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Assembling properties for $1.2B downtown riverfront redevelopment was years in the making, broker says

The development team set out a 10-year timeline for the project, with a range of industrial, residential, recreation and entertainment uses.
Credit: Good Developments Group
This rendering shows what the Gateway South concept plan for a $1.2 billion redevelopment project along the Mississippi River in downtown St. Louis could look like. The area next to the river is heavily industrial.

ST. LOUIS — A $1.2 billion mixed-use proposal to redevelop an industrial district on the downtown St. Louis riverfront, south of the Gateway Arch, has been in the works for more than five years. The ambitious project was revealed last week.

Sometime around 2017, a client asked Matt Bukhshtaber, vice president of investment property sales at real estate firm CBRE, to sell a property near the downtown riverfront. When Bukhshtaber showed up to check out the historic former Crunden Martin Manufacturing building at 812 S. Second St., he looked north at the Gateway Arch looming over the massive brick complex and knew the single sale had to turn into something bigger.

Bukhshtaber and Will Mura, vice president of industrial and logistics services at CBRE, began contacting owners and assembling properties in the 58-acre industrial district commonly referred to as Chouteau’s Landing.

“That needs to be redeveloped as a whole district because it’s such a key location to our city, walkable to the Arch grounds, walkable to Busch Stadium,” Bukhshtaber said. “Tell a developer or tell a community, ‘Hey, we have blocks of land next to a national monument.’ People would be tripping over themselves to do something with it. My mind exploded with excitement of, 'This needs to be more than just a building sale.'”

The plan achieved a milestone last week when a proposal from developer Good Developments Group, of New York and St. Louis, received preliminary approval from the St. Louis Port Authority to move forward with a plan to redevelop the site with an 80-acre redevelopment called Gateway South. As part of a preliminary development agreement that could lead to future tax incentives, Good Developments will pay the city $25,000 for legal counsel and other experts to vet the feasibility of the plan and work toward a redevelopment agreement.

The development team, led by CEO Greg Gleicher, set out a 10-year timeline for the project, with a range of industrial, residential, recreation and entertainment uses. In the past, developers have proposed mixed-use projects in the Chouteau's Landing area that were never completed. But this time, Good Developments Group is anchoring the plan with a “design, construction and innovation district” where two companies, which haven't been identified, would build two 200,000-square-foot factories to produce modular construction components, supporting hundreds of jobs. Good Developments said it has yet to secure the private financing in place for the massive project.

Future phases of the development would include two high-rise apartment towers built overlooking the Arch, with additional residential units on the upper floors of Crunden Martin site.  The plan calls for rehabbing and reusing many of the historic buildings, said Dennis Lower, the former CEO of the Cortex Innovation District in St. Louis' Midtown and one of the consultants working on the project. 

In 2017, Bukhshtaber and Mura began working with property owners in the area to gauge their interest in selling. The idea was to assemble as many parcels together as possible to pitch the collective site to potential developers.

Once they reached deals on 19 properties, covering 12 acres, they began marketing the site. At the time, those properties, which included the Crunden Martin site, combined for an appraised value of $2.68 million.

Crunden Martin is owned by Lazarus Realty. Six of the properties immediately surrounding Crunden Martin are owned by Chouteau Point Realty LLC, a business that is registered to Peter Gunther, the vice president of business development for St. Louis-based Gunther Salt Co. Gunther and a representative of Lazarus did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Over the years, Bukhshtaber and Mura continued to add parcels, working with property owners as circumstances changed on individual properties, or working around tenant leases or vacancies.

The vision for the project now encompasses 80 acres — 50 of which Good Developments Group has under control. The developer could start closing on the properties as soon as this fall, said Lower.

Read more of the story on the St. Louis Business Journal website.


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