SLU’s 395-Acre Redevelopment Plan: Pevely Goes, Desloge Stays, Much More Coming

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Midtown 353 Redevelopment Plan_current land use

It was just September when nextSTL broke the news that the city was set to blight 395-acres spanning the Central Corridor, likely giving development rights to Saint Louis University. Two months later, the outline of a redevelopment plan is in place and city approvals are nearly complete. In St. Louis, blight comes at you fast.

The redevelopment plan focuses on creating connections between the SLU Frost Campus north of Interstate 64, the medical campus south of I-64, and the development of north and south gateways for the area. Confirmed are plans to demolish the last standing Pevely Dairy building and Missouri Belting Building. The Desloge Tower is planned to remain. Once master developer powers are granted, demolition review will no longer exist within the area. The city’s Cultural Resources Office and Preservation Board have previously denied demolition of the two buildings.

Midtown 353 Redevelopment Plan_buildings to be demolished

The Chapter 353 “Urban Redevelopment Corporation Law” means, in short, that SLU would have the final say in all projects within the district boundaries. Acting as master developer, the school would be able to grant financial incentives such as tax abatement.

According to SLU, the four proposed areas of focus are:

  • Medical and educational uses including offices and training facilities for those in the health care and life sciences; classrooms and related instructional, laboratory, research, hospice, nursery and day care spaces; and pharmacy facilities.
  • Office facilities for private, public and non-profit institutions, businesses and agencies; research facilities; retail, dining, entertainment and other services; hotel and conference facilities; recreational and community facilities; and parking.
  • New residential housing near SLU’s south campus, where it’s estimated that 60 to 80 single-family or low-density dwelling units could be constructed on vacant lots in the area.
  • A future connection with the proposed Chouteau Greenway, which would flow through the redevelopment area.

[Read the full St. Louis Midtown 353 Redevelopment Plan]

There is significant vacancy across the 610-parcel Midtown redevelopment plan area. It’s clear that SLU has contributed to this condition of the course of the past couple decades, but impossible to determine to what extent, or how the area might have changed without the school’s demolition and landbanking. The tenor of the university is less bellicose today, but its looming actions, and now near complete development control, should encourage scrutiny.

Sure Father Biondi threatened to move the hospital and medical school to St. Louis County or elsewhere if SLU wasn’t allowed to demolish the Pevely complex, but today’s redevelopment plan dedicates an appendix to hospitals abandoning urban centers over the past half century. At the same time as the redevelopment plan posits a massive relocation away from the city, it touts the already underway $550M commitment to build a new SSM/SLU hospital. It would seem that the veiled threat of abandoning Midtown is both toothless and unnecessary. The granting of master developer powers to the university by the city wasn’t a close call.

Since this site first shared the St. Louis City Economic Incentives Report in May, there has seemingly been an emerging consensus that incentives such as tax abatement and TIF should be dialed back. A stronger “but for” measure should be applied, most seem to say. However, no one in a position to do so has done so. Just today, half a dozen development proposals seeking incentives were made public. None appear set to be challenged.

In a statement posted on the school’s website, SLU lays out its vision for the redevelopment process, as well as the hoped-for result, explicitly stating its desire to be “a leader in just land use and responsible urban design.” The university is also undertaking its first campus master planning effort in nearly three decades.

Midtown 353 Redevelopment Plan_abatement period

Not noted for its previous efforts to engage residential neighbors and the larger community, SLU states that it will hold open forums for residents of the Gate District and Tiffany neighborhoods. An advisory board of area residents, business owners, and others is planned. The school also stated that eminent domain will not be sought, and no residents (above and beyond those who have been displaced in recent years) are expected to be displaced by new development.

The redevelopment plan itself explicitly cites Cortex as the redevelopment model. SLU has been a partner in the Cortex effort, which began in 2005. Similar to Washington University in St. Louis with Cortex, SLU will act as an “umbrella” redeveloper, facilitating development by other interests, including the acquisition and assembly of development sites. It’s unclear if SLU will look to sell portions of its extensive land holdings in the area.

