Centene Unveils Vision for Clayton Corporate Campus Project

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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.

Centene 4Centene 10Centene_2Centene Clayton Campus

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.

Centene 7

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.

Centene 87711 Carondelet{7711 Carondelet could be the site of a fourth phase}

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

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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?”

Centene 6Centene 5

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):

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 1.03.36 PM Centene Clayton Campus

Read more: Centene Acquires More Land, Set to Go Big in Clayton

Centene Clayton Campus Conceptual Design Presentation – June 6, 2016 by nextSTL.com

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*added 06/10/2016

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.

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  • citylover

    Been reading that everyone wants a development map so I made one. Shouldn’t be blurry. I numbered developments with orange stickers and explained below.

    Pink outlined areas are in the county. Blue is a city neighborhood. Sorry for uneven sides. I wanted to zoom in on Clayton.

    I’m definitely missing projects. Please give input.

    -Dylan Kennedy

    • moorlander

      Cool. Why are there two #17?

      • citylover

        Must’ve misplaced sticker for Centene. The correct #17 is SLU housing

  • tztag
    • Alex Ihnen

      Hoping this process of subsidy and planning is focused on creating a better Clayton, one that will catalyze additional development and good use of transit.

  • jkf1220

    All of these new headquarters being built in the county. Centene, WWT, RGA, Express Scripts etc. Now, this is not a rant about city vs. county. I am genuinely thrilled that these companies are growing and staying and investing in the St. Louis region.But, the fact that none of them, not one, has chosen a downtown location is so disappointing. Over $5 billion have been invested in downtown since 2000. Downtown has added infrastructure, parks, restaurants and entertainment, an emerging tech/entrepreneurial community and significant and sustained residential population with more on the way. Over 100 empty or underutilized historic buildings have been beautifully restored and put back into active use.There are currently contracts on over 2 million sf of additional development/historic rehab. Still, in the 15 years since the Downtown Now Redevelopment Action Plan was launched, not a single major company has chosen to locate their company downtown. Yes, the earnings tax may be a factor. Crime concerns maybe. A longer commute for execs, perhaps.But ultimately, the corporate leadership has simply not stepped up to make the choice. Imagine if just Express Scripts and Centene, two companies that actually considered locating in the center city, had chosen the downtown option. It would be a different world downtown and for the region. Anywhere that these large companies locate is going to make a positive impact. But, locating downtown would actually make a difference – not just for the city for the entire metro area. The prospect of this kind of expansion and growth of Centene is exciting but it is also a reminder of another missed opportunity to strengthen the economic center of the region.

    • citylover

      Totally agree. Sad to see WWT building on 270. When visitors and people come to St. Louis they go downtown. They aren’t seeing Edward jones massive corporate sprawl or monsanto’s 3-story hideaway amidst a forest in creve coeur. All of that is insignificant. Simple wins stupid people. Out of town execs, tourists, and visitors aren’t going to come and say: “not too much corporate presence downtown, but I hear the St. Louis area has some respectable fortune 500s.” If it’s not downtown it doesn’t matter to them. As residents we know what we have, but out of towners don’t. Downtown should be the place to show what we have. And if downtown stl isn’t home to Edward Jones, Monsanto, WWT, Express S, etc then it doesn’t exist for them.

      Ex: My family always gets confused because they think US Bank and AT&T are headquartered here. They play major roles but aren’t.

      Anything downtown is the area’s way of saying, “It’s ours.”

      • RJ

        Thank you both for sharing your thoughts about the lack of local companies investing in downtown. I have been on a crusade for the past ten years trying to get corporate CEO’s to invest in downtown. They all acknowledge how important it is to have a vibrant downtown and central city but none of them have invested any jobs or office space there. At the head of the class was John Bachmann at Edward Jones when they expanded both of their campuses in Des Peres and Maryland Heights, so consolidation was not part of their decision. They claim they wanted to use the cheap land they owned instead of making a major investment in their city. I know many people think it is the city earnings tax that holds them back but I really believe the bottom line is the big executives don’t want to commute to downtown. Shame on them, their decisions set the precedent for what happens in our community and image is everything. Most other cities have major new towers in their downtowns and St. Louis…well we still have no major new buildings even though billions of dollars have been invested and downtown is more vibrant than ever. At least Centene is making a commitment to transform Clayton from suburbia to a second downtown.

