St. Louis developer Andrew S. Love Jr. is returning to the
roots of his family's business.
With his real-estate empire only a vestige of what it was just
a few years ago, Love now is counting on his finance business to
pay the bills.
"The mortgage banking business is probably the most active and
encouraging area right now," Love said.
Love is a prominent St. Louis lawyer who in the 1980s built the
mortgage business his great grandfather founded more than a century
earlier into a real-estate colossus.
Known as Love Cos., the conglomerate and its affiliates owned
more than $500 million worth of office buildings, shopping centers,
apartments, retirement centers and hotels in 20 U.S. cities.
Love also bought his own savings and loan in St. Louis with
help from partners John F. McDonnell and James S. McDonnell III of
McDonnell Douglas Corp.
The McDonnells weren't the only influential investors doing
deals with Love. His real-estate partnerships attracted millions
from rich Kuwaiti bankers and businessmen and many of his fellow
partners at St. Louis' largest law firm, Bryan Cave.
Then the real-estate market crashed. And so did Love Cos.
Love has yet to recover.
"I think things are better than they were, but that's probably
not saying a lot," Love said.
Love left Bryan Cave in late 1991 in an effort to turn around
his real-estate firm. At the time, Love companies owed the law firm
more than $1 million for legal work, according to the National Law
In recent years, Love has been selling his holdings or handing
them back to lenders whom he owes money.
Among the properties Love has sold or handed over in the St.
Louis area are Warson Village Shopping Center in Warson Woods, the
Builders Square portion of the Plaza At DePaul shopping center in
Bridgeton, the Holiday Inn Airport-West in Bridgeton, the Days Inn
Airport in Woodson Terrace, the Executive Office Building downtown
and the Plaza Square Apartments downtown.
Love is also in the process of selling his S&L, now called
Heartland Savings Bank. First Banks Inc., headed by James F.
Dierberg, has said it intends to buy Heartland.
But Love said he plans to keep Heartland's mortgage operations,
which specialize in single-family residential lending. And he wants
to expand Love Funding Corp., a mortgage-banking unit in Washington
for commercial real estate and Federal Housing Administration
"We feel the mortgage business has been a good business for
us," Love said. "The prospects for real-estate development in this
area and in most places in the country are extremely slim."
About the only major Love real-estate holdings left in the St.
Louis area are the Holiday Inn Riverfront downtown and the Venture
and Best Buy portions of the Plaza At DePaul center on St. Charles
"I'm encouraged that we will survive and continue," Love said.
The past year has been a "stabilizing" time for Love Cos., said
President Laurence A. Schiffer.
"I think we've done pretty well working it all out," Schiffer
said. "We've sold off our assets and are looking to the future."
Love and Schiffer have also been buying time. And they have
proven quite adept in doing so.
For example, just in the last two weeks, Love and Schiffer
gained another last-minute reprieve from foreclosure and potential
bankruptcy for PGI Inc., a Florida development company.
A Love partnership bought a majority stake in PGI in 1987. PGI,
a publicly held company founded in 1958, has built thousands of
acres in southwest Florida into large residential developments. …