50 Homes, Two 20-Unit Apartment Buildings Next for Forest Park Southeast

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Tonight, the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood was finally presented with plans for significant market-rate residential infill south of Manchester Avenue. The new project is the final component of an overall plan to develop nearly 100 properties help for more than a decade by Washington University in St. Louis, via Forest West Properties.

As NEXT STL reported in January, a 50-unit affordable housing project is also moving forward and will take a number of the long-vacant lots and replace derelict buildings. That project, by Rise and designed by Trivers Associates, added to VOW’s Housing Now program, which plans to renovate 5-10 properties for low-income homeownership for women.

The market rate project presented Monday features homes with target sale prices of $300-$350K. The 50 homes will be built on Norfolk, Swan, and Vista Avenues. View at Newstead, as the project has been named, will feature 3BD, 2.5BA homes and two 20-unit apartment buildings.

Construction could begin as early as this month, with earliest occupancy later this year. Developers Kyle Miller and Chris Hulse formed Unify Grove Development to pursue the request for proposals issued by Washington University. Project design is by V3 Studios.

Model home by Unify Grove Development and V3 Studios:

Proposals for south of Manchester in The Grove have come and gone over the past decade. What was once eyed as an area primarily suited for affordable housing, has become a mix as the market in the neighborhood has exploded in recent years.

A decade ago, new market rate residential construction in the neighborhood was unheard of. Then UIC built a custom home north of Manchester on Gibson, eventually followed by four more market rate homes on the same block, and then a custom home on Hunt Avenue south of Manchester.

A Request for Information (RFI) was issued by the university just more than two years ago to gauge interest in development on the south side of the neighborhood. NEXT STL understands that while several responses were received by an initial deadline, Forest West declined to chose one, instead waiting to find what it considered a better fit.

Unify Grove Development is seeking a 10-year, 100% tax abatement, as well as a CID (Community Improvement District). CID revenue would be used for area infrastructure improvements. Approximately two dozen houses would be demolished and replaced.

Images from Forest West Properties RFI February 2015:

UIC residential infill in Forest Park Southeast:

 

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  • Dahmen Piotraschke

    Nobody has credit to buy a new home , all it is is a micro gentrification by basic build in divide. And to keep property value perfect..the old duplexes are fixed up enough to rent to those with perfect credit and raise rent that only the wealthy can afford..then if a decision comes to build an all new trio of homes ..the rich renters will be available.

  • kjohnson04

    I’m usually for projects like this. Right up until they cry “poor” and ask for tax abatements. If the demand is there, you’ll make your money back. Being adjacent to Cortex should be all the incentives they need to move forward…without taxpayer handouts.

  • Jon Zeke

    This development really appeals to me aesthetically, I’ve been toying with how much modern I can really add to my Rehabbed home in TGE – I would love a properly modern house in the heart of the city more than any rehab, but to also be in the city as well. If people take to the designs of these homes (and they are well built) perhaps other neighborhoods will start seeing more modern designs mixed in with the historic classics. That I’d be super close to work would be fairly amazing…

  • JoshuaDavid

    This is exciting but we absolutely need that property tax revenue for our schools. We need schools before we’re gonna see population growth in the city.

    • Brett McMahon

      I hope you realize that the property tax will be frozen for 10 years at the assessed value before construction starts, meaning that the property tax doesn’t just drop to zero. In some cases, those properties that are owned by LRA which generate zero RE taxes and suck up city funds for mowing and maintenance will actually start generating revenue. So you can either let those RE taxes stay stagnant for years with few to no improvements or you can use the tax abatement incentive to generate development which will then bring new residents to the neighborhood. Those residents will pay a city’s earning tax further generating city revenue and then those residents will shop locally where they’ll pay taxes on food, beverages, entertainment, household items and so on. All while this is going on, the neighborhood is thriving, property values are rising and those who can’t afford doing complete upkeep to their home benefit from those around them. Once the 10 years is up, the city will then start collecting much higher RE taxes. Tax abatement receives a lot of criticism but few completely understand the process.

  • Ben Harvey

    I hope that they open up Vista and Swan up at Taylor. Those cul-de-sacs are a bummer

    • Daniel Bellon

      Amen! The entire Forest Park Southeast aka The Grove, street grid needs to be opened up. It’s time. This perfectly well designed grid needs to be opened up all over. The time has come to remove ALL the barricades and let the traffic flow and the area will thrive. Some of the most impressive blocks of residential streetscapes around the city are currently being hidden. (East west sections of Oakland, Arco, Gibson alone change the feel of the entire area.

