was actually in order.

    • ShawResident

      Some of “us residents” are very happy with the proposal submitted by Wild Carrot.

      Most of the resistance to this space has come from those who live near who fear they won’t be able to park in front of their apartments on event nights.

      I think there are a few vocal Shaw residents that are mad they’re not getting a market in the neighborhood or some other ridiculous reason, but I for one am happy to welcome a new business and their clients into the neighborhood.

      One thing I’ve learned about Shaw, for all the calls of inclusion from some Shaw neighbors, those very same people can be extremely exclusionary if your ideas don’t conform with theirs.

      • Adam

        Some of these negative reactions are f*cking insane. You want a market? Go open a f*cking market. Don’t p*ss on people who are trying to open legitimate businesses in your neighborhood because it’s not the precise type of business you want, while you sit on your ass at home and complain. Jeez… you’d think they wanted to frack in the middle of Shaw or something.

      • Adam

        P. S. that’s not directed at you, ShawResident. Just dovetailing on your post.

      • JoshuaDavid

        You’re a bit off there. I’m a homeowner on the 3900 block of Shaw. Not very many apartments on this block. I’ve knocked doors here and haven’t found a single neighbor of mine that thrilled with this place moving in.

  • Bummed

    What a waste, another business I will never use in my neighborhood. The Station (a catering company) which SNIA also backed(Spencer’s wife, surprise, surprise), is another example of a wasted opportunity for us shaw residents. Sure they look nice, but they are not bettering our day to day life. Funny how these two businesses will go hand in hand $$$

    • pat

      So what would you have proposed be done with the property that has been a problem since the 80s?

      Maybe let’s wait and see how the $1.25 million renovation goes and the business is up and running before we deem it waste. The couple intends to live above the property. They also hope to use it for events throughout the week, movie nights, art gallery, etc. They will be bringing weddings full of people in on the weekends (up to 150). Those people will hang out on South Grand, go to Ices, drink at Thurman Grill, etc. before the wedding or reception starts.

      • Mike

        Why should I wait to see how it works out. This major cornerstone space in our neighborhood could have been something exciting from which we could all benefit, instead it will benefit only the owners and people going to events once a week. Such a waste. This neighborhood needs to seriously reevaluate how it entices prospective businesses.

        • pat

          “In what way could this possibly enrich my life as a neighborhood resident? Short answer: it won’t”

          As I said…this > “They also hope to use it for events throughout the week, movie nights, art gallery, etc.”

          Can you not get a bag of ice at the mini-mart a few blocks down Shaw or the store at Magnolia and Grand?

          • Mike

            Actually you cannot. Or rather, if you attempt to do so, they fill it from their soda machine ice which I find extremely unhygienic. But at the end of the day, it really wasn’t about the ice, but about the fact that this neighborhood could use some real things, like a market, some restaurants, some “quality of life” additions, but instead our interesting landmark properties are converted into private residences and event spaces.

          • pat

            So is the Salamah’s market location the spot to start a vibrant retail sector? Or would it happen if it was a different business going there? I’m not sure that it would. There’s nothing else immediately next to it to continue a retail corridor.

            I don’t think an event space is a huge negative. And if its used during the week like they hope, then it’ll have people there all the time. We probably aren’t going to agree on how good of a use of the building an event space is.

            I think having more retail would be great, and there’s intersection that better serve retail than others. But there’s empty buildings right now to better serve that purpose that aren’t being used (old Imo’s, the other corner of Thurman and Russell). Those may be because of the owner’s of those buildings.

            But Shaw certainly isn’t suffering because of lack of retail. Between it and TGS, I think Shaw’s housing prices are going up much higher.

          • Mike

            Shaw absolutely suffers from lack of retail. The only market in the neighborhood is the Shaw Market, which frankly has little I’d ever need. The dearth of restaurants for our population density is outrageous. TGS has two interesting markets and tons of restaurants.
            Comparing housing prices doesn’t address my concerns at all. Shaw’s housing prices benefit from its location near the highway, and from its insular and cohesive nature, while TGS has far less cohesive design and borders more crime-ridden and blighted neighborhoods to the south. But Shaw’s housing values wouldn’t suffer for having more restaurants and market, and it isn’t those features that hurt TGS.
            As for that corner, Shaw and 39th street is the ideal location for a strong neighborhood business. And since there are additional businesses along 39th and along Shaw I don’t know why you wouldn’t consider that to be a good location for something like a restaurant and market but to be a good location for an infrequently used event space.

          • pat

            I wasn’t suggesting Shaw’s housing prices would suffer with retail, just that not having a lot of retail hasn’t adversely affected the neighborhood.

            If it was a ideal, wouldn’t it have something there then? The city had two other proposal’s, one didn’t have the funding, one didn’t sound like a sound business from what Conway said.

            Define infrequent. If its being used every Friday and Saturday and a couple days during the week, is that infrequent?

            And I never said it wouldn’t be good for other uses. Yeah, a market or a restaurant would be fantastic. But they aren’t happening. The building used to be a theater. Its a big space. Not ideal for certain types of businesses.

          • Mike

            That’s the problem, those things might have happened, but I take issue with the process used to bring business to the neighborhood on the whole. I would rather that it remained vacant and waited on the right project then to be used for something of so little value to the community. That option was discussed, reopening the process to consider other projects. I wish that they’d taken that route.

          • pat

            I get that, but how much time can you reasonably give people?

            That building has been bad for years, like since the 80’s!. They were taking proposals for months. At some point, you have to take what’s in front of you. You can’t wait forever. I think its a great proposal and hope it’ll be a success.

          • Mike

            The length of time the building was bad under prior ownership is irrelevant to the disposition of the building for the future. They went through one round of proposals. They found one acceptable proposal that I find unacceptable in that it is of no benefit to the neighborhood. I think at the very least they owed the neighborhood another round or two of proposals. IMO the fact that it was “bad” for so long is all the more reason to make sure that the replacement is great. Shaw residents have put up with not only the state of the building but also the fight surrounding the building for years. The neighborhood really should have gotten something great there, and it isn’t. This result is a big let down.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Hi Mike and Pat. Thanks for weighing in on this development. You have both shared interesting perspectives. That said, it’s clearly run its course and I’d prefer that this site not serve as the venue for a lengthy back and forth. Isnt that what nextdoor is for? 🙂

          • John R

            I dunno… housing prices can get pretty scary/exciting (depending upon your outlook) here in TGS as well.. One rehab of a former problem property featured on this site just sold for $372K, e.g. TGS is larger than Shaw, though, so we have a range of offerings.

          • JoshuaDavid

            There is plenty of potential commercial space not occupied down 39th.

    • Mike

      COULDN’T AGREE MORE!!! So LAME. Shaw is being filled with boring, tired, wasted spaces. It’s like we don’t even want the neighborhood to be vibrant and alive. Hey guys, let’s walk over and… stare at the event space. Awesome!

    • Mike

      Also don’t forget about the private residence at Thurman and Russell. Could have been a microbrewery, but the powers that be played some games to make sure that didn’t happen. Instead we get a private residence. Seriously, seriously terrible.