DESCO group inside photo

The DESCO Group direector of design and construction Franklin Sears, president and CEO Mark Schnuck, and VP of retail development Mike Anthon

LN’s stomping grounds are about to get a lot more interesting, as Colonial Marketplace is getting a major renovation. Recently acquired by The DESCO Group, the plaza already is humming with construction crews, who are ensuring that the building will live up to the potential its stellar location provides. Steps from downtown Clayton, the historic plaza sits on the northwest corner of Ladue Road and Gay Avenue. “Our vision is to make it a boutique and restaurant destination,” says DESCO president and CEO Mark Schnuck. “With the Clayton business district, great access from 170 and Ladue Road, and nearby residential neighborhoods in Clayton, Ladue and University City, it’s a great property and a great location.”

Perhaps most exciting is the slew of new tenants who have signed on to the project. Joining the current tenants are Ivy Hill; an expanded Woman’s Exchange; Clarkson Eyecare; a second area location of Original Pancake House; Dominic Michael Salon; cini Italian Restaurant—a casual eatery owned by the Gabriele family, which runs Giovanni’s on the Hill and Il Bel Lago in Creve Coeur; and Dimvaloo Active Living, a high-end fitness clothing retailer. Out of the plaza’s 78,000 square feet, only about 18,000 square feet have yet to be leased, Schnuck notes. A great traffic count and affluent area are among the draws he cites for bringing in retailers so quickly. “It’s going to be a beautiful product once it’s complete.”

Most of the renovations should be complete by mid-March to early April, with tenants opening up almost every month for the next year, Schnuck notes. Still in the works is an overhaul of the landscaping along Ladue Road. “It will be highly landscaped and we’re very excited about what we’re doing there,” he says. “There will be limestone columns with fencing that matches the Chippendale fencing on the top of the center, as well as plenty of landscaping and flowers. It’s going to look very nice.”

The renovations complement a facelift to the adjoining Ladue Crossing, which is anchored by a Schnucks, Barnes & Noble and Old Navy. There, many of the wood columns were replaced with longer-lasting material, along with other aesthetic improvements to the buildings and landscaping, Schnuck says. The two centers will be connected by a new drive as part of a plan to improve access and increase the number of parking spaces. A Great Rivers Greenway trail project also cuts between the two. The trail, currently under construction, will connect from Shaw Park to Olive Boulevard, providing pedestrian access to downtown Clayton for area residents.

“It’s going to be a great mix, and there will be a fun vibe with different types of boutiques and restaurants,” Schnuck says. And the best is yet to come: “Other tenants are very close to signing, too, so look for future announcements!”