  • John

    Design looks great. I hope the construction quality is equally great and not cheap. The construction quality needs to be sustainable so these units age well over time.

    If the developers don’t need the tax abatement welfare handout, then they should NOT request it. There should be a city government process to address the street and sidewalk infrastructure in redeveloped areas without diverting tax dollars through the “ask.” I understand working the system, but the system needs to be fixed.

  • Don

    Exciting news for FPSE. All those vacant lots provide great opportunities for new construction.

  • joe diekemper

    At the meeting last night, the developers, Joe Roddy and Brooks Goedeker all stated unequivocally that they didn’t require tax abatement to do the project, but were using the abatement + Developer directed CID financing method to make certain that what would have been general revenue tax dollars went to repaving streets and rebuilding sidewalks on the blocks they were building.

    The sequestration of public funds to benefit individual projects deserves thoughtful review and analysis that it hasn’t yet received. I can see the argument for it, but also see how it reinforces disinvestment north of Delmar and in pockets of the city where general revenue may otherwise be slated for use. When real estate property taxes are paid, about 57% goes to the schools the rest to general revenue. In this case, the PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) won’t contribute to schools at all. The residual 43% goes to general revenues. The mayor and entire BOA help decide where those are spent and what should be a priority for the city…whether paying down debt, public health, more cops, better parks or even paving streets in FPSE. It seems unlikely that the city would prioritize tax revenue from 50 homes and 2 apartment buildings to be spent only on the blocks that the new buildings are going on – or even in that neighborhood in general.

    The developer at last night’s meeting named $330,000 as their price point. Updating sidewalks and repaving streets for the owners of new $330,000 homes is one possible use of city funds; however, we need to talk about what is being given up and post-Ferguson we need to talk about where we are not going to be paving streets and fixing sidewalks for lack of general revenue funds.

    Additionally, when the city isn’t doing the repaving and sidewalk work, does the developer intend to use minority owned contractors to do the work? Pay prevailing wages? Use union workers? There are many interesting and meaningful political and economic impacts that should be considered in moving forward with this new tax abatement + developer directed CID incentive model.

    Finally, does anyone know how these abatement + models are being presented at SLDC? It seems strange that they passed the SLDC process and scorecard when they openly acknowledged they didn’t need abatement to build the project, just to do sidewalks and streets afterwards.

    • Bobby Gissendanner

      A large portion of city property taxes goes to ZMD, Library, Library, MSD, STLCC, Blind Person Fund, Sheltered Workshop, Mental Health Board and Children Services Fund. Most of these should be exempted from tax abatement/TIF projects. State and Federal funds for social programs are being cut.

    • Luftmentsch

      How does this project “reinforce disinvestment north of Delmar?” More residents in the city means more earnings tax revenue, more retail tax revenue, eventually more retail in general and therefore more options for people living in the city to spend their money in the city. That benefits everyone, no? If it’s really true that these developers would move forward without incentives, then, of course, they shouldn’t get the incentives. My bet is that there’s been a misunderstanding. In any case, nothing in this project stops you (or anyone else) from investing north of Delmar, and SLDC will be tripping over itself to provide incentives if/when such a plan materializes.

      • joe diekemper

        LM,

        To answer your question, if we choose to use tax abatement in conjunction with CIDs that essentially charge the residents tax equivalent amounts and allow developers to spend that money at or near the site, then there is less money available to the city government for expenditure elsewhere including north city.

        This model allows the areas where development is taking place to recapture funds equivalent to taxes that otherwise would be spent citywide including in north city and primarily funding public schools which are used by the majority of families who live north of delmar.

        You seemed to assume this development would increase population, earnings taxes and sales taxes. In light of similar projects, the city population is flat or falling, earnings tax growth has been projected by the city at about 2% per year without a central corridor development effect that I’m aware of. Sales tax revenue for 2016 is in fact down from 2015.

        In reply to your final sentence. Nothing in my post related to investing north of delmar by private individuals. I’m referring to public investment through general revenue tax dollars by the city.

