What Is St. Louis' Beef with Building Height?

A catch-all forum for urban discussion. If it doesn't fit elsewhere, post here.
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Granted The Plaza in Clayton Residences (30-stories, 408 feet), Park East (26-stories, 330 feet) and The Roberts Tower (25-stories, 312 feet) and have gone up in recent years, the question remains......What's up St. Louis' beef with height?

For a region that built the world's first skyscraper (Wainwright Building), the tallest man-made monument in the United States and one of the tallest monuments in the world (The Gateway Arch), it sure seems that St. Louis, for the most part, has been frowning on height over the last twenty to twenty five years.

The tallest structure in the whole STL region and State is 630'. Perhaps they are not needed at this time, but there are no supertalls (considered to be 984 feet or taller) in the whole region.

I think St. Louis - at least - could afford to step up its game to build structures in the 650-750 feet (60-70 meters) range.

Cities such as Omaha, Oklahoma City, Charlotte, New Orleans, Austin and Mobile all have at least one building than taller than St. Louis' tallest. Des Moines' tallest (801 Grand) equals The Gateway Arch at 630'. Kansas City has the tallest office building in Missouri at 624 feet. Milwaukee's tallest is knocking at 601' feet. Cincinnati recently inched past St. Louis with Queen City Square (665 feet), while D.C. area buildings have been inching upwards too.

Peer regions such as Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Minneapolis have long had taller structures than St. Louis.

Soon even Midland, Texas will have a building taller than any building in metro St. Louis. Energy Tower is proposed at 870 feet.

While all new projects do not need to be a high-rise, super-tall or mega-tall, enormous and recent projects and proposals such as the BJC expansion (Phase I), St. Louis County Unified Courthouse, Lindell Residences, City Walk, Centene, etc etc. have failed to deliver on height.

When will a structure in St. Louis break the 650-700 feet (60m to 65m) barrier? What will it take?

Cool links:
Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
SkyscraperPage
^Sorry to go OT but I'm pretty sure that's the Griswold's station wagon in the foreground of that photo.

Must be before they had to ask directions to get back to I-70.
^ ha!

I don't think we'll see a 500 footer+ in a long time unless something major comes out of Northside Regeneration. Lindell and Kingshighway would be my bet for an impressive residential that might surpass Park East.
I know tall buildings are super cool to look at and they can do a lot to boost a city's self esteem, but I'd rather our urban core be filled in with 3-5-story buildings first before we meet that demand with one or two skyscrapers. We still have way too many holes and broken teeth in our urban fabric that are preventing a predictable, cohesive urban experience.
arch,

thought you might be interested in this article on how Asian developers are securing a major anchor in downtown LA, including Korean Air's construction of The Whilshire, which will be the tallest building west of the Mississippi.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-0 ... z2yUzPYQHV

This snippet also stuck out:
The gusher of investment underscores Asian investors' growing familiarity with Los Angeles and its large Asian population and prime location on the Pacific Rim. Some of China's largest developers have been looking for large-scale commercial projects in so-called gateway cities on the U.S. East and West coasts.

"They feel very comfortable doing business here and they have been increasing investments here significantly in the last few years," said Chief Executive Bill Allen of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., which has been courting Asian investors to the region.

"China is our largest trading partner, and investment follows trade," he said "There is a whole pipeline of investors" moving toward Los Angeles.


Obviously the China Hub initiative would not have resulted in this same kind of downtown development for Saint Louis, but it is a shame that it didn't move forward as the relationship would have led to more opportunity for investment beyond the shipping angle.
roger wyoming II wrote:
"China is our largest trading partner, and investment follows trade," he said "There is a whole pipeline of investors" moving toward Los Angeles.


Obviously the China Hub initiative would not have resulted in this same kind of downtown development for Saint Louis, but it is a shame that it didn't move forward as the relationship would have led to more opportunity for investment beyond the shipping angle.

Thanks for posting.

Chinese investors are buying up downtown Detroit. They have also invested heavily in Chicago and New York. I think Missouri missed a great opportunity to have some real economic development and stimulation. Oh well......

