Friday Live Chat

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live chat

It’s back, the Friday Live Chat. You know what to do – just use the comments section below. We’re open from 2-3pm today:

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  • Alex Ihnen

    Thanks again for joining! We’ll be back with another Live Chat next week.

  • Tim E

    Anyone more rumbles for CWE whether it Koplar/Koman/Clayco or the developers looking at West Pine making progress? Looks the race is on as a number of high residential towers being floated…

    Which I can’t help to state. Anyone one at home in the DeWitt/Cordish group?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Planning continues to find a project that can be impressive and also financed.

  • Kevin

    Question about form based code in the city: I know that the CWE has a form based code and I believe Forest Park SE recently adopted a plan?

    Is creating a form based district a difficult process in the city? An expensive one? I’d really just like to know why its not a more common thing across the city…

    • Alex Ihnen

      It is expensive – and sorry I don’t remember the $, but maybe $40K for a small area? It can be difficult as a neighborhood debates heights, etc. The hope was that these small project would spur a city-wide effort, but as development remains largely ward-based, not a lot has come of it.

      Also worth noting, the form based codes in practice have been used as leverage against developers, with exceptions given that violate the recently passed code. While it shouldn’t be set in stone, it’s my belief that the code is a simple framework that should be more stringently enforced.

  • Frank Absher

    If Clayton balks at the requests of financial support from Centene, any thoughts on what might happen? (Maybe they’ll threaten to take their development downtown again…)

    • Alex Ihnen

      I think they’re too far down the line to do that, and guess they’re quite confident they’ll get the incentives and support they want. With (expensive) property acquisition already completed, including a parking lot sold by the city, it appears everyone’s on board. They could sit on the property I guess and lease office space elsewhere.

    • Tim E

      Clayco already stating that they want to get first tower and parking/residential structure under construction by end year. IMO, it is as done deal as you can get even if some the design components and incentives are tweaked

  • Mike B

    Do you know what’s going in on the north side of Lafayette in the gate district. An old basketball court and several more plots of land seem to be getting ready for residential infill. Any renders?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Site of the old Hodgen School? ~2750 Lafayette?

    • STLExplorer

      I spoke to a contractor outside of the new homes just west of Jefferson the other day, and he said that those would be similar looking houses.

      • Alex Ihnen

        Yes – $500K permit for townhomes – just 2 units covered in that permit. Same developer as other lots nearby. Should be decent infill. Would like to write more on all the projects in that little stretch of Lafayette.

  • Alex P

    I seriously want to know how much of a factor the drifting population center is to downtown St. Louis. Mostly focusing on offices but also discussing retail and residential. Primarily I want to know how peer cities, such as Cleveland, Detroit, Memphis, etc. view this issue and what other urban sprawl factors do they have? I.E. Do they have equivalents of Clayton, Maryland Heights, St. Charles. Ultimately we do need to answer the question “Why go downtown at all?” by talking with our peer cities.
    Does anyone know of any research that’s already been done? And if we were to make a list of survey questions, any ideas on how to circulate this?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Some has been done. I may track it down and try to put it in context for St. Louis. I think the drifting population center is a huge factor in all of the above. That said, downtown St. Louis is a great place and should have a bright future.

      • Alex P

        I guess I’m primarily looking for narratives too. Why did a company choose that location? Do employees actually enjoy working in that location? Etc.

        • Alex Ihnen

          Past research has shown that HQs located near senior exec housing first, then employee housing, etc. Hopefully as more new companies spring up in the city and more people choose to live in an urban setting, we see companies follow.

  • citylover

    Saw a fence around planned hotel in cortex. Is the next phase already underway?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Yes, work, or preparation for work, or whatever one wants to call it, is underway. We expect the official announcement, images, and details to be announced soon.

      • Tim E

        Can’t understand why CORTEX/Wexford so quiet on this. They should be stating things, press releases and the whole bit once a fence went up.

        • Alex Ihnen

          Your guess is as good as mine. My guess = clients/corps they’re working with aren’t ready to go public, for whatever reason.

          • Tim E

            That is the scary part as it suggests tenants left back door open and Centene/Clayco is out shopping a lot of new spiffy space.
            The only plus side. Clayco building in the loop on a 15 story project that happened quickly. who knows, maybe a surprise or more in store from them. Would love to see them move their St Louis employee base into the central corridor or take up residency near HOK. Of course, would require a big employee buy in.