According to the redevelopment plan, nearly 30% of the area is vacant, including land and buildings. By including surface parking and “institutional open space”, that number reaches 45% of land either vacant or underutilized. “Institutional open space” doesn’t include areas such as the expansive setback of the Doisy building, or other planned green space. SLU, SSM, and affiliated organizations currently own 53% of the land within the area. Prohibited uses include adult bookstores, pinball and video arcades, tire and muffler shops, pawn shops, discos, and various other business categories.

The economic impact analysis completed by Development Strategies presents the following: The “Build” scenario is projected to generate $101,304,628 in total tax revenue, compared to total tax revenue of $66,715,167 under the “NO BUILD” scenario. Thus, the impact on taxing jurisdictions of the proposed Phase One redevelopment is estimated to be a net gain of $34,589,461.

While specific development details have not been determined, much of the plan is focused on connecting the existing SLU campuses. Specifically, the school states it will actively “encourage and facilitate” a pedestrian connection at Spring Avenue between the planned $340M City Foundry and $82M Armory project.

Midtown 353 Redevelopment Plan_potential development typesMidtown 353 Redevelopment Plan_proposed land use

What else can be learned from the redevelopment plan? Hickory Street is planned to be vacated and a new private street built adjacent to the existing Missouri Belting building. Access to the hotel and garage at The Armory would be directly from Grand Boulevard. It is desired that direct access from Grand also be introduced to the areas north of Chouteau, but south of the rail lines.

So what to think of the blighting of 395 acres of what seems to be a hot area for redevelopment in the city? In one view, the designation and granting of master developer powers allows and encourages the type of holistic planning needed, and too often missing, in the city. In another view, the granting of such powers to a private entity is an abdication of city responsibility and highlights the continued inability of the city to perform proactive planning. Now, as it did then, the whole process makes us wonder if there exists a consistent, fair argument against simply blighting the entire city.

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  • Jeff Abernathy

    Demo is of course well under way on Pevely. What’s amazing to see is the complete disregard for the architectural pieces still on the property. They seem to be preserving none of the pieces that you often see saved. Cornices, signs above the entrances, etc.

  • gmichaud
  • gmichaud

    The design of this project hinges in large part in the ability to enhance and support the connections with transit. In looking at the site the 3 corners, if they are to support rail, should be dense and walkable. Meaning then that each corner at Chouteau and Grand is a rectangle of density for optimum value to transit.(Other than the Doisy corner, of course) After looking at this a few days I realized that if these rectangles were public squares, plazas or other pedestrian only public space it would create identity and unify the project and be able to inform the design of the rest of the development.
    Three public squares would be visible and recognizable enough to create a destination for the region and beyond. These public spaces give meaning and shape to the larger society. This is instead of plopping down buildings without urban form, the way the suburbs build out environments and too often the City also.
    It is absolutely necessary to center this project around transit and walking. If the Pevely/ Belt buildings fronted a square with the buildings to shape the space behind it, and the north east and west corners some type of square was built, it would be beyond a doubt a pedestrian orientated environment that has excellent access to transit.
    Whatever solution the SLU group comes up with has to reflect this type of thinking. St Louis cannot once again let another pedestrian/ transit friendly environment go to waste, especially in this location. As a society we can no longer afford the luxury of making everything autocentric. Whatever is built influences the future of St Louis for 30 years or longer, and the future is not auto only environments. Especially in the heart of the city near a major rail line and along a major bus line.
    There is a whole technical discussion behind this reasoning which I won’t attempt. A major consideration are walking distances, Richard Untermann has a nice section on this subject in his book, Accommodating the Pedestrian.

  • kjohnson04

    They are determined to destroy Pevely. It’s a travesty. That building, even it’s current state would be a valuable part of a Medical Center.

  • Pingback: LU’s 395-Acre Redevelopment Plan: Pevely Goes, Desloge Stays, Much More Coming - ConstructForSTL()

  • brickhugger

    I can’t support anything that involves the demolition of either the Pevely or Desloge tower. The Belting building I can live without, but Pevely and Desloge are non-negotiable. With all the land they have already cleared there is NO REASON to take this building down. I could live with some of the crap that will eventually get built if these two are saved, and frankly, this should be a loud and public fight.

    • jhoff1257

      Desloge isn’t going anywhere. Like Riggle said below, I think the “threat” of Desloge getting knocked down was to make the demo of Pevely more palatable. Over all I do agree with your point though. Pevely should remain, would be a great loft conversion. I wouldn’t worry too much about Desloge, the City has let some significant buildings fall but I highly doubt they’d ever sign off on Desloge getting knocked down.

