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In booming Clayton, the plans keep getting bigger: Developer proposes two towers on Forsyth

In booming Clayton, the plans keep getting bigger: Developer proposes two towers on Forsyth

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CLAYTON — The developer behind a large office project here appears to have reached an agreement to acquire an adjacent property, allowing the project to roughly double in size with a plan that would add two new office towers to the skyline.

Clayton-based US Capital Development is proposing two office towers in its latest plan — known as Forsyth Pointe — submitted to Clayton last week. The one on the west, at Brentwood and Forsyth boulevards, would rise 14 floors and 193 feet with about 200,000 square feet of office space. The other, at the corner of Forsyth and Meramec Avenue, is proposed at 16 floors and 201 feet with about 255,000 square feet of space.

A parking structure would connect the two towers and contain 1,250 spaces. Some 24,000 square feet of street-level retail would be available.

The proposal marks a dramatic increase in the scope of a project that began as a “boutique” nine-story office proposal about three years ago, when the development firm founded by Jim Koman was still known as KP Development.

What appears to have changed is that the building owned at the corner of Forsyth and Meramec, which contains a First Watch cafe and is owned by Commerce Bank, is now on board with the plan and appears willing to sell the property for use in the project. The bank’s chief financial officer, Charles G. Kim, has signed as a property owner on the development application submitted to Clayton.

The other real estate has long been owned by Koman and was the site of the original boutique office proposal. Koman’s ElmTree Funds, a real estate private equity firm, and US Capital Development had offices in the one-story buildings on the site.

The remainder of the site has long been a city-owned parking lot. In August, Clayton officials approved the sale of a parking lot the city owned at the corner of Brentwood and Forsyth to the developers for $2.6 million.

The developers also said this summer that Clayton-based Barry-Wehmiller Cos. — a global supplier of engineering, consulting and manufacturing technology — was committing to 50,000 square feet of space in the new building.

The firm, one of the largest privately held companies in the region, has its main office across Forsyth from the development site. But it also leases other spaces in Clayton for its roughly 340 employees there.

Teddy Chapman, managing director of the Barry-Wehmiller Real Estate Group, said in July that the firm expected to run out of room soon and “we need to accommodate our growth without sprawling all over the city,” and that “the timing of this building is critical for our future in Clayton.”

It’s not clear whether other large tenants have committed to the project. A representative from US Capital Development couldn’t immediately be reached.

But Clayton has long been the strongest office real estate market in the region. According to Clayton-based Gershman Commercial Real Estate, it had a 5.5% vacancy rate and average asking rents of $25.35 a square foot in the third quarter, the second-strongest regional submarket behind the specialized Cortex tech district area.

A residential tower that had been planned on the parking lot fell through amid squabbles over parking with the principals of US Capital Development. The city in late 2017 approved selling the lot to the Indianapolis developers, but US Capital, then known as KP, challenged the sale and the deal never closed.

The proposal continues a flurry of dense development proposals in downtown Clayton. Health care giant Centene is still finishing its huge office expansion there. Fred Kummer has closed on properties along Bemiston Avenue with plans for a 21-story condo tower. And several hotels are also in the works.

A hearing on the proposal before Clayton’s Plan Commission and Architectural Review Board on the office project hasn’t been set.

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