The Voice for the St. Louis Construction Industry

Category archive

News - page 2

Western Specialty Contractors Nearing Completion of Facade Restoration for Future Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

in Companies/News

Crews from Western Specialty Contractors’ Los Angeles and Seattle branches are hard at work performing stone restoration and installing new limestone and granite on the iconic Saban Building, the future home of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in L.A. Western is currently complete with 90% of the facade restoration work, which includes making limestone and granite Dutchman repairs, applying waterproofing, repairing window frames, and patching and cleaning the stone. 

Constructed in 1939, the Saban Building is located on Wilshire and Fairfax next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art campus, and is listed as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is scheduled to open in 2019. Photo courtesy of Western Specialty Contractors.

KWK Architects Designs Multi-Phase Community Replacement Project at University of Missouri, Columbia

in Companies/News

Master plan includes five new residence halls and a multi-restaurant dining facility

The University of Missouri (Mizzou) in Columbia, MO is bustling with two new residence halls; a state-of-the-art, multi-restaurant dining facility; and a Starbucks coffeehouse – all designed by KWK Architects as part of a multi-phase community redevelopment project.

KWK Architects, experts in student housing and dining design, was selected by the university to create a master plan for its Dobbs Neighborhood Redevelopment. The three-phased, master plan would include a total of five new residence halls and a distinctive dining facility to replace an outdated dining hall and three residential towers, all of which were demolished to make room for the new buildings.

“The goal of the master plan was to design a supporting community development at multiple levels primarily for first-year residents, create state-of-the-art dining for 2,500 plus residents in the area and create exterior, residential-friendly outdoor spaces, while defining circulation and service areas,” said KWK Architects Principal Sara Koester.

Phase I of the master plan included two new residence halls, Brooks and Bluford Halls, and a 580-seat dining facility. Brooks Hall, named after the university’s first African American administrator George C. Brooks, opened in fall 2016. The five-story, 89,400-square-foot residence hall houses 293 students. A computer center serving the complex is located on the building’s main floor.

The five-story Bluford Hall, opened for the 2017-2018 school year, is named after the late journalist and honorary doctoral degree recipient Lucile Bluford, and houses 282 students in 80,100 square feet. The building includes the new 29,600-square-foot dining facility, The Restaurants at Southwest, which occupies the majority of the first floor and replaces the outdated dining pavilion.

“The exterior character of the new residence halls acknowledges and complements the existing adjacent buildings and exterior environment,” said KWK Architects Principal Paul Wuennenberg. “Sustainable design was a major focus of the project, and the buildings are anticipated to achieve a LEED Silver designation. Solar panels on the Brooks Hall roof pre-heat the domestic water to reduce energy use. Additionally, the roof over the dining in Bluford Hall was designed for a future vegetated-tray green roof.”

The Restaurants at Southwest features six distinct dining venues that support a la carte service during the academic year and all-you-care-to-eat dining during the summer. Dining options at The Restaurants at Southwest include: Legacy Grill, Tiger Avenue Deli, Olive & Oil, 1+5+3 Soups & Salads, 1839 Kitchen, and Truffles. The facility handles the student population of 2,500 to 3,000 who live in the residence halls and nearby fraternities and sororities. The dining facility serves as the social hub of the neighborhood, anchoring the main pedestrian walkway to the academic campus, with the Starbucks store conveniently located along this promenade.

KWK has also completed designs for Phase II of the Dobbs Neighborhood Redevelopment, which includes a third and fourth residence hall, each with five-stories for a total of 120,991 square feet. When completed, the new halls will provide 384 beds and an Academic Resource Center.

KWK Architects partnered with The Lawrence Group as associate architect for the Dobbs project.

Founded in 2013 by five architects with a combined 150 years of higher education knowledge and experience, KWK Architects partners with colleges and universities across the United States to create innovative and inspiring places that enhance campus life. For more information about KWK Architects, visit or contact Director of Marketing Cindy Hausler at

Area Residents Invited to Celebrate Expanded Fee Fee Greenway Opening

in Associations/News

Community can tour the paved path that connects Maryland Heights Community Center, McKelvey Woods and Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park.

Great Rivers Greenway, the City of Maryland Heights and Saint Louis County Parks invite area residents to celebrate the newest segment of the Fee Fee Greenway at a ribbon cutting being held on Thursday, June 14, from 5-7 p.m. in Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park. The event will take place at the new trailhead, located near the disc golf course across from Sailboat Cove at 13725 Marine Ave., Maryland Heights, MO 63146.

