Friday, December 28, 2007

Office Space for Sale on Washington Avenue

Jacob Development is marketing two floors of office space totalling 30,000 sf in its Avenida development at 1235 Washington Avenue in the (still hot) loft district. The space is listed for sale for $3.6 million ($120 psf).

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Life for 1711 Locust

1711 Locust (left) and the Dragon Trading Building at 1709 Locust (right)

Sam Koplar has purchased the 7,500 sf former electrical substation at 1711 Locust, with plans for a restaurant or event space. The sale price was $385,000.

Next door, the four-story, 60,000 sf Dragon Trading Building was sold to New York real estate developers Cyrus and Darius Sakhai in 2006 for $1.8 million. The Sakhais had planned on converting the building into 36-40 rental lofts, with first-floor retail space.

Nothing has materialized there yet, but if/when both of these projects get off the ground, it will help strengthen the Locust corridor, which includes the Terra Cotta, Printers Lofts and the upcoming Leather Trades Lofts to the east and the Motor Lofts, the Tap Room and Jim Edmonds' restaurant, F15teen, to the west.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Room for More in One City Centre?

An article in last week's Business Journal focused on David Sabino, the owner of accounting firm Sabino & Co. in Des Peres, and an investor in several of Pyramid Construction's downtown projects. He has intimate knowledge of Pyramid's operations as a result of his work as the developer's CPA.

It has been speculated that Pyramid has been pressuring law firm Polsinelli Shalton Flanigan Suelthaus into leasing space in One City Centre, which it is currently renovating.

I wonder if they have room for a CPA firm?

Friday, December 21, 2007

No Downtown Office for DHR

As expected, DHR International has decided on 8000 Maryland in Clayton for its new headquarters. The firm had been considering the General American Building among other downtown sites.

Unfortunate news for downtown, but still, it's great for the region overall.

Arcturis Moves to Laclede Gas Building

As reported in the Business Journal, Arcturis has leased the 30,000 sf second floor of the Laclede Gas Building at 720 Olive. The firm has signed a 12-year lease, with an option for 15,000 sf on the third floor. Its move will free up a 20,500 sf block of space at 1910 Pine.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Husch and Blackwell to Merge

Well, Husch & Eppenberger and Blackwell Sanders have agreed to merge. The combined firm will have 630 attorneys and will be the second largest law firm in the state of Missouri.

The deal is expected to close next month. We'll see what kind of impact this has on Blackwell's presence downtown. If the combined firm ends up in the CBD, it would be a major coup for downtown St. Louis.

Lewis Rice Staying Put?


The Post-Dispatch is reporting this morning that Lewis Rice will likely remain in its current space at 500 N. Broadway after considering moving to the General American Building and the Bank of America Tower.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What's Left to Rehab? (Part III - The Gill Building)


The Gill Building at the corner of 7th and Olive is easy to overlook. Built in 1910, this little five-story terra cotta structure is dwarfed by the surrounding office buildings and practically swallowed whole by a massive parking garage that serves the downtown Macy's store and employees of Macy's Midwest. Only one other building - Charlie Gitto's restaurant - remains on a city block that is dedicated almost entirely to parking.

A few years back, the building's owners, Jack and Pearl Randall, fell victim to hardball tactics on the part of the May Company, which had wanted to buy the building, presumably to raze it for more parking. May, which owned the adjacent parking garage, shut off access to the Gill Building's emergency exits and sprinkler system. A condemnation order was filed by the city. The Randalls, who were living in the building, and Sen Thai, a successful restaurant in the building's basement, were forced to leave.

Sere we are, a few years later. May is now owned by Federated Department Stores, the parent company of Macy's. Fortunately, Sen was able to relocate to a great ground-floor space in the Shell Building, and Randall retained ownership of the building, which remains completely vacant.
Isn't it about time for a truce between Randall, the city and Federated so that the building can be put back to productive use?

Monday, December 17, 2007

What's Left to Rehab? (Part II - The Alverne Building)


The Alverne Building at 1014-1024 Locust is a 16-story, 160,000 sf structure designed by noted architect Tom Barnett and built in 1923. It originally served as home of the St. Louis City Club and later as the Hotel DeSoto. In its most recent incarnation, it housed apartments for senior citizens operated by the St. Louis Archdiocese. Its first floor space has housed numerous nightclubs over the years, the most notable being The Living Room.

