WUSTL proposes $80 million investment in retail and student apartments in Delmar Loop

First step to achieve ‘A Vision for Parkview Gardens,’ an extensive community plan to enhance the Parkview Gardens area and the Delmar Loop

Washington University in St. Louis is proposing an $80 million investment in retail and student apartments in the Parkview Gardens neighborhood, located along the Delmar Loop in both University City and St. Louis.

The investment comes after the area was identified by two significant community studies — the Parkview Gardens Sustainability Plan and the Delmar Loop Area Retail Plan & Development Strategy — as a prime location for retail along Delmar and higher-density multi-family housing.

The development would be a key first step in implementing the recommendations of both plans, which were developed in partnership with St. Louis City and University City property and business owners, residents and local government officials.

The goal of the plans — and the proposed WUSTL development — is to enhance the area and lay a strong foundation for sustained growth.

WUSTL proposal

The proposal includes 20,000 square feet of new mixed-use retail space to be located along Delmar Boulevard just west of Eastgate Avenue. The corner of Delmar and Eastgate also has been identified by community studies of The Loop and Parkview Gardens areas as an important infill site for new retail.

The complete proposal, which includes four new buildings, is estimated to cost approximately $80 million and consists of retail space and about 200 student apartments. The first building would be located at the corner of Delmar and Eastgate, with three more looping northwest counterclockwise along Enright Avenue. All four buildings would be built on existing university-owned property.

If the proposal is accepted by both University City and St. Louis, groundbreaking for Phase 1 of the project would be scheduled for January 2013, with occupancy slated for August 2014.

“For several years, the university has been looking for the right location to offer a new, innovative housing concept for our students,” says Cheryl Adelstein, director of community relations and local government affairs.

“We are excited about this location in The Loop and Parkview Gardens. It enables Washington University to invest in and partner with both University City and the City of St. Louis to add to the long-term stability and vibrancy of The Loop, and it offers students new, innovative housing options.”

The university anticipates that additional retail and living space in Parkview Gardens will spur investments from other interested parties as well.

“The neighborhood has the potential to be one of the most sustainable in all of St. Louis,” Adelstein says. “In addition to beautiful architecture and great housing options, it is close to jobs, the university, arts and culture, parks and public transportation.”

The proposed buildings would be located on existing university property in both University City and the City of St. Louis (border shown in red).

The Loop area retail plan

In early February, the East Loop and West Loop Special Business districts and WUSTL released the results of the Delmar Loop Area Retail Plan & Development Strategy, which found potential for retail growth in the Delmar Boulevard Loop area.

The study was led by a steering committee of area property and business owners, residents, local government representatives and WUSTL administrators.

It found sufficient demand for additional retail space of 155,000 square feet and identified the types of retail, restaurant and entertainment opportunities that might best complement existing offerings and attract visitors and consumers.

The study also identified the corner of Delmar and Eastgate as a target area for new retail.

Currently, the area along Delmar holds two student apartment buildings and a vacant lot. Adding retail would complete the pedestrian experience along Delmar, the study points out, and would connect the East and West Loop areas as a more cohesive retail district.

The university’s proposed development at Eastgate and Skinker would add 20,000 square feet of retail space in this key location.

“The Loop has many great retail, dining and entertainment venues,” says Joe Edwards, owner and developer of numerous establishments in The Loop and chair of the East Loop Special Business District. “The addition of 20,000 square feet of space that fronts Delmar is really exciting, because it provides options for retailers — it can accommodate one large tenant or a few smaller ones. Storefronts of varying sizes are one of the features that make the Loop an interesting place to shop.”

The university is seeking potential retail tenants for the site, Adelstein says, and will follow the recommendations of the retail study to strategically add unique and diverse vendors that will both appeal to the student population and serve the needs of area residents and Loop visitors as identified in the retail study.

For more about The Loop retail study, visit news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/23352.aspx.

The four proposed buildings, with three along Enright Avenue to the north and one along Delmar Boulevard at Eastgate Avenue to the south.

