City Foundry to Break Ground, Second Phase Coming Soon

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Twenty months after first floating the concept for City Foundry, Lawrence Group has completed most environmental remediation and has applied for a building permit for phase 1. Once approved, the $32 million permit dated November 1 will allow for construction of a 48,000 square foot food hall with four restaurants and 20 chef-driven quick serve food stalls. Included will be a 511 space parking structure, 133,000 square feet of retail and 124,000 s.f. of creative office space. At least one third of the retail will be new to the St. Louis area. Most of phase one is leased. That first phase is expected to open in 2019 at a cost $135 million.

The 15 acre location is the site of the former Century Electric Foundry complex, later operated by Federal Mogul Corporation. The property — adjacent to the CORTEX innovation district — is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Plans for the $97 million second phase at the northwest corner of the site are coming together rapidly. The site has grown to incorporate three smaller parcels to accommodate high demand, and Lawrence Group has several large commitments for phase two. This second phase adds 22,000 ssquare feet of retail, two five-story office buildings with 130,000 s.f. of space, a 400-space parking garage and a 46,000 square foot movie theater and restaurant.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema signage shown for reference. Source: drafthouse.com

A conceptual rendering for the cinema appears to use the Alamo Drafthouse logo. If confirmed, this will be the theater chain’s entry into the St. Louis market. Theater seats in Alamo Drafthouse have tables and include full dinner and drink menus. The chain already has entered the Kansas City and Springfield, MO markets.

Office space in City Foundry is asking $27/square foot, a rate seen in Clayton and Chesterfield but seldom in the city. The average rate for Class A office space in St. Louis City in the third quarter of 2017 was just $18.90. A conceptual rendering for an office building along Vandeventer shows a modern structure with clerestory windows along the roof that evoke the design of the original 1929 foundry. Early plans for taller office and residential towers had to be dropped because they threatened the project’s eligibility for historic tax credits.

Tax Increment Financing will cover about 17% of the combined infrastructure and construction costs for phase two. Infrastructure costs–including a $9 million parking garage–are expected to exceed that amount. A Transportation Improvement District and Community Improvement District combined will cover about 3% of the total cost. Financing for phase two includes a $45 million construction loan and $25 million in owner equity. Bull Moose Industries is providing capital for the project. The developer has not requested tax abatement. Phase one will make use of a $19 million TIF plus state and federal historic tax credits.

 

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  • David Hoffman

    Sorry to hear that loss of TIF caused us to lose a high rise residential building. Cities like Denver, Indianapolis, Chicago embrace high rise residences. It brings people to their business and makes the neighborhood walkable. A shame.

    • Adam

      Not sure I would say that Indy “embraces” high-rise developments. St. Louis has more high-rise buildings than Indy. But Chicago has over 2 million more people than St. Louis and Denver is seeing explosive job and population growth. I’m sure if we were seeing that kind of growth we’d have many more high-rises under construction too.

    • jhoff1257

      I mean there is a 29 story high rise breaking ground in downtown this year. A 36 story building on the docket for the CWE, a 29 story building just opened in Clayton with at least another 3 or 4 on the way there (counting Centene). Several others are in the planning or design stages. Not to mention the buildings BJC is putting up or the dozens of mid-rise buildings that have risen in recent years.

      Considering that the St. Louis region as a whole LOST population last year and job growth is still below the national average the fact that any high rises are being built in St. Louis at all is pretty amazing.

  • MidtownBill

    Hopefully this will spur development across the street on Laclede next to SLU. Such a shame to see Humphrey’s and the building that used to be the Shack (and before that, Laclede’s) all boarded up. SLU students literally have no bars to walk to or places to socialize near campus anymore. Bernie Squitieri, the guy who bought Humphrey’s while lying to everyone about his “redevelopment plans,” is a scumbag. Turns out he’s just going to sit on the property until he can sell it off for some cash… I heard he was asking $3 million for the building. Woof.

    • WikiWild
    • Nick

      By your definition of scumbag…everyone in the real estate business is a scumbag (or any industry, really), as all the owner is trying to do is make the most money he can off his investment.