The project extends the existing 0.8-mile paved greenway an additional 2.2 miles from McKelvey Woods, creating a continuous three-mile paved connection between the Maryland Heights Community Center (trailhead located near Dogport and Aquaport) and Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park. It also makes it possible for people to continue their walk or bike ride through the park to the Creve Coeur Connector trail and allow them to cross over the Missouri River to connect to the KATY Trail and Centennial Greenway in St. Charles County. These connections enable access to the St. Charles County Heritage Museum and the ability to cross over Highways 364 and 94 in St. Charles County.  In total, the new Fee Fee Greenway segment helps to create nearly 16 continuous miles of paved routes for walking and biking.

On Thursday, June 14, from 5-7 p.m., project partners, contractors, area residents and elected officials will officially open the new greenway with a ribbon cutting at the new trailhead. The celebration will include light refreshments, yard games, music and a guided walking tour of the greenway. Guest speakers will begin addressing the crowd at approximately 5:15 pm, followed by a ribbon cutting at 5:45 pm. A one-hour walking tour of the new greenway will begin following the cutting of the ribbon.

“The expanded Fee Fee Greenway is an incredible asset, not only for the people who live and work in Maryland Heights, but also for our entire region,” says Tracey Anderson, City of Maryland Heights Director of Parks and Recreation. “We encourage the community to join us on June 14 to celebrate this new connection and discover all the things they can see and do along the way.”

The new segment includes a 78-foot-long pedestrian bridge over Fee Fee Creek and a nearly 1,000-foot-long “living wall.” The purpose of the living wall system is to help capture the storm water that drains off the paved surface, reducing the impact on nearby creeks and streams. It will also provide habitat for wildlife and insects. Several hundred new native trees, shrubs, sedges and flowers were also planted along the two-mile extension to restore and boost the native ecology of the greenway.

“This project is a powerful example of how greenways connect us to our rivers, parks, communities and each other,” says Susan Trautman, CEO of Great Rivers Greenway. “By extending the Fee Fee Greenway just two miles, we’ve created a vital link between existing trails and amenities so people can get exercise and fresh air while exploring a wonderful natural area.”

For more information about the expanded Fee Fee Greenway and other greenways throughout the St. Louis area, visit

Great Rivers Greenway makes the St. Louis region a more vibrant place to live, work and play by developing a regional network of greenways. Great Rivers Greenway is the public agency collaborating with partners and communities to build, care for and bring to life your network of greenways, creating healthy habitats and watersheds along the way. With 117 miles built and counting, visit for more information.

Chesterfield Outlets will be Renamed The District Redevelopment Expected to Begin in Summer 2019

in Companies/News

The Staenberg Group (TSG), headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, announced today that Chesterfield Outlets will be renamed The District when redevelopment begins in summer of 2019. This multi-faceted project is poised to become the region’s premiere destination for action-packed entertainment, innovative dining and festive shopping.

“Our leasing team is currently working with some of the most desirable concepts and brands in the country,” says Timothy Lowe, vice president of leasing and development for The Staenberg Group. “The response to The District from prospective and current tenants is very positive.”

The property, which is adjacent to Top Golf St. Louis (opening August 2018),  is located in the Chesterfield Valley on North Outer 40 Road.  It currently comprises more than 300,000 square feet of outlet retail space.

The Staenberg Group develops, leases and manages commercial properties throughout the country. The company and its principal have developed, leased and managed a portfolio of more than 200 shopping centers comprising in excess of 35 million square feet of quality retail space, including over 1,000 restaurants and 1,000 retail transactions, across the United States.

TSG Properties is a full service commercial real estate development company that owns, manages and leases shopping centers throughout the heartland. Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, TSG Properties is headed by industry leader Michael Staenberg, who has developed, leased and managed a portfolio of over 100 properties comprising 20,000,000+ square feet of retail space across the US. 

Construction Industry Awaits Passage of Prevailing Wage Compromise

in Associations/Columns/News/Opinion

By Kerry Smith, Editor – St. Louis Construction News & Review Magazine

The Missouri Senate and House have passed legislation to modify the state’s prevailing wage law. Unless vetoed by a sitting Missouri governor, HB 1729 will become law and take effect in August, changing and simplifying the way wages are calculated for public works projects – and putting increased onus on contractors and subs to report their hours to the state.

