Fleur de Lis project goes from dream to dead

The red hot real estate market we were in a few years ago brought a lot of great projects to St. Louis. It also brought a lot of big ideas and dream projects. Unfortunately, many of those projects ended up being just that: dreams. One such development was the proposed “Fleur de Lis” project which was set for the southwest corner of Jefferson and Arsenal. Millennium Development & Restoration, known for their quality South City rehabs, was going to make the jump to infill and Benton Park & Benton Park West were to be transformed forever.

That was 2003. Its now 2008. One delay after another created more and more doubt about the project. City and neighborhood leaders fought over this project for years, but it looks like the fight is over. It’s not going to happen. At least not as originally intended. So we better all get used to seeing that vacant lot for some time yet.

Under the radar, the 5 lots which were to be the building ground for the project went for sale in mid-December. Here is what the listing says:

“This lot must be sold as a group with 4 other contiguous lots, MLS#’s 782705, 782706, 782710, 782713, and 782716 forming an L shaped building site on the west corner of Jefferson and Arsenal, across from Benton Park. The total price for all 5 lots is $375,000 and includes: building plans and elevation drawings, Phase 1 Environmental studies, floor plan, pro-forma statement, soil engineering report and survey. Electric, gas and telephone on site. Water main in the street approx 20ft from property line, sewer main in the alley approx 10ft from property line. An additional lot as 2614 Arsenal is also available through LRA.”

I appreciate that Millennium is trying to recoup their expenses for this failed project, but how can anyone justify paying $375,000 for this site? They procured the lots from LRA and they couldn’t even make it work. I was unable to find the exact price they paid, but it couldn’t have been much.

Which brings up another point: how are they able to sell this when they bought the lots from LRA? I thought that when a developer gets a lot or building from LRA they have to either develop the land as promised or return it to LRA. I’m certainly no expert on how they do business, but I know for a fact that they have an “18 Month Right of Re-entry” clause when they sell these properties to prevent speculation. I even double-checked on the website. So what’s the deal? Does anyone know how they are exempted from this clause?

At least the picture has become more clear here. The section of Jefferson between Arsenal & Gravois has really improved tremendously over the past couple years and this lot has become increasingly more desirable. Hopefully things will work themselves out and someone new can take over the reigns.

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