Amid building boom in Clayton, prime redevelopment site hits the market –

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The building boom in downtown Clayton continues with cranes scattered across the city’s skyline and more than a billion dollars worth of development still in the works.

A new for-sale sign in the heart of Clayton’s business district could add even more ground-up construction moving forward.

Gershman Commercial Real Estate is actively marketing a 1.61-acre area along North Bemiston Avenue between Forsyth Boulevard and Maryland Avenue, just across the street from Clayton City Hall, for redevelopment opportunities. That site could grow to include the entire city block framed by North Bemiston, Forsyth, North Central Avenue and Maryland Avenue if a developer was ambitious, though it’s not part of the initial offering.

The site includes the former headquarters of Gershman Mortgage, which last year moved its operations to Chesterfield, as well as buildings that house PNC Bank, St. Louis Kolache and Clayton License Office Services. An asking price for the property is not being disclosed.

Gershman has had brief discussions with potential buyers about the land over the last year, but a company executive said soliciting potential developers will help drive up the price and provide the city with a better overall project.

“Based upon the development cycle we’re in and the fundamentals we’re seeing in Clayton, we think it’s a good time to harness value for this underutilized site,” said Chris Fox, executive vice president of Gershman Commercial Real Estate. “The two unique characteristics of this site are its size and location. And if you look at the properties adjoining it, there’s an opportunity to influence this area in a special way.”

The Gershman family, which operates a number of real estate businesses, has been a serial acquirer of Clayton properties over the last several decades. The family hadn’t strategically sold any of that real estate until 2014, when it sold eight parcels in downtown Clayton to Centene for $14 million — those properties are now the core of Centene’s massive $770 million campus expansion. The Centene deal also helped Gershman launch a commercial equities business, which today has more than 7.5 million square feet of assets under management.

The Clayton site for sale is unique in that the Gershman family already owns all the property and it is zoned for high-density commercial projects. For perspective, it took Centene about three years to negotiate, buy and receive the needed city approvals for its massive campus expansion at Hanley Road and Forsyth.

With the Gershman site, a developer could come in and start moving toward construction much faster.

Gershman has set a June 15 deadline for potential offers.

Clayton’s Director of Economic Development Gary Carter said the city would like to see some type of mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly project that would fit within the scope of Clayton’s Downtown Master Plan strategy. “Some type of mixed use that would be complementary to that area, whether that’s a mix of office and residential, or a hotel and office, or another combination,” he said. “The pedestrian experience on the ground level could include restaurants or retail.”

The Gershman property is one of a shrinking number of development sites that Clayton, which commands the highest office rental rates in the region, has to offer.

St. Louis County controls f

our potential sites — the former family courts building on South Brentwood Boulevard, just north of Enterprise Holdings’ Clayton headquarters, two former St. Louis County office sites on Meramec Avenue and the parking lot just north of the Lawrence K. Roos Government Building.

A building at the southeast corner of Forsyth and South Central Avenue, owned by Montgomery Development Group, could also factor into any potential development of the Roos Government Building, as it sits immediately north of the lot.

Gershman also owns a number of parcels along Forsyth just across the street from the new Centene development that could result in new development, though Fox said nothing is imminent.

“There are definitely fewer and fewer sites to be had in downtown (Clayton),” Carter said.

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