School districts, cities and other governmental entities currently pay more than the state’s minimum wage for maintenance and construction work. As it now stands, the specific amount is determined by the type of work being done as well as the geographical location of the construction project, and there is no minimum threshold for the amount/size of project to which prevailing wage applies.

The bill also signifies a compromise in how prevailing wage will be calculated in rural areas of Missouri. HB 1729 also raises the construction cost threshold that construction projects must reach in order for contractors to be paid prevailing wage.

A consolidation of job classifications in the construction industry is yet another component of the proposed law, according to Associated General Contractors of Missouri (AGCMO) President Len Toenjes.

“This was a real team effort that included members from across our industry,” Toenjes said. “We had been preparing this compromise with the hope that when those (repeal) bills got to the floor, our legislation would be seen as a substitute for the repeal of prevailing wage law in Missouri. We have every reason to expect that the governor will sign it. The feedback that I’m hearing is that we stopped repeal of prevailing wage, which was our overall goal. This is a situation, as with any piece of legislation, where everyone is a little bit unhappy. But we were able to reach a point where we stopped the repeal and we did not negotiate against ourselves. We were realistic and honest in reaching this compromise.”

A key provision of HB 1729 is that it establishes $75,000 as the threshold or minimum project amount that is subject to prevailing wage rates. According to Toenjes, earlier bills advocated for a threshold as high as $500,000. “Under the current prevailing wage law, prevailing wage rates apply to projects from the first dollar on up,” he said. “There was a lot of back and forth debate on what this number should be. Particularly for construction projects occurring in rural areas – such as painting a classroom ceiling or installing a suspended ceiling in a firehouse – that project total is going to total less than $75,000. This threshold is not making rural areas happy, but we knew that ultimately we weren’t going to be able to keep it at zero.”

Increased responsibility for contractors and subcontractors to report their hours to the appropriate departments with the Missouri Dept. of Labor is a provision of the legislation. “Prevailing wage calculations under the new bill will be done solely on the basis of the hours reported to the state by these parties,” Toenjes said. “It’s critical that contractors report their work hours to the state because by law these hours cannot be reported by the unions or associations. The onus is definitely on the contractors and subs.”

In a related component of HB 1729, the number of occupational titles has been reduced to simplify calculating and tallying prevailing wage rates by position within employment sectors. “One of the things the House and Senate wanted to accomplish was to co-simplify the reporting system,” Toenjes said. “We went from 43 occupational titles down to 20.”

For example, where there had been three or four different related occupational classifications for jobs specific to millwrights and carpenters, and multiple categories for laborers, HB 1729 combines several related job classifications for simplicity and fairness.

“Prevailing wage calculations for each county and each occupational classification are going to be based on an average of all the hours that are reported for that occupational classification within the county,” Toenjes said. “If there are fewer than 1,000 hours reported (for a classification and/or a county, there will be a minimum construction wage that represents the average of all the wages reported in that county. The rationale of those who designed this provision is that it establishes construction wages that are consistent with a level of activity occurring in that county.” Prior to the new legislation, Toenjes said it had been a negotiated rate and that wages paid weren’t always reflective of the construction activity that was occurring.

The AGCMO’s next objective is to ensure that the new prevailing wage law, assuming it passes, succeeds in being implemented. “We want to see that it hopefully results in the promulgation of a system that is as fair as possible for everyone concerned, particularly for those who work in construction in rural areas of Missouri,” said Toenjes.


McKnight Place Assisted Living & Memory Care to Host Grand Opening Celebration

in Companies/News

Latest Project Adds Additional Assisted Living Suites, Introduces Dedicated Memory Care at The Gatesworth

Just six months after debuting its new, three-story, 102,000-square-foot expansion featuring 90 upscale apartment homes, the final phase of the two-phase project is now complete in the community that has been aptly renamed McKnight Place Assisted Living and Memory Care. The doors of the original McKnight Place building are now open to 74,000-square-feet of completely renovated space that not only expands the number of assisted living options available, but also debuts memory care services in the popular senior living community. McKnight Place Assisted Living and Memory Care is hosting a grand opening event to celebrate this final milestone in its $32 million investment project that provides an expanded array of luxury accommodations featuring the unparalleled services McKnight Place is known for. The special event will offer guided tours of the new community and provide guests with the opportunity to reserve one of the high-end suites. Guests will enjoy hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, live music, and valet parking.

