By Kerry Smith, Editor – St. Louis Construction News & Review Magazine
Just 48 hours after Amazon announced March 7 that it would build its first fulfillment center in the state of Missouri, a second online retailer also voiced its decision to locate in the 850-acre Premier 370 Business Park in St. Peters, MO.
San Francisco-based Grove Collaborative, a home hygiene and health products online retailer, announced March 9 that it would move into a 150,000-square-foot space in Duke Realty’s speculative warehouse on the grounds of its four million-acre Premier 370, located near the intersection of Interstate 70 and Missouri Route 370 in St. Peters. Grove Collaborative’s products include eco-friendly cleaning products in concentrate form.
The two March announcements confirmed the continuing momentum that the city is enjoying and the enviable number of square feet being built and leased at Premier 370 and Arrowhead Industrial Park, near Highway 79 off Salt River Road in St. Peters and about four miles northeast of Premier 370.
“The tremendous momentum St. Peters is seeing is due to a combination of factors,” said Julie Powers, director of planning, community and economic development for the city of St. Peters. “The city has been working on developing and marketing Premier 370 for about 20 years. Plans were put into place, the levee was constructed, Dayton Freight came to the park in 2011 and then the recession hit. But now that the economy has recovered, it has been a steady stream of significant development. A lot of it is timing, and also the fact that shovel-ready, developable ground with convenient interstate and airport access is quickly disappearing on this side of the (Mississippi) river,” she added.
Grading of the Amazon site has begun. The corporation’s projected opening is May 2019. Duke Construction will build the 855,080-square-foot center, according to Matt Hrubes, vice president of leasing and development with Duke Realty. Missouri economic development officials said Amazon would invest $175 million in the facility and employ 1,500. In total across the St. Louis MSA – including the future St. Peters site, two sites in Hazelwood and two more in Edwardsville, IL, Amazon will employ more than 4,000 employees in the region by mid-2019.
Grove Collaborative is investing $3.7 million in its fulfillment center and will create more than 200 permanent jobs, according to Lisa Bedian, communications director for St. Peters. “Grove Collaborative is moving into 150,000 square feet of existing space in Premier 370, in the Duke Realty speculative building,” she said, “and RB (Reckitt Benckiser, a global manufacturer of health and hygiene brands including Lysol, Air Wick and Mucinex) is taking the remaining 150,000 square feet of space, so that building is now fully leased.”
RB’s latest expansion in St. Peters comes a year after its $31.5 million investment and lease of the largest building in the city of St. Peters, a 715,000-square-foot warehouse in Premier 370 just east of Best Buy’s distribution center. Powers said RB also engineered a $25 million, 27,000-square-foot expansion of its space in Arrowhead Industrial Park. These two RB projects alone created 450 new permanent jobs.
Powers and Bedian credit the city’s fast-track process in accommodating and facilitating commercial development and construction. “We’ve promoted our FastTrac development process for about a year now,” said Powers. “We pride ourselves on getting companies through the review process in a 30-day period, from their proposal submittal through planning and zoning approval. Although we’ve always had about a one-month p&z process, we’ve been branding it that way for the past 12 months to the site selection community regionally and nationally.”
Fast-tracking parties through the necessary approval processes by coordinating the approvals concurrently rather than consecutively has saved both developers, tenants and the city time and has led to tighter project construction and development timelines overall, according to Powers.