        • Luftmentsch

          Yes, I assume that building houses on empty lots and replacing empty, crumbling structures adds population. The fact that there has been a net population loss in the city over the past 15 years hardly contradicts that point. Absent “similar projects,” the city’s population loss would have been even worse.

          And I would think the people who buy $330,000 homes are going to be paying the earnings tax. How is that not a reasonable assumption?

          Apologies if I misunderstood your point about “disinventment” on the north side, but there’s been a common (and imho bogus) argument floating around lately that the Mayor’s Office and SLDC are somehow “steering” private investment toward the Central Corridor.

          • joe diekemper

            LM

            Development only adds population and earnings tax to the extent they moved from outside the city. Every developer makes this claim but at this point I think the onus is on them to prove it.

            I continue to feel these incentive models are potentially harmful to broader citywide priorities and schools to the benefit of those who can afford 330000 homes.

        • Nick

          “If we choose to use tax abatement in conjunction with CIDs that essentially charge the residents tax equivalent amounts and allow developers to spend that money at or near the site, then there is less money available to the city government for expenditure elsewhere including north city.”

          Your conclusion rests on the premise that development projects would always happen without incentives. If the tax abatement is the difference between a development project getting off the ground (and I think it’s safe to assume in many cases this is true) then there wouldn’t have been any property taxes generated anyway. And as Luftmentsch noted, there are other benefits to the city besides property taxes from more residents coming in (which surely at least some of the residents would come from outside the city).

    • STLEnginerd

      In regards to whether the Abatement should/ could go to the CID rather than General revenue, consider this.

      For the Empty lot in question the taxes collected are rather low. Abating that money is not a net loser for the city as that money would not have been collected in the first place.

      Now IF the money is being collected a not given to the developers to line their pockets but is instead used to improve the street on which the infill is being built. In general we all support better streets and sidewalks so this in general is a net good for the city but is it distributed fairly. Not really.

      However there are a number of other houses on the block which are not abated. So any net increase in value of those homes WOULD naturally impact general revenue which is a net good that COULD be distributed fairly, and could even be distributed unfairly to offset the CID to a degree.

      Based on that line of reasoning i think the abatement makes sense for empty lots. It might even be a model of how to redevelop and reinvigorate the cities single family housing stock.

      Now the impact is less when you are demolishing a building and then abating the property. Some building should go but IMHO abatement for properties with serviceable buildings should examined and possibly denied on a case by case basis. I find it hard to stomach subsidizing demolition, particularly the corner building on the south west corner of Vista and Newstead.

      Also as a side not PLEASE no inverted gable houses as shown in the top rendering above. They look ridiculous.

    • Grove Res

      I appreciate Joe D’s perspective, though these are also the reasons why I instead voted for Joe Roddy in the recent primary. FPSE is such a critical linchpin to creating continuity between the CWE, Shaw/Botanical, SLU Med, Midtown, and Cortex, in addition to the sleepy Vandeventer corridor. The perimeter of railroad tracks, highways, and industrial properties that separate FPSE from its neighbors on all sides makes redevelopment an uphill battle. But, it’s being slowly won due to the wise use of incentives. Let’s remember that the Manchester corridor streetscape improvements were the product of $3.5 million of federal stimulus dollars plus a neighborhood CID, and likely could not have otherwise happened. These public investments are paying net benefits that will only increase over time, and each new project continues to create important momentum for the city as a whole.

  • Presbyterian

    More good news for Forest Park Southeast! There are so many vacant lots south of Manchester. More residents will be welcome!

  • Michael B
    • PD

      If you use street view to look at the backs of both It doesnt look like they are. Both show significant structural cracks and one has a ton of vine growth all over it. Probably cheaper to knock them down and insure sewer water line integrity for the rest of the project.

      • Ben Harvey

        That’s sad. The building on the south side of Vista would have been a fantastic cornerstone for the project if brought back to life

      • Michael B

        It’s often cheaper to knock down buildings instead of doing a historic rehab, but I’m surprised that there aren’t historic tax credits available. I’ve seen brick buildings far worse than these deconstructed and reconstructed. Just look at the building that Sauce in the Side occupies in The Grove. They took that thing down to its frame and rebuilt it. A couple of people are doing the same thing by themselves to a house on my street that was simply a shell of a building. I’m not an engineer, but it would shock me if they both weren’t salvageable.

        • Imran

          Buildings in much worse shape have been brought back to spectacular life. The issues here is lack of will or vision. Very short-sighted.