Named one of the nation’s “Top 10 Retirement Communities” by Forbes Magazine, The Gatesworth opened its doors in 1988 and established itself as a pioneer in providing area seniors with a variety of quality services in a warm, residential environment.

McGrath & Associates Begins Work on Upgrades at Christian Hospital in St. Louis

in Companies/Homepage Primary/News

McGrath & Associates has begun work on elevator and mechanical upgrades at Christian Hospital in north St. Louis County. The projects include two elevator upgrades, a new air handling unit and electrical distribution upgrades. McGrath is the design/build contractor for the elevators and is providing value engineering, preconstruction and construction services on the other projects.

Construction is underway on two original traction elevators that McGrath is modernizing in the five-story Paul F. Detrick Building. McGrath will sequence construction so that one elevator remains in operation at all times. McGrath follows strict safety protocol when working around elevator shafts, and implements isolation and infection prevention measures in occupied health care areas to ensure a clean and safe environment for patients, staff and visitors. The design/build elevator project is scheduled for completion in August 2018.

The air handling and electrical distribution upgrades currently are in pre-construction, with construction expected to begin in August 2018. McGrath will replace the air handling unit serving the Christian Hospital operating room suite with a more energy-efficient, higher capacity unit. The existing air handler will be removed from the mechanical room and a new unit will be installed on the exterior of the building. The architect for the air handling unit project is Lawrence Group and the engineer is McClure Engineering.

Moving the air handling unit will provide space in the mechanical room for new electrical switchgear for the electrical distribution upgrades project. The engineer for the electrical upgrades is Heideman Associates.


McGrath & Associates is a 100 percent employee-owned general contractor and construction management firm specializing in commercial, health care, industrial, institutional and pharmaceutical construction projects since 1983.  For more information, call Ken Knobbe at (314) 772-7600 or visit

KAI Design & Build Completes Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being in St. Louis City’s Grand Center Arts District

in Companies/News

Interactive programming and design process helped KAI meet client’s tight deadline 

KAI Design & Build has completed construction of St. Louis’ new $8.5 million Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being — a 21,272-square-foot facility providing meeting and office space for child advocates, civic leaders and community organizers dedicated to enhancing the well-being of at-risk children.

In March, KAI Design & Build received a 2018 Building St. Louis Award for the project. The awards program, sponsored by the St. Louis Business Journal, recognizes commercial real estate projects that have created a positive community impact in the areas of investment, jobs created or potential benefit to a surrounding area.

Located at 1000 North Vandeventer in the Grand Center Arts District of St. Louis City, the facility was completed within just 7.5 months in December 2017. Since time was of the essence on the project, as the Deaconess Foundation’s lease at its previous office space was set to expire on December 31, 2017, the organization chose to implement the project using the design-build delivery method with the added advantage of an interactive programming and design process provided by minority-owned KAI Design & Build.

The Deaconess Center is the Foundation’s first new construction in almost two decades. The design and construction of the building reflected Deaconess’ religious legacy as well as its commitment to social causes by exceeding the city’s minority participation goals. The project achieved 36% Minority Business Enterprises (MBE) and 3% Women Business Enterprises (WBE) participation. Elizabeth Noonan, an economic development professional and United Church of Christ member, served as the Project Manager and minority-owned Kwame Building Group was the Construction Manager.

In order to keep the project on schedule, KAI selected tilt-up concrete construction for the building’s exterior facade to assure the fastest possible building erection, as well as used vibrated stone piers to drastically reduce the owner’s site remediation cost and schedule impact.

The completed Deaconess Center provides meeting rooms, a chapel, and a large conference space for up to 125 people, as well as administrative offices for the Deaconess Foundation, Vision for Children at Risk, and Neighborhood Houses — a United Church of Christ ministry that supports low-income children and families of the inner core of St. Louis City. The facility’s design incorporates many elements that appeal to children, such as bright colors, eye-catching graphics and furniture, and garden spaces.

The Deaconess Center is expected to host more than 6,000 citizens a year in more than 250 meetings focused on children’s issues. Meeting rooms will be available at no charge to initiatives focused on improving public policy for children. Forty to fifty people are expected to work at The Center, with many re-locating from various Deaconess Foundation offices throughout the St. Louis area.