Despite its addition to the National Register of Historic Places (which would qualify its renovation for federal tax credits), the building has sat vacant for some time now. Since 2000, it has been owned by Alverne Associates LLC - Stephen L. Wells of Ladue and Sam Berger of Clayton are listed as members of the ownership group. In 1997, Ken Flynn and Christi Waggener purchased the building with the intent to renovate it into residences, but sadly, that plan never materialized.

The small windows on the building's north and west elevations most likely negatively affect its conduciveness for use as an office building, but the building would work well as apartments or a hotel. It has two ballrooms, including one on the top floor that features some amazing views of the city. Its ground floor is ideal for retail or a restaurant.

Unfortunately, the Alverne's original cornices have been removed, but with a full restoration, it could regain its original "wow" factor and would provide a nice complement to the beautifully-renovated Louderman Building to the west.

The Alverne is currently listed for sale by Eric Friedman of The Friedman Group for $3,400,000.

Shop DOWNTOWN this Holiday Season

One of Macy's holiday display windows

The number of options for holiday shopping in downtown St. Louis grown considerably in recent years, with new shops and boutiques springing up just about everywhere. And of course, there's something for everyone at the venerable (and recently improved) Macy's store, which offers a fun shopping experience that you just can't get at the suburban malls. Their outstanding new window displays alone are worth the trip!

For a great listing of downtown shops and events, visit: http://www.shopdowntownstl.com/.

By patronizing these businesses, everyone can pitch in and do their part to help keep downtown vital. Start a tradition to spend a day shopping downtown - then come back each year to see how many new shops have opened up! By the time the Mercantile Exchange opens, the downtown holiday shopping experience will really be something.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cardinal Realty to Set Up Shop in the Shell Building

Hal Hanstein's Cardinal Realty Group will open a downtown satellite office in the Shell Building at 1221 Locust in early 2008. Cardinal Realty brokered Rocco Bratic's recent purchase of the building from McGowan Walsh.

Downtown Leases this Week

Pohlman Reporting Company leased 9,827 sf at the Equitable Building, 10 S. Broadway

Casey & Devoti, P.C. leased 4,608 sf at the Bank of America Tower, 100 N. Broadway

The National Children’s Cancer Society leased 9,835 sf at the Gateway Tower, One Memorial Drive.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Re-establishing the Financial District

It irks me that despite the presence of numerous financial firms in downtown St. Louis, Clayton is now considered to be more of St. Louis' "financial district." I can't think of any other major city whose financial district is located outside of the center city, in another municipality and county altogether. Financial districts play a major role in the vitality of their cities' respective CBDs, and having a stronger financial presence in downtown St. Louis would help our city immensely.

As an example, Fifth Third Bank's lease is expiring at 8000 Maryland, and it is exploring other options in Clayton, but apparently none downtown. National City has also established its regional headquarters in Clayton and Montgomery Bank is relocating its headquarters to a new tower there. Commerce Bank's St. Louis headquarters is located in Clayton while its Kansas City headquarters is actually located in downtown Kansas City (what a concept!).

Boatmen's, Mercantile, Centerre and other banks thrived for years with their headquarters based downtown. Had they not fallen victim to the trend of consolidation within the banking industry, they could easily still be thriving downtown (and Bank of America and U.S. Bank still maintain major presences there). So why do today's banks feel that they absolutely must have their headquarters in Clayton?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What's Left to Rehab? (Part I - The Farm & Home Savings Building)

Thanks to a variety of factors including tax credits for the restoration of historic buildings, downtown St. Louis has experienced a wave of rehab not seen since the 1980's. In virtually every corner of downtown, historic warehouses and office buildings have been renovated and converted primarily to loft apartments and condos, but office space as well. As a result, we're running out of buildings and approaching the point at which we'll start to see more and more new construction.

There are a few major buildings, however, that are still awaiting rehab. The Farm & Home Savings building at 1001 Locust is one of them.

Right now, the first floor of the building is being used by the construction crews working on the renovation of the Syndicate Trust building across the street. It is otherwise completely vacant. The Farm & Home Savings Association was at one time Missouri's largest savings & loan, but was acquired by Roosevelt Bank in 1994, and the branch at 1001 Locust was closed shortly thereafter.

