EXCLUSIVE DETAILS: The project promising to transform downtown St. Louis, the Mississippi riverfront & the global construction industry

Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 7:11 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A billion-dollar development project is promising to transform downtown St. Louis, the Mississippi riverfront, and the global construction industry. In an exclusive story with News 4, the development group shared new details, including what companies are expanding to St. Louis to be a part of the project.

“Right now, it’s a desolate, vacant area. There is really nothing going on,” said Greg Gleicher, Founder and CEO of Good Developments Group (GDG).

But when Gleicher first looked around the area formerly known as Chouteau’s Landing, he saw an opportunity.

“We are going to turn this into a big innovation district,” he said.

In the 1800s, Chouteau’s Landing was filled with factories, stores, and homes. At that time, the city relied on the river and thrived in the fur trade. The historic Crunden-Martin Manufacturing Company set up shop on South Second, near Gratiot Street. But in the 1900s, residents started to move away, and eventually, new highways cut the neighborhood off from downtown. Today, only the bones of the buildings remain.

Gleicher told News 4 the old Crunden-Martin building is a core piece of his proposed development, calling it a “mini eco-system” for the whole project, including accelerator space, a prototyping lab, a materials library, and food and beverage. His plan, dubbed “Gateway South,” covers nearly 100 acres. It’s a live-work-play model, with residential, entertainment, and industry all planned. But it’s the latter that sets this plan apart from previous ones. Gleicher wants to make this an innovation hub for the multi-trillion-dollar construction industry, bringing in companies from around the U.S. who are developing better, faster ways to build. One goal is to address the nation’s housing shortage and advance solutions to make new home development more affordable. He admits his goals are pushy, but he hopes to create 10,000 jobs with the first phase up and running in two years, and the full project taking shape within a decade.

Gateway South comes at a price of more than a billion dollars. Gleicher put together a team to make it a reality, pulling his contacts from a successful real estate development run in New York City.

“It’s a bit bold, but Greg is a very bold and ambitious guy,” said Matt Collins, who leads acquisitions and investments for Good Developments Group.

“It’s a big plan, but we’ve done big, complicated plans before,” said John Mazzeo, who leads construction and design as a partner at GDG, and who previously worked with Gleicher at JDS Development Group.

The team’s portfolio prior to forming GDG includes Brooklyn Tower and Manhattan’s American Copper Buildings. They said the land where they want to develop Gateway South is the perfect canvas, hoping to eventually capitalize on its access to the river, railways, and existing roads, with barges and shipping routes taking what’s made here in St. Louis across the U.S.

“It’s an amazing opportunity, especially coming from a market like New York. We don’t see that much land, much less, that much-connected land together in a space so we see so much opportunity,” said Amanda Garrett, Partner, Design and Construction.

But these aren’t all outsiders coming in to change St. Louis. Michael Rubenstein, the co-founder of Vault Partners, grew up in Sullivan, Missouri, and recently headed the Wally’s project in Fenton. Their strategic advisors include Henry Webber, former Executive Vice Chancellor at Washington University in St. Louis, and Dennis Lower, former President & CEO of Cortex Innovation Community.

“They’re taking a systematic approach to this and they have a vision that’s a unique vision that differentiates itself from other developments,” said Lower.

Gleicher has his own ties to the area, too.

“I went to WashU. It’s one of the main reasons I was looking at St. Louis, because of my time here. My mom, brother, and sister also went to WashU,” said Gleicher.

Now he wants the world to look at St. Louis as the construction capital, just like one might think of Silicon Valley for technology or Wall Street for finance.

“St. Louis has the strengths from a location standpoint, logistics and distribution standpoint, and from an operating costs perspective. It makes sense to have something in the center of the country that can distribute out,” said Gleicher.

The team is staying tight-lipped about the specifics of the many companies they are working with to move to or expand in St. Louis. But in an exclusive announcement with News 4, they shared the first two strategic partners coming into Gateway South will be offsite builder Assembly OSM, out of New York, and Fabrication Lab and Innovation Studio Collab, from Brooklyn.

In addition to bringing in partners from around the country, the group continues to work on securing properties, crafting architectural and design plans, and addressing environmental and logistical hurdles like easements for sewer and rail.

“We’ve worked in complicated urban settings before. So it’s not a complete shock. We understand the challenges. We’ve gotten unbelievable cooperation from local agencies,” said Mazzeo.

In fact, the St. Louis Port Authority has already voted to enter a redevelopment agreement with the Good Developments Group. The Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority (LCRA) for the City of St. Louis also approved recommending tax incentives to develop the heavily blighted area. Next, the proposal will move to an aldermanic committee before going to the full board to vote on whether to approve it.

Just this week, Jack Coatar, Alderman of the 7th Ward, which includes the land that Gateway South will encompass, reaffirmed his support for the project to News 4. St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones released a statement saying, “I look forward to the prospect of new development Downtown and along our historic riverfront. My administration will continue to work to ensure that any developer seeking public investment produces good-paying jobs and other benefits for St. Louis families to enjoy.”