Botanical Heights has been the home base of UIC (Urban Improvement Company) since 2006, when we moved our office into a former pharmacy that was about to fall over before we bought and rehabilitated it. Now, 10 years later, we are entering Phase 3 of the redevelopment plan that to date has resulted in over 40 single-family homes, 34 apartment units, the state’s top-performing City Garden Montessori charter school, award winning restaurants Olio + Elaia, Union Loafers, Old Standard, and La Patisserie Chouquette, and company headquarters for UIC, GadellNet, and SLAM! Agency. Our Phase 3 plans entail an additional 17 new single-family homes, the rehabilitation of 25 structures for apartments and commercial use, and a new company headquarters for UIC at 4140 Park Ave.
While not part of the original vision for Botanical Heights, we are excited to announce that UIC has recently acquired the building at 4140 Park Ave. At 110,000sf, 4140 Park will house an expansion of the UIC offices as well as other tenants. The four-story red brick warehouse building is part of the Liggett & Myers Historic District, and was designed by Isaac Taylor in 1896 as the Liggett & Myers Tobacco Factory. Beyond incubators and co-working offices, this new development will offer unique, scalable solutions as part of an amenity-rich, centrally-located building.
Botanical Heights is the name that replaced McRee Town, which at one point in the 1980s was one of the most eroded, failing urban neighborhoods in the nation. At the time we moved in, the eastern half of the neighborhood had recently been completely torn down and replaced with new housing by a large regional home builder. The western half was assumed to be slated for the same fate, but we preferred a different approach.
Working with the not for profit redevelopment Garden District Commission, formed by the neighboring Missouri Botanical Garden, we forged a new plan that stabilized the existing building stock and moved forward with an ambitious plan for historic rehabilitation and infill building that has created a walkable, sustainable, mixed use neighborhood. To date, UIC has guided over $15 million in investments in the neighborhood, with another $10 million slated for the coming two years.
The neighborhood has received local and national praise for both the speed and quality of the redevelopment. By working within the context of this long neglected 100-year old neighborhood we have been able to foster a rebirth with the density, amenities, and charm that make city neighborhoods great places to live and work.
UIC is a design-focused integrated practice with expertise in architecture, home building, urban design, real estate development, general contracting, and carpentry. Through critical engagement with urban context, UIC has brought its diverse expertise and intelligence to a wide range of individual projects and neighborhood developments.