Spencer Development’s Contemporary Proposal for Wedge Site in The Grove

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4101 Manchester by Trivers rendering

The second of at least three replies we have learned of in response to city’s Request for Proposals (RFP) for the current surface parking lot at Manchester and Chouteau Avenues in The Grove is from Spencer Development and Trivers Associates. The design proposes 12,500sf of street level retail, 45 parking spaces, 8,000sf of office space, and approximately 30 residential units across six stories. A third floor terrace would serve the office tenant and a rooftop deck would be a residential amenity.

The design presents a clean, mostly glass, facade as contemporary infill amidst the brick vernacular architecture of The Grove, a design explicitly favored in the RFP. Spencer Development was a partner on the 4321 Manchester mixed-use building completed recently several blocks to the west. Previously we shared images of the RFP response from King Realty Advisors-Simpson Closser, which envisions a modern angular infill project with up to 26,500sf of retail space and 77 parking spaces in a five-story structure.

KING5{rendering from King Realty Advisors-Simpson Closser proposal}

“Its irregular shape is difficult to work with, but like the flatiron in NYC, it’s a great opportunity to welcome folks into the Grove with a gorgeous and meaningful structure,” Matt Spencer of Spencer Development told nextSTL. “We feel that is what we’ve got: thoughtful design to elevate the environment for all surrounding residents both physically and emotionally.”

Last month we wrote about the city’s Request for Proposals (RFP) on the wedge lot bounded by Manchester Avenue, Sarah Street, and Chouteau Avenue. Given the size and shape of the lot, it would be a challenge for any developer to fulfill all requirements. Now we have more than one creative effort to do just that.

{Spencer Development was a partner on the 4321 Manchester project}

The city made it clear that it was looking for a number of specifics for the site: at least 15,000sf of retail space, access to a total of at least 77 parking spaces (to replace the existing 37 and add 40 for anticipated retail), and loading access from Chouteau only. The RFP stated that an “emphasis will be placed on proposals that seek to foster…eclectic architecture design”. Proposals were due September 2. The city’s minimum sale price for the lot is set at $120,000.

The “Urban Design and Redevelopment Requirements” of the RFP are promising and the community should be able to require good design given the popularity of The Grove. Any proposal should be “a mixed-use, main street character that enhances and densifies the walkable commercial corridor” and it’s clearly stated that proposals “should treat all three adjacent public rights-of-way, including Manchester, Sarah, and Chouteau with equal importance and equivalent sensitivity”.

In 2014, Green Street proposed development of the wedge site as part of its Chouteau’s Grove plan. The current 37-space parking lot (shown in orange) would have been replaced with a three-story mixed use building. Retail space was planned to occupy 15,603sf on the first level, with six two-bedroom and 22 one-bedroom apartments above. No on-site parking was planned as parking would have been accommodated across Chouteau in a 150-space garage.

We’ll continue to share additional RFP responses as they become available. With several responses to the site and the clearly modern design of this proposal, we’re hoping The Grove may be at the point where it is obvious good design can be required of any developer.

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  • Matt B

    I feel like the King proposal is unique but maybe a bit much. On the flip side, this proposal isn’t nearly enough. This is the entrance to a unique eclectic community and it needs to be filled with a structure that awes and inspires but can also withstand the test of time and be a real landmark. The King is closer to achieving that I think but there needs to be some tweaking for sure.

  • Andrew Wind

    The other is more innovative, but it won’t age well. I hope it’s not even considered. This looks fantastic in a rendering, but it won’t looks so crisp and clean once tenants move in. This elegant, modernist uniformity will be interrupted by commercial signage, furnishings, mismatched drapery and varying lighting temperatures inside when it’s lit at night. St. Louis is a city of red brick and cast iron. Why can’t someone bring something like 211 Elizabeth Street in New York to the table?

    • jon m

      I agree with the sentiment but the 211 Elizabeth Street model would be sadly regressive to this neighborhood.
      I’d suggest 290 Mulberry, New York as a contextually progressive design to this neighborhood.

      • Andrew Wind

        The rental pice per square foot on the Elizabeth building is almost $14, and the Mulberry is barely over $8. People like classic architecture in historic neighborhoods, and they pay a premium for it. If that wasn’t the case, I’m sure we’d see more glass and steel boxes in Lafayette Square or the West End. I love contemporary architecture too, but I don’t like shoehorning it into areas where it competes with and overshadows the existing built environment for more than aesthetic reasons. If you put prominent modern construction in an historic area, you set a precedent that makes it easier to replace older buildings that are less economically desirable to commercial developers with modern structures later.

  • JCougar

    I like this one better. 1) Residential/office is a plus. 2) 6 stories, which is a bit tall for the scale of the rest of the neighborhood, but not too tall, plus the offsets make it a less imposing 6 stories. 3) I disliked the parking garage entrance on Manchester on the other one. People careen out of those parking garages in a way that’s dangerous to pedestrians around here.

    I liked the street-level design of the prior one, though. This one could use some jazzing up of the street-level retail bays.

    • Alex Ihnen

      It’s not clear where the garage entrance is on this proposal.

      • PD

        Has to be on the back side on Chouteau, right?

  • Presbyterian

    I like the rendering. But I also liked the rendering of their 4321 Manchester building, and that design was value engineered down so badly that I consider the finished product to be a liability to the neighborhood.

    If their track record is to bait and switch polished renderings with a junky product, then I’d rather go with one of the other developers. A design is only as good as its execution.

    • Adam

      Good point and agreed. The 4321 final product is pretty atrocious. I had the same thought when I read this.

  • Alex Ihnen

    As a point of discussion, I think the King/Closser proposal has the chance to be something unique, different, and cool. The vision here is much more crisp, but the treatment at the pedestrian level could be quite bland depending on execution. These are clearly conceptual, and so plenty can change of course.

  • John

    This modern design could stand the test of time, as opposed to the other concept which looks gimmicky and dated. The other design would grow tiresome, whereas this one is almost timeless. I do wish there could be more parking. Perhaps exclusive underground parking for residents and the business tenant(s) with dedicated parking for retail. This one has my vote over the other one. Very upscale look in the rendering.

  • jhoff1257

    I give this one my vote. Looking forward to seeing the third one.

    • Tim E

      Agree with Jhoff on my two cents worth.
      Alex, would the third one be Green Street’s proposal just to buy the property outright? or is their a fourth group in the mix? Personally, would be worth it my mind to have a separate developer on this spot if their is truly some financial muscle behind the two proposals you outlined.

  • rgbose

    Much better!

  • That’s just about right, I think, yes. Personally, would sacrifice the office tenant(s) for additional residential units, but I’m picking nits, really.

    I dig it. Good massing for the corner, contemporary/modern without trying too hard, parking is closer to right-sized (which means it’ll probably be denied). If built, this could favorably set the standard for modern infill in and around the Grove and near south side.

  • Adam