      • Alex Ihnen

        Technically I don’t think the city would have to give any approval, or sign off on Desloge being demo’d. However, there would be significant political and public pressure to keep it.

    • gmichaud

      While I agree about the loud and public fight. It is a terrible way to conduct urban planning. There should be a policy for public participation and not have to resort to wasting time telling and yelling, doing sit ins or whatever.
      The Pevely Building is a resource and to justify tearing it down would have to present a very strong public case before it is wrecked.
      The problem is the city planning process is so messed up that there has been absolutely no public discussions on how to best handle the vacant land surrounding the over billion dollar investment in rail transit. That was 90’s dollars, at this point replacing it based on the north south line proposal makes the replacement worth 4 to 6 billion.
      Zoning doesn’t get it, zoning does nothing to insure pedestrian friendly environments with good access to transit. And how, just how can the city government, and an institution supposedly concerned about social justice completely ignore the enormous investment in infrastructure and a city plan that serves the community.
      Fundamental change in St. Louis city government is needed. Not sure what it is going to take but I have pointed out elsewhere the National planning policy framework of England and the City of London Local Plans, offer possible solutions. “At the heart of the National Policy Framework is a presumption of in favour of sustainable development”
      The national policy framework includes core planning principles which at the very top of the list is that planning should “be genuinely plan-led, empowering local people to shape their surroundings, with succinct local and neighborhood plans setting out a positive vision for the future of the area.”
      Part of that is valuing existing buildings as a resource and being slow to demolish, which they also talk about in terms of both sustainability and climate change.
      Finally, rather than having a private developer offer to hold public hearings, cities like London and Liverpool have “Statements of Community Involvement” which spells out the process of public participation for development in the city.
      The whole SLU proposal is a complete absurdity and real solutions should be found
      The Pevely Building rather than being demolished should more likely be the centerpiece of a redevelopment plan.

      • brickhugger

        I know the planning department is trying (the director is a colleague of mine for many years); they are running up against A) politics (no kidding, right?), and B) the legacy of Team 4 and the 1970’s comprehensive plan for the city, which, while not a bad plan, gave the impression that large parts of the north side were being written off, and so there was a huge public backlash.
        We need a really well done and community supported comprehensive plan, and for that matter, a certified city manager. I’m not taking bets on how soon either will come into being though… 🙁

        • gmichaud

          The whole idea of developing a peoples “Statement of Community Involvement” would be to open up debate and get it passed as an ordinance. In other words if city officials won’t act then the people should.
          As I said previously the City of London and Liverpool, both have (different) around 10 page documents. Using that as a template I would guess it would take hours rather than days to come up with a draft proposal for St. Louis.
          I’m a Vietnam Veteran, a combat photographer with the 9th division in the Mekong Delta
          I am just saying it is time to get real. The same system of self dealing has been going on for 60 years, they are not going to change unless the people make them. The problem is that it is serious and not just a matter of a higher quality of life, (which should be enough), but climate change and our existence is at stake.
          As for as current planning in St. Louis, it is too focused on zoning and districts. There has to be radical change there also. The City of London has a local plan (called the Unitary Plan in 1999).
          In it it calls out categories like housing and transport, with districts embedded within categories. They have Core Strategies and Policies.
          Here are a couple of Core Strategies under transport St. Louis might have under its Local Plan.
          1. Walking, bicycles, transit and automobiles should be treated equal in all proposals as much as possible.
          2. Street parking along sidewalks is discouraged, especially in districts with a heavy transit presence. Housing and venues should be available right or near the sidewalk to minimize distances from transit stops.
          These two core strategies alone would transform St. Louis and there are dozens and dozens Core Strategies in the City of London Local Plan (about 200 pages in all).
          The difference is there is an awareness of issues like walking, transit accessibility and so on which does not occur in St. Louis Planning documents. (Although they go to a great deal of effort pretending they care about these issues, without ever getting the results)
          London tries not to prohibit a great deal, but rather gives the developer an opportunity to make their case. Still the desired outcomes are clear and the developer knows what to propose to gain approval for their project. This is all done in the public interest, you know ideas like protecting the multi billion dollar investment in Metrolink and the station on Grand Ave. The exact opposite of the Doisy Center buildig.
          This methodology gives the citizens an approximate understanding and transparency to what the city is trying to achieve, long before developers approach. Nor can it be underestimated the positive impact of a coherent city plan upon economic development. (the fact St Louis is a stagnant city and region economically should be another warning sign that leadership is failing and needs change)
          Finally I know what you mean about the frustrations of planners in St. Louis, a majority of the St Louis mistakes a first year planning student could recognize. I remember the planner from Toronto, a nice city. I can’t remember his name, but I though oh boy St. Louis is going to get serious about planning, but he faded out quickly. I don’t know, but I would guess when he was confronted with the disaster of urban planning in St. Louis and the complete inability to change anything so he left.
          Which goes back to why the first point I made is valid. It is time for the people to take control of their government and end the self dealing, it is destroying St. Louis.
          The way the SLU project is proposed to be handled, along with the wanton destruction of the Pevely Building is the latest example of another insider deal that ignores the public interest.

