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Rusty Keeley: Building St. Louis One Development at a Time

Rusty Keeley, CEO of the Keeley Companies, realized his passion for real estate development early on in his career. In the mid-90s, when Rusty took over L. Keeley Construction from his dad, Larry Keeley, he began to visit various jobsites across the country. Over the years, when visiting these jobsites, it was the paving jobs that peaked Rusty’s interest in development. As the L. Keeley teams paved parking lots for national retailers, strip malls, and mixed used developments, Rusty would think to himself, “Why aren’t we building and developing projects like this?” Rusty knew the next big thing to grow the business would be real estate development. He launched Keeley Development Group and in 2019 joined forces with Koman Group to form KDG. With the merger, Rusty and the KDG team are poised to accelerate growth and opportunity for people, partners, and St. Louis.

KDG is vested in our St. Louis home, and it is this local commitment that fuels our successes. Excited to be a part of putting St. Louis back on the map and transforming the places in which we live, work, and play, Rusty exclaims his favorite aspect of development is:

“The creativity that comes along with development is different from all of our other platforms. It’s incredible! Take our Olive Crossing and Cortex developments – both on iconic corners in St. Louis, sites sitting idle and ripe for activation. With these projects we can create not only an enhanced economic development, providing jobs and tax revenue to the local communities, but a best-in-class product that our team and our customers will be proud of for years to come.”

KDG’s portfolio includes a variety of asset types, including built-to-suit corporate campuses, historic rehab and adaptive reuse, and multifamily and student housing, but Rusty’s favorite type of development is mixed use. Mixing uses promotes sustainability and achieves density that promotes a vibrant 18-hour environment. For example, Olive Crossing’s mix of office, hotel, retail, and dining spaces on 14.8 acres at the intersection of I-170 and Olive, will add new amenities and services, create a lively community, build connectivity, and rejuvenate the area. The development process is long and complex, particularly for a mixed use project of this scale, but the challenges and iterations allow the program to continue to evolve into something great that everyone can enjoy.

Since its launch in late 2019, KDG has faced welcomed changes and opportunities. Despite global economic uncertainties, St. Louis continues its rising trajectory with new opportunities in every corner of the region. Rusty is most excited about:

“…Diversifying the KDG portfolio. We have a long-game outlook with a focus on new areas of opportunity and the ability to pivot when the economy changes and grows. Our nimble approach and experienced, disciplined team allow us to take advantage of upward trends in a thoughtful, strategic way. Our biggest asset is our people. We value that we can build up and foster the development leaders of tomorrow and provide a culture where people can grow and thrive in their career.”


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