By Steph Kukuljan – Reporter, St. Louis Business Journal
It’s hard to miss 5300 Centre, a new 265-unit luxury multifamily development in St. Peters.
The four-story, two-building development towers over nearby buildings along Mexico Road, such as City Hall, situated across the street. Only BJC St. Peters Hospital, located 1 mile west, trumps the scale of the $56 million project from Propper Construction Services.
With pedestrian-friendly streetscaping, the new development stands out for lending an urban feel to the otherwise suburban nature of St. Charles County.
That, St. Peters officials say, is exactly what the city wants.
“This is the beginning of the new downtown St. Peters,” Mayor Len Pagano said.
After waiting for office development that never came, St. Peters officials reimagined what the neighborhood around the City Hall complex — which includes a recreation center, water park, 78-acre park and a 24-mile trail system — could be. They chose an urban environment that could provide walkability with plenty of amenities and apartments that would not only attract a population but keep it here, too.
To realize its vision, the city rezoned the area to be a special district, called Town Centre, to allow for multifamily and other density-rich developments to boost the neighborhood’s population. In 1990, the city’s population stood at 40,600; today’s it 56,000.
The area that St. Peters wants developed is immense. For example, three Streets of St. Charles — a mixed-use development at Interstate 70 and Fifth Street — can fit within its footprint, said City Administrator Russ Batzel.
Officials envision Town Centre having a main drag, likely along Executive Centre Parkway that’s north of 5300 Centre and runs parallel to Mexico Road. The city is aiming to eventually connect Mid Rivers Mall (1.5 miles from 5300 Centre) on one end with Duke Realty’s Premier 370 industrial park (2.5 miles away) on the other, Batzel said.
It’s one piece of St. Peters’ goal of creating a self-sustained city, where residents could forgo a long commute and work within city limits.
So far, St. Peters has seen early success — Premier 370 is home to Amazon, Best Buy and Reckitt Benckiser. And BJC invested in its St. Peters hospital to become the city’s largest employer with about 1,000 workers.
“There is a segment of the population, like millennials, who are looking for an urban environment in a safe setting,” said Batzel, who’s worked for the city in varying roles over the past 24 years. “We thought we could redevelop it into an urban model as the next growth period.”
Propper Construction Services had the same observation. Last year, the St. Charles-based company opened a $59 million, 219-unit development at Big Bend and Highway 141 that was designed to be a town square for Twin Oaks in St. Louis County.
With St. Peters, Propper saw an opportunity to build on that model and shape a new downtown, a company spokesman said.
It worked with the city on a master plan for Town Centre, which included the city changing variances to allow 5300 Centre to be built closer to Mexico Road to create a more urban environment, Batzel said. 5300 Centre includes a “social media wall” that details events, restaurant specials and other amenities in St. Peters to foster a town square atmosphere.
There’s signs that 5300 Centre is already serving as catalyst. It’s surrounded by roughly 80 acres that’s ready for redevelopment. TWG, an Indianapolis-based developer that redeveloped a downtown St. Louis site into an 88-unit apartment building called the Level on Locust, is seeking approval to build a 272-unit apartment development on nearly 8 acres next to Propper’s project. In addition, Batzel said the city is fielding calls about possible townhomes from other developers.
“I think we’ve approved over 1,200 apartments over the past three years,” Batzel said. “We’re not trying to differentiate from other municipalities, but we are reacting to the market, and the market is showing there is demand.”
Developer: Propper Construction Services
General contractor: S.M. Wilson
Architect: Zwick + Gandt Architecture
Cost: $56 million
Size: 265 units