The Farm & Home Savings building is currently owned by Craig Heller of Loftworks, one of downtown's most prominent developers, which leads me to believe that it may be his next project after Loftworks completes its current projects - the aforementioned Syndicate Trust, and the Ludwig Lofts on Olive, both of which are rapidly approaching completion.

If Loftworks does renovate the building, what remains to be seen is what it will do about the facade. Much like the Mercantile Library building, the Farm & Home Savings building was the victim of an unfortunate "remuddling" job and had its facade covered by blue and gray panels. Some of the panels have been removed, revealing the original building underneath.

All of Loftworks' previous projects feature a mix of residences, office space and retail space. The addition of that mix at the corner of 10th and Locust would be a fantastic way to liven up an otherwise sleepy block.


A sneak peak of what lies beneath the panels

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A New Old Look for the Mercantile Library

At last week's public presentation on the Mercantile Exchange project, Pyramid's John Steffen revealed that the panels on the Mercantile Library building will be removed, exposing the historic original facade underneath. Hopefully the result will be as stunning as Meade Summers' renovation of the old Post-Dispatch building at Olive and Tucker, which had previously been the victim of a similar "remuddling" job.

While the recladding job gave the "building" a cohesive, consistent appearance, it's actually seven individual, but connected, buildings. The interior walls were knocked out to create a single 270,000 sf space. The two most prominent sections are located at Broadway and Locust and Sixth and Locust, with smaller buildings interspersed on Broadway, Locust, Sixth and Olive. Exposing the original facades of the individual buildings will go a long way towards making the area much more visually interesting.

The original facade of the Mercantile Library building at Broadway and Locust.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Lammert Building - A Downtown Beauty


The stately Lammert Building, one of downtown's most attractive historic office buildings, has multiple suites available for smaller users at just $16.00 psf. It received an award-winning renovation - desiged by Mackey Mitchell - in 1986 and has one of the most unique lobbies anywhere in the city. Located on bustling Washington Avenue, this building is just a short walk to many of downtown's most popular shops and restaurants, as well as America's Center and numerous hotels. Major tenants include The Stolar Partnership, Bank of New York and Historic Restoration, Inc. The first floor retail space features the outstanding AIA Bookstore and DeeDee's Deli.

Current available suites include:

Lower Level - 4,178 sf
Lower Level - 8,710 sf
1st Floor - 5,600 sf
1st Floor - 2,324 sf
1st Floor - 2,899 sf
2nd Floor - 1,976 sf
2nd Floor - 1,235 sf
3rd Floor - 3,798 sf
4th Floor - 1,751 sf
4th Floor - 1,532 sf

For leasing information, contact Zach Williams of Bakewell Commercial at (314) 749-0362.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Ollie Dowell Communications Moves to 100 N. Tucker

Downtown's PR community has a new member - Ollie Dowell Communications, a public relations and media consulting agency, has "graduated" from the St. Louis Enterprise Center business incubator in Midtown and has moved to a permanent home at 100 N. Tucker downtown. If that name sounds familiar, you may have seen her on City TV 10 or remember her from her days as a reporter with KMOX.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

What's Up with DHR?

DHR International received a brief mention in Joe Whittington's column in the Post-Dispatch this morning. Apparently the Fifth Third Center in Clayton, which DHR had been considering purchasing for its St. Louis office, is now under contract, but Whittington declines to mention to whom. If it is DHR who has the building under contract, it could mean that the General American building downtown will have to sit vacant a little longer.

As reported last summer, DHR, the fifth-largest executive search firm in the country, is moving its executive group and the bulk of its operations from Chicago to St. Louis, bringing 125 new jobs to the region.

In addition to the Fifth Third Center and another building in Clayton, the firm had also been considering purchasing the 128,250 sf General American building at 700 Market Street. DHR will take 40,000 to 50,000 square feet and lease out any remaining space. The unique configuration of the General American building, best suited for a single user, might make it a less attractive option than its Clayton competitors. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for downtown, but am not overly optimistic about DHR's chances of locating there at this point.

The General American building: Somebody, lease this space!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Winter Magic in St. Louis

The Convention and Visitors Commision's latest marketing campaign, launched on November 9, is already paying off for local hotel operators. The campaign, Winter Magic, seeks to increase tourist activity in the St. Louis area during the winter months - typically a very slow time of year for St. Louis hotels.

According to the CVC, more than 12,000 new visitors have logged onto the CVC's Web site, explorestlouis.org, since the beginning of the campaign. Hotel reservations made through the site have increased 58 percent, as compared to November 2006.