        • Guest

          All excellent points, jkf1220, citylover and RJ and I’m in agreement.
          I’m and older guy, 67 y/o and I remember St. Louis when it’s population was no. 8 in the nation, and near the top of the sophisticated cities in the US, and with Gaslight Square as an incubator of progressive thought and entertainment, one of the top 3.. All gone now, starting in the late 60’s/early 70’s. It seems to me it would help to focus on what the CBDs of other cities that have long left us in the dust as a barometer. Atlanta, Seattle, Minneapolis were once no where near St. Louis. Look at them now. Ever changing skylines downtown and drawing people in.
          No one wants to come and live in a city that’s stagnant and barely alive, yet to outsiders this is essentially what one sees, even if they know of (but far more likely don’t) the developments in Clayton and St. Louis County. Otherwise, it’s just a dead city holding on to what wonderful cultural things are left.
          With downtown St. Louis developing as the major corporate center, St. Louis could become one heck of a great city again, which is very important in national perception. The crime issue is nonsense. The more working people, the more working and upwardly mobile residents, the more grade A office space, the more taxes reaped to deal with crime as well as presence of people driving crime out. The CEOs of all those office building not located downtown STL might be geniuses in their capacity at their business, but in their intelligence at how an urban area the size of St. Louis could truly be prosperous on the whole seems sadly to show alarming ignorance (and I’m not being mean and don’t intend insult, if one truly understands the meaning of ‘ignorance’).
          And I challenge anyone to produce evidence in any other city I’ve mentioned the rich architecture, wonderful urban parks and free cultural amenities St. Louis has to offer…so important to creative talent. How long can these continue for a city that keeps sliding down the ladder of importance and success (yet it continues to happen)?
          And then there’s our fabulous Arch. A superlative work of art and architectural marvel, in those facts not at all unlike the Eiffel Tower and, almost needless to say, far, far more than the Seattle Space Needle (sorry, Seattle, but it’s true, and you know it)…and yet it seems no one who could make it the truly wonderful destination it deserves really wants to live near it or have an office near it. How odd. Yet in the past, people several miles west have screamed and cried “foul” about buildings downtown obstructing their view of it. How incredibly, strangely, odd.
          A city’s suburbs competing, lessening it, trashing it, destroying it. Yep, what an odd place St. Louis has become. I think that’s the issue, and it needs to change IMHO, otherwise…make room, Titanic.

    • DCWind

      I also completely agree. I am thrilled about everything happening in Clayton as it will have a great impact on the region. While I am a huge fanboy of the STL region, I am much more of a fanboy of the city!! Think of how different Ballpark Village (or even the Bottleworks District) would look with a fortune 500 presence and the associated development that would spark. Hopefully the rapid and continued development of the Cortex district will generate more developments. And we can hope that the Lawrence Group proposal for the Federal Mogul site can garner some significant corporate interest, which could provide enough momentum to get the project fully built out. While not specifically downtown, that would be a significant boost to the city’s corporate/development repertoire. It is certainly convenient to blame the corporate earnings tax, or crime, but every city has its own distinctive corporate tax structure and crime/policing issues. Density brings more people and with that, more opportunity. Sadly, that also draws opportunistic criminals. Slowly, but surely, we will see increased interest and development in downtown…we never have the break-neck pace of other, larger cities, but if the last 15 years, with particular emphasis on the past 3, are any indication, we are headed in the right direction.

      • Chicagoan

        Density can bring opportunism for crime, yes, but I think density also creates this effect of “safety in numbers”.

        I think it’s one of the first reasons why New York’s crime rates are so low.

    • TJ Pan

      I truly believe this has to do with commute … and crime. Clayton is like downtown Raleigh, NC. Everything is quaint and at a pace that’s safe and accessible.

  • Caveat Emptor

    This would be an ideal opportunity to lay the infrastructure for Google Fiber and reap the economic potential it would pave for the campus and surrounding businesses.

    https://fiber.google.com/properties/

    • Tim E

      The ironic thing about reading Jfk comments above and then yours is that downtown STL literally has all the fiber in place. Google is only one of many players and their actually investment is a drop in bucket compared to what Verizon, ATT and the cable companies have put into fiber.

