Cortex Phase 3 Revealed: Aloft Hotel, 200 Apts, Retail, and Lab Space

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cortex3_3

Today, Cortex will announce the next major phase of the redevelopment of 200 acres in St. Louis City’s central corridor. Located between the Washington University in St. Louis and BJC Healthcare campus and Saint Louis University, the technology and innovation district is home to more than 4,000 jobs and 250 companies.

While future phases have been expected for some time, this is the first confirmed expansion since the announcement of the TechShop building in 2014. The $170M Phase 3 could add nearly 1,000 additional jobs to the district. Images made available today present contemporary mid-rise infill, while previous speculation envisioned a high-rise hotel and residential addition.

Approximately 200 apartments will wrap a five-story, 1,000-car parking garage with first floor retail constructed north of Duncan Avenue. The residential component is being development Antheus Capital and Silliman Group, the same developers exploring options for a residential tower at West Pine and Kingshighway in the city’s Central West End.

cortex3_1{nearly 200 apartments will wrap a 1,000-space shared parking garage}

cortex3_2{150-room Aloft hotel and adjoining restaurant}

cortex-3_2

The new building immediately to the east of 4240 Duncan will total 180K sf and be developed by Wexford (top image). Long reported to count Microsoft as a future tenant, no confirmation is expected as part of today’s planned announcement.Venture Cafe, depicted in previous images as moving into a new space on the north side of Duncan Avenue, is now planned to have a home in this building.

Venture Cafe, depicted in previous images as moving into a new space on the north side of Duncan Avenue, is now planned to have a home in this building. The organization hosts an every-Thursday gathering that attracts nearly 500 attendees. A 150-room Aloft hotel will be constructed immediately east of the TechShop building.

While a definite construction timeline has not been shared, it is expected the project will get underway in early 2017. A subsidy request for the development have yet to be made. Tax increment financing (TIF ) of $168M has been authorized for the Cortex district. Today’s announcement does not include plans for Koman Group’s recently purchased 3.3 acres within Cortex. Cortex Phase 3 appears to cover very roughly 1/5th of the remaining developable land within Cortex itself, without any additional demolition.

cortex-3_1cortex-3-aerial

*this story will be updated with additional information

Previous images of Cortex Phase 3:

Cortex w_keyCortex_Five

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  • Featured in Architects Newspaper on Dec. 14th, 2016: https://archpaper.com/2016/12/cortex-3-st-louis-el-dorado-silliman/

  • The StLouminator

    There are some great comments posted here. The long view needs to hold focus on the redevelopment of the central corridor.
    It is easy to criticize curb cuts and building heights while debating density.
    It is more difficult to churn through the finance machinations of public infrastructure replacement, cost of building in STL MO, commercial rent structures, and 23 year TIF burn offs.
    It is nearly impossible to process that STL is a ZERO (0) growth region in the MSA regions of the United States. The growth occurring in Cortex and the central corridor is self generated.
    If Cortex continues to create the jobs – the urban existence will continue to improve.
    I applaud the vision and all of the hard work to get STL to this point! We have a GREAT city – and we will only get better.
    Thanks everyone.

    • Goomba

      Good Points. I think our slow growth is often what is missed in St. Louis. Considering how slow are region is growing, it is amazing we have seen the Central Corridor take off like it has.

  • Goomba

    I don’t see what the big deal is. It looks urban to me. Anybody that has been to DC knows that height doesn’t necessarily equate to urban. DC is an incredibly urban and vibrant city and there are no skyscrapers in the central city. Places like Houston and Dallas are building hi-rises like crazy, but those cities don’t feel incredibly urban.

    • Riggle

      Dc is full of curb cuts, swipe thrus, on ramps and beg buttons like Cortex

      • pat

        I’m in DC as I write this. I’ve been walking around all day. The pedestrian experience in most areas of this city is excellent. And far better than St. Louis. Cortex along Duncan is currently good for pedestrians and will only get better once they add these new buildings

        • Goomba

          St. Louis could learn A LOT from Washington DC in terms of city building. DC probably has some of the best planning and urban development in the nation.

          • Tim E

            Plus it helps to have the Federal Government as the economic engine. Having a market demand probably help just as much or more for when it comes for needing to plan for density.

  • Imran

    So do we think this %*&# driveway for the Aloft will coming off Forest Parkway or off Duncan?

