Mixed-use development proposed for 100 acres of MetLife’s campus

Public spaces, pavilion and amphitheater are in the plan

Above+is+a+rendering+of+the+100-acre+proposed+redevelopment+%27Tesson+Ridge%2C%27+consisting+of+more+than+100+single-family+homes+and+villas%2C+a+210-unit+apartment+complex+and+8+acres+of+commercial+sites.+

Above is a rendering of the 100-acre proposed redevelopment ‘Tesson Ridge,’ consisting of more than 100 single-family homes and villas, a 210-unit apartment complex and 8 acres of commercial sites.

By Gloria Lloyd, News Editor

An in-person town hall will be held this week at the MetLife campus in South County about a proposed mixed-use development at the 100-acre site that would include two new subdivisions with more than 170 single-family houses, a 210-unit apartment building, nearly 8 acres of commercial development fronting Tesson Ferry Road and public spaces like a plaza and amphitheater.

The land size and scope of the project between Tesson Ferry and Keller roads, called “Tesson Ridge,” makes the mixed-use project one of the largest developments in South County history — larger in size even than the roughly 47-acre Crestwood mall site, which is also the subject of a pending mixed-use redevelopment proposal.

The town hall about MetLife/Tesson Ridge will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 29 inside the former MetLife building, 13045 Tesson Ferry Road in Concord, 63128. The town hall is sponsored by the developers of the project and 6th District Councilman Ernie Trakas, R-Oakville, who lives near one of the borders of the development along Tesson Ferry and Butler Hill roads. Since the campus is in unincorporated South County, approval for any zoning would go through St. Louis County and Trakas.

Trakas facilitated an initial meeting with neighbors of the project on Bauer Road, who previously fought apartments there.

The developer is Propper Construction, which bought the property from MetLife in December. St. Charles-based Propper is affiliated with Propper International, an international designer of tactical military clothing and gear with revenues of more than $400 million annually, according to Propper Construction’s website.

“We are excited to share our plans for Tesson Ridge and ways it will benefit the community and future residents,” said Tim Breece, president of Propper Construction, in a news release. “We have sought to understand what is important to the local community and we are confident that our vision will reflect what we have heard and bring renewed life to the property.”

With 645,588 square feet of office space, the massive and now-vacant MetLife Building was once considered for a location of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency before county officials partnered with St. Louis city officials on one Missouri proposal to bring that new headquarters to downtown St. Louis. MetLife sold the sprawling campus after leasing space for its remaining area employees in a Creve Coeur office building. MetLife inherited the South County campus when it acquired General American Life Insurance Co., which at that time was one of St. Louis’ largest employers. But the company collapsed in 1999. At its height, the campus housed more than 2,000 General American employees, but that number fell to 630 people by the early 2000s, the St. Louis Business Journal reported at the time.

Propper proposes four areas in 100 acres: A 110-home single-family subdivision with detached houses called “The Manors at Tesson Ridge,” on a total area of 57.43 acres with a buffer area of 8.68 acres; a 210-unit apartment complex called “The Residences at Tesson Ridge” in the rehabbed MetLife Building itself, over an area of 21.62 acres; 60 single-family residential attached or detached villas that would cover 9.87 acres called “The Villas at Tesson Ridge,” and two separate commercial areas called “The Shops at Tesson Ridge” facing Tesson Ferry Road, one covering 5.11 acres and one 2.79 acres. Businesses including restaurants, boutiques and offices would be part of the commercial area, Propper said.

Access would come from Tesson Ferry Road and a spur road that would connect to Butler Hill Road, with several roundabouts inside the property included on renderings.

Renderings are available in the gallery above and at tessonridge.com for residents to view ahead of the town hall, and Trakas said site plans would be posted soon. The site says that the single-family houses will sell for $500,000 to $1 million and the apartment units will be “luxury,” as will the villas, which the site says would sell for $250,000 and up. But the developer of the houses is not yet set; Propper said on the Tesson Ridge website that the company is “conducting a search for a premier home builder with experience in the luxury market.”

Any proposal would have to gain zoning approval from St. Louis County, and no application for rezoning has been submitted at this time, Trakas said. A separate public hearing would happen later at the county Planning Commission if the development moves ahead. The developer said zoning could move forward this spring, and construction could start in the fall.

As part of the broader 100-acre project, Propper said in the release that it hopes to “enhance the overall aesthetic and value of the community.” Public spaces would be added for the entire community for live music and other events, including a public plaza, an amphitheater, an outdoor pavilion and a play field. There would be green spaces and community walking trails throughout the property, the developer said. The apartment complex would surround “The Lake at Tesson Ridge,” a water feature that would feature common areas and trails.

Sustainability is a goal of the project, and the developer will reuse the footprint of the MetLife buildings when possible, especially for the apartment complex. Other paved areas will return to green space or be made into walking trails or single-family housing, the developer said.

The MetLife complex is in the Mehlville School District, and the entire 100 acres is currently zoned C-8 commercial and pays commercial real-estate property taxes. The owner paid $789,137.61 in property taxes in February, up from $740,000 the year before. MetLife paid more than $1 million in property taxes on the property in 2010 before real-estate prices sank in the Great Recession. The total assessed value of the property is currently $8.4 million. The nearest Mehlville schools for any new students to attend would be Trautwein Elementary, Washington Middle School and Mehlville High School.

Superintendent Chris Gaines said that the developer reached out to the school district within the last few weeks to start a dialogue and meet with the district. Without more information, Gaines said he could not yet foresee how Tesson Ridge would impact the school district.

Propper International, based in Weldon Spring, was founded in 1967. Propper Construction was founded in 2014, according to a previous press release from the company about a past project. Propper Construction’s previous projects include a luxury apartment complex in West County, the Residences at Sunset Ridge, along with another apartment complex in O’Fallon, Missouri, and warehouses at the Gateway Commerce Center.