      • MidtownBill

        Squitieri literally threatened a SLU professor on twitter with “lawsuits” because she was letting everyone know that there was never any sort of redevelopment plan to begin with, despite his initial statements.

        The guy is a scumbag.

    • citylover

      Humphrey’s eats fake ID’s. Never really been an awesome place for the majority of college students to begin with. Think more people trek to the loop, Midtown Alley/Locust, or the Grove.

      • MidtownBill

        As someone who still knows a lot of students at SLU, this is not really the case. Sure, upperclassmen are forced to venture down to Soulard (SLU students don’t usually hang out at the Loop), but the campus social life is all but dead right now. It’s actually pretty depressing to hear because Humphrey’s used to be the place for students to congregate on weekends, get some cheap beer, and catch up with one another. With no decent bars within walking distance, students really don’t have anything that’s affordable unless they want to pay $20 for uber down to Soulard and back.

        Not to mention, there’s not really a place to go for alumni coming back to watch basketball games over the holliday break. Humphreys was an integral part of campus life at SLU and it’s aggravating to know that the guy who bought the place never appreciated that. Just another opportunist land banking a good piece of city real estate and sitting on it until God knows when.

        • jhoff1257

          More like 9 to 12 dollars for an Uber to Soulard from SLU according to Uber’s fare estimator. The Central West End, Midtown Ally, South Grand and Downtown are all closer then Soulard as well. I agree that options are pretty slim around campus and hopefully this development will change that.

          • Matthew W. Hall

            ….divided by 3 students, that’s 3 bucks per student.

        • Nick

          SLU is a major university nestled inside a major city. It is absolutely not the case that the entire social fabric of the school revolved around one dive bar. It sounds more like you have a personal axe to grind for whatever reason.

          • MidtownBill

            Wednesday nights and Saturdays at Humphreys were, believe it or not, actually a major part of the social culture at SLU. If you didn’t attend SLU you wouldn’t understand this so I’m not going to get into a back and forth argument about it. Of course students go to other bars in the city (primarily soulard), but Humphrey’s was SLU specific.

            The point is that the loss of a SLU specific bar like Humphreys does have a significant impact on the campus social life, so of course people are upset that the place is all boarded up now.

          • Nick

            What I’m saying is that Humphreys, like many bars in St Louis that had their hey day half a generation ago (Cicero’s, Harry’s, etc) has an enormous amount of competition today that they didn’t used to have to deal with, and they couldn’t keep up. There are just too many places for SLU kids to go to these days, and although they may not be directly across the street from campus, it’s not that hard to get around this city on the cheap. It’s just the market my friend.

  • pat

    Good to see development. But I don’t like the fact that they are putting in a movie theater in a tax abated development that will directly compete with local theaters like the Chase or the Moolah. It seems like the city is so eager to push development that they are willing to let it cannibalize existing businesses.

    • Nick

      I would agree this here is the biggest problem with TIF/tax abatements. BPV cannibalizing Wash Ave and the Landing is a great example of this. However, in the case of the Foundry, I think there’s enough demand in this part of the city to absorb the additional competition.

      • Andy

        Is there evidence, other than anecdotal, that BPV really cannibalized that much business from wash ave or the landing? Not saying you’re wrong, just interested if there was a study done.

        Since BPV has been there, Wheelhouse, Start Bar, and Tin Can have opened. Also Flying Saucer opened just before.

        • Nick

          Purely anecdotal…as for the bars you named, I think BPV helped shift the downtown nightlife towards the ballpark in general.

  • stldoc

    So much momentum in St. Louis. Love this.

  • Dalton Tyler Tanner

    You guys are gonna love the Alamo Drafthouse, the one here in Springfield is incredible. The interior is this surprisingly good mix of Mid Century Modern and Art Deco. Also there’s a legit lounge//bar at the front of the theater. It would definitely make a good fit for the area.

  • John

    Interesting to see the transformation in this burgeoning district of St. Louis. I think more great things are to come!

  • Imran

    It may be a cool draw for people to drive in and out of but at risk of being desolate after hours and a liability in terms of pedestrian security. Wish there was residential baked into the development with 24/7 activity.

