What hath pandemic wrought: 2020’s impact on some major local developments

Going into 2020, there were a number of major developments slated throughout the St. Louis metro area. Then, the dramatic events of last year put everyone’s plans on hold. For some, the pandemic and lockdown provided space for extra strategizing and reflection. Others were not so fortunate. Now, one month in to 2021, where do these various projects stand?

Certain massive public development projects, such as the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Major League Soccer stadium have continued more or less as if nothing had changed. The former is a $1.7 billion development, while the latter will cost around $461 million. Neither development has had to move out their projected opening dates.

Another area that has fared well is that of major revitalization projects. Take the North of Washington (NOW) Innovation District. Run by the StarWood Group, NOW aims to bring more jobs and money to Downtown. At the center of the project is the former St. Louis Post-Dispatch Building at 900 N. Tucker Blvd. Square, a major local employer, has signed a 15-year lease to occupy a large part of the building, but the pandemic has put that on hold. Square has stated their commitment to the project, however, and other tenants are starting to show interest as well.

Riverpointe, in St. Charles, has been variously planned and projected for decades now. The 40 acres of riverfront property have long been tapped for various residential and commercial developments. While details are not yet forthcoming, St. Charles officials have stated that, 2020 aside, construction on several projects in the area is slated to begin by the end of 2021.

Not all such revitalization ventures have seen such relative progress. The former site of Crestwood Mall, for example, has changed hands a lot over the years. In 2018, UrbanStreet Group sold it to Walpert Properties. But in June, Walpert was forced to cancel their own plans for the site due to economic constraints and the difficulties of the pandemic and lockdowns. It was only in late December, that the city of Crestwood announced a partnership with Dierbergs Market and Elite Development Services to move forward with the site.

Laclede’s Landing in Downtown has also seen some setbacks. This neighborhood on the riverfront near the Gateway Arch is central to the Founder’s District, an effort by New Legacy Partners to invest around $1 billion in Downtown neighborhoods. The pandemic and disagreements with the Laclede’s Landing community improvement district and redevelopment corporation have slowed the project down.

Other major projects downtown are more or less on hold for now. The Jefferson Arms Building at 415 N. Tucker Blvd takes up a whole city block and has been vacant since 2006. Developer Alterra Worldwide purchased the property in 2016, but progress has been slow due to labor disputes and issues with financing. Alterra has $119,132.23 in outstanding property tax to pay before they can move forward with the project, although they made progress with a new agreement with the city board of alderman last month.

Then there’s the One AT&T Center. A perennial problem, 2020 had little affect on development of the One AT&T Center for good or bad. Vacated by AT&T in 2017, the building has been in foreclosure ever since. At 1.4 million square feet and taking up an entire city block, the huge building is again on the market. Likewise, the historic Railway Exchange Building is currently stuck in limbo, caught up in a swell of legal and financing issues.

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