This evening Centene unveiled its plans for a massive new corporate campus development in the heart of Clayton. The vision presented by Clayco Chairman and CEO Bob Clark, included four phases, or tracts. The first three would be built upon land recently acquired by Centene, while the fourth could eventually replace an existing building at 7711 Carondelet.
The vision outlined plans for nearly 1.5M sf of office space, as much as 40K sf of retail, 120 luxury apartments, a corporate auditorium, and lodging. Plans had been kept under wrap even after an application for project review had been submitted to the city. We wrote in April about Centene’s property acquisition and the growing size of its project. The total purchase price listed for all parcels comprising the Centene Clayton Campus project is in excess of $46M.
The first phase would be a 28-story tower at Hanley Road and Forsyth Boulevard. A skybridge designed as an artistic element would cross Hanley and connect with the existing Centene building. The tower is set back from Forysth and Carondelet Plaza and would include 700 parking spaces.
Tract two would span an expanse of Forsyth and be comprised of ground floor retail, 120 apartments facing Carondelet Plaza adjacent to the Crescent condominiums, and as many as 2,000 parking spaces in a seven-story structure. The main entrance to the garage would be opposite existing Lee Avenue. The tower on Hanley, and the Forsyth garage could break ground as early as this fall and be completed in 2019.
A third tract lies east of Carondelet Plaza and the Ritz Carlton. The site was once planned as the Trianon Condominiums. The Centene plan calls for a prominent corporate auditorium that could host additional events, and a 21-story tower with 16 stories and 400K sf of office space topped by five stories and 120 units of corporate lodging. This phase was described as “imminent” and planned for a 2020 completion.
Plans for the fourth tract at 7711 Carondelet had not been previously reported. There, a 500K sf office building with complimentary architectural design to the existing Centene tower would be built, and include ground level retail and approximately 2,000 parking spaces.
Clark introduced the vision as preliminary, a conceptual plan to begin the public process and further conversation. While the meeting was not a public hearing, comments were invited. Barbara Abbett, who introduced herself as chair of the Crescent condominium association read a prepared statement.
Abbett began by stating that the project is “pretty huge, almost beyond belief. “It’s so large in scale that it creates a vertical encapsulation of the Crescent,” she continued. Expressing a desire for good development, Abbett asked that the city represent all Clayton residents when considering the development.
Steve Lichtenfeld, Chair of the Plan Commission and Architectural Review Board, seemed to echo some of these concerns, stating that the tower on Hanley appeared to “cover the Crescent and tower over it”. Of the approximately 150 in attendance, perhaps one-third were residents of the Crescent. They applauded loudly as Abbett concluded her remarks
Many comments concerned parking access and traffic patterns. Abbett suggested if the project were built as presented that driving in Clayton would be akin to leaving a downtown St. Louis parking garage after a St. Louis Blues or Cardinals game. Clark suggested that the development could add 20% to existing traffic, but a traffic study has not been completed.
The pedestrian experience presented by the project was mentioned once by a commission member and there was no reference to the adjacent Forsyth MetroLink station until a public comment by Clayton resident Jeff Leonard. “If this plan is turning its back to the MetroLink station and saying this is a corporate space, this will be a missed opportunity.”
After commending Centene for its existing and planned investment in Clayton, Leonard also questioned the Forsyth garage and “spread out nature of the plan”. Stating that this development could be a pivotal point for Clayton to define its identity, Leonard asked, “Are we a suburban space that happens to have some large buildings, or are we an urban space?”
The presentation was the first time the commission had viewed the plan. The project is on schedule for a further detailed plan to be presented to the Clayton Architectural Review Board this summer. Engineering, traffic, and even shadow studies are ongoing. Clayco is leading the development team, and HOK is the project architect.
Clark confirmed that the Wellbridge property on Forsyth is not part of the project, stating that it is not under contract and that there are no negotiations taking place at this time. There was no discussion regarding any economic development incentives the project may pursue.
Existing zoning of Centene project parcels (outlined in red):
The Clayton Board of Aldermen will consider the following at its 06/14/2016 meeting:
Ordinance – To approve a Funding Agreement with Centene Corporation (Bill No. 6562)
• To consider approving a funding agreement with Centene Corporation regarding redevelopment of certain property
BILL NO. 6562 ORDINANCE NO. An ORDINANCE AUTHORIZING THE CITY TO EXECUTE A FUNDING AGREEMENT WITH CENTENE CENTER II, LLC IN CONNECTION WITH A PROPOSED REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT AT FORSTYH BOULEVARD AND HANLEY ROAD AND FORSYTH BOULEVARD AND CARONDELET PLAZA. ____________________________________________________________________________
WHEREAS, Centene Center II, LLC (the “Developer”) has advised the City of Clayton, Missouri (the “City) of its desire to redevelop certain parcels generally located at the southeast corner of the intersection of Forsyth Boulevard and Hanley Road and Forsyth Boulevard and Carondelet Plaza (the “Proposed Redevelopment Area”); and
WHEREAS, the Developer has requested that the City explore the feasibility of financing a portion of the costs of redeveloping the Proposed Redevelopment Area through economic development programs; and
WHEREAS, the City reasonably anticipates that Developer’s land use approval applications will be complex, multi-faceted and require extraordinary resources to process in an effective and timely manner; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Aldermen is willing to explore the possibility of public-private partnership arrangements if Centene can make a case for such arrangements for their development, but believes that costs of the City associated with further consideration of Developer’s land use applications and the use of economic development incentives should be borne by the Developer and not by the City. NOW
THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED BY THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN OF THE CITY OF CLAYTON, MISSOURI, AS FOLLOWS:
SECTION ONE. Authority for Agreement: The City Manager is hereby authorized and directed to enter into a Funding Agreement (the “Agreement”) with the Developer, said Agreement to be in substantially the form attached hereto as Exhibit A, for the purpose of establishing the Developer’s obligation to fund certain costs anticipated to be incurred by the City in further considering the Developer’s requests relating to land use approvals by the Plan Commission, Architectural Review Board and Board of Aldermen and the use of economic development incentives for redevelopment of the Proposed Redevelopment Area.
SECTION TWO. Escrow Account: The Finance Director is hereby directed and authorized to deposit any and all funds received pursuant to the Agreement into a special, separate escrow account and to disburse such funds in accordance with the Agreement for such expenses as may be reasonably incurred and necessary for consideration of the redevelopment proposal as provided in the Agreement.
SECTION THREE. Effective Date: Funding Agreement RFBA This Ordinance shall be in full force and effect both from and after its passage by the Board of Aldermen. Passed by the board of Aldermen this 14th day of June, 2016.