  • joye

    not sure if this is going to work. food is the draw, I wouldnt sit in all that traffic just to grab some food. this does remind me of the old union station somewhat, but in this case all those food outlets that need to make money to pay that high rent need traffic and lots of it to say afloat, There needs to be another draw to the area other than the food itself.

  • sam

    There is already structured parking across the street, a massive slu parking garage a half of a block away, and other large surface lots all over that area

    • Nick

      The Foundry surface lot was already there. The parking garage across the street is a private garage servicing several existing properties; not sure how that would be conducive to the crowds for the Foundry. Any other large parking is several blocks away, which also makes it untenable.

      • Presbyterian

        What appears to be a lot in the middle is actually the top of a parking garage. I believe there will be at least one level below grade.

  • sam

    Huge surface lot facing FP AVE? Fail.

    • Presbyterian

      What you’re seeing in the middle is actually the top level of a parking garage that is mostly below grade.

  • TimJim

    Rooting hard for this project, but can’t help but think of the similarly optimistic feelings when the rehabbed Union Station opened up not far to the east.

    • Nick

      Union Station is a different animal. For one, it’s in a completely different part of the city than the Foundry…which is two blocks removed from Cortex/CWE, the greatest success stories in a generation in StL. Second, Union Station was rehabbed as an indoor mall, and indoor malls all across the country are doing poorly, while food halls are seeing great success in many places. While there’s no guarantee the Foundry will succeed, it has a lot of ingredients for success. On the flip side, say the project isn’t a total success….at least the property has undergone a massive environmental remediation/rehab that could propel it to a useful purpose in the future. Regardless what happens, really, it’s a positive for that part of the city.

    • tpekren

      Nick makes some great points. Also, even if the food hall runs its course it will make for some good space in any future use.. I think the great takeaway here is the fact that your seeing 133,000 sf rehab/creative office in phase I followed by two more office buildings for additional 130,000 sf is. I also believe even though the development dropped the high rise residential tower for two mid size office buildings is fine with the proposed Cortex East tower allowing for some height.
      ..
      You add this development moving forward with Green streets converting Armory to creative office space, believe another +100,000 sf and a phase II with Grand Ave platform, hotel tower (adding some height variation)/some conference space for area, more development and hopefully a pedestrian bridge tying to the two developments as well as Grand Center & Boyle metrolink stations in the future.
      ..
      Looking ahead you got almost 500,000 sq feet in office/commercial space happening that is meeting demand and adding jobs to the city without even considering Wexford building going up, Cresecent building going forward as more lab space as well as plenty of space for Wexford/Cortex & Koman able to build out. Believe the Foundry will have the crowds if they don’t overreach or let things go stale.

      • Goat314

        I generally agree with you on this one. Union Station was much more isolated and was completed in a time when downtown was in a complete nose dive. I also think what hurt Union Station, which seems to be a happening this time, is there is no residential component or plans for surrounding residential. The TOD plans the city completed years ago were basically a waste, because zero have been implemented in any capacity.

  • JCougar

    Really like that office building design. Another recent building that is modern in construction but pays reverence to the historical style of the area and the older buildings it is replacing.

  • RJ

    I know the Lawrence Group has said they haven’t completely abandoned the 25-story residential tower and the 15-story office building at this time but it seems there is a simple solution in changing the boundaries of this historic district to allow these high-rises to be developed. The location for those two buildings should be far enough away from the actual foundry. This is a situation of where historic tax credit status hurts a larger and better development.

    • Presbyterian

      That’s definitely one option for a possible building at the southwest corner of the project area, by 40 and Vandeventer.

    • While I am not working professionally on this project, I know what likely is at play. The boundary of the historic district is determined by federal rules for the National Register of Historic Places. That listing is needed for the tax credits, and the tax credits are paramount to making this kind of project happen. The application for historic tax credits has to cover all development within the boundary, and is reviewed by the State Historic Preservation Office and National Park Service. The application has to include new construction. The boundary can’t be changed easily before this step, and is a moot point after. It’s a trade off. The developer can, however, build anything there after the five-year recapture period is over (five years after the project is placed in service).

  • Carey Clanton

    Who could believe it when the Continental was restored?