Cortex Development May Quicken With Wexford Acquisition

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Cortex w_key

According to Dennis Lower, president and CEO of Cortex, the recently announced acquisition of Wexford by Ventas Inc. may speed up the march of development for the 200-acre innovation district in St. Louis’ central corridor. Lower told the St. Louis Business Journal the change in ownership could accelerate the next phases of Cortex development, which is expected to include a significant number of Microsoft jobs.

In May, nextSTL reported the planned development would include a parking garage, hotel, 250 apartments, and 40,000 sf of retail space. An image obtained by nextSTL showed a slender 150-key hotel of about six stories adjacent to nearly completed 4260 Forest Park, which will be home to TechShop and AAIPharma Services Corp. (Alcami).

An additional building at 4200 Duncan (below) is planned as a five-story, $45M project. Images show a 1,000-car parking garage immediately to the east. In addition, the surface parking lot to the south of Cortex I is labeled for 150 residential units, but does not depict a rendered building as do the other sites.


Baltimore based Wexford Science & Technology is the largest developer within the Cortex district. Wexford had developed science and technology parks in Miami, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, and elsewhere. Ventas has agreed to acquire Wexford for $1.5B.

An additional Cortex phase could include Silo Lofts, a residential development at Sarah Street and Forest Park Avenue:

Silo Lofts at Cortex

Along Clayton Avenue at Sarah Street, significant demolition has cleared the way for additional development, and perhaps interim surface parking and development continues to claim other surface lots:

Cortex demo map Clayton_Sarah

To the east of IKEA and across Vandeventer Avenue and Cortex proper, Lawrence Group recently unveiled Cortex East, a $232M vision that would include office space, residential development and retail, to be branded an “Idea Market”. The 1.5-acre Habitat for Humanity property soon to be on the market can be seen in the foreground:

East of CortexEast of Cortex_Lawrence Group 7

And at Boyle, work is finally underway on a new MetroLink station at the heart of Cortex. This image is from a planning document now several years old:

Cortex MetroLink planning

Wexford is also a significant developer at the Bio-Research & Development Growth Park (BRDG Park) in Creve Coeur. That 600 acre district is anchored by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and adjacent to Monsanto, Helix Center Biotech Incubator, and other plant science related companies. Last year, the U.S. Department of Commerce awarded a $500,000 grant to develop a comprehensive master plan for BRDG Park.

BRDG_Danforth Plant Science Center

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  • tpekren

    It will be interesting to see where Pfizer lands on their next move out of Monsanto’s new Chesterfield campus. From employee standpoint it seems that they will be along I64 or simply stay close to existing location. However, I’m pretty sure CORTEX/Wexford are working hard to land them whether it be at CORTEX and or BRDG park.
    Wexford did well by becoming a lead developer for both CORTEX and BRDG. Assume with the shared county/city economic development agency they will ask Pfizer where they want to go with things and proceed from there. Wexford has a place in either county or city & fully connected to the tech, life and plant science developments.

  • Michael B

    A parking structure is sorely needed in the area, and much more preferable than the large surface lots that are serving as placeholders for these future buildings. That being said, I hope there is more creativity in the design of a parking garage than what is pictured above. This is the CORTEX district! Create something unique, innovative, and trend setting!

    • tpekren

      To me it will depend a lot about placement. Fine with a plain jane parking structure if it is fronted with street facing building. But not quite sure of placement though and it would be a shame if whatever faces the new Boyle metrolink station doesn’t incorporate some attempt at design. Even if it is an ivy wall to make things more appealling

      • Michael B

        I generally agree. If it has a good face to the street, I’d be happy, but I also think the metrolink track side can’t be neglected. It’s almost as if the city doesn’t realize that people look out of the windows on the train. We can’t pretend there aren’t thousands of people commuting past with their only knowledge of the Cortex district being the side they see from the tracks or the highway.

  • Presbyterian

    I look forward to increased investment in CORTEX!