St. Louis union construction workers saluted for progress on $42 million Cortona project

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Union pension money funding apartments that will open next year

AN ARTIST’S RENDERING of the Cortona apartment complex at Forest Park. The 276-unit development represents a $42 million by the AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust, which invests union pension funds in building development and acquisition.
AN ARTIST’S RENDERING of the Cortona apartment complex at Forest Park. The 276-unit development represents a $42 million by the AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust, which invests union pension funds in building development and acquisition.

About 200 union construction workers were saluted last week for the progress they’ve made on the Cortona Apartments – a $42 million five-story, euro-style apartment project under construction on the former Arena site near Forest Park.

The union workers were honored at a celebratory luncheon hosted by the Washington-based AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust (BIT) – which is funding the project – the Missouri AFL-CIO, St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council, Missouri State Building & Construction Trades Council, Greater St. Louis Labor Council and developer Balke Brown Transwestern.

“Cortona at Forest Park is a $42 million investment of union pension funds in St. Louis,” Hugh McVey, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO, said.  “This is another terrific example of union dollars creating high quality jobs, along with competitive returns.”

JOB CREATION

“The Cortona Project is a perfect example of what can happen when unions invest in themselves,” said Jeff Aboussie, executive secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council.  “The AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust not only provides investors with competitive returns, but also creates hundreds of local jobs.”

LABOR INVESTMENT

MISSOURI AFL-CIO President Hugh McVey (holding the microphone), said the $42 million Cortona Apartments at Forest Park is a terrific example of union dollars creating high quality jobs. –Gary Otten photo
MISSOURI AFL-CIO President Hugh McVey (holding the microphone), said the $42 million Cortona Apartments at Forest Park is a terrific example of union dollars creating high quality jobs.
– Gary Otten photo

Over the past two decades, the BIT has invested in seven projects worth more than $130 million in metro St. Louis. 

In addition to the Cortona, its investments have included the FBI Building and the Veterans Administration Building downtown; the Internal Revenue Service Regional Support Center in Chesterfield; West Park II in Creve Coeur; Richardson Corporate Center in Arnold; and the Fountain Lakes Commerce Center in St. Charles.

“The Building Investment Trust is a terrific example of how union pension dollars can be used in strategic ways,” said Sen. Gina Walsh (D-Bellefontaine Neighbors), president of the Missouri State Building and Construction Trades Council.  “More than ever, the labor movement needs to invest in itself through projects like Cortona.”

Bob Soutier, president of the Greater St. Louis Labor Council, said with the BIT’s investment in the Cortona Apartments “hundreds of our members are working each and every day.”

FIRST OF ITS KIND

Balke Brown Transwestern CEO Steve Brown said Cortona will become the first apartment community in metro St. Louis to address the unique lifestyle preferences of the Millennial Generation.  The 276-unit mid-rise apartment complex is taking shape on a five-acre site at The Highlands mixed-use development across from Forest Park and will open in Spring 2014.

The complex will include a quarter-acre Euro-resort-style courtyard ,7,000-square-foot clubhouse, multi-level saltwater swimming pool, an outdoor kitchen, lounging areas, cabanas, gardens and a pavilion with fire tables.

The clubhouse is designed to feel like a high-end boutique hotel lobby with multiple lounge areas, dramatic lighting, gaming areas, a professionally staffed, fully equipped wellness spa and a multi-purpose gathering space, among other amenities.

For more information, visit www.cortonaforestpark.com.

UNION INVESTMENTS

The BIT is an open-end commingled core commercial real estate fund with $2.80 billion in net assets and a portfolio of 56 properties nationwide.

Since 1988, the BIT has invested $5.3 billion in development and acquisition of more than 180 office, retail, multifamily, hotel, warehouse, and mixed use properties across the country, creating approximately 68 million hours of union construction work and thousands of permanent jobs.

The St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council represents 20 union construction trades in St. Louis. Its members invest more than $30 million annually training the St. Louis construction workforce.

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