  • gmichaud

    The first requirements for development in this area should be that the finished product allows good pedestrian access to what is a major transit investment at Grand Metro stop and also the necessary density to give access to as many transit users as possible.
    The Doisy Center built by SLU is completely the opposite, (SE corner of Grand and Chouteau) if art explains life, then the Doisy Center is saying to the public we are the elite rulers and we want nothing to do with the working class unwashed masses that use transit. The only way the Doisy Center could be worse for transit users is if the green space was replaced by parking.
    That and the proposed demolition of the Pevely Building throws up a huge red flag. The Pevely building is more attractive than anything SLU has built in decades, is an excellent size and location with superior pedestrian access to the Grand Metro Station. If anything that model should be built up Grand and up and down Chouteau with parking behind.
    What on earth are they going to replace the Pevely with, suburban kitsch?
    And then the promise for public involvement in the two adjacent neighborhoods gives them a narrow population they can control. The truth is successful transit and development of this area is not only a city wide issue, but a concern for the whole region. (Sustainability, climate change)
    So we are supposed to believe SLU will have the citizens best interests at heart?
    It is unbelievable the way the Board of Alderman is handing off governance to a private corporation, and then on top of that the private entity gets to decide about tax breaks.
    I have read through the Economic Incentives report cited above and with that and other sources I estimate I am paying at least 100 to 200 dollars a year in higher property taxes to support projects like this. Please note even in their lengthy report the city government cannot be bothered to supply calculations to the public to let everyone know what these tax giveaways cost individual citizens.
    The public does not have a voice in what happens. Targeting a small population in a couple of neighborhoods is not public participation. And how can you trust corporate insiders when they are making the their own rules?

    Overall Urban planning in St Louis is a hot mess. There are a few successes, but they derive from enlightened developers. There is little or nothing that the city does to guide projects to be built in the public interest. In fact it is usually the opposite. Just look at the autocentric parking garage up the street in Grand Center by consummate insider Fox Associates and the way they completely ignored the planners and public participation in the recommendations of the Great Street Plan. Then the spectacular arrogance of Otis Williams of SLDC and Alderwoman Marlene Davis shoved the project through in record time without public input and gave Fox a million dollar tax abatement on top of ignoring public and planner recommendations.
    To me the SLU proposal has nothing to do with serving the public interest. The Board of Aldermen are complete failures as leaders, including those members running for Mayor. There has been no attempts to correct these issues that have been lingering for years. City after city around the world can offer insights into better planning methodologies with robust public participation. Instead St. Louis city government continues as if everything is ok.
    At this point the process for approving development is an inexcusable nightmare and only stays in place to serve self dealing corporate insiders and their government lackeys. This is why the incompetent Donald Trump was elected president, people are sick of the self dealing. I know I am.
    The problem is that the self dealing is harming society, our lives and the lives of our children.

    • rgbose

      Doisy is horrible, whole-heartedly agree.

