Mixed-Use Crown Square Project in St. Louis Completed

St. Louis--Crown Square, a $35 million restoration of 27 buildings in what used to be the 14th St. pedestrian mall near the historic Crown Candy Kitchen in St. Louis, has been completed.

Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

St. Louis–Crown Square, a $35 million restoration of 27 buildings in what used to be the 14th St. pedestrian mall near the historic Crown Candy Kitchen in St. Louis, has been completed. The project, developed by the Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance, Old North St. Louis Restoration Group and Enterprise Community Investment Inc. (Enterprise), includes 34,000 square feet of retail and other commercial space, along with 80 mixed-income rental residences.

More than half of the homes are designated for low-income households, while the remaining 38 apartments are available at market rate. As part of the neighborhood redevelopment, $2 million was invested in storm and sewer construction, utility relocation, parking areas, public lighting, grid integration and other public amenities.

“Housing is an important factor in the rebuilding of neighborhoods,” says John Ducey, vice president of structured finance, Enterprise, in a statement. “However, providing commercial development where people can own their own businesses and become a part of the economic fabric of a city is just as important.”

The financing structure for Crown Square was complicated indeed, illustrating the intricate nature of such mixed-use projects, especially during a time when more conventional financing options are difficult or impossible to find. The project was made possible by a mix of federal and state tax credits, along with public and private funds.

Enterprise provided a $12.5 million allocation of New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC), a federal financing tool that funds the construction of commercial and mixed-use properties in low-income areas. Since its inception, more than $16 billion in private capital has been raised by NMTCs to develop or rehabilitate more than 68 million square feet of real estate, as well as support more than 15,000 businesses nationwide.

But that’s hardly the whole financing picture for Crown. McCormack Baron Salazar in St. Louis allocated $5 million in the tax credits; US Bank provided funding through other federal and state Historic Tax Credits; CityScape Capital Group supplied $1.7 million in federal Historic Tax Credit equity; and PNC Multifamily Capital invested $4.94 million in federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) equity.

Moreover, Enterprise Bank & Trust (not related to Enterprise Community Investment), with participation from Pulaski Bank, provided $7.33 million in tax-exempt bonds, and Enterprise Bank also provided bridge financing. Missouri LIHTC equity was invested into the property through Horizon Asset Management; the city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri provided HOME funds; and the city also supplied Community Development Block Grant and Affordable Housing Trust funds.

Finally, other entities played supporting financial parts during the Crown Square project, such as the Danforth Foundation, the East-West Gateway Council of Governments/Missouri Department of Transportation, and Fannie Mae. The Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance and Enterprise Community Loan Fund provided predevelopment loans during the first stage of the project.