A developer is proposing a hotel, stores, restaurants, condos, a marina and even a lighthouse next to the Mississippi River at St. Louis’ northern tip.
The 84-acre site on Riverview Drive north of Interstate 270 is the former North Shore Golf Course. The Great Flood of 1993 submerged the course in as much as 20 feet of water. Floodwater returned two years later and did more damage. North Shore never reopened.
Where golfers formerly chased the little white ball, developer Adam Hartig is planning Lighthouse St. Louis, a multiphase project that could eventually cost $250 million.
Included in the planned first phase is a gas station, convenience store, boat ramp, visitors’ center, restaurants, an event center, a hotel and a lighthouse perhaps 60 feet tall.
The $55 million first phase also would have a bike trail connection to the Great Rivers Greenway’s Riverfront Trail that crosses the Mississippi over the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge.
Hartig said he hopes to begin construction next summer.
A later phase could include a marina, condos and a big-box retail store. Hartig said the entire project would be privately financed without public incentives or tax breaks.
All but about 11 acres of the site is in the city. The remainder, along Watkins Creek, is in St. Louis County. Hartig plans to leave that part of the site undeveloped.
Hartig, 30, leads Lighthouse Development LLC. He formerly worked in Columbia, Mo., for Maly Commercial Real Estate and The Kroenke Group. He said Rams owner Stan Kroenke has no role in Lighthouse St. Louis.
The development, with nearly a half-mile of riverfront, could be a hub for recreational activity, Hartig said. The site’s owner, Discovery Pier Landholdings LLC, spent years bringing in dirt to raise the property more than 10 feet and out of the 100-year flood plain.
“Now that we’re out of the flood plain, it’s a piece of ground that’s able to be developed,” Hartig said. “We think the time is right.”
Todd Antoine, planning director for tax-supported Great Rivers Greenway, said the district is considering ways to extend the Riverfront Trail the quarter-mile from the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge to Hartig’s project.
Hartig plans to build a trailhead, restrooms and a concessions facility to accommodate trail users. Plans also include a riverside boardwalk and bike trail extension.
Antoine said a Lighthouse St. Louis trail could further Great Rivers’ goal of a trail to Columbia Bottom, north of the project site at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.
“It would be great to continue the trail farther north,” he said.
The planned symbol of Hartig’s project is a lighthouse about 60 feet tall, pending approval by the Federal Aviation Administration. He said the lighthouse, with a rotating beacon, would be visible to motorists on I-270.
Up next for Lighthouse St. Louis is a hearing Jan. 6 by the St. Louis Planning Commission on the request to allow mixed-use development at the site. The city’s current plan sets aside much of the area as open space. The commission will receive public comments until Jan. 20 and could decide the change at its meeting Feb. 3.
Hartig said Lighthouse St. Louis could be a regional attraction. The first-phase includes a four- or five-story hotel and restaurants overlooking the river. Depending on demand, a marina with as many as 260 covered boat slips would be part of a second phase.
Included in the later phase could be 50 to 100 condos with river views and a big-box retail store — perhaps selling outdoor gear — in a 76,100-square-foot building. Hartig said he is optimistic the development will occur.
“Everybody that we’ve talked to has been very supportive of this project,” said.
Lighthouse St. Louis isn’t the first big project proposed for the site.
In 1985, developers Floyd Warmann and Stephen Bradford proposed an 816-unit apartment and condo complex on the site. The St. Louis Board of Aldermen and the County Council approved the project but it never got off the ground.