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ST. CHARLES, MO-Peoria, IL-based Cullinan Properties has broken ground on a $385 million mixed-use project that is to include a hotel, 250,000 square feet of retail, a 250,000 square feet of office and more than 750 apartments. Because of the late start, the firm will finish grading the 26-acre site, and will knock off construction until early next year to avoid the bad weather.

The 1.4-million-square-foot project is going on the site of the former Noah’s Ark restaurant, which was demolished after 40 years in operation. The company has cut back on the development plans, but still hopes to have its phase one, which will include 65,000 square feet of retail and a movie theater, as well as a third of the apartments, finished by 2010. The project, which will have a town-center style instead of big-box anchors, reportedly received approval from the City Council for $55 million in TIF funds.

A spokesman tells GlobeSt.com that the company is “very close” to finishing up financing for the project. To gain loans, the property will likely be divided up to investors, the spokesman says. A number of deals are signed, but the spokesman says he’s “not at liberty” to release names. An eight-screen luxury theater will be part of the project, he says.

The company has some letters of intent for the office, but no leases yet, the spokesman says. The rates will range from the mid-to-upper $20s, he says. Specifics on the hotel are also not available, the spokesman says.

The property is the perfect place for a mixed-use project, the spokesman says. “It has incredible access and visibility right off of Interstate 70. It’s the very first exit west of the Mississippi River, the same exit that 200,000 cars a day go by. It’s also the same exit for Ameristar Casino, the St. Charles Convention Center and the historic Main Street District of St. Charles, he says.

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