    • Imran

      Read the PD story and realized it would come off of FPP and will be a ‘patio’ (ie dead space) away from the driveway that was just put in east of the Tech Shop. Two new curb cuts in the same block (!!!). This is why they demolished the existing building to the east of the Techshop…. so that every building can have its own effing driveway.
      CORTEX is clearly pseudo-urban and will continue to disappoint.

      • Tim E

        They want the FPP access but want the structure to be part of Duncan/closer to the garage as if they have no confidence that they could support more rooms, more structure and any conference space with the hotel.

      • STLrainbow

        I agree streetscape, etc. from Forest Park Avenue (not Parkway btw east of K’way) is a concern but I’m not sure how clear things are from the rendering and PD story. To me it certainly looks like the main entrance is off Duncan but perhaps they also have a cut-through from FPA. Also. I believe — but am not sure — that parking will be in the adjacent garage.

  • Tim E

    Alex, PD reported that the apartment developer for Cortex 3.0 is same people or part of the group looking at residential tower on West Pine in CWE. Is that correct? Do you know if effort is still being looked at over on West Pine? Maybe some more capital about to flow into area developments.
    .
    Would be nice to see both Cortex residential and a high rise over on West Pine break ground by next spring

    • Alex Ihnen

      From the nextSTL story:

      “The residential component is being development Antheus Capital and Silliman Group, the same developers exploring options for a residential tower at West Pine and Kingshighway in the city’s Central West End.”

      Yes, the West Pine/Kingshighway project is still in the works. Also, this is the same group putting millions into renovating the Parc Frontenac.

  • I like the apartment building- contemporary residential architecture is a breath of fresh air and all too rare in St. Louis. It resembles a similar development I saw in Austin a couple weeks ago (pictured). I do agree that the district currently has a suburban office park type feel and desperately needs some retail and other mixed use development. The Metrolink station will be a huge boon for Cortex as well as BJC/CWE, downtown and the universities in my opinion. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9ea8aedcfd8be2dcad6defffc95e544990d8fd7aad80029326a61091c6d51a16.jpg

    • STLrainbow

      your world is upside down, gasm!

      • Haha- not sure why it’s flipped, but it doesn’t get edgier than that!

  • Eddie in NorCal

    The Aloft Hotel is very suitable choice for Cortex. That brand’s aesthetic is all about cutting edge technology — free, fast WiFi, no check-in and keyless entry with your phone or wearable (SPG members), smart mirrors, robot butlers. Gimmicky for sure, but a good fit for Cortex. Starwood has these all over Silicon Valley, including Millbrae, Cupertino, Newark, San Jose. And they’re all the same size and look as the proposed facility in St. Louis.

    • Tim E

      Just wish they did a slim tower to break up the height. Good Brand fit as you noted but some earlier concepts with tall slender towers would have been pretty nice change.
      .
      Putting my bet on LG and or Koman to come up with something against the Cortex mid rise feel. Maybe someone will look up from Cortex 3.0, 4.0, 5.0 and ask why we didn’t do that?

      • Eddie in NorCal

        Focus on building height is very misplaced, it’s just not the goal for a city like St. Louis. Density is much more important. St. Louis has a lot of work to do filling in all the empty spaces and Cortex is doing a fantastic job of fulfilling that mission in midtown-to-CWE. Want a tall building with lots of available space? Head downtown and take your pick. When some of the 250+ seedling companies in Cortex become successful and start to grow jobs exponentially, you’ll get some taller buildings. But you’re not at that stage yet. The low vacancy rates in Cortex are proof that the development of mid-rise office space, in a mix of new & renovated structures, is hitting the sweet spot of market demand.

  • Michael C

    The new designs are very European. Looking very good.

  • Jenn Elam

    While this is still good news, it is disappointing that Cortex keeps scaling back the sizes of the buildings in the development, especially in light of the fact that the CWE and the medical campus are building from mid-rise to high-rise as we speak. Is there still a lack of faith that the area will be able to attract and grow enough growing companies to fill larger developments?

    The main Cortex I and II buildings are essentially full and the CIC is not far from it. Even with the expansions, if the companies that are already in the district are successful there won’t be a ton of space for them to grow into. There is a finite amount of space left in the area. Developers should be thinking about what the area will need 5-10 years from now, rather than building only what they can fill immediately on completion.

    • STLrainbow

      I agree the pace of new office/lab is a bit disappointing but it boils down to economics…. Saint Louis isn’t a market where you can secure financing a whole lot with faith and actually I was a bit surprised to see this announcement without any firm leases in hand. I assume though that if this quickly leases up we can soon move on with a bit bigger next phase and if that is successful a bit bigger one after that.

