Home » Real Estate » Recent Articles:

Schnuck Family to Sell Majority Stake in Shopping Centers to Austrailian Trust

From the Sydney Morning Herald via Urban St. Louis forum:

MACQUARIE CountryWide Trust has expanded further into North America, buying a controlling interest in 33 retail centres from the Schnuck family worth $US260 million in a joint venture with the Regency Centers Corporation.

Under the deal the Schnuck family will retain 20 per cent of the portfolio, with Macquarie CountryWide owning 65 per cent and Regency the remaining 15 per cent.


Above: Grand opening of Schnuck’s store at Loughborough Commons in South St. Louis, August 2006.

Austrailia’s Hearald-Sun writes:

Of the 33 shopping centres in the deal, 26 are in the greater St Louis area.

The centres will be managed by Regency and the Schnuck family’s DESCO Group.

I’m not exactly sure what this will mean for us locally. Maybe this will be a good thing to have some outside perspective? Given the “value” of these shopping centers, and the $14 million in tax subsidy for Loughborough Commons alone, I fail to see why better pedestrian access could not have been included in the project’s designs.

Related Links:

UPDATE 7/9/07 @ 12:45pm:

The St. Louis Business Journal has a slightly different percentages and some more detail (full story):

Macquarie CountryWide Trust (MCW) is buying a 60 percent stake in the portfolio. MCW is managed by a division of Macquarie Bank Group, based in Sydney, Australia. Macquarie Bank Group’s real estate division manages a portfolio of assets totaling more than $23 billion globally. In a joint venture with MCW, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Regency Centers Corp. is buying a 13 percent stake in the portfolio.

I’m willing to bet that the Schnuck’s grocery store chain will announce within the next 12 months they are being sold.


Preservation Board to Hear Appeal to Raze 19th Century House (Updated)

A first glance, it doesn’t look like much. Perhaps even the second and third glance you may not see the appeal. The home at 4716/4722 Tennessee in the 25th Ward should not be razed.


The above home is on today’s agenda at the Preservation Board, a developer seeks to raze the home. In its current state, it looks pretty rough. For years this home was covered in a newer “low maintenance” siding which is now half removed. With the lower windows boarded and the dormer windows removed the home looks much worse than it really is.

As I had long suspected, the original clapboard siding was hiding under the newer siding and remains in amazingly good condition. The porch is original.


Even though the front door is now boarded you can see the original transom peaking out above the red partical board. The original porch detailing is a rare find these days. A portion of the rear foundation is damaged but certainly repairable.


A later back stoop is falling down, as it has been doing for years. You see, I know this particular building better than most as I lived next door for 10 years.


Above is the 2-family I purchased in August 1994 and sold in January 2006 after having moved into my current place a few blocks away in the fall of 2004. Having lived next door, I knew the owners of the property during this period and through many conversations, much of the history of the structure. I have attempted to reach the prior owners but I could not track down them down.
Before I explain some of the interesting history, however, I want to talk about the demolition review process and where things have gone wrong. Ald. Kirner, whom I challenged in the March 2005 election, is under the impression it is her responsibility to broker deals and if she can’t make a deal for a purchaser then it is OK to allow a building to be razed. Aldermen should not be brokering real estate deals. Demolitions should not hinge on their ability to make a deal or not.

The Preservation Review ordinance has a number of criteria which must be met in order to permit a building within Preservation Review Districts to be razed. We will see if the appliant provides sufficient information to meet the criteria. I believe if the house were sold by itself, without the extra building lots between it and my old place, that someone would be interested in buying and rehabbing it. I attempted to explain this concept to Ald. Kirner a couple of weeks ago but I don’t think she got it — she kept talking about trying to see if a previous guy was interested in buying it. Remember, I am the licensed real estate salesperson, not her.

Back to the history.

When I purchased my 2-family in 1994 I bought it from John Held, of Held Florist next door. His grandfather had purchased the old frame house along with quite a bit of land on both sides in 1904. The only thing on the land, besides the frame house, were some greenhouses — the house and greenhouses dated to the 19th century. The Held’s continued the tradition of raising & selling the plants on this land. Over time the business passed to John’s father who built my 2-family in 1924. I was the first person, outside the Held family, to own this 2-family. At the time, in 1994, the frame house, extra lots, greenhouses with storefront and florist business were all for sale. John Held was ready to retire and his kids didn’t want to continue the business. For a brief time I considered buying the whole mess and going into the nursery business — but as a group it was way too much for me to take on. It was too much for anyone really as it had not been as cared for as it should have.

The entire collection sold in 1998 — about five years after he started selling it. The new owner, Michael Dunham, bought the property and business and did a good job starting to clean the place up until he became ill. He was in recovery in the country for a few years and the future of the property was uncertain. He was not able to return to the business and once again the entire collection of real estate was put on the market. Last year it sold but this time a new step was taken – the commercial storefront with greenhouse was legally separated from the frame house and adjacent vacant lots. An excellent move in my view, allowing the new owner of the storefront and greenhouse to renovate that structure (which she has done) without the burden of the rest.

And now a developer wants to raze the frame house and construct three new houses on the site. Although I was sitting in Ald. Kirner’s office at city hall, I was not shown any drawings of the proposed houses. The agenda for tonight’s meeting is not yet posted so I do not know what is planned for the site — other than three new houses. I just cannot support razing a viable 19th century house for some as yet unseen project from unknown developers with an unknown track record — neither should the Preservation Board. As many of you will recall, it has been 18 months since the Preservation Board approved razing the Doering Mansion on Broadway and yet construction has not begun on the replacement project — and that was with a well-known developer with an excellent track record.