        • kcars1

          This part of the neighborhood is not in the historic district because “there were not enough contributing buildings.”

  • CrimeFix

    I wonder what steps might be taken to reduce crime in The Grove. The area is so open to multiple points of entry, not just from the main thoroughfare of Manchester. If women and children are going to live in those affordable units, then something needs to be done about it. I’m glad that developments are moving forward but people want to live in a safe area. Nobody wants to be pistol whipped, abducted, or robbed. Not interested.

    http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/woman-assaulted-in-st-louis-the-grove-neighborhood/article_8f7d7e72-14f2-5a41-a2c5-2826d2c85ac8.html

    http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/police-looking-for-men-who-used-vehicle-with-flashing-lights/article_eebf9fa1-3b29-574a-9925-83757266551a.html

    • matimal

      “women and children”? I appreciate your old-fashioned sense of chivalry, but this isn’t the Titanic. Crime is a symptom with many causes.

    • Michael B

      Crime happens everywhere, as you might have heard. These new homes are actually part of the answer to the problem. Infill housing where there was once abandoned and derelict housing will create more foot traffic, more lights that are on at night, and more patronage of neighborhood businesses. Those businesses also employ young men and women who give back to the community. It’s a win-win situation.

      • Imran

        Another thought is perhaps if all the nonsensical street barricades were removed and the grid was allowed to function like its designed to. It would be more inconvenient to commit crime with the likelihood of potential witnesses driving by.

        • Tim E

          Imran makes a great point. You could say the same for fences in some respects as criminals find out that once they go through the fence no one or their neighbors can actually see them ramsack a house. .

          • STLrainbow

            Fascinating convo on the crime issue all around. My 2c is I agree with benton’s comment upthread that statistically there are just too few violent crime incidents in FPSE to get a meaningful look at what’s going on there other than incidents do happen on occasion and some years there’s more than others.

            But I do think it would be interesting to know how many such crimes might be attributed to the heavy nightlife and increased commerce of the neighborhood and what percentage occurs on or just off Manchester as opposed to the rest of the neighborhood. And as such activity increases, you might get more incidents but on the whole a lower per capita rate and a “safer” neighborhood at the same time.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Per capita crime rates are better than crime counts, but there’s still challenging. Downtown gets labelled relatively high crime, but with 10s of thousands of jobs and millions of visitors a year, the per person crime rate may be the lowest in the city.

            Similarly, the nightlife and added visitors in The Grove has brought property crime with it. Per capita crime in that neighborhood (FPSE) is higher than Dutchtown – which gets bad publicity because of the number of crimes that happen here. But Dutchtown = 15,770 residents, while FPSE = 2,918.

          • STLrainbow

            Somewhat similar is looking at a n’hood like Tower Grove South… with so much commerce in the nabe, “shoplifting” makes up a far higher percentage of overall crimes there than the city-wide average.

      • CrimeSceneGuest

        We’ve all seen the new apartments, lofts, and condos having been built in the Central West End and some new residents have already moved in so far. Now, there are certainly more street lights around these new developments and more pedestrians walking about. Is there less crime today than say 5 years ago in CWE before the developments?

        Hypothesis is that more development brings in more people and street lights and that leads to reduced crime. Do we have the evidence? Is this even true? Has general crime or violent crime gone down in the Central West End over the last 5 years? Can anyone supply the violent crime data for Central West End for the last 5 years? We need to sort this out. Please and thanks.

        • CrimeSceneGuest

          Take a look at downtown STL. Didn’t it have a renaissance with the loft district and new apartments/condos/lofts throughout the area? Did more street lights and more pedestrians bring down the crime? Why or why not? See recent article below.

          http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/downtown-stl-nixes-tourist-guides-adds-security-patrols/article_be855a73-100f-55bf-92dc-bc3b213991ad.html

          • Adam

            Downtown has lost more daytime workforce than it has gained residents. Foot traffic has actually decreased. The “renaissance” isn’t complete. Not really a valid comparison.

          • GangstaHoodDaGrove

            Since we know the violent crime data, that violent crime is trending upward in recent years, we could start tracking it to see if increased tenants over time in The Grove corresponds with a decrease in violent crime. If violent crime does not go down as new homes/condos/townhomes/apartments go up, as many as you suggest, then what? In some ways, I would think that violent crime would increase in The Grove because now there is more opportunity for it. It remains to be seen.