  • STLrainbow

    Looks like the main differences between this site plan with the one depicted above with the slide released earlier this year of Phase 3 appear to be the elimination of the separate “District Hall” building (depicted east of the hotel) and the scaling back in height but stretching out in frontage as a mid-rise the mixed-use parking/residential/retail development. Sounds like part of the intent of the District Hall will be met via the Innovation Hall space that will be part of the office/lab building. Hopefully the Forest Park Avenue streetscape will be decent although Duncan will be the focal point. Will also be interesting to see what retail will be sought… hopefully a bit of services or shopping can be added to the mix beyond the food and beverage.

    Overall this looks like a decent site plan that should be a big step forward for the district.

  • RJ

    The original estimate was a $300 million dollar investment with a high-rise residential tower giving CORTEX more density and an urban feel. Now we are looking at $175 million which is certainly better than nothing but this project could use some modifications. The A Loft hotel is average at best and the office space/lab building is ok but the residential/garage building needs some work. My chief criticism of CORTEX is its too suburban in design and this should be an urban environment. How many more 5 story buildings do we have to look at? This resembles Chesterfield not the City. Take a look at the University City Science Center in Philadelphia for a point of reference.

    • Adam

      “How many more 5 story buildings do we have to look at?”

      Hopefully a lot. I’d much rather have contiguous low-rise density than a single high-rise surrounded by asphalt.

      • RJ

        Your assuming that would be the only high rise building in the area? Part of an urban environment includes buildings of various heights

        • Michael B

          A lot of European cities have contiguous low-rise buildings, and they feel incredibly more urban that a lot of US cities. Lots of different heights are good, but it isn’t the only way to create an urban environment.

          • RJ

            Agreed there are several methods to creating an urban environment. Generally speaking that can be attained by having a density of residents living in the neighborhood which is something they haven’t learned in Grand Center (another issue for another day). In this case some people prefer to live in a high-rise environment with views of the city. At this point in time CORTEX does not offer that option and if we limit ourselves to five story buildings will never have that option. Creating diversified living options can be important for a vibrant neighborhood and the opportunity is available since CORTEX removed all the previous industrial/warehouse buildings and created a vast amount of empty space (parking lots). IMO this will be a lost opportunity if we limit ourselves to five story buildings rather than create diversified housing options

          • Alex Ihnen

            There’s still significant space for development within Cortex and immediately adjacent areas. If in 10yrs there isn’t a building taller than 5 stories, we can be disappointed.

            The other “urban” parts of Cortex need work. Perhaps the MetroLink station will help with foot traffic and vitality, but the streets and traffic signals are hostile to anyone not in a car. I don’t see that changing.

          • STLrainbow

            two of the new buildings are 6 stories… so we’re all set!

          • RJ

            True enough there is plenty of space for future developments and frankly I don’t think CORTEX has a vision or complete plan for this district, it is strictly market driven. Remember St. Louis is not inclined to take too many chances.. CORTEX 3.0 was an opportunity to start now on more density and diversified housing options to go along with more lab/office space and other amenities. If not now, then when? Wait another 5-10 years. Time is something we take for granted and may never see again. We’ve been waiting how many years to see more changes in St. Louis, as if we have all the time in the world. We don’t and if we want to see these developments finally live up to expectations we need to quit wasting time like another 10 years. I look at Laclede’s Landing and Grand Center both over 25 years in the making and still not done. Other cities have completed major projects and moved on to something else. As much as I love St. Louis it is frustrating at how slow we as a community proceed in getting things done around here

          • Adam

            I just don’t see building a couple of high-rises rather than ten low-rise buildings as “wasting time”, nor do I necessarily consider urban low-rise to be a “let-down”. My point earlier was that there isn’t enough demand to have multiple filled high-rises right now. We either have a bunch of filled low-rises or a few filled high-rises. The resulting average density will be the same, but in one case we’ll have a more contiguous built environment, and in the other we’ll have a few tall buildings and lots of empty space. Variety is good, but IMO we should be aiming to emulate Paris and not Shanghai.

