The City’s TIF Commission met last week to set public hearings for tax increment financing for several very important developments: the Farm & Home Building at 10th and Locust Streets; Phase two of the City Hospital development at 14th Street and Lafayette Avenue; and a reconfiguration of the development plan for the former Dillard’s Building at 7th Street and Washington Avenue.
All of these developments are primarily commercial in nature - a shift from the past in which many TIF developments were primarily residential. Barb Geisman calls this is a “silver lining” to the slowdown in the housing market: more developers are now looking at office and retail uses for their property. I think this shift is welcome as we work to provide more quality office and retail spaces that will attract new businesses and jobs to the City.
The City’s residential market remains healthy, although homes and condominiums are selling at a slower rate, particularly in the middle price range where prospective buyers must sell their existing home in order to be able to buy a new home in the City. First-time homebuyers and those with significant wealth do not have this issue and the market in the lower and upper price ranges remains strong.
Let’s look a little closer at the projects:
The Farm & Home Building was home to the Kinloch Telephone Company when it was originally constructed in the late 1800s. The building began its decline when the company was purchased by Bell Telephone. In the middle of the last century, its historic exterior detail was removed and the building was cladded with “modern” metal panels. Thereafter, it served to fill a need for Class C office space until it became entirely vacant in the 1990s. (Sadly, its wonderful historic exterior, visible in photographs taken before the metal panels were installed, cannot be recreated.) Craig Heller purchased the building several years ago. Heller has recently been focused on the historic rehabilitation of the Syndicate Trust Building and the Ludwig Aeolian development on Olive Street. Now that these projects are nearly complete, he is turning his attention to the Farm & Home. If he gets the TIF, Heller proposes to develop the building as quality Class B office space, with first floor retail space, that can attract the same type of office and retail tenants he has successfully brought to the Ludwig Lofts.
The “Phase Two” of the City Hospital development includes several historic buildings and one building that will be newly constructed to be compatible with the complex’s historic character. Chris Goodson and Trace Shaughnessey’s Gilded Age is the owner and developer of this property. With a TIF, the property will be a new home for Butler’s Pantry, a catering company that will offer new banquet facilities and catering from the City Hospital location. Restaurant and office space, along with several residential condominiums in the former superintendent’s home, will also be offered. (For background: Phase One of the development was the historic rehabilitation of the main hospital facility, fronting on Lafayette and highly visible from I-44 and I-55. This building’s transformation has made a dramatic improvement to the appearance of its neighborhood. Phase Three, already approved, is the development of a new shopping center south of the main hospital building between Lafayette and I-44. Construction is expected to commence on this development soon.)
I will update you on the change of plans for the former Dillard’s Building tomorrow.