$200 Million Building Project Slated for St. Louis

A St. Louis developer has unveiled plans for a $200 million project in Richmond Heights that will include a 17-story residential tower, townhouses, a hotel and retail space.

Pace Properties Inc. of Brentwood is planning to build the tower, called Valencia Place, with 98 condominiums, on Brentwood Boulevard, in a retail corridor that includes the St. Louis Galleria mall and several retail strip centers.

The project includes a 200-room hotel and about 110,000 square feet of street-level retail space. Pace Properties declined to release the name of the hotel operator.

Closer to the ground, 19 condominiums, in a complex called Valencia Commons, also are in the works. Those condos, including some two-level townhouses, would go above the retail space.

Condominiums on the property could range from 800 square feet to 3,000 square feet.

The new construction would rise on five acres that includes Francis Place, a former residential subdivision east of Brentwood Boulevard that was razed in 2005. Valencia Place would add to the skyline for the area, rivaling nearby University Club Tower, which has 23 stories.

Rob Sherwood, managing director of Pace Properties, said the project should break ground in July and take 24 months to complete.

The project needs site plan approval from Richmond Heights, but the property already has the necessary zoning, said City Manager Amy Hamilton.

U.S. Bank and the real estate investment arm of Prudential Financial Inc. are providing the financing and equity for the project. The Lawrence Group will design the Valencia Place tower.

The new development is the second phase of a larger initiative for Pace Properties on Brentwood Boulevard. Boulevard St. Louis, a $65 million project completed last year, includes 74 apartments, along with retail and restaurants.

The city estimates that the proposed project could generate between $700,000 and $800,000 in sales tax its first full year of operation. Boulevard St. Louis is expected to generate $1.2 million in 2006.

Both phases have New Urbanism principles, which include dense populations living within walking distance of retail, schools, libraries, churches and parks.

"I look at these kinds of projects all over the country, and people say they like living on Main Streets... where they can step out their front doors to shop, eat and work," Sherwood said.

Developments in Kirkwood, St. Charles, Belleville and at WingHaven in O'Fallon, Mo., also have mimicked New Urbanism ideas.

A mixed-use development on Brentwood Boulevard also has been part of a broader plan by Richmond Heights to redevelop the street.

So far, retail space in Boulevard St. Louis is 90 percent leased, Sherwood said. The connected apartments, which opened in November, are about 20 percent leased.

[St. Louis Post-Dispatch (KRT) -- 02/17/06]