          • Guest

            I like your line of thinking, RJ. We need a lot more such thinking…we used to have it…where’d they all go?
            It seems too many people don’t fully realize what “build it and they will come” means. The thing some people don’t realize is the phrase really means “built it RIGHT and they will come” (must one REALLY add the word “right”?. If you don’t build it right, they won’t come). After all, if it doesn’t offer solid appeal, doesn’t offer a show of success, doesn’t impress… who, really, wants come? Who are builders appealing to? The “eh…this’ll do fer now, Pa. Let’s wait an’ see. If not, we’ll git us some duct tape” crowd?
            And, the “let’s build these (rather modest) things…and see what happens in ten years” is a very disheartening thing to hear. It’s very backward logic and actually does more harm than good. No other successful city I can think of demonstrates functioning that way.
            To the “careful” and “wait and see” crowds, no one wants to come to live and invest in a city that doesn’t reach for the highest goals to impress and draw more investment. Our past history and built environment very clearly shows that. How is it so many have missed that?
            I am passionate about my city, too. It pains me greatly to see so much of this “wait xx years and see” “out of scale” “too tall” nonsense. It’s a city. A big city. And those that offer any of those arguments are doing far greater harm than they realize.

          • Eddie in NorCal

            Laclede’s Landing, Grand Center, Union Station are poor comparisons, those areas are oriented to the entertainment/tourist experience. Cortex is about jobs and business development. It is an attempt to leverage the presence of Monsanto into the world’s leading critical mass of plant science companies. It truly is a potential game changer for St. Louis. The early results are very promising, over 250 companies today, and there COULD be an explosion of entrepreneurial activity with the talent exodus that will occur at Monsanto post-acquisition. Instead of putting TIF dollars into another big box store, the region would be well-served to provide free office space to proven venture firms willing to locate partners in St. Louis.

            I’ve been in the offices of more than 200 startup companies in the Bay Area in the last 5 years and fewer than 10% were in high rise buildings. Nearly all of these companies locate in “creative” space, i.e, post-industrial renovations with exposed ducts, brick walls, concrete floors, etc. That’s the market Cortex is serving right now and Wexford clearly understands it.

          • STLrainbow

            I think a good comparison for Cortex is the compact Kendall Square in Cambridge, which is more what we’re trying to emulate here as opposed to Silicon Valley, but even that more urban district, despite being able to command rents in the $70s, is essentially mid-rise.

            Here is a quick look at Bristol-Myers Squib’s new 10 story, 400,000 sq. ft. facility of which they are taking up about half and the rest being leased out to other companies: http://bostinno.streetwise.co/2015/06/26/kendall-square-development-bristol-myers-squibb-to-open-cambridge-location/

            Most buildings are shorter and while a few are higher — and MIT is planning a more legit tower as part of a massive mixed-use project — Kendall Square demonstrates that towers aren’t necessary to establishing a world-leading innovation district. Like some others, I do hope to see some height pop up in the district in time, but as the saying goes Rome wasn’t built in a day. Especially here in slow-growth, fiscally-constrained Saint Louis it will take some time.

          • jhoff1257

            Cortex has never once said they are going to limit building height. You’re talking like the entirety of Cortex has been finalized and is a done deal. There is a TON of space left man. Plenty of room to grow. Like Alex said, lets see what the future brings. Cortex is FAR from complete.

          • Riggle

            Grand Center has multiple residential high rises…

        • Adam

          I’m just assuming (correctly I think) that there isn’t enough demand to fill Cortex with high-rises in the foreseeable future, so I’d rather see a contiguous low-rise fabric than two or three high-rises afloat in a sea of vacant warehouses and parking lots.

    • jhoff1257

      Lived in Chesterfield for 20 years, my family still lives there and I make pretty routine visits. Please share with me where you can find a Cortex in Chesterfield. I’d love to see it because this kind of stuff would be a HUGE improvement over the auto centered strip malls and “lifestyle” centers that seem to be all the rage out there.

      • RJ

        Well just drive down I-64/40 between I-270 and the Missouri River and you will see plenty of 5 story buildings in Town and Country and Chesterfield.

        • jhoff1257

          Seen those buildings thousands of times. Still looks nothing like Cortex. Pretty sure there are also thousands of 5 story buildings all over the City of St. Louis. Not sure why 5 stories automatically makes it like Chesterfield?

    • SnakePlissken

      Born and raised in Chesterfield. This looks nothing like Chesterfield.

  • Framer

    The Wexford building looks good, and the hotel might be alright, but that apartment building is really awful. Dark, drab and oppressive; and what’s with the tiny windows?

    • Adam

      I like the apartment wrap—maybe takes some inspiration from the design of the Euclid? Another swath of white on the front could help to brighten it up a little. Of course, everything will depend on the materials.