      • gmichaud

        The building itself is ok, not horrible, the covered walk way in the rear to what I guess is the garage has some merit, but the site planning is a big FU to the people of St. Louis, to a walking city and to the support of transit by the University of Social Justice.
        Even along Grand Ave there are no curb cuts/plazas for transit, creating hazardous conditions along Grand with their own buses. Transit is secondary to SLU. Their attitude is a negative for calling the shots for the development of property surrounding an important rail and bus station along a busy transit city route.
        So SLU is going to screw up another section of the city, does anyone care?
        After some consideration I think a ten page document that becomes a city ordinance modeled on a “Statement of Community Involvement” for cities like London and Liverpool is the beginning of a solution to poor urban design in St. Louis.
        London and Liverpool have websites for comments, once you register you can see other comments, make comments and most important you can see answers to your comments from the developer/government.
        So in St Louis, aside from SLU, you have sites like on the Hill, or NGA on the Northside that should all have website comment sections to engage the public, except city government does not care. Public hearings become a way to hide from dialogue. There is no reason the internet should not already be a major player in public participation. I think it is especially important to target a dialogue about tax giveaways that should be a part of citizen responsibility that the Board of Aldermen have abandoned with their Aldermanic courtesy.
        The creation of a ten page or so “Statement of Community Involvement” for the City of St. Louis, presented by the citizens to the Board of Aldermen for ratification as ordinance should begin to address of the how and when of citizen involvement.
        Right now St Louis urban planning is a disaster zone. Truthfully I think the citizens somehow have to take the lead away from the leaderless city government.
        The uncertainty surrounding development around the major Metrolink station at Grand Ave is unbelievable. That the city government cannot give certainty that approval of suburban style projects like the Doisy Center is not possible is a true travesty of governance.
        I could go on of course, I won’t. One last thing though, the local plans developed by cites like London and Liverpool create a framework so the general thrust of development surrounding a major transit stop like Grand Ave relates to serving that enormous investment in infrastructure while serving the needs of the people.
        As Doisy Center proves, not so in St. Louis.
        Yes a new ordinance for the people is needed.

        • rgbose

          Here’s th St Louis Resiliency survey. It asks a couple questions about planning.

          • gmichaud

            I took the survey, the question about whether I think Public Participation is adequate is clueless when you have Alderwoman Marlene Davis, Otis Williams of SLDC and Fox Associates announcing an autocentric garage in Grand Center, go for a permit, and get a million dollar tax abatement in 60 days. It is obvious that were saying screw the public. They shoved the project down the throats of the people of St. Louis in record time because they wanted no public participation. It was planned that way.
            St. Louis does not have a vigorous system of Public Participation. I view public hearings, surveys and various reports as trying to convince the people government officials are really working for them.
            I have pointed out centralized websites of cities like London and Helsinki. They have comment sections online with London requiring that officials answer all questions or objections. Reports are made part of policy instead of lingering in a desk drawer.
            Thus a recommendation by the St Louis public along with design professionals that garages in Grand Center should be fronted with apartments and commercial in the City of London would be made part of the plan that builders like Fox Associates have to conform to, although London would have had standards in place before a Great Streets Plan was produced. (Unlike St Louis which has no standards)
            Hell Fox Associated didn’t even have to publically explain and defend their position. Everything was just passed through the mindless and leaderless Board of Aldermen.
            So the questions I answered in the survey will be ignored. It is the same way they pretend they want public input, but ignore it everywhere.
            Basically a lousy job is being done without a verified process of public input. The city has been in steady decline for 60 years for absolute proof of the failure in leadership.
            As the autocentric garage in Grand Center illustrates, the real, daily system that functions in St. Louis is a self dealing system that totally screws the public
            The resiliency survey is part of that smoke screen.

      • kjohnson04

        There is so much wasted space there. Remember how the dense that part of Grand used to be? I said it before, the Long John Silvers across the street from Doisy is more urban in nature than Doisy is.

  • John

    I have more blind faith in SLU’s development control vs. the City. I agree that it should be the other way around, but the government bureaucracy and strategic vision isn’t there, unfortunately.

    My net takeaway is that it is good to see a redevelopment renaissance in midtown St. Louis. Perhaps this online forum and other opportunities for public input can serve as catalysts for better urban planning in the long run. I am cautiously optimistic.