  • DCWind

    I would like to see Phase 3 flipped, so the tower and its entry were at the corner, closer to Metrolink access. Other than phase 2, which poorly, if at all, addresses Forsyth (not sure we need another parking facade on Forsyth), phase 3 is in the most need of continued conceptual development. While residential would be a great idea for this location, I think it might be unreasonable to think that Centene would decide to be in the developer/landlord business. Along those lines, higher rents in the area might serve to dissuade a certain percent of the people buying in a higher-rent development near the Metrolink, but the tech/bio/startup developments in Cortex would be directly accessible by this property, and those adjacent to it. There are high-income positions coming to Cortex, positions to be filled by individuals more inclined to live in bustling urban developments/centers. This feeds directly into the identity of not just this project, but of Clayton itself, as it undergoes an impressive building boom. If this concept were redesigned, it would have the potential to better define Clayton as an urban center, not a suburban area with tall buildings (thanks for the great analogy, citylover!). With a growing, dense “urban center” in Clayton, you certainly would see some interest in residential within close proximity to the Metrolink as accessible public transit is one of the must-haves on the upwardly mobile, tech/bio/agro-oriented job seeker. And corporate lodging would have regional tourism implications, so the accessibility to the Metrolink does benefit there.

    • citylover

      Not mine. Guy at the Centene meeting said it. But thanks

    • moorlander

      The tall buildings are shifted south to preserve the view of the arch from the existing building.

  • Framer

    Stupid skybridge across Hanley.

    • HateCliques

      Yeah, didn’t know we sold out the airspace over Hanley to Centipede.

  • Caveat Emptor

    I assume this new development will be built with LEED Certification in mind. In that spirit, I hope Centene and the developers consider implementing vehicle charging stations to encourage the purchase of all-electric vehicles. The absence of that infrastructure is a key deterrent to many people from making the transition. In the grand scheme of the development budget, charging stations would be a relatively insignificant cost. It would also apply towards the LEED Certification and have many other positive downstream impacts including tax incentives to Centene and individuals enticed to purchase electric vehicles.

    • Jeff Leonard

      Clayco said at the presentation last night that it would be at least LEED Gold certified.

  • Alex P

    Alex made a very good point on Twitter that the “green space” on each plot is ridiculous. All it does is increase distances between functions on the campus. It forces the towers to be taller, increasing construction costs and prolonging the timeline. The campus does need one well designed central plaza but beyond that it needs what every urban district needs: well designed streets. Clayton’s wide streets encourage speeding and making pedestrian navigation much more stressful than it needs to be. Cities are made of proper streets, not highways, not towers in a park.

  • The new buildings are more/less on the north side of the existing condos/apts. They might block a little evening light in the late summer evenings but for the most part the existing buildings will still get light most (if not all) of the day.

  • Chris

    This is great just do it, has to be the biggest office development in stl for quite some time.

    Re: metro link. Exactly who is going to be taking metro link to the most expensive per sqft office space in the region. I am a huge supporter of mass trasit, high speed rail etc. However go to any larger city like new york and take a look at the useage of the mass transit in the most expensive areas of town. Its not full of residents from those areas.

    I would love to see a study of the annual income of metro link riders. How many stations are located with in walking distance to neighborhoods where the household income surpasses $100k. Point being whatever occupies this ground is going to be high rent. High rent requires high end retail and or professions that can support the price psf. Where along a metro link line would people that fill these rolls or shop in these stores live. With the exception of a few spots I dont see the case.

    • JMedwick

      This comment seems to miss the point. The region made a major transportation investment to improve non-auto access to downtown Clayton, including from higher rent areas like the CWE. The development should not be turning its back on the investment. Doing so is no different than building and office at 40/141 and not providing any parking.

    • Chicagoan

      This isn’t true (The N.Y. bit.).

    • Michael B

      I agree that this looks great, but disagree with your point on the metrolink. I would argue that the majority of the metrolink stations are within walking distance of “wealthier” neighborhoods (Pretty much the entire MO-side blue line, for example). And to another point, a majority of the stations are within walking distance of places where wealthier people want to go. Many people want the option to travel to places like Clayton without dealing with the hassle and cost of parking, or enjoy a night out without thinking about driving or paying for an uber. Just because public transit is often viewed as “for the poor” doesn’t mean that is how it is used. It really is for everyone, and used by everyone. This argument about income just smells like the old line about the metrolink bringing “undesirables” into neighborhoods. It’s silly, unsubstantiated, and tired.

    • MFine

      What a stupid comment. Clearly you have never lived in NY.

      • Chicagoan

        Perhaps you could be somewhat more nice, but yes, even the well-to-do use transit to get to work in N.Y., as well as other metropolitan areas that have good railway infrastructure.

