$1.2 billion plan to develop St. Louis riverfront gets first nod from Port Authority
A $1.2 billion plan to develop 80 acres of the St. Louis riverfront cleared its first hurdle Thursday morning.
The St. Louis Port Authority unanimously approved a resolution to evaluate the financial feasibility of Good Developments Group’s proposal to develop the land south of the Gateway Arch grounds known as Chouteau’s Landing.
St. Louis- and New York-based Good Development Group dubbed the plan the Gateway South Project and estimated its cost at approximately $1.2 billion. Doug Rasmussen, a consultant who represented the developer at the Port Authority meeting, said that if approved, the project would start in late 2022 and take roughly 10 years to complete.
“This project, in many ways, is the front door of St. Louis,” Rasmussen said. “We’re trying to give visitors to St. Louis another reason to stay longer.”
Rasmussen gave a brief presentation on the project at the Thursday morning meeting. He said it would create three mixed-use districts in the area, including recreational, residential, industrial, office and entertainment.
“These various districts and subdistricts of these larger districts will do lots of things in terms of driving innovation, additional jobs, investments and also provide an extension of the Arch grounds, Rasmussen said.
The location of the project brought questions from Alderman Shane Cohn. He said he’s concerned about the site, which is in an area known to flood.
“Part of this development area is on the flood side of the levee,” Cohn said. “It seems a little odd you’d be planning to develop in an area extremely prone to flooding, especially with all the climate change issues that are happening right now.”
Dennis Lower, who also spoke on behalf of Good Developments Group, said the developer plans to work with the Port Authority and the Army Corps of Engineers to make any improvements needed to deal with flooding.
“We are looking at the infrastructure and what type of improvements need to be made,” he said. “This area's infrastructure is not in the best shape.”
Rasmussen said Good Developments Group expects the project will add hundreds of jobs and new affordable housing in downtown. He said the project would “greatly” increase the city's annual tax revenue.
According to board documents, Good Development Group owns or controls approximately 50 of the 80 acres.
St. Louis Development Corporation Director Neal Richardson said the project is an opportunity to make St. Louis’ riverfront a more attractive area. He said that with the board's approval, the corporation, which oversees the Port Authority, will be able to analyze the project's feasibility.
"This resolution is an exciting first step to evaluating the financial feasibility of the Gateway South Project,” Richardson said.
In the board resolution, the Port Authority listed several public funding sources and incentives the project could apply for, including federal port infrastructure grants, tax credit opportunities and "various tax abatements."
Good Developments Group’s projects include the Monad Terrace in Miami Beach, the Stella Tower in New York City, and the Brooklyn Tower and several other high-rises in New York.
Cohn also asked about what funding Good Developments Group has access to heading into the proposed project. Lower said the developer is bringing money to the table and is in negotiations with joint venture partners to gain more funding.
Thursday’s vote allows the Port Authority to move forward with analyzing the project and also enables Good Developments Group to cover any costs the city may take on during the analysis.
The resolution also states the Port Authority’s intent to help the project evolve and come to fruition.
Kavahn Mansouri is the Midwest Newsroom’s investigative reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @kavahnmansouri