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March 13-- Mar. 13--A developer is planning an 850,000-square-foot mixed-use project at Chouteau Avenue and South Grand Boulevard on one of the largest swaths of undeveloped land in the central corridor.

"It will be a great urban mixed-use project that will help connect the north and south (St. Louis University) campuses and help reinvigorate an area that has been a little bit underutilized for many years," said Rob Lochner, vice president of development for the developer, Peoria-based Cullinan Properties.

SLU owns the 14-acre property at the northwest corner of the intersection. In September the university sought developer proposals for the site, which sits just across Chouteau from the under-construction $550 million SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital. SLU selected Cullinan, the developer of the mixed-use Streets of St. Charles and the Lofts@Euclid rehab in the Central West End.

Lochner said the project would have many of the same components as Cullinan's successful Streets of St. Charles development, though it will have "a very urban feel to it," with high density and building heights ranging from two to 14 stories.

The developer has tapped BatesForum as architect and Clayco as general contractor for the project.

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Cullinan is finalizing terms to acquire the property with hopes to close on the deal this year and begin construction in the second quarter of 2020. It will be built in phases, but some parts of the project could be complete by the end of 2021. Given the early stage of plans, an investment dollar figure for the project wasn't yet available.

With development momentum continuing in the central corridor, particularly in midtown, SLU President Fred Pestello said the timing was right to solicit proposals for the site "given all this other development going on." The site was key in the campus master plan created shortly after he took SLU's top job almost five years ago.

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"One of our key concerns and key priorities was trying to develop the largely blighted area between our north and south campuses," Pestello said.

SLU received over 50 inquiries on the site and nine proposals to develop it. Pestello said Cullinan and three other developers made final pitches to a committee of students, faculty and administrators, who helped land on the Cullinan proposal based on their track record in the region.

"We have confidence they can deliver," Pestello said.

Pestello said when he came to SLU in 2014, he "would have never dreamed" so much investment would be going into the neighborhoods around campus.

"We're seeing developers come in and take advantage of all these opportunities," he said. "It will change the density, it will change the vibrancy of the midtown region."

The Cullinan site is one of the last big tracts of undeveloped land SLU owns. Just north of the SSM Health hospital, slated for completion next year, the former Pevely Dairy site right at the southwest corner of Chouteau Avenue and Grand Boulevard is considered a potential site for a future academic building. And to the east, at Chouteau and Compton avenues, the university owns close to 10 acres of open ground.

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