Forest Park - DeBaliviere Metrolink TOD

Wow, was November, 2018 exciting. The reporting on a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) at the area around the Forest Park/DeBaliviere Metro stop was just the late year jolt we needed to cement 2018 as one of the most memorable for quality development proposals and projects underway. I first read about this on NextSTL.

This one is fantastic on all fronts. TOD is a concept I’ve learned about from reading blogs like UrbanReviewSTL and NextSTL. It basically means building mixed use residential and retail around public transit with the goal of reducing dependency on cars. This kind of thing is organic in places like NYC and to a lesser extent Chicago and D.C. But not here. The Metrolink light rail system in St. Louis is more centered on sports arenas and the commuter experience, with many of our stops including surface parking for people driving in and using the train, especially the stops in the suburbs.

Forest Park/DeBaliviere is a critical stop. It is the crossroads of the red and blue lines. It is near the city’s greatest cultural institution, Forest Park. It is a nice place on the west side of St. Louis and close to the north/south dividing line of Delmar.

It is racially and economically diverse (Skinker-DeBaliviere was 50% white, 38% black, 9% Asian and 3% Hispanic/Latino in the 2010 Census). This is the ideal spot for TOD.

And boy what this project will bring. Surface parking lots and suburban strip malls and under-utilized drop off/turn-arounds replaced with….buildings. Building that will bring retail and homes and services for people. Things that will help make us a city and not a suburb.

This is our favorite new construction project on the list this year.

This has to be our priority in St. Louis. Taking dead, car-centric zones back and replacing it with city places.

I am thrilled.

Per the Metro blog:

Pearl Real Estate Companies has put forth a proposal that includes three separate buildings that would transform Metro Transit’s former passenger drop-off area and Park-Ride lot, as well as the retail property north of the transit center.

The development includes 265 residential units, 33,888 square feet of ground-floor retail, streetscape and public space improvements, and up to 342 parking spaces. The Metro Transit Park-Ride lot will include a six-story building with 108 apartments, and nearly 13,000 square feet of ground floor retail. There will be streetscape and pedestrian amenities, including public art. The former passenger drop-off area will be the location of a five-story building with 51 apartments and 5,000 square feet of ground floor retail. Finally, the retail center north of the Metro Park-Ride lot will have a four-story development with 106 apartments and 16,000 square feet of ground floor retail.
— Liza Farr - Metro

If fully realize, they reported that the total investment will reach $70M.

Here’s what the areas look like today.

And here is a rendering of one of the buildings and the desired scene along DeBaliviere, the latter two were copied from the NextSTL article.

Wow, with this part of town looking like a city again, there is an opportunity for some other suburban mistakes along this stretch. Oh, and on a trolley line adding charm as well. Here’s an example of one such opportunity for improvement.

Yikes! The east side of DeBaliviere

Yikes! The east side of DeBaliviere

There are some handsome buildings at DeBaliviere and Pershing that will benefit from some urban buildings.

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The strip mall on the west side of the street is almost fully occupied, so hopefully rents in the area will be in the same range after the new construction and these and other businesses can thrive.

If this goes through, these improvements will be among the best in the last 25 years.