    • Riggle

      Slu has been destroying the urban fabric os st louis for 30 years, I have faith they will continue

      • Alex Ihnen

        There are limitations to how an institution can act – its nature. That said, we shouldn’t completely discount the possible positive impact of the school’s leadership change. There’s at least some hope, for the first time in a long time. The pressures on the university are different as well. It’s not operating in a vacuum, but rather alongside quality developers like Lawrence Group, Green Street, and others.

        • marca stewart

          You do know that Lawrence Group is just an extension of SLU right?

          • jhoff1257

            I know some people that work for Lawrence Group. Care to back that up with some actual proof?

          • Alex Ihnen

            No, I didn’t know that. Do tell! 🙂

            Besides the snark…yes, Lawrence Group has done and is doing a lot of work for SLU (and SSM). They also do work for a lot of other clients and in quite a few other cities.

          • marca stewart

            Rather than just reporting what the “establishment” wants you to report, why don’t you do a little digging? Or is that too much journalist work for you? Perhaps you can’t step on someone’s toes.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Waiting for you to explain how Lawrence Group is just an extension of SLU, or even explain what that means.

          • marca stewart

            Institutions like SLU need a face cover for many of their planned expansions. Remember this particular time when SLU was sued for taking 30 mil in TIF to build Chaifetz Arena. Lawrence Biondi went on record stating that SLU is not a religious institution hence renegating their Jesuits origins. That is an example of the controversy and missteps that will not occur when you have a separate and private entity like Lawrence Group own a project. Now go back to the years 2000′. Smith was just tooling around with some old motorcycles. Few had ever heard of their architectural firm. Biondi started working closely with Smith providing him with 700K in TIF money (indirectly) to open a Ducati dealership ( mind you that the manufacturer is next to Biondi’s parents regional hometown. Maybe some nostalgic draw?). Next project also with Biondi developing Hotel Ignacio, still with a good chunk of public money. From there Lawrence Group continued with Carter Carburator building, Sun Theatre, Missouri theatre etc. All buildings indirectly owned by SLU (or affiliates) and renovated with a totality of public money. SLU will not be accused of sacking public funds and Lawrence Group appears as the “developer”. This is just a succinct non exhaustive summary. Now all you need to do is connect a lot of more dots along this pathway.
            Good Luck!

          • Alex Ihnen

            Sorry. You’re wasting your time here. The projects and connections you mention are all well known and public. Again, LG has done many projects with/near/related to SLU. I assume and am hoping LG has made a pile of money doing so. As a business, they should make money. But you say things like “renovated with a totality of public money”, which has no meaning. And you accuse me/this site of not wanting to step on toes. Perhaps your criticism would be best aimed at people and organizations who have not been critical of SLU and its development. If, for whatever reason, you believe there’s a conspiracy, corruption, etc., I’d encourage you send info to me, the Post-Dispatch, RFT, post it to Facebook yourself, whatever. Thanks for reading.

          • marca stewart

            Let me feed you with the small spoon: “Totality of public money” meaning that the financial resources to acquire the properties and complete the projects have been 100% from public development programs. In other words, paid for with taxpayers money. Also, means that the developer did not spend a penny of its own money. As a journalist (if that’s what you are) you should know that the public is informed only of some sides of a deal. There is a lot going on behind closed doors that most of the time translates in illegal activity camouflaged to appear legal. But that would be real journalism, perhaps beyond the scope of your website.

            Good Luck.

          • Adam

            Speaking of journalism, Marca, you would seem less of a hypocrite if you actually fed us some evidence rather than just a bunch of conspiracy theories.

          • Adam

            Sorry, I meant to say “paranoid hypocrite”.

          • marca stewart

            You sound just like one of those cronies sitting in some cubical holding on to some lousy job. However, following is just one sample of a project where Lawrence Group is the “Developer”. Beaux Arts Building (GCAA): 14 millions NEW MARKET TAX CREDITS, 8 millions HISTORIC TAX CREDITS, 12 millions TIF. How much do you think the “developer” spent? All other projects are just the same. Do you really think that with all this money at play some unknown architect would get all this free money?

