4400 Manchester Avenue, Mixed-Use Building in Forest Park Southeast - 2016 St. Louis City Talk Favorite

Continuing with my favorite development proposals and under-construction projects in 2016, the Forest Park Southeast Neighborhood just seemed lit. The next five blogs will be focused on this single neighborhood which was recently rebranded the Grove (and I accept that).

There are three major projects announced along Manchester Avenue, the important commercial/entertainment district between Kingshighway and Vandeventer.

This proposal from Restoration St. Louis is exciting because it takes a large vacant lot (since the 1970s) along a very important commercial/entertainment area and replaces weeds with a five-story market-rate apartment building with 3,680 square feet of commercial space on the ground level.

The design proposed by Maplewood, MO firm V3 Studios are modern and impressive:

The location is high profile as many people come from all around to visit this section of Manchester in part due to one of our greatest breweries: Urban Chestnut Brewing Company, right across the street. If you haven't tried their German pilsner "Stammtisch" you are missing out on life. Back to the building...

I first became aware of potential development on this site back in 2013 via a NextSTL story:

A five-story, 55-unit mixed use building has been proposed by Forest Park Southeast developers Amy and Amrit Gill for 4400 Manchester in the Grove.

[the structure], which would subsume two adjacent parcels at 4400-08 and 4410-12 Manchester. Both are presently vacant lots, though it is unclear if nearby buildings to the south (on Swan Avenue) will remain or will be replaced with parking.

The parking plot thickened and in February, 2014, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the plan was delayed due to parking concerns:

Restoration St. Louis owns the vacant lot where it had proposed the apartment building. It also owns some vacant houses on Swan Avenue, a block south of Manchester.

Tearing down those houses to provide parking for the apartment building ruffled the Forest Park Southeast Development Committee, a neighborhood panel administered by Park Central Development.

Brooks Goedeker, Park Central's executive director, says the Gills signaled they would suggest parking alternatives but then asked that the apartment building proposal be removed from the development committee's consideration at its meeting Jan. 27.

Here's what the the apartments and houses on Swan Avenue near Newstead Avenue look like as of publishing:

 boarded up homes along Swan Avenue directly behind the Manchester lot

Upon my visit, there was interior demolition taking place at the handsome apartment building that faces Newstead at the corner of Swan:

Nobody wants a surface parking lot where there is viable housing, right?

Well, later in the year, updated proposals surfaced. In July and August, NextSTL and St. Louis Post-Dispatch, respectively, published stories on updated renderings and project details. The PD article reported:

The Gills, whose Restoration St. Louis owns the vacant lot, are proposing a nearly $11 million project of 55 market-rate apartments. A similar plan put forward in 2013 didn't get far, in part, because of parking concerns. The Gills had wanted apartment parking on the site of some vacant houses nearby.

In their new plan, parking is tucked inside the apartment building behind street-level storefronts.

A swimming pool, an outdoor deck and bike racks are included in the design. V Three's plan is for "universal design" apartments, which would be new to the Grove. "Universal design" characteristics include apartments without steps and doors wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs. The intent is to provide market-rate housing for people aging out of multistory homes.

Congrats on the new design, hopefully the apartments along Newstead are being saved and the neighborhood will be vastly improved by this project.

As of publishing, there are signs of fencing off the property and the familiar project billboards are on site.

Forest Park Southeast if becoming a whole neighborhood once again with vacant lots turning into viable housing and commercial space.

A great, evolving story in 2016.