“Through our funding, advocacy and this facility, we want to cultivate a movement for child well-being in St. Louis,” said Deaconess President and Chief Executive Rev. Starsky Wilson in a press release. “Movements need activated individuals, creative ideas and institutional expressions. This will be a place where they all come together for kids.”

KAI Design & Build is a national 100+ person design and build firm headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. A renowned leader in the industry, KAI provides design and build integrated project delivery solutions through collaboration, technology, processes and expertise. For more information about KAI Design & Build, visit or call 314-241-8188.

Western Specialty Contractors Named to List of Top 150+ Privately Held Companies in St. Louis

in Companies/News
Ben Bishop

Western Specialty Contractors is proud to announce that it has been named to the St. Louis Business Journal’s 2018 Top 150+ Privately Held Companies list.

For decades, the St. Louis Business Journal has profiled the top privately held companies based in the St. Louis area, which are ranked by 2017 revenue. Information is also gathered by editors on how much companies on the list have grown, who runs them and what their hiring plans are for the upcoming year.

Western Specialty Contractors ranked 101 out of 200 companies listed on this year’s list, with a reported 2017 revenue of $213.2 million — a 2% increase from the prior year.

Western is headquartered in St. Louis, MO, with 30+ branch locations nationwide and employing 1,200 salaried and hourly professionals. The 103-year-old company is owned and operated by the Bishop family, with Ben Bishop, Sr. serving as Chairman Emeritus and his son, Ben “Butch” Bishop, Jr., serving as Chairman and CEO of the company. Services provided by Western include concrete and masonry restoration, disaster recovery, waterproofing, facade restoration and specialty roofing.

Western started 2018 in growth mode, as reported by the St. Louis Business Journal, with the March acquisition of 125-year-old Western Roofing Co. in Kansas City, MO. The start of 2018 also saw the promotion of Tom Brooks to Chief Operating Officer, following the retirement of Jim Rechtin, Sr. after 46 years with the company.

“We are extremely pleased to make the St. Louis Business Journal’s Top 150+ list once again, and continuing to grow in terms of revenue and market growth,” said Western Specialty Contractors CEO Ben “Butch” Bishop, Jr.

View Western’s listing:

Family-owned and operated for more than 100 years, Western Specialty Contractors is the nation’s largest specialty contractor in masonry and concrete restoration, waterproofing and specialty roofing. For more information about Western Specialty Contractors, visit

Hicor Group On Track For 50 Percent Growth In 2018 Revenues

in Companies/News

St. Louis-based The Hicor Group is projecting record revenue in excess of $6 million in 2018, an anticipated 50 percent increase over 2017 revenues.  To support this growth in project work, the carpentry services provider has added 40 new full-time carpenters to its staff since the beginning of 2018. The Hicor Group, a minority certified (MBE) contractor, also has become a stand-alone company after operating for its first four years as a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Unitech Consulting.

“Becoming a stand-alone company is a big step for us and the result of our hard work and steady growth since 2014,” said Andrew Stafford, President of The Hicor Group and a fifteen-year veteran construction industry. “It’s a testament to our talented and dedicated employees.”

Most of Hicor’s growth in 2017 and 2018 has come from a wide array of carpentry projects in commercial, multi-family/senior living and restaurant/retail markets including the Nathaniel Rivers Apartments in St. Louis, Covenant Place II in Creve Coeur and Level on Locust in downtown St. Louis. Hicor has installed case-work, counters, architectural millwork, interior fixtures and provided framing and drywall service for a variety of restaurant projects including Shake Shack, Texas Roadhouse and McAllister’s Deli.

“The majority of the projects in our first several years focused on historic rehabilitations, including our award-winning headquarters inside the historically significant Bronson House in Mid-Town that we moved into last year,” Stafford said.  “While we’re passionate about those types of projects, we’ve been able to support our tremendous growth by expanding our services and reaching new markets. Our outlook has gone from revitalizing yesterday and preserving today to building tomorrow. With more than 70 employees, we now have the capacity for building a bright future.”

Founded in 2014, the Hicor Group provides a full scope of carpentry contracting services and is a certified MBE. The company will remain under the ownership of Jeff Kelly and Drew Acree, who also own Chameleon Integrated Services, an information technology consulting firm. For more information on The Hicor Group, visit      

Go to Top