          • Adam

            Despite repeating yourself incessantly you’ve yet to demonstrate any of the illegality or back-room dealing that you alluded to previously. I never said I was a fan of TIF, but TIF is not illegal. As for my job, I don’t love it but I don’t hate it either. And, yes, I do spend some time in a cubical, not that that has any bearing on our conversation. Anyway, still awaiting evidence…

          • marca stewart

            You just don’t get the point of this posting! A 35 million dollars project financed with 35 million dollars in taxpayers monies. The “developer” owns the project and entities like SLU and Confluence Academy (in this particular example) own the property. If this makes sense to you (it’s not illegal) but as originally stated in my first post: big institutions rip off the taxpayer hiding behind a private developer. You might not see anything wrong with it but the majority of the taxpayers do. And so do I!

          • Adam

            It’s an arts school, not a luxury condo development. It’s not a money maker. They took advantage of tax credits that exist to rehab historic structures and incentivize investment in distressed areas. Grand Center is better for it. Sorry, but I don’t feel ripped off by this particular project. Like I said, I’m not universally pro-TIF, but I’m also not universally against tax credits just because “OMG TAXES!”

          • marca stewart

            MORON! Go sit in your cubical and wait for the day to go by!

          • Alex Ihnen

            Yes, I would actually say that the work it would take to investigate and report on the issues you raise is well beyond the scope of this website.

            Thanks again for reading.

          • Jeff Devers

            You seem like a nice person….

          • gmichaud

            My daughter just graduated from GCAA last year, we were with the school from the beginning. Unless you know of some secret deals with SLU, the Lawrence Group was owner, developer, architect, and general contractor who worked with Confluence Schools to achieve the desired result. (They did a generally excellent job, but totally screwed up the plaza to the east of Sun Theater). The only involvement by SLU is as the sponsor, of which I had a fair amount of contact with as a parent of a student and felt they handled the their education duties admirably.
            It is actually a bit much to be asking Alex to do journalism for you. You have started reporting on your subject, but as I point out at least some of your facts appear wrong.
            It is important to realize we are all citizen journalists. I have been researching the city planning of a few cities, notably, San Francisco, London and Helsinki (research goes back to 1999 for London and Helsinki) and have been reporting here and there at Nextstl my observations.
            So yes I understand there are many insular relationships that are harming St Louis.While good design is important, I think the real problem is a transparent process is missing in St. Louis. Something along the lines of a “Statement of Community Involvement” of the City of London would help identify poor design and correct it. So I’m not sure if Lawrence Group is the real problem.

          • Kevin S

            Alex does more journalistic work than 99% of the journalists out there

          • Alex Ihnen

            Well, that’s not true, and this isn’t about me. I completely agree that the flow of money and questioning of the “establishment” should happen more regularly and with more depth. FWIW, I operate at my limit and simply can’t do more. I will continue to do what I can to ask questions, raise issues, and hopefully prompt real, professional journalists to do that same. Thanks for reading.

  • Tim E

    I’m at a loss at why Foundry and even the Armory & the immediate areas around these development have to be part of this? Those developments have their own legs, already proposing development that is better then SLU has put forth, believe most of the incentives being sought and should be the priority first and the south campus area blighted area second…

    • jhoff1257

      SLU taking over development of these areas is not changing the Foundry or Armory project. They are still moving full speed ahead and SLU isn’t dictating any changes to them.

      • Alex Ihnen

        They’re coordinating efforts to be sure, but you are correct. As to why they’re within the blighting boundaries, I’m not sure. Both The Armory and Foundry have been blighted separately and have tax abatement and TIF.

  • Steven C. Schulte

    This isn’t just SLU involved. It’s SLU and SSM, and neither of them should be allowed to do get their suburban oriented claws in this. The travesty of the SSM Cardinal Glennon expansion by closing off Park Avenue at Grand shows just how clueless these people are.

    If SSM was urban oriented, their corporate headquarters wouldn’t be in a suburban office park.

  • STLEnginerd

    SOOO a thought what if the city said ok we will give you this EXCEPT you have to save Pevely and Desloge I waffle on Belting only because its a little harder to re-purpose and isn’t as impressive a building architecturally. Would SLU really walk away from the opportunity to drive the development for the rest of the project area. It seems like the city has alot of leverage to save Pevely if they just decided to weild it.

    • Alex Ihnen

      No, SLU wouldn’t walk away.

  • PD

    The eagles nest building(where the AB eagle flys next to 40) is not abandoned.

