Six Things That “One Hundred” Tells Us

By on May 15, 2018

From NextSTL:  In February, construction began on the most ambitious residential project in St. Louis’s Central West End in nearly a century. The One Hundred building is a 36-story tower that will transform the skyline on the eastern side of Forest Park. It is the first building on Kingshighway Boulevard that will surpass its neighbor to the north, the Park Plaza, in terms of height. And just as the Park Plaza’s construction symbolized the optimism of the 20thcentury’s Roaring Twenties, One Hundred is emblematic of a decade that may come to be remembered as the 21st century’s Roaring Teens.

One Hundred tells us a number of things about St. Louis and the Central West End, current conditions in the real estate market, and perhaps the direction of the entire U.S. economy. Here are six of them.

First, and most obvious, developer Mac Properties is marketing One Hundred’s 316 units as luxury apartments rather than condominiums. This illustrates how the real estate market has changed from 15 years ago, when new construction like the nearby Park East tower (26 stories containing 89 units) was sold as condos during a nationwide mortgage boom fueled by aggressive lending and a securitization machine greased by Wall Street and government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

So far during the Teens, multifamily building in St. Louis and elsewhere has been dominated by units for rent rather than for sale. Tighter regulations have kept lending standards relatively rigorous, subduing growth in the mortgage industry. Around the time work began on One Hundred, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that mortgage balances for the U.S. a whole at the end of 2017 were still below their 2008 peak, even as overall household debt was setting fresh records. (If One Hundred ever “goes condo” at some point, it will be evidence that the mortgage-lending spigot has been turned back on.)

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