            My name is on the list for when applications come out for Adam’s Grove but who knows when an apartment will be available for move in. I want to see what crime looks like when the weather gets warmer.

            There’s no full service grocery in the area and Instacart has a high fee for grocery delivery, like 25% or more. Food desert. I certainly hope these new folks know about the grocery situation. Better not be any surprises for them. They will be upset to find out that there is none, if they assumed there was one.

        • jhoff1257

          Any particular reason you need us to do the research and answer your questions for you? Can you supply that information? Can you provide any information to disprove the “hypothesis” that more people in any given area reduces crime?

          I’m not going to do your homework for you, but over the last 6 months both overall crime and violent crime are down in the Central West End.
          https://graphics.stltoday.com/apps/crime/neighborhoods/central-west-end/

          Overall crime downtown is up 3% over the last 6 months with a slight reduction in violent crime.
          https://graphics.stltoday.com/apps/crime/neighborhoods/downtown/

          Further reading:
          http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/mixeduse.htm

          Looking forward to your statistical analysis of urban crime trends in St. Louis over the last 5 years.

      • CrimeFix

        This is true Michael. I agree.

    • Riggle

      Then you might as well move, any development in the City can be quickly dismissed by citing crime stories in the PD, no neighborhood is immune, stick to the County, where there is no crime.

    • jhoff1257

      Adding more people reduces crime, clearly developers have done their homework or they wouldn’t be spending millions to build all this. You cherry picked two articles from the local paper (which does absolutely nothing to show actual trends over time and whether or not an area is getting safer) and suddenly one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in the city is a no go? That’s a stupid take. Also, no one cares whether or not you’re interested, clearly far more people are.

      One last thing, here is a link (to that same local paper) that shows over a 6 month period crime in the Grove is down nearly 5%.
      https://graphics.stltoday.com/apps/crime/neighborhoods/forest-park-south-east/

      • matt

        Unfortunately the Violent crime numbers have been trending up for FPSE the last 4 years. Need to figure that out, I think more development is part of the answer.
        2012: 72
        2013: 37
        2014: 51
        2015: 44
        2016: 67 (with 3 Murders – after only having like 2 in the previous 7 years combined)

        Overall crime is down like 40% since 2011, that’s mostly a drop in property crime.

        • thomas h benton

          Even one violent crime is one too many, but these numbers are too small for percentage changes to be a meaningful data point.

        • jhoff1257

          I’d be curious to see if it’s down this year. Looks like it goes up, down, up, down, etc. The average for the last 5 years is about 54. None of these are really all that much of a significant difference over that time period.

        • Elmore

          That’s not how stats work. Divide the crime number by the population. This gives a very, very tiny percentage and moving from 35 to 60 to 70 doesn’t change that likelihood that ony one resident will experience a violent crime in a year. Considering only the raw numbers is the least useful approach and the approach that makes the situation seem much more dire than it really is.

    • Alex Ihnen

      You will missed, but hopefully others will chose to live here. Judging by the rental and for-sale market, it appears to be a popular place.

      • Patrick Eckelkamp

        I enjoy living in the neighborhood. Of course I want crime lower.

    • PD

      I used to live on Taylor and Wichita and walked my dog often(no leash needed) down at the nice open areas the infill provided. You would not believe how well lit and how often the bike cops rode around even down there. They know crime is a problem and employ those ranger cop golf cart things. I never felt unsafe at any part of the neighborhood. Its lined by industrial(rail access) and profitable businesses which all have security equipment. They will add in Blue light emergency post and the whole neighborhood will be just fine. Add to the fact that the giant building is being redone on the tower grove side only helps.
      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/610f056c8df483de49034d6445397f99416f8f8b8a40f55132371e834f651bd5.jpg

  • Mashbro

    Out of curiosity, why is Wash U involved in real estate development?

    • Michael B

      Washington University has been involved in real estate development in areas near their campuses for a long time. They have an Employer Assisted Housing Program in which they supply a forgivable loan to their employees for a down-payment on houses in certain areas of the city http://eahp.wustl.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Untitled-2.jpg. I’m sure there is added benefit to them in some ways, but overall I think it is part of an effort to revive the city around their campuses.

