Developer Continuing 20 Years of Progress Connecting Downtown to Midtown


Developer Jassen Johnson says progress continues in 2021 on phase two of the Jefferson Connector, an ambitious long-range development plan for revitalizing a multi-block stretch of Olive Street/Locust Street/Washington Avenue to connect the district with downtown west and midtown St. Louis.

Phase one, which included a complete rehab of an old automotive warehouse at 2200 Washington Ave., is now home to Twain Financial Partners. Also completed as part of phase one is the headquarters of Renaissance Development Associates, Johnson’s firm, is The Martin – the 52,000-square-foot former site of the Mendenhall Building, once a Ford dealership a century ago. The Martin features high-tech office suites.

Phase two, Johnson says, is under construction now, with two projects completed and work on the remaining six projects projected to finish in 2021. Phase two construction and rehab includes The Malone – an edifice named after Annie Malone, the first African American female millionaire and a successful businesswoman and philanthropist. The 100,000-square-foot development, located at 2650 Locust and long known as the Beaumont Telephone Exchange building, features 75 apartments and 25 office spaces.

“The Malone will be the 60th building we’ve rehabbed in this neighborhood since 2004,” said Johnson.

Also part of phase two is Midtown Eliot, a 5-story 1939 former warehouse building that will house a restaurant on floor one and high-end loft apartments on floors two through five. Johnson says the Midtown Alley buildings’ new names reflect St. Louis’ rich history of bright minds. The Eliot’s name, he adds, comes from the site’s adjacency to the birthplace of playwright T. S. Eliot.

“We’re finishing six of these phase two projects between March and Summer 2021,” he said, “totaling approximately $31 million. “The goal of the Jefferson Connector is to connect the stretch from downtown to midtown, and to continue revitalizing and rebranding this corridor as a district for creative innovators and start-ups while gaining synergy with nearby emerging developments such as the new NGA headquarters. Over the past two decades, we’ve gained a real propensity to fully develop the strip from the Gateway Arch to Forest Park.”

Key partners in the Jefferson Connector development are design-build/construction management firm Altman Charter Co. and Kaemmerlen Solutions.