Either way, projects such as Edwards Jones, RGA and Express Scripts could have been high-rises. I just don't understand the low-to-mid rise mentality in St. Louis - again realizing that every single project doesn't have to be a high-rise.
Anglophile wrote:
I know tall buildings are super cool to look at and they can do a lot to boost a city's self esteem, but I'd rather our urban core be filled in with 3-5-story buildings first before we meet that demand with one or two skyscrapers. We still have way too many holes and broken teeth in our urban fabric that are preventing a predictable, cohesive urban experience.


I think I may be in the middle b/w you and the tall boys.... I believe certain spots have the capacity and highest and best use for towers with height.... BPV residential, Kingshighway and Lindell, certain infill spots downtown.... when those eventual get built upon, I believe they should be tall towers... not necessarily Metropolitan Building height but certainly 30 stories+

btw, here is an interesting look at the One Light Building Cordish is starting work on this month at Power & Light district:
http://www.bizjournals.com/kansascity/n ... ready.html
(25 story tower wedged b/w two existing buildings so it has to have a small construction footprint)
I don't think our region has the demand for such a building taller than the Arch unless some company decided to move jobs from else where to our downtown and people were moving here in droves... We have a decent skyline and even though the new Stan Bridge isn't a building its piers are taller than most buildings downtown at 435'. I seen the buildings in OKC and Omaha albeit nice however they overpower and look disproportionate to the actual skyline and your eyes are only focused on that lone building as to where our skyline is very proportionate and your eyes are on most of the high-rises.. I'm happy with our skyline and we'll continue to add more mid size high-rises to possibly a few taller high rises maybe one eclipsing the height of the Arch...
Hard to build up when you're so busy building out.

-RBB
Here is a 43 story residential tower in booming Baltimore core:
http://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/bl ... picky.html

The city architecture review committee likes what it sees:

Panelist David Haresign seemed to allude to such proposals, telling 414 Light St. architect Devon Patterson of Chicago-based Solomon Cordwell Buenz that “often times they come in too far along and wrong-headed. This was far along and right-headed, so congratulations.”

A quick review process would be beneficial for Questar, which wants to break ground on the tower by the end of the year. Questar CEO Stephen M. Gorn said Thursday that the reason the building is so fully formed is that it took cues from completed SCB projects in San Francisco and Chicago, combining the best elements of those buildings for the Baltimore project.

There was palpable excitement among officials during the proposal’s unveiling, indicating the tower could become one of the most iconic in the downtown skyline.
^ Meanwhile, in Minneapolis there is a proposal out for a 34 story residential tower that would be built next to a 36 story tower under construction; however this one is just a pitch and has a long way to go:

http://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/b ... ntown.html

Kind of funny to see they have a poll with the question, "Does downtown need another residential tower?"
arch,

here's an interesting situation out of Cincy....

http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/n ... l?page=all

they landed a pretty big deal with a center for GE IT, finance and other operations that will begin with 1,500 or so employees and grow from there.... they're reportedly looking for 300,00+ sq. ft. of space. One site they are looking at for their new construction, permanent home (right now they are leasing) is in the "Banks" on the riverfront, but it looks like one issue that may have to be overcome is working around a height limit around Bengals stadium the team secured.

Cincy's largest tower btw tops out at 665' and was completed just in 2011.
Baltimore was to build a 40 story Four Seasons and condos building, but the recession hit and only the 20 some story hotel was built; however, it was built in such a way to add floors later.... now it looks like the developer will be adding 6 to 8 stories for condos and the city really wants them to get to 30.

http://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/bl ... l?page=all

While Huss said the condo models can be built on the 19th floor without a crane, he acknowledged that once further construction gets underway, building onto an existing tower will be “very tricky.” He said a crane would be moved in between the Four Seasons and the Marriott Waterfront, but hotel operations would not be interrupted.

I can't recall, can residential be added to the Park Pacific garage?
I'll throw this in, as sort of a "there, there." Tall buildings, particularly modern ones, are almost invariably awful places at street level. Unless you're in NYC or another international-level metropolis where every inch of street-facing square footage is at a premium, a tall building will probably have huge swaths of concrete, inward-facing amenities, steam grates, garage doors, and other unfriendly stuff. Count me among the supporters of more smaller buildings.
Wall Street Journal has an subscription-only article about the "Manhattanization of America" as the country is seeing the highest number of residential tower constructions since the 70s... and not just your usual suspects like Manhattan, Chicago and San Fran but also in places like Minneapolis, Baltimore and Austin.