  • STLExplorer

    Any news about the proposed container architecture projects on Cherokee or in Old North? I’d hate for the project in St. Charles to be completed before the city can even begin ours first!

  • Alex Ihnen

    By the way – just posted a couple new images of Centene’s massive Clayton project – wouldn’t expect too many changes going forward. Hoping to see more of phases 2 and 4 soon:
    _

    • moorlander

      Have you had a chance to compare the incentive package requested to comparable a across the country?

      You mentioned the Banks so I’ll share what I’ve learned. it looks like Ohio gave $112.4 million for 1,800 GE employees (100 from outside Ohio) and 25 yr lease in a new $90 mill building. There were some more concessions here:

      http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2014/06/23/ge-incentives-approved/11256905/

      • Alex Ihnen

        I haven’t, but thanks for the reminder. Would like to find more analogous projects in other cities. Then the questions is whether they’re needed, even if not unprecedented. But then there seems to be no real hesitation by the state or Clayton on this.

  • Frank Absher

    Based on your knowledge of the structure and its past, are you optimistic that the YMCA will be redeveloped?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Yes, absolutely. We’re talking downtown and not South Grand, right? I think the announced move and the historic building’s redevelopment are closely tied.

      • Frank Absher

        My concern is that so many newly developed units could be hitting the market at the same time.

        • Alex Ihnen

          IMO – that could be a concern for the developer or investor, but St. Louis should welcome nearly any quality redevelopment. If units rent for a little less than planned, the city and neighborhood still benefit from the investment and new residents. (There’s more to it than that, but that’s where I start on the issue.)

          • jkf1220

            Agree. The building has some challenges but could dictate a creative approach. That area really has a lot of potential. Redevelopment of the CPI building plus new construction on the adjacent lot, along with redevelopment of the Butler Building, will add over 500 units but not all at once. Anchored by City Museum, a new boutique hotel in the International Shoe Building, the addition of the Fashion Incubator and a grocery store, this area, so rich architecturally, could become a very hot neighborhood.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Yes – and to the south there will be a new 21st Street/Jefferson interchange and additional development.

          • citylover

            What’s all included in that plan? Is it actually happening or is it a vision?

          • Alex Ihnen

            Part happening, part rumor, part vision. A good part of it is within the NorthSide footprint, big changes are coming to Union Station, and the new interchange will free up land for other ideas.

          • Jonathan Shank

            You have been hinting on some Union Station info coming out soon for a little while now. Do you have any clue how soon we are talking? I am getting anxious to find out!

          • Alex Ihnen

            My guess/hope is by end of September…*maybe sooner. People will like it.

          • moorlander

            Good. I was never that excited with the mini theme park proposal

          • Jonathan Shank

            Awesome. Thanks.

          • Kevin

            Additional development = MLS stadium

          • Alex Ihnen

            That could be one component, but there’s room for much more, and plenty of ideas and people looking.

          • Kevin

            All rumor mongering aside, any idea what the new 21st interchange will look like? Are there any plans to reconnect 21st and 22nd streets? Will it just depend on the development?

          • Alex Ihnen

            I *think it may just be eliminated and a full interchange built at Jefferson, like Kingshighway. So that’s a lot of land. I’d be surprised is the street grid was really replaced, but let’s hope.

          • Frank Absher

            I’m guessing the housing could really benefit from NGA development too.

          • Alex Ihnen

            I think so. If nothing else, the residential in downtown, Wash Ave, Old North, etc. needs new jobs and not just the status quo to continue to thrive.

      • Betsy

        Does that mean you are not optimistic about development of the South Grand Y?

        • Alex Ihnen

          The site will be redeveloped, but I wouldn’t anticipate that the old Y building will survive.

  • Matt

    Any word on the Sherman school in Shaw? I haven’t seen any movement as I walk by in a couple months.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Nothing new, but I understand it’s in good hands, and so hopefully more details will be forthcoming!

  • Frank Absher

    anybody home?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Hi there Frank! We’ll get this Internet thing figured out eventually. In the meantime I’ll claim the informality is a charming feature.