    • thomas h benton

      Think about what SLU has done in mid-town, and Wash U is basically the opposite of that.

      • Riggle

        Amen, Slu has really helped shift the focus of this City westward by destroying midtown as an urban place, further isolating downtown, thanks Slu!

        • thomas h benton

          It just makes me mad every time I think about it.

          • Riggle

            Did you hear the med school is in danger of loosing accreditation? Too bad they didnt move to the County like they threatened to.

        • Nick

          Not sure how SLU has done anything at all to isolate downtown. The area directly around SLU’s primary campus has been making quite a comeback in recent years, if anything they’re helping to further connect the central corridor between CWE and midtown. If you think anything they’ve done south of Chouteau has further isolated downtown, well, you can thank the railyard and highways for that.

          • Adam

            They’ve leveled/land-banked huge swaths of property along Grand–including half the Grand-Lindell intersection and several large parcels south of the railyard–and raised an entire neighborhood around the medical center. I’d say that helps to disconnect Grand Center from everything east of Grand. They’re only now beginning to heal a few of those scars.

          • Adam

            razed not raised.

          • Nick

            “They’ve leveled/land-banked huge swaths of property along Grand–including half the Grand-Lindell intersection.”

            They’ve turned the intersection you’re referencing into green space which is straddled by university buildings, utilized by students. I don’t see how that disconnects Grand Center from everything east of Grand. If anything it gives people more reason to walk down that block. And even beyond that, there’s plenty of restaurant/hotel/retail space a few blocks east of the intersection you mention.

          • Adam

            Oh, c’mon. If green space gave people reason to walk down blocks then St. Louis would be teeming with foot traffic. I’ve seen a handful of people using those fenced-off green spaces as dog parks and that’s about it. What should be one of the liveliest intersections in the city–a gateway to SLU, our arts district, and downtown–is a giant dead space.

          • Nick

            It’s a college campus. They’re trying to incorporate green space as best they can in an urban area. If it wasn’t green space, it would most likely just be more academic buildings. Either way the area would hardly be much different.

          • Adam

            Used to be a lively city intersection with buildings occupied by tax-paying residents and businesses. Now it’s a tax-exempt college campus because SLU bought half the intersection and tore everything down under Biondi, who admitted that his goal was to make the campus “pastoral”. He succeeded.

          • Nick

            ‘Used to’ being the key phrase there, as in about fifty years ago. The buildings that were torn dorn were in disrepair. I understand where you’re coming from, but so many folks in this town seem to imagine scenarios for what a certain neighborhood ‘should’ look like vs. what’s feasible, and then vilify certain people or institutions for their attempts to make a positive change. Not many years ago Grand Center was in shambles. SLU is very much responsible for the area having new life breathed back into it in recent years. You and others on here may criticize SLU for the ‘terrible things’ it’s done in recent years, but without the school, the neighborhoods surrounding both campuses would almost certainly be in complete shambles.

          • Riggle

            Its in complete shambles today

          • Nick

            Not the blocks surrounding SLU

          • Riggle

            A sea of parking=shambles in an urban environment

          • Adam

            So your argument is that large-scale demolition turned the neighborhood around and not, say, a renewed interest in city living or an increase in construction/investment prior to and after the recession. Interesting that most of the new business around SLU reside in old, rehabbed buildings. I’m not vilifying SLU for trying to “improve” their surroundings, I’m saying that the way they went about it–by attempting to erase their little chunk of the city–was idiotic. They razed the SE corner of Grand and Lindell and have been trying ever since to get something built there. Meanwhile, what was there could have been renovated by now, much like the Metropolitan building. With the new hospital coming, they could easily sell the Pevely to a developer for rehab. The views are ridiculous. But they won’t. They’d rather sit on more vacant land.

          • Nick

            That’s not my argument at all. I’m saying, given the conditions of the neighborhood at the time, it didn’t seem like such an idiotic thing to demo those buildings. In the 90s and early 2000s, Midtown around SLU was in pretty rough shape. To entice parents to pay tens of thousands of dollars to send their kids to school there, Biondi and others felt (probably correctly) that eliminating some of the more prominent vacant buildings around campus would help their cause. While it’s unfortunate that parents felt that way, and while it’s unfortunate that beautiful buildings were torn down, it probably helped the school’s image with prospective students considerably. And despite how many folks feel about SLU, it is unquestionably the anchor of Midtown around Grand, and at the end of the day a strong institution like SLU is what the area needs to stay viable.

