500,000 hours of work, all union
By ED FINKELSTEIN
The all-union built Encore at Forest Park, a 246 rental unit, five-story, $51 million multifamily development, was previewed recently by local union officials at the invitation of the AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust (BIT) to highlight their latest St. Louis investment.
“This one project alone created an estimated 500,000 hours of work for our various trades. That’s a lot of men and women working for several years,” said John Stiffler, executive secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building Trades Council.
BIT is funded by union pension funds and over the past 30 years has financed over $8.5 billion for the development of more than 200 office, retail, multifamily, hotel, warehouse and mixed- use properties across America. All of it was built and is serviced 100 percent union.
PUTTING PENSION FUNDS TO WORK
“These are our members’ pension funds being put to good use to create union jobs, and at the same time return a solid investment of almost seven percent to help our pension funds grow,” said Pat White, president of the St. Louis Labor Council.
The apartments, off Oakland Ave. at 5700 Highlands Plaza Drive, are a sister development to the union-built, BIT-financed Cortona at Forest Park, a $42 million, five-story 278-unit apartment complex at 5800 Highlands Plaza Drive, which was completed in 2015. They are built on the site of the old Arena, which was previously the site of the Forest Park Highlands amusement park. Forest Park is just across the highway.
The contractor for both developments was Balke Brown Transwestern.
ST. LOUIS IMPACT
In St. Louis, BIT has financed 12 projects, investing more than $202 million and creating an estimated 1.68 million hours of union construction work. Since the Fund’s inception in 1988, its “union-build” investment requirement has created over 80 million construction hours for union workers across America.
“That’s putting our pension dollars to work for our members,” added Stiffler.
UNIONS’ POSITIVE IMPACT ON ECONOMY
“It’s yet another reason why unions have a positive economic impact on our state’s economy,” said White.
“It’s something our state legislators don’t understand or appreciate. The ripple impact of BIT spending, along with where those union wages and other purchases are spent and re-spent over and over throughout the community, is in the hundreds of millions of dollars flowing through our local economy.”
With completion of the Encore development, the 26-acre Highlands development will have 725 apartments, 126 hotel rooms, 300,000 square feet of office space and 20,000 square feet of retail space.
One of the BIT’s principal objectives in making real estate investments is to generate competitive income and long-term capital appreciation while protecting investor’s capital and providing retirement security for union members.
The BIT also created and operates with one of the most comprehensive union labor policies in the U.S. real estate industry, helping to create union jobs throughout the country.