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Old Posted Oct 10, 2005, 4:34 AM
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Opus plans $20 million Park East Lofts project
Christopher Tritto
St Louis Business Journal
From the October 7, 2005 print edition

Opus Development Northwest LLC has another project in the works for the Central West End. This time the Chesterfield-based company is moving forward with plans to construct Park East Lofts, a $20 million, 48-unit condominium residence.

The Park East Lofts will be located on Euclid Avenue, immediately north of Opus' Park East Tower, a luxury 26-story condominium project under construction at Euclid and Laclede avenues.

The loft units will average about 1,000 square feet each, ranging in price from about $250,000 to $450,000, depending on size, said John Pitcher, Opus' director of real estate development. The new building will be no more than six stories tall so that it won't block views from the Park East Tower.

Park East Lofts will include about 8,000 square feet of street-level retail space. Pitcher said he has spoken with some potential tenants.

The city of St. Louis also plans to build and own a public parking garage on the property, Pitcher said.

Opus, which is part of the Minneapolis-headquartered Opus Group of companies, has the site of the Park East Lofts under lease now. The site is owned by the city treasurer's office, but Opus plans to purchase the building air rights, meaning it would hold the rights to build and own anything built on the land, but not the land itself.

Pitcher said Opus would not seek any tax increment financing (TIF) for the residential or retail development. The city could consider a TIF for its own development of the garage, he said.

Pitcher hopes to start building in the spring and expects the project would take about 15 months to complete.

Opus' enthusiasm for additional residential development in the Central West End has been ignited by the early success of the company's $50 million Park East Tower development. More than 80 percent of the high-rise's 89 units already have been sold, though the first condos won't be finished and delivered to buyers for about 12 more months, Pitcher said. Only about 15 units remain available for sale. Units are selling for $250,000 to $1 million.

Opus also is planning a second high-rise residential building just up the street, at the corner of Euclid and Lindell Boulevard. The former local headquarters of the American Heart Association stands vacant there now. That project has a price tag of $92.6 million, but Opus and the city are still hammering out the financial details, including Opus' request for about $9.5 million in TIF.

Dennis Gorg, executive director of the Central West End Business Association, said residential development is evolving so quickly in the neighborhood that it has been tough to accurately track the number of new housing units coming on the market.

"Every day something new seems to be coming on," Gorg said. "The density of the Central West End is growing. Anytime you get more infrastructure -- housing, stores, churches, schools -- you make a neighborhood stronger."

© 2005 American City Business Journals Inc
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