  • Jakeb

    Whatever you think of it, Pevely’s fate was sealed years ago. I’ve used the time to move to a place of acceptance. Now I’m excited for the long overdue investment and commitment to keeping the medical campus in the city where it belongs. It’s a lot of power but much better in the hands of a 200 year old institution committed to staying put. The University has positive long-term incentives that simply do not exist with private for profit developers.

    • STLEnginerd

      If SLU could demonstrate a need for the land (as in a difficulty in acquiring alternative vacant land adjacent to there current holdings), AND demonstrated a readiness to actually build there.

      Until they get to that point I say meh.

    • Giving a single institution unilateral control over such a large area will almost certainly result in poor use of that space. It’s simply too much. If they plan to spin off some of their holdings to private developers, well, maybe we’re talking…but I seriously doubt that would happen.

      • Alex Ihnen

        Yes. Simply put, this isn’t how good urban environments have ever been built and there are no good examples of such a large master-planned quality urban environment being built today. There’s potential to do better here, but SLU will have to operate in a new way, better and different than Cortex, for example. The odds of that happening? Not great.

        • Kevin

          How do you mean different than Cortex? And why are the odds not great?

        • Ted Yemm

          Could you specify what your problems are with Cortex?

          • Alex Ihnen

            It’s touted at car-optional. There are no specific amenities beyond the very basics to foster that. It’s touted as “urban”. The current land use and streetwall treatments are not urban, wasting space and presenting nothing urban to the pedestrian. It’s touted as a start-up/innovation community. It’s the most expensive rent in the city and targeted largely toward attracting the region’s largest and most wealthy businesses.

            Cortex is good for St. Louis. It’s many things – high-end development, good repurposing of a former light-industrial corridor, etc.

  • Guest

    When people who SHOULD know better about preserving our architectural legacy DON’T understand why (ESPECIALLY in this day) it’s embarrassingly inexcusable. For crying out loud…the architectural details of the Pevely Building are visually very evident… and anyone with an ounce of sense knows they could never be duplicated today.
    Shame on SLU.

  • Riggle

    Desloge was never threatened, just a stick to prob toward the Pevely demo. Pretty transparent.

  • SnakePlissken

    The vacant railway/mixed use buildings could be a fairly cool new residential district by 2030-2035. “The Yards by SLU(?)” Thats if the several old warehouses can last that much longer.

  • WhatWouldLouTheszDo?

    No pinball? …I’m out

  • Adam

    ugh… i have a bad feeling about this. get ready for a bunch more vacant lots for some indeterminate amount of time. would Pevely really be that difficult to redevelop?

    • Brett

      You wouldn’t think… it’s a rectangular warehouse. Looks like a simple loft/office rehab. I guess they’d rather see setbacks, glass and steel and moving forward rather than looking back. At this point, I’d like for them to just be transparent and demo those buildings rather than letting them sit and make that whole intersection as ugly as it is today.

      • STLEnginerd

        If the city and SLU offered the kind of incentives they are talking
        about with an eye toward saving Pevely rather than demolishing it, i am
        100% certain they could find a credible investor.
        I always liked the idea of a mid-teir hotel going into the Pevely building. Some brand options would be Drury, Hampton, Fairfield, Spring Hill, Holiday Inn, and Best Western. The dimensions are roughly 60ft x 280 ft x 4 stories which is easily within the envelope of some of the hotel chains noted above, and I am certain plenty of them would be interested in a midtown location near two major interstates, SLU Hospital, SLU Campus, Grand Center, Cortex, hot neighborhoods like the Grove and South Grand, and a slew of recent new proposed investment. It seems like a layup to me.

        • Adam

          AND with a redevelopment plan in place for the rest of the area Pevely would be much more likely to attract a developer.

    • rgbose

      It’s just in the way.

      • Adam

        In the way of what?

        • rgbose

          Their brand.

  • tbatts666

    How could incremental approach be leveraged in this area?

  • tbatts666

    I don’t trust SLU to develop within the cities best interests.

    it’s important to make sure the surrounding area will be antifragile. The popping of the student bubble will happen. The development needs to be mixed use, mixed income, diverse, walkable so when the student bubble does burst (or other unpredictable event), it won’t be catastrophic. SLU Won’t have the city’s best interests at heart.