            A similar argument can be made of the Pevely Building. Sure they would make great condos if you put enough money into them, but that’s not the point. What matters is if someone can make a profit turning them into condos. And if SLU could do so, then why wouldn’t they sell to a developer and make a killing? The reason is, while it’s sad that a beautiful building is being torn down, it’s not profitable to do so.

          • Nick

            That’s not my argument at all. I’m saying if you look at the state of the Midtown neighborhood over the past twenty years, it really wasn’t so idiotic of them to complete those demo’s. Back in the 90s-early 2000s, Midtown around SLU was in pretty rough shape. Biondi and others felt (probably rightly so) parents have a tougher time spending thousands of dollars for their kids to attend a school in a neighborhood with a less-than-stellar reputation, so they did what they could to change that perception. Is it unfortunate that people feel that way about abandoned buildings? Sure. But that’s the reality the administrators faced, and at the end of the day it probably was beneficial for the school. As demo-ing a building is expensive, of course they would’ve preferred someone to come along and turn it into retail/residential, but at the time, no one stepped up.

            A similar argument could be made for the Pevely Building. Sure they would make great condos if someone threw enough money at them…but that’s not the relevant question. What matters is if a developer can make a healthy profit in doing so. And if that were the case, again, surely SLU would sell the building and earn a profit of it instead of tearing it down. But since that’s not happening, that must not be the case.

          • Adam

            Surely SLU would sell Pevely? That must be why they stated they have no intention to sell, and why they’ve turned down development offers. By the way, the more recent image of the Marina building is from the 60s or 70s judging by the cars. It was demolished in 2002. Thanks to SLU’s utter lack of foresight or common sense we’ve had a vacant lot–er, I mean super-hoppin’ green space–for the last 15 years. Instead of working to promote redevelopment (like Wash U with FPSE) they took the less responsible, less civic-minded route.

          • Nick

            Do you have a link or any evidence that SLU received offers to develop the Pevely Building?

          • Adam

            Pretty sure Alex commented in one of the Pevely posts on here that they had received offers post-Yackey. I don’t recall which post. Perhaps Alex can elaborate.

          • Alex Ihnen

            FWIW – I can confirm that they have received offers. At least developers have told me that they inquired with SLU about buying it. There was a residential proposal for the site before the southern Pevely Dairy building burned down, but there have been inquiries within the past year as well.

          • Nick

            Interesting, thanks for sharing

          • jhoff1257

            Academic buildings would be a vast improvement (and very, very different looking) than this shit show. Washington University seems to make it work, not only with the South 40, the Med School Campus, but even their main campus. Wash U also pushes quality development in the neighborhoods that surround it (Aventura not withstanding). Say what you want about whatever SLU did for Grand Center, but overall SLU hasn’t been very good about maintaining anything resembling an urban neighborhood. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9b866c631e5200c3ca7458580dbb598f6812f1a9c057055d24dc6c40549cd282.png

          • Nick

            Comparing the two schools’ building strategies is like comparing apples and oranges. Wash U has the money to buy/build whatever they want wherever they want in the city. At the same time Wash U doesn’t have to worry about dilapidated buildings literally surrounding their campuses.

          • Riggle

            That is laughably wrong, this post is about washu amd dilapidated buildings

          • jhoff1257

            30% in a neighborhood as small as Grand Center (which also includes Covenant Blu) is only about 1,000 people. Certainly not insignificant, but not very significant either. Imagine how many more people might have moved there if some of those older buildings were still around. Or if SLU just, you know, built or allowed someone else to build on all this empty land. Maybe if they sold some of their massive empty land holdings for more productive uses they wouldn’t be facing a budget deficit this year or laying off dozens staff and faculty members.

            And while I would agree the fortunes around Washington University’s Hilltop Campus were never as bad as they got around SLU they’ve still done a better job. They’re a big part of the reason that the Loop and now FPSE are the neighborhoods they are today. They drive quality urban development. Outside of a little stretch of Grand north of the SLU campus, SLU really doesn’t. And I’d argue that Grand’s improvements were certainly helped along with anchor tenants like the Fox and Powell Hall reopening as well. Hopefully with this coming redevelopment agreement with the city we’ll see SLU take a better path.