At the Renaissance Grand downtown alone, approximately 200 additional room nights have been booked thanks to the campaign. That means more people spending money downtown, which is always a good thing.

The upcoming opening of the Lumiere Place casino and the eventual addition of new shopping venues in the Mercantile Exchange and Ballpark Village should make the CVC's job even easier in the future.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Summer Bay Resorts Calls Downtown Home

Mayor Slay's blog has a great write-up about Summer Bay Resorts, a growing downtown company:

For a little while now, Summer Bay has been quietly moving its employees from locations all over the country to 100 N. Tucker, a building formerly owned by AT&T and now owned by Mr. Scott. Summer Bay now has more than 100 employees located on Tucker and plans to grow its downtown St. Louis presence to 300 employees over the next year. Many of these Summer Bay employees are from (or have moved to) the City, and the company is finding its downtown location to be very useful in attracting new employees who can benefit from its accessibility.

For the full write-up, check out Mayor Slay's Blog

More information on Summer Bay Resorts can be found here:
Summer Bay Resorts

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Restaurant for 555 Washington

Deb Peterson of the Post-Dispatch is reporting that the Lombardo family, owners of two downtown eateries - Lombardo's Trattoria near Union Station and Carmine's Steak House on Fourth Street - are looking to open another restaurant downtown at 555 Washington.

Looks like the upcoming demolition of the St. Louis Centre skybridge as part of Pyramid's Laurel (Dillard's Building) and Concord (St. Louis Centre) redevelopment projects is already paying early dividends. I've always thought that 555's first-floor space would be perfect for a restaurant with its high ceilings and huge windows.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Shell Building Sold!

RSDB LLC has acquired purchased the 12-story Shell Building, located at 1221 Locust for $2.55 million, or $23/psf. The new buyer intends to market the space for professional firms, law firms in particular.

Trey Buffington of Sperry Van Ness Infinity handled the deal for the seller. Hal Hanstein and Ron Kramer of Cardinal Realty Group represented the buyer.

Downtown Leases this Week

Architecture/engineering firm Middough Inc. leased 22,040 sf in the Deloitte Building at 100 S. Fourth Street.

Community Program Development Corporation renewed its lease for 3,946 sf at St. Louis Place, 200 N. Broadway.

Laclede Gas Building Sold

According to the Business Journal, The Hertz Investment Group has purchased the Laclede Gas Building for $10.5 million, adding to its St. Louis portfolio, which also includes the Bank of America Tower and the Equitable Building.

The Laclede Gas Building is 78 percent occupied with major tenants Laclede Gas occupying 107,978 square feet and law firm Blackwell Sanders occupying 66,491 square feet. Blackwell, however, is only signed to a short-term lease and is reportedly in merger talks with Husch & Eppenberger, which may impact the firm's location in the future.

The entire 30,000 sf second floor is available, and "a number of prospects" including architectural firm Arcturis are reported to be considering leasing the space. Arcturis is currently based downtown at 1910 Olive.

Asking rents at the building range between $15.50 and $17.50 per square foot.

1881 Pine Fully Leased!

As reported in the Business Journal this morning, 1881 Pine will be the new home of grades 6 through 12 of the Ethel Hedgeman Lyle Academy, a rapidly growing charter school. The school has leased the entire 110,000 sf building and will be boosting its enrollment to 1,000 students.

Andrew Sheir of Jones Lang LaSalle represented the owner in the lease and Wanda Wyatt of Solon Gershman Inc., an ONCOR International affiliate, represented the lessee. The deal is worth an estimated $11.5 million over the life of the 10-year lease.

While this transaction is not necessarily indicative of the health of the downtown office market, the leasing of a significant block of vacant space will help tighten the market and improve downtown's vacancy and absorbtion rates.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A-B: A Missed Opportunity

One of the biggest disappointments this year was Anheuser-Busch’s decision to vacate its space in One City Centre, moving its IT, corporate accounts payable, manufacturing procurement and central logistics departments to nearly 150,000 sf in Sunset Hills.

A-B already leased space in two other buildings within close proximity of its new space, forming a “mini-campus” with its newly combined operations.

A-B leaves behind six floors in One City Centre, totaling 110,000 sf. The company’s decision to leave downtown in favor of Sunset Hills instead of consolidating its space downtown is truly a missed opportunity for the city, especially at a time in which the bleeding of firms from downtown to the suburbs has largely stopped.

