Design Tweaked, BMO Harris Plan for Southwest Bank, Walgreens, Goes to Review

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The lastest renderings and plans for BMO Harris and Walgreens at the Southwest Bank site appear virtually unchanged from what we were able to share last month. The proposal has run the gauntlet of public and neighborhood opinion in recent months, and been pulled from the Preservation Board agenda twice. It appears that this time, there may be a decision.

Comparing the October site plan to the Preservation Board submission reveals no real changes. The project does have a different look however, as the blue awnings are gone, and the buildings are shown as red brick instead of painted white.

Other small tweaks are the inclusion of the addition to the Southwest Bank building along Southwest Avenue. While previously shown in the site plan, it did not appear in the previous aerial perspective. The pedestrian access mid-block on Kingshighway is larger, and the Walgreens loading docks are shown screened by a brick wall as well. Finally, a rendering of the Kingshighway streetscape shows the building entrance oriented to the street.

[November 28, 2016 Preservation Board agenda for BMO Harris-Walgreens]

November revised renderings show red brick, October renderings show white painted buildings:

bmo-harris_walgreens_kingshighway-facade bmo-bank_10-16_1

bmo-harris_walgreens_aerial_brick bmo-bank_10-16_2 bmo-harris_walgreens_southwest-ave-perspective sw-bank


BMO Harris_SW Bank 2

Existing Southwest Bank / BMO Harris building:

BMO Harris_SW BankBMO Harris_SW Bank 5BMO Harris_SW Bank 4


The Preservation Board voted on 11/28/2016 to grant preliminary approval for this project with the following five conditions:

  • City of St. Louis Streets Department must approve Kingshighway curb cut
  • Needed conditional use permits must be acquired
  • Consultation with city’s Cultural Resources Office regarding design details
  • Building permits issued that reflect design presented to Preservation Board
  • No drive through is allowed for new restaurant on Southwest

Our previous reporting:

BMO Harris Again Presents Revised Plans for Southwest Bank – October 16, 2016

Design Evolution Continues With BMO Harris Plan for Southwest Bank – August 5, 2016

Preservation Planned for SW Bank Corner Buildings, Demo for Walgreens In Between – July 18, 2016

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  • miguel2586

    Viable storefronts facing Kingshighway > 7 parking spaces.

  • Dahmen Piotraschke

    I am not too thrilled about another walgreens, although no one sees the old Walgreens on Southwest. I am only concerned of the new lighting that would or needs to be used. The corner is a dark spot now at 4 pm. The entire corner and sidewalks need new bright LED.s

  • AJ

    Patrick Brown here speaking to say Mayor Slay supports the project. BMO/DraperKramer hired John Burse, former Preservation Board member to help sell this new, precedent setting development.

    • Adam

      Thankfully in St. Louis all you gotta do is convince your buds rather than make a convincing argument to the public.

  • Imran

    Not removed from the Agenda yet and its 3 pm.

  • Justin Striebel

    Parking is the reason they want to demo the rest of the buildings. Walgreens won’t be part of the project (essentially killing it) without it.

    I continue to view and judge this project through the lease of what it’s adding (or not) to the area. And the answer is nothing at all.

    We have 3 Walgreens (including the one across Southwest that this would replace) in the very near area. We are WELL served by Walgreens.

    A new store likely helps Walgreens objectives, but it doesn’t help our objectives in this part of the city (in and of itself), so we ought to demand damn near perfection.

    Revitalizing some of this stretch is nice. Activating this stretch is nice. But it’s still yet to be worth the trade off.

    A few of my base-level knocks that remain:

    1. Screw the parking, I want the retail store fronts.

    2. Why can’t BMO make the corner of their building an entrance again. What’s the point of restoring it and trying to be urban if they don’t do that?

    3. We’re going to be stuck with a vacant and particularly unattractive then-former Walgreens across Southwest.

    To that last point, we should think long and hard about whether this tradeoff for a new building is worth it. And with that, just how long this new building will truly last.

    • Alex Ihnen

      To play devil’s advocate…

      In what is currently just the bank, the revised plan has the (presumably activated) donated building at the south end, the bank, Walgreen’s and an added restaurant – so four uses instead of one. Without street parking on Southwest and Kingshighway, no one’s walking into a corner entrance here. Walgreen’s is leaving that old store across the street anyway. That building/site has a better use.