Housing and the Parkview Gardens sustainability plan

“A Vision for Parkview Gardens,” a neighborhood sustainability plan that will be considered for adoption by University City in April 2012, calls for greater residential density; infrastructure improvements to promote sustainability and security; and improved green space. It also identifies several key sites for redevelopment, including the area between Delmar, Eastgate and Enright.

The study was administered by University City and funded in part by a $315,000 Sustainable Community Challenge grant by U.S. Departments of Transportation and of Housing and Urban Development.

Nine planning partners, including Washington University, also contributed to the development of the plan through financial contributions or in-kind work. Public meetings and workshops were held throughout the planning process to encourage participation and gather feedback from community members.

“The planning process encouraged input from diverse sources, including residents, commercial property owners and retail tenants,” says Mike Giger, president of the Parkview Gardens Association. “Partners included University City, the City of St. Louis, Great Rivers Greenway, and other groups. I was encouraged by the strong level of support and participation from so many different constituencies.”

The study showed a significant demand in the neighborhood for new, renovated and rehabilitated multi-family apartments as well as demand for single-family offerings, such as condominiums and townhomes. According to the study, the area could attract the creative class, young professionals and empty nesters seeking a more urban living environment.

“The market study confirmed our belief that Parkview Gardens is a very desirable residential neighborhood and that there is quantifiable demand for many different types of housing. The university’s investment in existing and new housing in the neighborhood provides WUSTL the opportunity to help implement the community’s plan,” Adelstein says.

Following the plan’s emphasis on sustainability, the buildings would be built to meet at least LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver ratings from the U.S. Green Building Council. For more about the Parkview Gardens Sustainability Plan, visit parkviewgardensvision.org.

New and improved student apartment space

The new student apartments in the proposed development would be reserved for approximately 550 upperclassmen. The buildings would contain approximately 200 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. The buildings would offer underground parking and be architecturally sensitive to the surrounding neighborhood.

The preliminary concept calls for a substantial amount of green space around the buildings and the development of open space on the north side of Enright.

The new development will be attractive to upperclass students who would like to be more engaged in the University City and St. Louis communities, says Justin X. Carroll, associate vice chancellor for students and dean of students.

“The Loop housing project will enable Washington University to keep pace with the demand for university housing by providing upperclassmen modern apartment accommodations in a convenient location,” Carroll says.

“One of the university’s greatest attractions for students is its proximity to the Delmar Loop. Many students currently reside in the neighborhoods directly north and south of the Loop. This project will be especially attractive to upperclassmen who desire residing in a vibrant community with the convenience of nearby retail,” Carroll says.

“I think the housing development is particularly exciting because it will continue to encourage students to recognize their place not only in the Washington University community, but also the St. Louis community at large,” says senior Ashley D. Brosius, a triple major in anthropology, political science, and women, gender, and sexuality studies, all in Arts & Sciences.

“As a student living in the neighborhood between campus and The Loop, I value the convenient location and proximity to both the restaurants and shops on Delmar as well as my classes and the library,” says Brosius, who is a student representative to WUSTL’s Board of Trustees.

“Living off-campus, I have had the opportunity to build relationships with permanent residents in the area and to gain my own independence while still benefiting from the Residential Life system,” she says. “This new development will give more students the chance to live off-campus, and it will only continue to add to the vibrancy of The Loop.”

Along with the proposed new student apartment buildings, the university already is in the process of a $20 million renovation to 25 apartment buildings in the Parkview Gardens area. WUSTL already had made a substantial investment in its residential properties in the Parkview Gardens neighborhood in the past 10 years, renovating apartment buildings, increasing safety patrols and adding lighting.

WUSTL hopes its investments make the area more attractive to other prospective residents and retailers and begins the process of implementing suggestions of the Loop retail and Parkview Garden Sustainability plans.

“The planning that has occurred for Parkview Gardens and The Loop has created a blueprint for continued investment and community engagement in this neighborhood,” Adelstein says. “The university looks forward to continued collaboration with local governments, property owners and retailers to bring these plans to fruition.”