St. Louis-based developer Mia Rose Holdings is concurrently building multiple luxury multifamily communities throughout the St. Louis region as well as Northwest Arkansas. Uniting these 150+ unit properties is a target tenant who has the capacity to own a home, but is choosing flexibility and amenities over a mortgage.
In fact, flexibility, in a world since the pandemic, is a primary theme in this Q&A with Mia Rose Holdings president, Tom Kaiman. In this interview, Kaiman shares his perspective on current trends in multifamily development in St. Louis, including how COVID has impacted tenant desires, property design and development.
RB (Rachel Brown): What are the primary trends in St. Louis multifamily development?
TK (Tom Kaiman): We’re seeing, and what we’re trying to capitalize on, is growth from the city out to the suburbs and, even more specifically, across the river into Saint Charles County. Five to ten years ago, everyone was saying, ‘you really need to be developing multifamily at the main cross streets within Saint Louis county.’ We took a different approach because we feel the growth is heading out farther west. So, most of our work in the St. Louis region is actually out in Saint Charles County.
RB: What broader trends are driving growth in multifamily housing?
TK: From a world trend perspective, people are living and working differently. They don’t want to buy a home and be locked down. I think the multifamily, for-rent product is what people are trending towards.
This multifamily concept gives millennials as well as seniors more flexibility to be around their families. It also gives them the flexibility to live in one place for a year, and if they don’t like it, then they can live somewhere different. People can also travel a lot easier. They don’t have to worry about taking care of anything from a maintenance perspective.
RB: How has COVID impacted the residential housing market?
TK: COVID certainly has changed the way that people travel, the way that people live and the way that people work. It’s really pushed upon most Americans the need for flexibility.
RB: Do you think some of these housing desires and trends will remain after life returns to something more normal?
TK: I certainly do. I really believe that businesses have learned that there is some ability within their business for employees to work from anywhere. There are so many jobs out there where the employer has learned their employees don’t have to be sitting in the cubicle and micromanaged. We do need people to come back to work, to offices, but there will be some level of flexibility of that work experience into the future.
RB: What trends are informing the design and amenities incorporated in your developments?
TK: Life during the pandemic has really opened everyone’s eyes to the flexibility side of “live, work, play.” People want a no-maintenance rental product with robust amenities in the right locations. Our properties are thoughtfully designed with extensive amenities and gathering spaces to satisfy the increasing desire to live, work and recreate close to home.
RB: How do you choose the locations to develop?
TK: Strategic locations are what we’re all about. We are trying to support residential growth in the right areas. We want to be so strategically located where it’s extremely hard for someone else to replicate the community that we are trying to create. We are selecting locations that are very close to highways for ease of transportation and also are very close to other amenities within or outside of our development like restaurants and recreational places. One of my top priorities is continuing to find and select the right strategic sites and create a community and atmosphere that tenants want to be part of.
RB: Most of your developments have a mixed-use component. What is the benefit to including commercial businesses in multi-family communities?
TK: The locations that we’re selecting are very conducive for retail use in conjunction with multifamily. From a planning perspective, the site needs to have some level of retail or commercial space. When you put 200 units of residential right next to a commercial space, that’s a built-in business for the restaurant or retailer. It just makes a ton of sense. It also helps build a sense of community. It’s not just a bunch of units sitting there with no connectivity or community vibe that people want.
RB: What are the municipalities that you’re working with are looking for in a developer?
TK: I think they’re looking for a good development partner. They are looking for developers that are going to tell the truth and execute the vision that they are communicating to the planning staff and elected officials. We are investing $30 to $60 million in their community, and we want them to look at us as a partner. We want the city to be super successful because the success of the city allows us to be successful as well.
RB: What is unique or special about Saint Louis as a place to develop multifamily properties?
TK: I see a lot of positives in the region. There are a number of developers that complain about the disconnection between the city and the county and the outlying counties with all the different rules and regulations. At the end of the day, I look at the region as a great place to raise a family. It is moderately priced with a low cost of living compared to other cities of this size. And Saint Louis has a number of really cool attractions from the Arch to Forest Park and even coming out into Saint Charles County with the casinos, great sporting attractions and various outdoor recreational destinations. It’s a great place to raise your family and then retire without having to worry about huge cost escalation that people are dealing with now on the coasts
Mia Rose Holdings LLC is a Chesterfield, Missouri-based commercial real estate development company that actively acquires and develops real estate to support the needs of local communities. Mia Rose Holdings was formed in 2014 by Tom Kaiman who oversaw more than $1 billion in development during his previous 15 years of design and construction experience. Built on Kaimain’s professional hockey career, Mia Rose Holdings also has a strong niche developing and consulting for ice rinks and other athletic facilities, including Maryville University Hockey Center, Pacific Ice Rink and Chesterfield Sports Complex.
The firm’s mixed-use and high-end multifamily developments include The Junction in Wentzville, PURE Springdale in Northwest Arkansas, The Prairie and The Meadows in Western St. Charles County and 44 West Luxury Living in St. Louis County.