PAGEDALE • Fresh from developing a supermarket, senior apartments and a bank branch on Page Avenue, Beyond Housing is taking on more projects across the street in an effort to spur commercial development on that thoroughfare.
A health clinic and a movie theater are planned on a mostly vacant site that includes a former auto transmission repair shop and two small houses.
The nonprofit group concentrates on low-income housing but led the effort to lure a Save-A-Lot store to the tired stretch of Page. The grocery opened in 2010, followed by the 42-unit Rosie Shields Manor apartments for low-income seniors, and last November, a branch of Midwest BankCentre.
Save-A-Lot was Beyond Housing’s first foray into commercial development. Beyond Housing owns the property.
The grocery’s success led the nonprofit to try to grow more businesses on a street marked by abandoned buildings and empty lots.
Chris Krehmeyer, Beyond Housing’s president and chief executive, said that rebuilding communities requires better health care, more jobs, good education and economic development, as well as decent housing.
“You have to focus on everything,” he said. “The fabric of a place is never one thing.”
Getting a supermarket, new senior housing and Pagedale’s first bank indicated that the area has a brighter economic future, Krehmeyer said.
“Clearly, having the grocery store and the senior housing is catalytic — showing that something is happening here,” he said.
Beyond Housing plans to build two buildings for the movie theater and health clinic projects in the 6700 block of Page. Enterprise Bank already has committed about $8 million in federal New Markets Tax Credits to the projects.
The Beyond Housing CEO said those credits will yield nearly $3 million in equity for the projects, which will cost $8 million to $9 million. The nonprofit is still raising the remaining money.
Construction could begin early next year and be completed by late 2014 or early 2015, he said.
Krehmeyer said he is discussing with St. Louis County officials establishment of a pediatric care clinic on the second floor of a new building. The nonprofit wants retail space on the first floor.
The CEO also said he is in preliminary talks with the operators of the MX and Moolah movie theaters about running a three-screen complex seating 500 people.
Both structures would be built near the street with parking in the rear.
Beyond Housing plans to buy more empty commercial property in the vicinity with the goal of producing what Krehmeyer calls the Pagedale Town Center. A restaurant, dry cleaners and coffee shop are among businesses he hopes can be drawn to the area.
The revival began three years ago with the Save-A-Lot. Chon Tomlin, spokeswoman for the Earth City-based grocery chain, said the Pagedale store is doing well.
“The community has embraced us with open arms,” she said.
The grocery is across a parking lot from another Beyond Housing project, the fully occupied Rosie Shields senior housing.
On the building’s first floor is a branch of Midwest BankCentre, which is Pagedale’s first bank. John Shivers, a Midwest vice president who helped launch the bank last fall, said the branch is exceeding expectations.
Midwest officials had done a six-year projection on the number of accounts and volumes of loans and deposits to expect at the Pagedale branch, Shivers said.
“As of two months ago, we were operating at year four,” said Shivers, adding that the branch will meet its sixth-year projections “with ease.”
Home-improvement loans and low-cost checking accounts are the bank branch’s bread and butter.
“We’ve been able to gain the trust of people by offering products and services the community needs,” Shivers said.
Over the next couple of years, Beyond Housing plans to transform more than part of Page Avenue’s streetscape. In the works is a redone street, too. The East-West Gateway Council of Governments is supporting Beyond Housing’s proposal to redo a half-mile stretch of Page under the government’s Great Streets program.
On Page, the program to make streets more than car-oriented thoroughfares involves reducing the number of traffic lanes from four to two, with a landscaped center turn lane. Wider sidewalks also are planned.
“Right now it’s just like a highway,” Krehmeyer said. “We want to slow everything down.”