Arlington Grove: A Lesson in Diversity & Minority Participation

St. Louis City Arlington Grove Residential Redevelopment Project
Breaks Ground in Terms of Green Design, Minority Participation (St. Louis, MO, Oct. 19, 2010) – Silver-plated shovels were plunged into the ground on Friday, Oct. 15 to commemorate the start of construction on north St. Louis City’s $41 million Arlington Grove residential redevelopment project . True, scoops of dirt were moved; but perhaps in more ways than one, the project is truly groundbreaking in terms of green design and minority participation. The Arlington Grove project located at the corner of Dr. Martin Luther King Drive and Burd Avenue symbolizes a much-needed revitalization for the neighborhood. Through efforts from the area’s Friendly Temple Church, residents, driven Alderman Jeffrey Boyd, developer McCormack Baron Salazar, KAI Design & Build (serving as the architect, M/E/P engineer, general contractor and Building Information Modeling coordinator on the project), the City of St. Louis, the Associated General Contractors of St. Louis and the St. Louis Housing Authority, positive change is just around the corner. “McCormack Baron Salazar looks forward to working in partnership with the St. Louis Housing Authority, the city and Robert Fulton Development, Inc. – Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church to continue further investment and revitalization of the Arlington Grove neighborhood,” said Ron Roberts, McCormack Baron Salazar Vice-President of Project Management. “The Arlington Grove development symbolizes a continued investment in the neighborhood already made by the church. The development will add residents to the neighborhood, as well as commercial retail space to further develop the neighborhood’s economy.” 
Plans for the area include 112-mixed-finance, mixed-income rental units in garden apartments, townhouses, semi-detached housing, a new mixed-use building and rehabilitation of the historic Arlington Elementary School for a total gross residential square footage of 162,000 and 5,000 square feet of commercial/retail. Plans for the school renovation include 21 apartments with a balance of the block surrounding the school to feature 91 new construction townhomes and garden apartments designed to meet mandatory Enterprise Green Communities (EGC) criteria, committed to the Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) and required by the Capital Fund Recovery Competition (CFRC) grant, a stimulus-related grant awarded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The development will contain market rate units, Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) units at 60% of the area median income, HOME units and public housing units (PHU). The development is considered one of the first EGC “green” designed mixed income projects in the country, and the first for St. Louis City and Missouri. Environmentally friendly features incorporated into the development’s design and construction include Energy-Star labeled appliances and fixtures, solar panels, water-conserving appliances and fixtures, water management techniques during construction, high-efficiency HVAC systems, recycling of content materials and reduction of heat-island effect through highly reflective roof shingles and pervious paving. Construction on the project is expected to be completed in spring 2012.

“Arlington Grove represents one of the first projects in the country using the Enterprise Green Communities criteria, in particular the solar panels which we were able to secure a unique grant to fund,” said Nathan Rauh, Housing Studio Leader for KAI Design & Build. “The photovoltaic panels specified for the project are expected to provide 10 percent of the development’s total energy demands.” In addition to its significant contribution to sustainability, the project is also significant for its percentages of minority participation. St. Louis City Mayor Francis Slay requires 25% Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and 5% Women Business Enterprise (WBE) participation on city projects. Through the efforts of the design-build team led by KAI Design & Build, the Arlington Grove project was able to achieve a substantial 40% MBE and 10% WBE participation.  “It was a true collaboration between everyone involved with the project, including the community, representatives from the neighborhood’s Friendly Temple Church and the neighborhood’s alderman Jeffrey Boyd,” said Michael Kennedy, Jr., President of KAI Design & Build. “Everyone worked hard to not only exceed the minority participation goals, but also to help bring together a wealth of contractors and sub-contractors from the immediate neighborhood and surrounding areas. We worked closely with representatives from the Associated General Contractors of St. Louis to make this goal a reality.” KAI Design & Build also attributed exceeding the minority participation to a shortened design schedule (5 months as opposed to the typical 8 months) driven by requirements from the development’s five different funding sources.
With an extended time of three months on the bid process, KAI was able to schedule a series of pre-bid meetings that gave minority-owned, sub-contractors immediate access to the large, majority-owned firms, opening the lines of communication. The bid process also allowed minority-owned firms to learn about the project specifications early enough to submit a thorough bid and to foster important, new relationships. “Associated General Contractors of St. Louis is happy to see new and innovative approaches being taken to build a more inclusive construction business community,” said Len Toenjes, President of AGC of St. Louis. “Collaboration and communication between all members of the St. Louis construction community helps insure opportunities for all segments of our industry and goes a long way towards creating a truly diverse and sustainable construction business climate.”