The planned redevelopment of the St. Louis Centre mall (which is attached to One City Centre) as part of Pyramid’s exciting Mercantile Exchange development should make One City Centre an attractive option for tenants looking for large blocks of space. What was once a liability will soon be an asset. Hopefully Pyramid, which also owns One City Centre, can capitalize on this opportunity and start landing some new tenants.

While terms of A-B’s Sunset Hills lease were not made public, the asking rates for the space it leased ranged from $19.75 to $23.50 psf, while the listing rate for One City Centre was $18.50 at the time the lease was signed.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Other Landing


While most St. Louisans are familiar with Laclede's Landing, many may be surprised to learn that there is actually another Landing downtown - Chouteau's Landing.

Chivvis Development has begun renovating several buildings in the 700 to 900 blocks of Fourth Street as part of the $18.75 million first phase of its Chouteau's Landing redevelopment plan. Bushwoods Bar & Grill (756 S. Fourth Street) and Riley's Flowers and Gifts (904 S. Fourth Street) are the first two tenants to make Chouteau's Landing their home and will be opening in early 2008.

While the first floors of the Fourth Street buildings will be dedicated primarily to retail space, Chivvis is marketing the upper floors as loft-style office space targeted to creative firms. Currently, the following office spaces are available at $14.00 psf:

744 S. Fourth Street - 6,244 sf
754 S. Fourth Street - 5,600 sf
900-902 S. Fourth Street - 6,105 sf
904-908 S. Fourth Street - 8,842 sf

The leasing agent is Andy Murphy with NAI Desco Commercial - (314) 994-4093, amurphy@naidesco.com.

Web site: www.chouteauslanding.com

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Grant Thornton Snubs Downtown

Accounting firm Grant Thornton LLP has opened a new "St. Louis" office in temporary quarters at Two CityPlace Drive in Creve Coeur. It will be moving to its permanent home in Clayton in early 2008.

This is Grant Thornton's 51st U.S. office. A quick scan of its other offices reveals that the vast majority of them are located in their respective cities' central business districts, as most major accounting firms' offices tend to be. (A few metro areas, such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles have suburban satellite offices in addition to downtown offices.)

So why didn't they choose downtown St. Louis for their St. Louis office? They're clearly not averse to having downtown offices, so why Creve Coeur and Clayton? Does steering take place among commercial realtors as well as residential realtors?

Downtown Ad Agencies in the News

Some of downtown's most prominent ad agencies have been making news lately.

The Post-Dispatch ran a great feature on some of the great work being put out by St. Louis agencies, including downtown's own Drive Agency, Rodgers Townsend, Schupp Co. and Waylon, along with a few suburban-based agencies.

Meanwhile, Hughes - which recently moved from Clayton to the Art of Living Building - has acquired Olivette-based PR firm Millennium Communications. The acquisition will bring eight new employees to Hughes' office downtown.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Loft District Opportunity, Part II


Right next door to the building profiled here on November 7 is another exciting opportunity, the former People's Hospital building at 2221 Locust.

This handsome building consists of 28,850 sf (7,121 sf per floor + full basement) and is available for build-to-suit at $16.95 per square foot.

Listed by the Friedman Group - http://www.friedmangroup.com/2221locust.html

Eric Friedman - (314) 367-2800

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Paradowski Moving West...Down Locust Street


Paradowski Graphic Design, currently located right next to the Mercantile Library building at Broadway and Locust, is plotting a move to the former Stern Fixture Co. headquarters at 1910 Locust.

Paradowski will spend $8.7 million to renovate the two buildings, which total 20,000 sf and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A third building on the site, constructed in 1942, will be razed for parking. A 2,000 sf coffee shop is planned for a storefront space at 20th and Locust, which will add a little more life to an area that already has its fair share of eating and drinking establishments including the Tap Room and Jim Edmonds' new restaurant, F15teen.

The agency has 36 employees and expects to add at least thirty new jobs over the next five years. Once Paradowski has moved out of its current offices (in August 2009), it will make its current building available for lease.

It would make a great home for St. Louis' NEXT great creative firm.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Zipatoni to Merge with Rivet


According to Promo Magazine, Zipatoni will be merging with sister agency Rivet, based in Chicago, and the Zipatoni name will be dropped in favor of Rivet. Both agencies are part of the Interpublic Group. Zipatoni was named Promo’s Agency of the Year in 2000.