        • Alex Ihnen

          Well, certainly in STL the wealthier residents don’t use Metro. But if Centene has 4,000 employees in Clayton eventually, how many will be at $100K+? Quite a lot, but not 4,000. Could a couple hundred take Metro? Absolutely.

  • Tim E

    Tract 3 rendering promotes the ideal use of space, high density mixed use, for literally being across the street from Forsyth metrolink station while at the same time positioning the entrance as far away as you can get from the station at the same time. Nothing like embracing the idea that only the waiting staff might use metrolink and we have conveniently located the backdoor to the station for them.
    ..
    My other thought, too bad Centene II/28 story tower can’t be tract 4. Send tract 1 and 2 back to the drawing board.

    • Randy

      Tract 3 needs to eliminate some of the parking spaces fronting the Forsyth station and open up a pedestrian walkway providing more direct access to the Tract 3 tower, existing Carondelet businesses, and Tract 2 residential.

      There is a pretty obvious desire path currently crossing Tract 3 showing where people are likely to want/need to walk. Making them go around the parking garage/auditorium and double back is just bad and anti-pedestrian design.

      • Tim E

        Agree, that is where tract fails even though it brings in the correct uses and density in my opinion.

  • rgbose

    What all would be torn down for tract 4?

  • rgbose

    Put the tract 3 tower at Forsyth

  • citylover

    It’s pretty to look at. The guys is right about what Clayton is going for. What’s the attitude? Is it suburb or urban space?

    I like tract 1. I think it’s a good design for a relatively small space. Could parking be minimized or is 700 needed?

    Tract 2 is disappointing. Especially since the residential part is a maybe. Why a seven story garage? There’s a garage connected to EVERY tower. Is this for civic center users too? Take the metrolink.

    Expected to see tract 3 a very mixed use project. This could be a home run for metrolink. The whole Centene expansion could be. Is the lodging only for Centene employees around the US? Or for general purposes?

  • Adam

    Sorry Jeff, but urban spaces and NIMBYs are mutually exclusive.

  • Imran

    Link to the slide presentation now posted in the Business Journal.

  • Randy Johnston

    In my mind, Tract 2 is the biggest misstep. Is Forsyth just a big alleyway to give garage access to cars now?

    Questions also abound about Tract 3 and how it relates to and encourages or discourages use of the Forsyth Metro station.

    Given that Centene is going to build in Clayton, hopefully Clayton can get some improvements to the site plan.

  • Benjamin Igielnik

    WOW! That’s a lot of office space being added. Here is a link to the presentation: http://media.bizj.us/view/img/9889912/centene-conceptualdesignpresentation.pdf

    • Tim E

      Agree, add to the fact that another Clayton office building is in the works on other side of Clayton’s CBD and you also got Montgomery bank’s back and forth proposal. But who knows, maybe Centene and Clayco envision real estate riches like DeWitt and Cordish do only to have no takers because the buy in is too high.
      ..
      The only thing I could add is if Downtown St. Louis wants some new competing Class A office space it better be ready to give Koman what they want. Clayton is getting 400,000 square feet to start with.

      • Andy

        With a downtown vacancy rate of 18.4%, I’d say the main concern would be filling those vacancies as until that happens, it is not very likely any new construction will start on office towers. Especially with the many mixed use conversions taking place adding even more inventory to the downtown submarket.

        http://www.cushmanwakefield.us/en/research-and-insight/chicago-midwest/st-louis-retail-snapshot/

        • stldoc

          To play devils advocate here, there hasn’t been a new Class A tower downtown in decades. There are likely tenants that specifically desire newer Class A space and simply haven’t had the option downtown in a long time. A Ballpark Village office tower I would think would be a slam dunk. That is prime real estate especially if you can put your logo on the building for millions of fans to stare at for hours during ballgames. If they build it, it would fill up surprisingly fast in my opinion. Same goes for a residential tower. Just build the damn things already.

          • Andy

            Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see it happen, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. New spec office towers are a huge gamble. Similar gamble with residential. The Roberts Brother’s tower is finally getting filled up after years of finance issues.

            https://nextstl.com/2012/10/roberts-zombie-tower-other-buildings-set-for-a-new-life/

            With the AT&T building’s lease running out in 2017, its tough to see new ground-up office construction on the horizon without some major pre-leasing commitments or a company moving an HQ to BPV.