      In the end, I’m fairly agnostic on this development. I do think that significant changes have made the plan better. I also think there’s too much parking, and that the existing buildings should remain.

      • Justin Striebel

        I don’t really disagree with you Alex. I was strictly opposed at first, but enough changes have been made that the project is now digestible. It’s kind of one of those things where I’m willing to accept it, but I’m not willing to tell them that I’ll accept it.

        You’re no doubt right about new activation points, though I still consider the idea of Walgreens activating it a little questionable given the presence that exists just across the street. We’re trading one activation for another.

        I do realize the plan is to leave that building, but I still think the fact that it’s a trade is more than notable. This is not bringing a new presence to this corner of the city.

        I’ll also push you for whatever information or opinions you have that led you to state that the building/site has a better use. Are you saying that it’s spoken for or are you just saying that it has the potential for a much better use? To the latter, you are no doubt right, but until there is a plan, it’s simply a vacant and ugly building. Maybe I undervalue its potential to attract a new tenant, but I’m dubious on that. (The site itself, could, but that’d require a larger project.)

        Oh, and as for the corner entrance not making since due to the parking arrangement, I agree. But rather than concede that point to them, I wish they’d fix the parking so the corner entrance DOES make sense.

        • Alex Ihnen

          I like this: “It’s kind of one of those things where I’m willing to accept it, but I’m not willing to tell them that I’ll accept it.”

  • AJ

    Why do we knock neighborhood buildings down to build 15000 sq foot commercial stores? Why not build for people? Why not build up? The view from the 2nd floor of the bank is fantastic. The red brick without the blue awnings are an improvement, but why does developer seem incapable or unwilling to generate any significant changes to this proposal?

  • Dahmen Piotraschke

    anything!!! Just do it..I love the plan with no blue awnings and an open walking sidewalk with the brick and also the back Southwest side with a rest area. This blighted area is so blighted and dark dreary that no one cares to even want to wait for a damn bus.

    • Adam

      And as we’ve seen over and over, Walgreens and more parking is the cure for a blighted area. Two other quick points: 1) pretty sure the current sidewalk is of the “open walking” variety, and 2) there’s nothing like “resting” next to a busy, unbuffered street.

      • John

        Totally agree on the unbuffered street. The outdoor “patio” off of the proposed restaurant looks like it is right on the street with no protection or separation from car traffic. That is totally UNSAFE and extremely poor planning.

        Also, it is ironic that the artist rendering shows a couple in front of Walgreens holding coffee cups; however, there is no retail space fronting Kingshighway in this proposed development that would allow a coffee shop or Starbucks. Missed opportunity!

        I would rather have a slight delay in the timing of the redevelopment to get a high-quality concept vs. rushing construction approval for status quo.

        The massive sidewalk has an opportunity to be spruced up with a strip of brick pavers, custom wrought iron tree grates and other features. There is so much more that could be done to make this better.

      • Dahmen Piotraschke

        If the entire front facade from corner to end is fully fedone, the sidewalks and the street’s curbside safety must be current on safety and zoning space. Yet, the main issue is the waiting PEDs crossing the busy intersection and waiting for the bus. A new bus stop bench and cover will be implemented , I’m sure..and the new bridge with walkways will extend downward onto the street as basic architectural confluence. A’s well as new lighting from the bridge down to the street. Grand and Jefferson Avenues have made well lit and wide bridge-ways. The Hill and the area close to Tower Grove may lend special treatment.

  • Justin

    I think they should be required to retain all the buildings on kingshighway, or at least their facades, except the one that was built in the 70s. Walgreens repurposes older buildings in plenty of cities and should do so here. If they choose not to go through with this project because of such a requirement then there are still plenty of Walgreens nearby.

  • John

    The red brick and no blue awnings are positives, but this seems like a lazy approach to “improving” the concept. No more retail, odd ingress and egress. The restaurant building does not seem to match the rest of the development. I would like to see heavy landscaping, trees, prarie grass and other plantings as well as an irrigation system.

  • Adam

    Why are they so insistent on demo’ing the Kingshighway segment? Do they just not want to play landlord? They could easily detach it from Walgreens and from the corner building and sell it.