I believe the current owners need to plan for two new homes on the vacant land while marketing the existing home with a narrow yard. With alley access new owners of the old frame house could construct a garage out back. If more living space is required, a new addition to the rear could easily be blended in with this frame structure. Again, I’m just saying before we toss the building aside see if anyone is interested — the house has never once been for sale by itself — it has always been part of a bigger ensemble.

The home is a classic center stair house — very 19th century. The kitchen, located in the south end, was remodeled in the 1950s I would guess. The north end is a living room. Upstairs are two rooms. The basement is the best part — it contains a brick barrel vaulted meat locker which would make an excellent wine cellar. The home has a nice presence on the street which is a hodge podge of various styles and periods although most date to the early 20th century. Three new homes were constructed in the late 1990s on the south end of the street at Delor.

Once again we are going about this all wrong. The proposed development is a secret, the elected legislator is playing real estate deal maker and lack of any real design standards could mean a proposal for front-garage houses despite an alley serving the land. I doubt we will have much more information at 4pm when the Preservation Board takes up this and other matters. The meeting is held on the 12th floor of 1015 Locust.
CORRECTION: Today’s meeting will be held at 4pm in Room 208 (Kennedy Hearing Room) in city hall.
Ald Kirner can be contacted here. The Preservation Board can be reached via the Cultural Resources staff here.

UPDATE 6/25/07 @ 10:15pm

This evening the Preservation upheld the staff denial of the demolition request — the house is safe for now. I will use this as a case study in a separate post to talk about some of the issues this brings up as they relate to the Preservation Review ordinance. In short, the appliant failed to meet the various requirements in the ordinance necessary to justify the demolition. The big question is what next? Hopefully the house can get rehabbed (by current or future owner) and a couple of new houses can get constructed on the balance of the site.
In preparing for today’s meeting I ran across a picture I took in March 1994 when I was looking to buy the place next door:



A Funny Look at Real Estate Flipping

June 15, 2007 Media, Real Estate Comments Off on A Funny Look at Real Estate Flipping

Yesterday a friend turned me onto a tv show on the web called Flipper Nation, a very humorous look at those who play the real estate flipper game. The show pokes fun at everyone from the future “co-millionares” to the mortgage broker, the general contractor, the landscaper and even the real estate agent.

One line from the show which has a lot of truth in it, “You know what they say. Today’s illegal immigrants are the house buyers of tomorrow…And there is a lot of them coming in right now.

This web-based TV show, with three episodes under 10 minutes each, is free. You can even subscribe in iTunes so that new editions will download automatically when available (although the last episode is from January).

Check it out at www.flippernation.com.


Mayor Slay Opens EcoUrban’s LEED-Registered Modular Home (w/video)

For a few hours yesterday afternoon and evening the crowds of people toured EcoUrban’s first project, a modular construction green home located at 3140 Pennsylvania in the City of Saint Louis.


Mayor Slay and 9th Ward Alderman Ken Ortmann helped with the grand opening festivities.

… Continue Reading


21st Ward: Unfinished Subdivision for Sale

This past April I did a post on the unfinished subdivision, Ville Phillips Estates, in the City’s 4th Ward. It was an interesting story involving multiple aldermen, a recall election and buyers stuck in the middle. It is my understanding newly elected Alderman Sam Moore intends to set things right at Ville Phillips Estates.

Here is the sequel, similar story but different setting and actors.


The subdivsion started by current and former 21st Alderman Bennice Jones King is called King’s Estates. City records show building permits issued in 1999 for new homes on each of the seven lots, none were started. In 2001 King was not re-elected, Melinda Long was instead voted into office. Apparently Long went on a quest to take properties up and down the 21st ward’s section Natural Bridge — enough of a plan to get her recalled just two years into her term (KSDK story on recall vote).


Bennice Jones King was re-elected and is the current aldermen. Additional city records show new building permits were issued for new homes in 2005. Three of the seven were built, two are sold and owner-occupied. A third, shown above at left, is completely finished but boarded up. MLS (Multiple Listing Service) records show Pyramid Realtors was the listing agent for the houses. However, Pyramid had nothing to do with the development and construction of the homes. The development and construction was by Mosley Construction, Inc of Kirkwood.

From Mosley’s website:

In our twenty five years in commercial construction and construction management, we have never failed to complete
an awarded contract. Our commitment to quality and hard work is what we deliver to our clients.

Boy, time to update that website.


In December 2006 UMB Community Development Corporation foreclosed on the properties. Mosley Construction has not returned my call. My email to Mosley Construction from 6/5/07 was returned, “user is over quota.” Twenty-first ward Alderman Bennice Jones King has not responded to my email, also from 6/5/07.

I also contacted real estate attorney Daniel J. Burke from the firm Armstrong Teasdale which handled the foreclosure on behalf of UMB Community Development Corp. Today I spoke with a representative from UMB, Mary Amburg, who called me back regarding my request to speak with someone about the disposition of the properties. Ms. Amburg indicated they are accepting bids for the sale of the four remaining lots and the one finished but unsold house, the offer deadline is 5pm tomorrow. When I asked for a website or other information to pass along she said none existed.


Homes across the street are more of what you’d expect to see in the city although this area does have newer homes from the 1940s-1960s.  Very few streets in this area have alleys with homes having front garages or rear garages accessed via front driveways.  Apparently this site was part of a dairy at one time. From the city’s development webpage on this project, last updated on 6/27/2005:

This former dairy location is being developed by the Mosley Group into five dwellings that will be for-sale, market rate homes. Construction of the new housing is expected to begin in 2004.

The land, as you might suspect, was city owned property.  This project received 10-year tax abatement and who knows how much additional subsidies.   The homes that sold and the last listing on the finished home were all around $200,000.  The street name is Kingston Court, click here for a map.