Monday, March 19, 2012

Times Square Meets Downtown St. Louis?

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Columbus, Ohio, a very attractive city with a dense, walkable downtown.  While exploring the city I noticed this interesting building across the street from the Ohio capitol:

Just above the street level retail space are two tickers containing news updates.  Above them are two video ribbon boards, and there is a large video billboard on the roof.  These signs were all in operation 24 hours a day, and really made the corner feel lively - a touch of Times Square in Central Ohio.

As I continued to walk about the city, I noticed maybe tickers on maybe two or three other buildings, including the headquarters of the Columbus Dispatch...

...and the Key Bank building

This got me thinking how tickers and video screens could easily spruce up certain parts of downtown St. Louis.  Our many garages would seem to be great candidates - I can envision video screens on the blank walls of the Kiener Plaza garages, or tickers on the garage next to One Financial Plaza, either at Broadway and Locust or across from the Mercantile Exchange at 6th and Locust.  Maybe KMOV or KSDK could have news feeds in front of their respective buildings. Why not?  I think the effect such signage creates is very stimulating.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Brown & James Moving to Bank of America Plaza

This fall, law firm Brown & James will be moving a couple of blocks east, having recently signed a lease for 54,000 sf on the 9th, 10th and 11th floors of Bank of America Plaza at 800 Market Street.  The firm currently has 84 local attorneys (150 employees total) and plans to add another 10 attorneys this year.

Brown & James is leaving behind roughly 50,000 sf at 1010 Market Street.  At just $16.50 psf, this large block of space could offer a compelling opportunity for a mid-sized firm.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Random Lease Roundup

Rynearson, Suess, Schnurbusch & Champion leased 14,027 sf at 500 N. Broadway.  The firm was previously based in the Gateway Tower at One Memorial Drive.

Serenity Women's Healthcare (an OBGYN physicians group) signed a lease for 2,323 sf in the Truman Building at 916 Olive.

Tatouage Body Art Studio signed a lease for 1,620 sf in the historic Cast Iron Building at 714 N. Second Street on Laclede's Landing.

Friday, February 24, 2012

CliftonLarsonAllen Update

Good news for downtown St. Louis: CliftonLarsonAllen is consolidating its St. Louis offices, moving 50 employees downtown from Clayton!  In order to accomodate them, the accounting firm is currently in negotiations to add an extra 9,000 sf to its current 25,000-sf space at 600 Washington.  There are also plans to increase headcount through new hires over the course of the next 12 months.

Perhaps more financial services firms will follow CliftonLarsonAllen's lead and make the move downtown from the suburbs.  RubinBrown?  Brown Smith Wallace?

One additional interesting tidbit mentioned in the Business Journal's article on CliftonLarsonAllen's expansion is that there are apparently proposals out to fill roughly have of the remaining 150,000 sf of vacant space at 600 Washington.  Hopefully we'll be hearing of new tenants signing on soon.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Larson Allen Looking to Grow

According to an article in today's St. Louis Business Journal, Larson Allen has acquired NBA Inc., a Belleville-based accounting and consulting firm.  NBA's 22 employees will be relocated to Larson Allen's offices at 600 Washington, bringing the firm's total headcount downtown to 135.

Also mentioned in the article is Larson Allen's recently announced merger with Clifton Gunderson to create Clifton Larson Allen.  Clifton Gunderson currently has approximately 75 employees at its office in Clayton, which begs the question: will the combined firm maintain a downtown office and a Clayton office, or will it consolidate the two? 

With several full floors available, 600 Washington has plenty of space to accomodate the addition of 75 employees, whereas the Clayton building in which Clifton Gunderson is located only has three small suites available, offering nowhere near enough space for Larson Allen's 135 employees.  Even if the Clayton building did have adequate space, its space rents for $8 per square foot more than 600 Washington.

Should Clifton Larson Allen move its Clayton-based employees downtown, it would need anywhere from 13,000 to nearly 19,000 sf to house them - approximately the size of a full floor of 600 Washington.

Larson Allen has been bullish on downtown since moving here from the suburbs.  Will their Clifton Gunderson counterparts be as receptive to making a move downtown?  Let's hope so.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

505 Washington Could Use Curb Appeal

HGTV has a show called "Curb Appeal" in which relatively bland houses are given exterior makeovers.  While the "after" pictures are always amazing, it's surprising at how big of a difference subtle improvements can make.  This could be said not only for houses, but for downtown properties as well.

I recently came across the picture of a modern building in Austin shown above, and it got me thinking about how much better 505 Washington, a somewhat similar building that happens to be one of my favorites, could look like with just some minor improvements.

505 is actually a bit more interesting than the Austin building, architecturally speaking, with its creative embellishments above the windows and interesting materials.  It looks good now, but as seen in the picture of the Austin building, the addition of street trees and lighting would really accentuate 505's facade.  Of course, a St. Louis City flag flying from the flagpole by the entrance would be a nice touch as well.

It's relatively simple fixes like this that could go a long way toward sprucing up downtown and making buildings like 505 more marketable and desirable.  I'd love to see 505 Washington receive a little curb appeal!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Hey World Wide Technology, How About Downtown?

This would be a good spot for World Wide Technology's HQ

World Wide Technology, one of the region's largest private companies, is considering expanding its headquarters in Maryland Heights.  It currently employs roughly 1,700 people and plans to hire more.

As a general rule of thumb, most commercial real estate professionals recommend leasing 175-250 square feet of office space for every employee. Using this ratio, World Wide Technology would need between 297,500 and 425,000 square feet just to house its current workforce. Just as a point of reference, this is enough space to completely fill the equivalent of downtown buildings such as 600 Washington (300,000 sf) and One Financial Plaza (434,136 sf). The addition of as few as 100 employees would require WWT’s space requirements to grow substantially. WWT would likely require a new office building – what better way to jumpstart the moribund Ballpark Village development?

A tenant of WWT’s magnitude would have a transformative impact on downtown St. Louis, far greater than any of the “silver bullet” projects like shopping malls and entertainment districts that have been either built or planned over the last few decades. 1,700 employees are enough to support new and existing retail businesses downtown, and it’s likely that at least a few of those 1,700 employees would suddenly be a lot more open to living downtown.

It’s exciting to see a local company experiencing such a high degree of success, especially in a tough economy. It’s disappointing, however, that more of our local companies don’t even consider downtown as an option. In other cities, such as Detroit, companies of similar size are moving from the suburbs to their respective downtowns. Why couldn’t WWT move to downtown St. Louis?