          • Nick

            In a city that has lost over 60% of its population over the past 50 years, I would say if a neighborhood gained 1 person that would be a major victory, but we can agree to disagree on that.

            The SLU land holdings south of 40 are empty obviously because it’s to be utilized for the hospital expansion…so they won’t be empty for long. As for the land north of 40, I’m sure if a developer came knocking on SLU’s door with a high-enough price tag for the land around Lindell/Grand, they’d sell (there’s always a price for everything). But seeing as how the area has been saturated with new apartment/commercial development, particularly on the west side of campus, and given that there’s still plenty of empty lots within 5-6 blocks of that intersection, my guess is the land isn’t quite as valuable as you’re giving it credit for.

            As for Wash U, agreed they are a big part of the Loop rebound, in a similar way to SLU in Midtown in that their presence helps drive demand for people to live and work around the area (also agreed Fox and SLSO deserve some credit for boosting Grand as well). As for Wash U in FPSE, they just purchased land when it was worth next to nothing, waited ten years for it to appreciate in value for reasons outside of their doing, and are now developing it to make a buck. Solid investment strategy, absolutely, but they’re more on the backend of the revival of FPSE.

          • jhoff1257

            I wouldn’t say 100 people a year is a major victory. That is anemic growth. If MIdtown is such a great place because of SLU and all they can muster is 100 new people a year, they’re doing something wrong. As for the hospital project, that stops at Lasalle Street. The vast majority of that land will remain empty for the time being. That doesn’t even account for what they did east of Grand. I’m not going to fall down this rabbit hole with you, I really don’t feel like arguing with you today. I’ve spent enough time in and around SLU to know they’ve done a shitty job in Midtown over the years. End of story for me.

          • Nick

            That’s fine, I don’t really feel like arguing with someone who ignores the fact that the area around SLU’s campus, like most of the city, had been dying off for decades, SLU then takes drastic steps to try and mitigate this, and the area actually makes a substantial comeback …and yet you shit all over them regardless because it doesn’t conform to your unrealistic vision of what the area should look like.

          • Riggle

            It should look like a city. It did before they tore it down. They have a built in population, its the lowest hanging fruit imaginable for a mixed use urban neighborhood and they completely dropped the ball, a very obvious missed opportunity.

          • Nick

            Like much of St. Louis, Midtown looked like the shadow of a once-vibrant neighborhood with many vacant buildings resulting in decades of decline well before SLU started buying up property. I don’t know how old you are, but in the 90s and early 2000s, Midtown was pretty bombed out. This is just fact, I don’t know how else to say it.

          • Riggle

            And it still does, except for places that Slu didnt get its hands on, ie grand center and midtowne alley

          • Nick

            If you want to talk about SLU’s impact on the area, Midtown Alley would be nothing today if not for the steady stream of SLU students to patronize its businesses. While technically not Midtown, just west of campus, the Standard, West Pine Lofts, and renovation of the Gerhardt building all would not have happened if not for the existence of the school. Just south on FPA you’ve got the Foundry just starting up, which again would almost certainly have never happened without the existence of the school as the area likely would’ve continued to fall into further disrepair.

          • Adam

            Google “SLU demolition Vanishing STL” for a tour of all the wonders that SLU has erected in place of the many buildings they’ve destroyed (preview: mostly parking lots and nothing).

          • Adam
          • Nick

            I’m not disputing that. I’m not saying it’s awesome that cool, old buildings are getting torn down. But your picture is from approximately when, the 20s? For reasons far outside SLU’s or any other individual institution’s control, the neighborhood is nothing like it once was decades ago. I’m not sure of the state of this building, but I bet if it had any viable economic use at the time it was torn down, SLU either 1. sold it or 2. not purchased it in the first place.

          • Adam

            Many neighborhoods looked like shadows back in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The CWE, the Loop, Soulard, Lafayette Square… difference is those neighborhoods weren’t bulldozed, and that’s why they’re desirable today.

          • jhoff1257

            Yes, SLU deserves lots of shit. Not only for what they’ve done to Midtown over the years but for their poor financial management as well. And now with the Med School being put on probation…well needless to say if SLU is going to stay competitive then serious changes need to be made.

            Have a nice afternoon.

    • mjohnson71

      The Wash U. Medical Center is just to the north in the Central West End. They’d like their people living close to where they work. Better work/life balance and other reasons