Hopefully this move will not have adverse implications for Zipatoni's St. Louis office, which recently renewed but downsized its space to 37,000 sf at 555 Washington.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Missouri Valley HQ Update

On Bernie Miklasz's show on 1380 AM, Missouri Valley Conference Commissioner Doug Elgin offered up the following tidbits of information on the conference's planned headquarters facility:

- The MVC is still negotiating with the City Treasurer's Office and the Missouri Development Finance Board to acquire the parking lot just south of the Scottrade Center.
- A major donor has stepped up and offered to help finance the construction; the MVC is also soliciting donations from major corporate sponsors. They're still "dotting the I's and crossing the T's."
- The facility will be a "media/meeting center" designed to raise the profile of the MVC.
- They hope to break ground at some point during 2008, preferably during the Arch Madness men's basketball tournament.

Missouri Valley Tournament to Stay in St. Louis!


The Missouri Valley Conference will announce today that its "Arch Madness" men's basketball tournament will remain in St. Louis through 2011, with an option to extend the agreement through 2013.

While this decision was pretty much a no-brainer, I'd like to see increased corporate sponsorship to help ensure that St. Louis retains the tournament beyond 2013.

This is great news for downtown St. Louis, and the relationship between St. Louis and the Missouri Valley Conference certainly proven to be mutually beneficial. Hopefully the Valley's women's basketball tournament, which is now scheuled to be held at the Family Arena in St. Charles on an annual basis, will enjoy similar success and have a positive impact on the region as well.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Crime Down in Downtown St. Louis

Good news from the Downtown St. Louis Partnership:

Through October, total crime in Downtown east of Tucker declined by 24.2% compared to the same period in 2006. For Downtown West, total crime fell 9.0%. The City as a whole showed a 16.4% improvement.
It's important to keep in mind that despite the incorrect perceptions of some St. Louisans, statistically speaking, downtown has traditionally been one of the city's safest neighborhoods. As downtown continues to add residents, workers and businesses, it should only continue to become safer.

A New Office for Accenture

Management and IT consulting firm Accenture has opened a new office in downtown St. Louis, leasing 7,229 sf on the 29th floor of Met Square.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

TIF Approved for New Office Building on Washington


Nadira Place, a proposed seven-story office building with first floor retail at the corner of Tucker and Washington has received approval for a $2.175 million subsidy from the city's Tax Increment Financing Commission. A representative from the developer - downtown-based Kwame Building Group - has stated that the company hopes to break ground early in 2008 with construction taking about 18 months.

According to the West End Word:

The company is targeting professional services companies, such as accounting firms and law firms, as potential tenants. A law firm from Chicago has expressed an interest in taking a whole floor.

The space is listed for lease at $16-$22 psf and for sale at $210 psf ($230 psf for the penthouse and terrace). Joi Niedner of McKelvey Properties is the listing agent - (636) 669-9111.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Loft District Opportunity


This architecturally interesting 13,500 sf building - a former car dealership - is currently listed for sale at $770,000. It's adjacent to McGowan Walsh's Packard Lofts development and right across the street from the Tap Room. Looks like it would make a great office for a creative firm or any small company, for that matter.

The listing agent is Daniel Vaca - Investors Alliance - (314) 771-7112

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Cannon Receives Tax Credits for Powerhouse Rehab

Cannon Design has been approved for up to $271,067 in tax credits for the redevelopment of property located at 1100 Clark Ave. into its new headquarters. The project will bring an anticipated 130 jobs to the area, including 40 new ones.

Ralcorp to Acquire Post

After weeks of speculation, it appears that Ralcorp Holdings is poised to acquire Post Cereals from Kraft Foods, its first foray into branded cereal since it sold Chex to General Mills in 1997. If the transaction goes through, it's expected that Ralcorp will devote more attention to the Post brands in terms of marketing than Kraft did. And with brands such as Grape Nuts included in the Post lineup, Ralcorp has the opportunity to take advantage of growth trends towards natural, healthier foods.

Ralcorp Holdings is based downtown, in the Bank of America Plaza at 800 Market Street.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Shell Building for Sale

I noticed recently that the Shell Building at 1221 Locust had been listed for sale, and today's Business Journal explains why - the partnership of the building's owners, Kevin McGowan and Nat Walsh, is dissolving.