  • PD

    When ever I see renderings of landscaping added in, it almost never lives up. Companies show great apartments and condo developments with a tree on seemingly ever balcony and out in front. Then it gets built and they barley plant a thing. I wish they would plant a tree in 3sqft of ever balcony and pre-run watering/timers to each. That whole area around cortext feel barren even with all the new developments. I brought a friend from out of town to murmeration fest. The first thing she said was’ the rest of the city has trees, how come this place doesnt?’

    • jhoff1257

      Well to have actual vegetation growing out of a balcony would require a huge investment, especially if you’re talking about adding in some sort of sprinkler or watering system. I live in a high rise apartment with a balcony surrounded by quite a few other similar buildings and most balconies are empty. It’s up to the resident to add plants and scenery to a balcony or deck as they would be the ones to maintain it.

      I also just looked at the updated street views for both Boyle and Duncan and there are street trees lining both streets along with well landscaped bump outs. The 4240 building, the DuPont building and Cortex Commons are all surrounded by landscaping as well. It actually looks really good I think. They only wrapped up these projects in the last couples years, it’s going to take time for trees and vegetation to reach maturity.

  • John

    Great to see more development activity in Cortex. Hopefully, this will build a foundation for more development in the near future. I recently stayed in an Aloft Hotel out of state, and I thought St. Louis was “due” to get one. It’s about time.

    I would like to see a water feature (fountain) and a significant outdoor sculpture to give this burgeoning area more character.

    • Alex Ihnen

      I think Cortex Commons is meant to do this with the large shade structure and extensive landscaping and modeling. I don’t think it would be a positive development to have each building feature a fountain and/or sculpture, though that does appear to be what Centene believes should be done in Clayton.

      • John

        Not every building in Cortex needs a sculpture or water feature, but I am “all in” for spreading more amenities and aesthetic enhancements around Cortex (and any other area, for that matter) beyond common areas. Additionally, I agree with the earlier posts about the importance of trees and need for dense landscaping throughout.

  • Imran

    Architecturally trendy I guess. Curious regarding the site plan, set backs and how well the garage is obscured from the main streets.

    • rgbose

      Can anyone see the entrance to the garage in the apt building rendering?

  • rgbose

    When is WUSTL going to fix up 4350 Duncan?

  • Riggle

    Meh. Pretty uninspiring

    • Alex Ihnen

      I get it, nothing impresses you. Why do you continue to post comments such as this? It adds absolutely nothing to anyone’s understanding of our city or this particular development.

      • jhoff1257

        He’s your typical St. Louis area resident. Sounds exactly like the people I knew when I used to live in West County. Bitches and moans about nothing ever coming here, how STL never gets anything cool and then when something nice and good like Cortex or all the other development happening does come about it’s “meh” or “uninspiring” or “ugly” etc. Par for the course in that region.

        • Riggle

          Its totally suburban. Thats why it sucks, I think it very relevent to the discussion

          • Alex Ihnen

            Describing what is “totally suburban” and why, and how it could be changed, offering examples of “urban” technology and innovation districts, etc. could add to the conversation.

            “Suburban” and “urban” are too often misunderstood. A building’s site plan can be suburban, but a building itself more rarely is – perhaps one-story buildings could generally be considered suburban? At Cortex, 5-6 story buildings built to the curb (at least 2 of 3) aren’t inherently suburban.

            The 1,000-car parking garage could be argued to be inherently anti-urban, but in the context of St. Louis (and all but a handful of American cities), large parking garages, especially hidden or disguised, has become urban-ish.

          • Riggle

            Like I’ve said in this thread and others about Cortex, swipe thrus, beg buttons, demos for swipe thrus and highway on ramps. Its incresibly anti pedestrian (and I would say anti urban). Then Joe Roddy and Co tout their “car-optional neighborhood ” and Cortex acts all progressive. And neither are true, its built for cars, same old same old total BS. END RANT.

          • CORTEX certainly is not going for “car optional.”

          • Alex Ihnen

            Not untrue.

          • jhoff1257

            Doesn’t at all resemble the St. Louis suburbs I grew up and spent time in…not by a long shot.

    • Michael C

      Riggle, well why don’t you actually do something about it. That’s why we’re all here in the first place. We all love St. Louis. We all know that St. Louis has a TON of potential. And we all know St. Louis sucks sometimes… and sometimes a lot…. but we are here to help fix the problems not continuously complain about them.

      • RJ

        Thanks you

      • Riggle

        I do, I walk and take transit everywhere, I actually live the lifestyle, I dont just bitch about the absence of it. This place (cortex) is built for cars, look at the swipe thrus, surface lots, beg buttons and highway ramps.