Here is the Minneapolis Business-Journal's write-up:
http://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/m ... is-is.html

For statistical purposes, I wonder where Tower @ OPOP should go... is it 2007 when the structure was complete or 2013 when the build out was done?
^It seems St. Louis may be joining this trend soon, although in the Central West End (4643 Lindell and hopefully 4494 Lindell) and Downtown Clayton (The Crossing and Montgomery Tower) as opposed to Downtown.
^ maybe we'll be surprised by sooner-rather-than-later announcements from Drury and Cards.

btw, for the Wall Street Journal report, they define a tower as 15 floors or greater, so I don't think 4643 Lindell would qualify as its just 12.
I assume you know that St. Louis outranks Chicago in terms of skyscrapers per person, according to the data on skyscraperpage.com.

Do the math:

Code: Select all

    City        Population      Skyscrapers     Skyscrapers per 1000 people
    St. Louis     319,294            144               .45
    Chicago     2,833,321       1,150               .41


http://skyscraperpage.com/cities/?countryID=2

This assumes the same methodology that CQ Press uses for their "Most Dangerous Cities" crime rankings.
I assume Ballwin city officials and STLToday commenters will oppose any City-County merger, since it would simply be to dilute our skyscraper ranking, rather than to address the real problem -- way too many skyscrapers in the city.
I don't even really want downtown Saint Louis to be like Manhattan, but this article on a new Grand Central neighborhood shows how that town is on a completely different planet that anyone else in the country:
http://www.bizjournals.com/newyork/news ... works.html

SL Green Realty Corp. would be allowed to construct a 65-story, 1.6 million square feet office tower next door to Grand Central Terminal in exchange for funding big improvements to the nearby transit and pedestrian networks, under a plan unveiled by city leaders Friday.

The proposal is the first stage of a two-pronged process designed to rewrite zoning laws for a much larger section of east midtown Manhattan, between Fifth and Second Avenues and E. 37th and E. 59th St.... The rules would generally allow for density of up to 30 square feet of office space per square foot of real estate, while requiring applicants to pay for improvements inside Grand Central and the surrounding network of crowded streets and pedestrian pathways.

Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said keeping the eastern parts of Midtown vibrant is a high priority for the administration. More than 500,000 people pass through the station every day, and the neighborhood hosts 200,000 jobs.
Cities like New York, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, even Atlanta and Dallas understand their value. In those cities developers work for the interests in vision of the city, in St. Louis the city works for the interests in visions of the developers. Look no further than our local TIF wars, Paul McKee, Stan Kroenke, etc. etc. etc. No demands are placed on developers, all demands are placed on citizens. Only areas where demand is placed on developers are places like the CWE and that's the fastest growing neighborhood in the region, because they have a vision and are sticking to it. Developers also feel more comfortable investing in cities with a clear vision and plan, because they know their money will have a stronger ROI and its less risky.
^I agree 100%.

Think about it......it's the same way in Clayton too.

Nothing gets built there without a firm understanding of what is expected from developers.

Developers more often are forced to understand what's the vision for the city's downtown.

It's part of the reason why downtown STL can feel disconnected - despite so much redevelopment in recent years.

There's no firm vision and development can seem helter-skelter at times.

But is downtown STL at a place where it can force the issue onto potential developers?
Plan for downtown Form Based Code. I'm skeptical because its not as public driven like other recent code plans and is definitely corporately guided, like the St. Louis Streetcar Project.

http://www.downtownstl.org/formbased.aspx
Very tall structures by definition would likely include a large amount of office space. What's the vacancy rate downtown again? It doesn't seem that St. Louis has a beef with building height. Rather, it's determined by market demand.
Northwestern Mutual is building a replacement downtown campus in Milwaukee that will include a 32 story tower.

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arch city wrote:
When will a structure in St. Louis break the 650-700 feet (60m to 65m) barrier? What will it take?


It will probably take a company who thinks that, ultimately, they will be able to earn a profit doing business in the building and deciding to go forward with making the initial investment to build it.

These amazing American skylines that started the whole phenomenon across the globe didn't just build themselves from some sort of magic or just for shits and giggles. There was a carrot and the end of every tall building that went up (and a little pride too).