$26M Office and Retail Project Planned for Skinker-Delmar in The Delmar Loop

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It’s not the corner everyone’s been watching sit idle for years, but a big mixed-use project could transform an important gateway to the Delmar Loop. No, the Church’s Chicken building is still there, awaiting a new idea (other than a parking lot). But we’ve learned that Pace Properties plans to replace the Circle K service station at Skinker and Delmar Boulevards with a $26M, three-story mixed-use building.

Envisioned is 15Ksf of ground-floor retail and two floors of office space, totaling 50,000sf. The project appears on the city’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agenda this month. Pace is set to request support for a $4.4 TIF. Materials provided to the TIF Commission state the project would support 280 full-time jobs and target “technology and creative firms”.

*This project was approved by the city’s Preservation Board on 3/27/17 (click for meeting agenda)

From images including in materials provided to the city, it appears the retail component will divided between two spaces, an 11,000sf corner space, and a 4,000sf one-story space adjacent to the existing two-story building to the west. There are no curb cuts shown on Delmar, with access to a 61-space surface parking lot via Skinker. The proposed building covers roughly half of the 1.5-acre site.

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In its proposal, Pace states Circle K is a nuisance property “with multiple incidences of criminal activity and regular calls to police related to such illegal activity”. The Washington University in St. Louis-owned building fronting Skinker just north of the gas station would be demolished. The adjacent lot is owned by WUSTL, while the station is owned by Spirit Energy. The property addresses are 6211 Delmar and 621 N. Skinker.

The area is the site of intense development, and had been planned for increased residential and mixed-use density, with the university as the major developer (Loop Area Retail Plan Promotes Ambitious Vision of Urban Development / University City’s Parkview Gardens Offers Optimistic Plan for Inner Ring Suburb, TOD Development). WUSTL owns acres of vacant and underutilized land east of Delmar, known as its North Campus. The school also owns the building on the northeast corner of Skinker and Delmar. While the images including in materials for the TIF Commission are underwhelming and do not provide significant detail, the project architect is Forum Studio, which should indicate a better final design.

Forum Studio designed the under-construction Everly project just east of the Moonrise Hotel on Delmar. Developer Joe Edwards recently purchased the Mt. Olive Church, once slated to become an African-American Cultural Center, and he sold the historic Wabash Railway station to WUSTL. The long-planned Loop Trolley appears slated to begin operating sometime next year, more than four years behind schedule.

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*renderings via Pace Properties added 1/6/2017

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  • kevin smith

    Having grown up in The Loop area, this gas station has long been a problem so I am happy to see it go but putting another Walgreens or CVS in a prime location is a perfect example of poor STL urban development/planning and what city officials and citizens seem to tolerate for positive development. I know they want to be on every street corner but this model as contributed to many great street corners, that can be an anchor for positive development, being eliminated in other parts of city. STL doesn’t need another drug store just like it doesn’t need another gas station or check cashing place. And personally, part of the charm of The Loop is ( was ) being able to avoid chains that seem to pop up without what appears to be a big picture plan and litter the city in the name of development.

    • Dan Burke

      Well said. Drug stores sell just as much disposable junk as gas stations do, and all that disposable packaging litters the streets.

      • rgbose

        I think a drugstore here adds to the retail variety of the neighborhood and puts a pharmacy within walking/biking/transit distance of a lot of people forgoing auto-trips to pharmacies further away. I’d be with you all if the proposal was just a one story drug store. Here there’s the additional retail/restaurant space and office adding jobs to the neighborhood that could also be walked/biked/transited to.

        I also wish for a hardware store nearby. I nominate NW corner of Goodfellow and Delmar with 2-3 floors above.

        • Dan Burke

          I didn’t think of that. Good point. And yes on a hardware store. I’d love to see a dry cleaners, too.

  • CWE1959

    Looks like the Shell is under contract and the TIF has been approved by the TIF commission. The intersection of Delmar and Skinker should be busy with more construction in 2017.

  • markgroth

    So the Shell station’s 2016 tax bill is $16K, the Wash U building that will be demo’d has been off the tax rolls since 2012. Even after the $4.4M TIF ask, will this property collect more than $16K a year to help pay for city services/schools, etc?

    • rgbose

      There’s the sales, earnings, etc taxes too. I think the building will be worth way more than the Shell station. Gotta pay off the TIF first. Also depends if the jobs that end up there are net new ones or moving from elsewhere.

      Also keep in mind sales and property taxes go to many governments in addition to the city.

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  • Goomba

    It appears to me that we are seeing a construction boom, notably residential mixed-use, on many revitalizing commercial strips in St. Louis. This and the Everly on Delmar, the mixed use proposal on South Grand, a couple on the way on Manchester. Alex, do you expect this trend to continue? Also, am I the only one who feels that the Loop Trolley may be a catalyst for more mixed use residential on the East Loop and this may just be the beginning?

    • Whiskey Priest

      I’m afraid it is the next bubble. I really hope I’m wrong because I like where all of this is going.

      • Will M

        I have a good feeling about where we are as a city. these developments appear to be grounded in where we are as a market, as opposed to the overestimations prior to the 2008 housing crash.

        I hope im right, we are heading in a positive direction

        • Alex Ihnen

          The day that St. Louis overbuilds its urban environment to the extent that it produces a bubble that negatively impacts the city is a long ways off.

          • Whiskey Priest

            I just see so many new apartment buildings going up everywhere, and yet the region’s population remains stagnant.

