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ANew Urban Attitude

“The Loughborough Commons site is archetypal to urban America,” said Scott Sachtleben, senior VP of development and general counsel for St. Louis-based The DESCO Group. The developer’s $40 million, 250,000-sq.-ft. center, anchored by South St. Louis’s first Lowe’s home-improvement warehouse and a 63,000-sq.-ft. Schnucks food store, stands as testament that good things happen to those who take the bull by the horns. The once-blighted site of a shuttered industrial plant could have stayed a useless eyesore—were it not for a much-needed plan to convert the land to its highest and best use.

“After the plant shut down, it had little in the way of economic or socially redeeming value, save for its location adjacent to an exit for an interstate highway and the fact that it was proximate to mature, bedrock-solid neighborhoods,” said Sachtleben. “The site had some retail, but generated only $425,000 in city sales tax annually. It was on its way to productive oblivion.”

Loughborough Commons

Location: Interstate 55 and Loughborough Road in South St. Louis, on a 30-acre brownfield site that once was home to a Nordyne industrial plantSize: 250,000 sq. ft.Developer: The DESCO GroupMajor tenants: Anchored by Lowe’s—the city’s first—and Schnucks, along with a tenant lineup that includes OfficeMax, St. Louis Bread Co., Starbucks, Qdoba and Great Clips.Status: Under construction, with a completion date of spring 2008

DESCO determined that an easily accessible shopping center—powerfully anchored—would not only strengthen and increase the appeal of the nearby neighborhoods, but would attract shoppers from a large geographic area. According to Sachtleben, with the addition of OfficeMax, St. Louis Bread Co., Starbucks, Qdoba and Great Clips to the anchor mix of Lowe’s and Schnucks, the shopping center will generate $2 million in annual sales-tax revenue.

Sachtleben knows it was a coup to ink Lowe’s in the South St. Louis center. A prior relationship with the retailer jump-started the negotiations.

“Seven years ago, DESCO worked to bring Lowe’s into another successful center in Kirkwood (a St. Louis suburb),” said Sachtleben. “That site and the Loughborough site shared the same key attributes—interstate visibility and proximity to an interstate exit and to a sea of residential rooftops.”

Lowe’s arrival to South St. Louis was not the only project highlight. “It was how the whole package came together,” explained Sachtleben. “A blighted eye-sore is transformed into a Class A property—and soon the city will see sales-tax revenues more than quadruple as it stops the hemorrhaging of sales-tax revenue into the separate taxing entity of St. Louis county.”

Top 10 Urban Markets*

Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.

Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, Ill.

Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla.

Dallas-Ft. Worth-Arlington, Texas

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga.

Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria, Va.

Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.

Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Miami Beach, Fla.

Jacksonville, Fla.

Denver-Aurora, Colo.

* To identify the above urban markets with the greatest future growth potential, two lists—for the time period January-March 2007—were created, reflecting the metros with the most current and planned residential household unit construction, and combined to create a list of future high-growth markets.

For Chain Store Age, Troy, N.Y.-based Pitney Bowes MapInfo identified the country’s top-10 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) based on the greatest combined future and active housing units, allowing retailers to “gain insight into the fastest-growing markets in the U.S.,” explained Tom Exter, chief demographer, Pitney Bowes MapInfo, “and to implement more proactive and profitable strategic expansion plans.

“Phoenix has experienced explosive growth in recent years and Pitney Bowes MapInfo’s research shows the metro will continue on this trend,” said Exter, “with the number of active and planned household unit construction being more than twice the number of the second-ranked metro, Chicago. Chicago ranks high on the list because of its sheer size as the nation’s third-largest metro, or Core Based Statistical Area (CBSA), after New York and Los Angeles. Those two metros didn’t make the list due to their relatively less housing activity in those CBSAs.

“Several of the other top CBSAs, such as Dallas and Miami, are driven by growth in the Hispanic population, as well as other domestic migration trends.”

For details into the exact data and CBSA listings, go to www.mapinfo.com.

© 2014