2021 was another banner year for development in St. Louis. The pandemic didn’t slow things down, resulting in a record dollar amount of building permits issued surpassing 2018. In nominal terms at least. The 2018 amount adjusted by the Consumer Price Index (July 2018 to July 2021) would be $1.314B. The CPI doesn’t track construction materials and labor exclusively, so is probably not the best to use for this adjustment. Nor can we count on the building permit amounts to reflect price changes. It’s not like someone is obligated to get the amount exactly right or adjust it after the fact. Anyways it’s a big number and an indication of how much is being invested in the city of St. Louis. #Stlbillion2021
Also noteworthy is that the building permit amounts don’t reflect total project costs. Things like property acquisition and architecture services aren’t included. Plumbing, mechanical, and electrical permits aren’t included in this tally either.
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Unlike 2020, which had the fewest number of permits issued over the last ten years, 2021 had the most, indicating a resurgence of smaller projects. There were 119 permits $1M or more totaling $1.032B. Also there were 107 permits issued for new single family homes. Many were in the La Collin development in The Hill neighborhood. Land productivity honorable mention goes to Tailored Properties LLC for splitting a lot in the Hi-Pointe neighborhood (aka Dogtown) for two new homes on Central Ave.
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Most new developments and big rehabs received some form of tax incentive- property tax abatement, TIF, sales tax exemption on construction materials, etc or were tax exempt. With the new Jones administration came a new approach to incentives. Mayor Jones vetoed two bills for tax abatements soon after taking office to renegotiate. TIFs for the next phase of City Foundry and Cortex MX were given scrutiny by the mayor’s office and Ald Phil. The uncertainty of the new playing field may have slowed the pipeline down. Volatility in construction materials costs have been a thorn for developers too. Some went back to the city seeking more incentives to cope.
Will 2022 be another billion dollar year? There are currently $500M in unissued permits, so 2022 will be off to a good start. These include the Convention Center expansion, Butler Brothers rehab, City Foundry phase 2, Steelcote Phase 4 with Target, Cortex MX, and SOGRO. Will the aforementioned pipeline interruption lead to a lull this year? Might the Federal Reserve raise interest rates and slow things down?
A shoutout to the busy bees at the St. Louis Building Commission for posting the permit database and its handy data webpage. Also big shoutout to all those investing in St. Louis!
Here are the top ten plus one for 2021.
11. St. Louis CITY Parking Club $19.7M Time will tell if the garage “encourages walking”, “encourages alternative modes of transportation”, “provides access to transit”, and offers “connection to surroundings.”
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10. Verizon Office Expansion $20M plus about $15M in building, mechanical, and electrical permits. 1710 Dr. Martin Luther King Dr. This has been under the radar.
9. Preservation Square $20.6M and $20M by McCormack Baron Salazar
8. Siteman Ambulatory Cancer Center $25M and $5M at Forest Park Ave and Taylor. More to come as that is only for structural and foundation. It will be tax exempt.
7. Terra at The Grove $30.5M plus over $7M more for building, mechanical, and electrical permits. It received a 10-year 75% property tax abatement.
6. La Collin Apartment Building $32M The development received a 10-year 100% tax abatement. A CID has been created to in effect take the place of the abated property tax to help fund the development and its infrastructure.
5. 21c hotel conversion of downtown YMCA $35.5M plus about $12M more in building, mechanical, and electrical permits. It received a 10 year tax abatement at 90% plus 5 more at 50% passed in 2019. Sales tax exemption on construction materials was sought and approved by the LCRA board this year in response to price increases.
4. St. Louis CITY SC training, maintenance buildings, fields, and pavilion $50.8M As with the stadium these have a 25 year 100% property tax abatement on improvements and a sales tax exemption on construction materials.
3. BJC New Patient Tower $60.8M replaces Queeny Tower on Kingshighway. More to come for the 660,000 square-foot building as that permit was for structural. It will be property tax exempt.
BJC – New Patient Tower
2. Missouri Botanical Garden Visitor’s Center $61.4M It will be property tax exempt.
1. WUSTL Neuroscience Building $151M, $78.3M, and $32M plus some smaller ones plus a $70M mechanical and $27.2M electrical permit. It will be property tax exempt.