          • johnny1421

            Before the 2010 census, all those estimates were completely incorrect (it was we were growing and it wasn’t the case). So I take the census estimates with a grain of salt. We’ll know for sure after 2020 though

          • matimal

            Yes, That’s bad news for housing prices at the lower end of the market.

          • Whiskey Priest

            And I wonder if rent rates for these apartments will eventually plummet when millennials crawl about of the student loan pit and start buying houses.

          • matimal

            Might they have non-financial reasons for not buying existing houses?

          • Whiskey Priest

            Sure, but most can’t because they have so much school loan debt, and banks are now requiring people put down as much as 20% on new mortgages. On a 200K house, that’s 40K, and few millennials have that kind of money. For that reason, they are renting, and renting rates are going up.

          • matimal

            ..or they aren’t confident in the long term prospects of the place in which the house is located. They’ll rent in metro St. Louis, but they won’t buy. It’s not the price, it’s the long term prospects of the houses location that drive this.

          • Whiskey Priest

            Good point. I imagine it’s a both/and rather than either/or.

          • matimal

            In the end, you have to choose, unless you rent an apartment and buy a house at the same time. Which ever one you choose, shows what you think about the future of a place for you.

          • Whiskey Priest

            Agreed.

          • Adam

            i’m not sure that many millennials will be able to crawl out of the student loan pit, at least not without some sort of federal intervention. rents and cost of living seem to be rising along with rental rates, while salaries aren’t keeping up. can’t save money or pay off your loans at a reasonable clip when 50% of your monthly income goes toward rent.

          • matimal

            Exactly. St. Louis is the last city in America to have to worry about overinvestment in real estate. Go to the cities of Texas and the South to see what speculative real estate investment looks like. It’s a world away from St. Louis’ modest growth.

    • I think so, yes. It’s easy to recognize that this $50M+ investment has turned more than a few eyes toward the Loop’s vacant and/or underused parcels. I suspect the announcements will keep on coming. It also helps that Joe Edwards is so involved with the Trolley — he wants to prove its economic value and is purchasing/developing properties himself in support of that.

  • John

    Tired of the constant trend of developers begging for TIF welfare handouts, but this proposal is an improvement over the current structures.

  • cbrown

    1 parking space for every 4.5 employees PLUS retail and visitors?

    • Riggle

      Most retail in the Loop has zero designated customer parking

      • cbrown

        And it makes it difficult for business to succeed.

        • Riggle

          Does it? No one would come to the loop if it was all surface lots

          • johnny1421

            Saturdays and Sundays the place is packed but there is plenty of parking on the weekdays

          • Tim E

            I tend to believe you have a compromise with the reality of the upper floors being proposed as office space. That is a considerable difference to most of the loop development to date. I would argue that yes you want every office worker take transit but at end of day it won’t happen. You have to give up some parking to make this work for a tenant that is not the norm for the loop.

        • Adam

          Seems pretty successful to me. Very few vacancies. Lots of new development. Packed on the weekends as johnny mentioned.

          • Riggle

            Its so crowded nobody goes there anymore

    • ajc151993

      This will literally be 1/2 mile from the metrolink and will have trolley that runs during business hours plus access by bus and bike route. Do we seriously need to waste property and space to make sure your personal car is 10 feet from where you want to go, I understand making this for somewhere like Manchester or Chesterfield but there is almost no place with better alternative ways to travel.

      • cbrown

        I live 2 blocks from the loop. I want it to succeed. But it is such a small number of spaces vs sqft it severely limits the type of business that can/will operate. And BTW – the trolley is currently slated to run 11am – 7pm M-F. And, maybe a cup of decaf next time. Awfully aggressive considering I was simple pointing out that the number of spaces is a fraction of the conventional number.

        • Adam

          What was aggressive about it?

    • rgbose

      I know, amazing!

    • STLEnginerd

      they would get two more spaces if they eliminated the unnecessary curb cut… also 280 jobs for 50K sqft sounds pretty overly optimistic. I’d bet on half that at most.

      for reference Cupples X is advertising roughly 348 jobs for 120K sqft. Pace thinks they can cram double the number of employees per sqft in the same target demographic market AND with a higher ratio of retail to office. VERY doubtful.

  • brickhugger

    what about the SE corner? Any news that property?

    • rgbose

      Owners won’t sell

      • STLrainbow

        I look forward to that corner eventually getting done, but honestly I’m more excited about having this one get redeveloped first.

  • Adam

    great news but ugh… why not make it L-shaped and slighter longer along skinker and hide the damn parking behind the building?

  • Jakeb

    There has been a lot of chatter for years about criminal activity emanating from that gas station and the need to get rid of it. “Notorious” would be a good word. This sounds like a great project for the loop.

  • rgbose

    So that is just a massing image?
    Would like for the bit along Delmar to be two stories

  • Framer

    Does Pace have the site under contract?

    • Alex Ihnen

      According to TIF documents the developer is still negotiating with one property owner, but it doesn’t say which one.

      • Framer

        Got it. Seems strange to go public before they have control of the site. Their description of the Circle K as a nuisance property “with multiple incidences of criminal activity and regular calls to police related to such illegal activity” makes me wonder if they’re gonna try for eminent domain.

        • rgbose

          That’s to get it blighted so it qualifies for a TIF.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Right. They don’t want to own it if it’s not going to have access to TIF.