A divisive piece of St. Louis’s history will be reborn in Fall 2021 as a cornerstone of community redevelopment, reinvestment and social improvement.
Clayco, in partnership with its subsidiaries of CRG and Lamar Johnson Collaborative, have launched Delmar Divine, a $100 million redevelopment project that will transform nearly 500,000 square feet of long-vacated hospital campus in the 5500 block of Delmar Boulevard in St. Louis into a hub for innovation and enterprise.
“We want to enhance growth and investment in this neighborhood,” said Bob Clark, Clayco executive chairman and founder. “At the same time, we want to do it responsibly so we’re not displacing people or relocating anyone, but bringing prosperity, jobs and the type of development we think will bridge that divide.”
The “Delmar Divine” name draws a sharp contrast to how the area has historically been negatively perceived. For many years, the area has been referred to as the “Delmar Divide” because of racial and income stratifications that exist north and south of the street.
This new project will welcome a myriad of nonprofits, foundations and community support organizations to improve services delivery and connection to the surrounding community. The first phase will establish a nonprofit working space, a cafe and residential apartments. More office space and services such as early childhood education will follow.
Delmar Divine is a partnership led by the project’s creator, Maxine Clark, founder of St. Louis-based Build-A-Bear. CRG, the real estate development and investment arm of Clayco, will lead development, while LJC will serve as the buildings architect. Clayco will lead construction management with Raineri Construction as the general contractor.
“We want each of our projects to have the opportunity to impact the community around it,” said Chris McKee, Chief Development Officer at CRG. “But Delmar Divine is special, and we hope that it’s an inspiration to other developers on what happens when you truly invest in the places your company lives and works.”
The project’s expansive space presents opportunities for parallel economic and social benefits. There are many nonprofits in St. Louis who will have an attractive space that will allow them to better serve those in need. The development will also provide 150 apartments for professionals in fields such as social work, nursing and policing, who want to work and live in the area, along with retail opportunities that will provide convenience and a welcoming vibe.
As Clayco’s Senior Vice President of Diversity, Sandra Marks addresses external areas of outreach, alignment of community resources and impactful improvement of the design and construction industry—locally and nationwide. She is focused on transforming lives and communities through outreach and inclusion. “Delmar Divine will transform a section of St. Louis City that has been neglected into a vibrant innovation district while it provides services to the broader community,” according to Marks.
The original building of St. Luke’s Hospital on Delmar Boulevard is the second oldest general hospital building in St. Louis. St. Luke’s Hospital held an important place in history as a symbol of the conversion of hospitals from places for the medically indigent into training grounds for healthcare professionals and eventually into places where medicine was practiced, research conducted and advancements made.
Between 1904 and its closing as Connect Care due to bankruptcy in 2013, 10 significant additions, wings, new buildings and even three more floors were added to its flagship structure, resulting in a sprawling complex that covers six+ acres in concrete, stone and brick. These facilities represent a continuous line of social and public health history in the St. Louis community. The Delmar Divine will continue this important history, symbolically and practically.