Substantial changes have been proposed for the Wildhorse Village development at the intersection of Interstate 64 and Chesterfield Parkway West that will redistribute the configuration of commercial and residential properties.
Under the amended plan, two office buildings would be replaced by four 16-unit condos. In doing so, commercial space would be decreased from 1.2 million to 800,000 square feet, said Mike Knight, assistant city planner. However, a proposed 270-unit multi-family development is being reduced to 80 for-sale units. So, the number of rental units would be decreased and the number of for-sale units increased, Knight said.
Both at the public hearing held in June and at the Planning Commission meeting on Aug. 23, Kelli Unnerstall, representing Citizens for Developing Downtown Chesterfield, spoke about the proposed development.
“We support the majority of the Wildhorse Village plan,” she said, “but are concerned about this mixed-use downtown development becoming predominantly residential.”
Unnerstall said that while the group supports the conversion of two lots to “beautiful condo buildings,” its members do not want to see any further reduction in retail or commercial space.
“We want to ensure that the development plan continues to include a healthy mix of retail, commercial and residential,” Unnerstall said.
Developer Jeff Tegethoff, of CRG, said the change from office to condos is due to the tremendous demand for “for-sale” products.
The original parking garage across from the office buildings would no longer be needed, as the condo buildings would provide underground parking, Tegethoff noted. Therefore, the garage space will probably be residential as well.
He noted that leasing office space is challenging right now and that there is still more than 800,000 square feet of commercial space in the development.
“That is a tremendous amount of office and retail to deliver in any environment, needless to say, in this post-COVID world where work from home seems like it’s not just going to be extended, but it’s going to be permanent in many places,” Tegethoff said.
He added that only a sliver of retail proposed for one side of an office building (less than 8,000 square feet) was being removed.
“My number one goal for this development continues to remain a mixed-use, mix of use, development that helps us transition from the more dense mall site to the rooftops,” he said. “The real value and power of what we’re creating here is an 18 hour-plus community where people can live and work and play and have all those amenities around this beautiful public open space with the lake and all the other assets that we’re delivering.”
He said he always envisioned residential would go first, as “rooftops drive retail.” But he foresees submitting a plan in three to six months for a spec office building.
Another change proposed in the development is the removal of the public art requirement for each lot. In an attempt to develop a “holistic approach” to public art, centered around maximizing the public experience, one substantial piece of art would be placed in the courtyard with custom-designed seating, and an additional fountain feature in the lake, Knight said.
Tegethoff commissioned world-renown sculptor Rafael Barrios to create the metal sculpture titled “Rising Horizons,” which he says has an estimated value of $1 million.
“I’ve always wanted to make Wildhorse Village into not just the marque development for the city of Chesterfield, but for the entire St. Louis metro, the state of Missouri, the entire Midwest,” Tegethoff said. “To do that, I felt like we needed a real centerpiece for the development.”
This is a piece of art that will be not just significant, it’ll be a draw and people will come from all over to see it, he said. Plans are to install it by the end of October.
The sculpted concrete seating elements brought in from Spain are architecturally significant pieces of art in their own right, Tegethoff noted.
“I do think there’s merit in having a remarkable piece that people would take note of,” commission chair Merrell Hansen said. “I do agree that having 17 incidental pieces of art, that may not even stand the test of time and are not remarkable, that’s not in the spirit of this high-quality remarkable place that I see.”
Commissioner John Marino also said he “resoundingly supports” the proposed single piece of artwork, pointing out that “The Awakening” statue is about 400 yards from the site.
“That’s certainly what we want with this downtown development,” Marino said. “I think it’s wonderful that we’re so privileged to have a developer take the time to search for and select pieces of art for his development to put in our city.”
Another request by the developer is to remove the requirement for the enclosure of mechanical (HVAC) units on the rooftop in a penthouse.
Council member Mary Monachella (Ward 1) brought up the concern that without penthouse enclosures, the unsightly mechanical equipment would be viewed from above. But both commissioners Guy Tillman and Steve Wuennenberg noted that HVAC systems need to reject heat to the outside air and being enclosed in a penthouse would make that difficult.
In a memo to the city, consultant George Stock, of Stock & Associates, said there would be several HVAC units required on residential buildings and that a single penthouse would not be feasible and doing so on commercial buildings would be substantially more expensive. Instead, the developer has requested to screen rooftop equipment on all visible sides with materials that are an integral part of the architecture.
The changes proposed for Wildhorse Village were unanimously recommended for approval by the Planning Commission on Aug. 23. The Planning and Public Works Committee made some additional changes at its meeting on Sept. 2, which will be brought before the city council at its next meeting.