The 112,000 sf building is listed at $2.6 million and is 82% occupied. The entire 9th floor - 9,064 sf - is available at $12.00 psf.

This historic building - the former headquarters of Shell Oil - has always been my favorite downtown office building, and I hope it finds a great owner.

Link: http://svninfinity.com/property/pdf/SVNShellBuildingSale2007.pdf

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Random Lease Roundup

Here are a handful of random leases that were signed in downtown buildings in spring-summer-fall 2007 (this is just a sampling, not an all-inclusive list by any means):


  • Hoffman, Slocomb & Taylor - 3,800 sf at 1115 Locust.


  • PorcupineProperty Management - purchased a 3,810 sf office condo at 1115 Locust


  • Terminix International - 2,000 sf at the Equitable Building, 10 S. Broadway


  • Transaction Transport Technologies, LLC - 1,852 sf at the Millenium Center, 515 Olive


  • Burns, Vandover & Godfrey, PC - a 3,112 sf renewal at 720 Olive


  • Fox Galvin - 19,670 sf at the Gateway Tower, One Memorial Drive


  • Kerber, Eck & Braeckel - 8,223 sf at the Gateway Tower, One Memorial Drive


  • Energy Systems Group, LLC - 5,335 sf at the Gateway Tower, One Memorial Drive


  • The Hullverson Law Firm - 5,399 sf at 1010 Market Street


  • Laboratory Corporation of America - 1,900 sf at 320 Washington Ave.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Keep the MVC in St. Louis!

Back in early 2006, there were rumblings that the Missouri Valley Conference was looking for a site on which to build a new headquarters building. Missouri Valley officials had been in talks to purchase the city-owned parking lot at 16th and Spruce, just south of the Scottrade Center, where it would but were unable to agree on a price. The most recent update I've been able to find came in August 2006, from Post-Dispatch sports columnist Bernie Miklasz's weekly "Bernie's Bits" feature:

The St. Louis-based Missouri Valley Conference hopes to soon close a deal with the city to acquire land near Savvis Center that will be developed into new headquarters for the MVC.

In the meantime, other cities, namely Kansas City and Omaha, have made overtures to the Valley in an attempt to lure the conference's highly successful men's basketball tournament to their respective new arenas. The Valley tournament (a.k.a. Arch Madness), has grown in popularity each year as the conference has become a basketball powerhouse. Last year the event set attendance records, drawing more than 22,000 for the final session and 85,000 for the tournament. It brings fans from all over the Midwest to St. Louis for four days, providing a nice economic shot in the arm to local hotels and restaurants during an otherwise slow time of year.

And when you factor in all of the assistance that the Missouri Valley Conference has provided to the St. Louis Sports Commission in helping lure NCAA events such as the 2005 Final Four, the overall impact of the Valley's presence here in St. Louis is huge. The city needs to accommodate the Valley to get the new headquarters building built downtown and keep Arch Madness here in St. Louis for the foreseeable future.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Another Large Block of Space

1010 Market Street currently has three contiguous floors (10-12) available at just $16.50 psf. Each floor is 17,896 sf, for a total block of 53,688 sf of space.

There are also two other entire floors available - 4 and 7. A nice Class A option for larger users.

Current tenants include Brown & James, Accenture and Yaeger, Jungbauer, Barczak, & Wendt, LLC.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Hey Panera!

So, you're looking for 80,000 square feet? How about this?

1881 Pine has five contiguous floors available - the entire building, up to 110,000 square feet - at just $14.00 psf.

It has a great location in up-and-coming Downtown West, close to major highways and public transportation, as well as Union Station, The Tap Room, and other exciting amenities. Ample surface parking is available nearby.

Did I mention it's only $14.00 psf?

Talk about a smart business decision!

(Link: www.cbre.com/1881pine)

Panera Mulling its Options

Panera Bread Co., with offices in Richmond Heights and Brentwood is looking to consolidate its offices into a single location by 2010. St. Louis appears to be the front-runner, but Boston - where Panera's executive team is located - is in the race as well.

Panera is looking for roughly 80,000 square feet and has "looked at everything from downtown out to the airport, to I-270 and 40, including Illinois," according to Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Kip.

It would certainly be great to have Panera downtown, but keeping the company's headquarters in the St. Louis region is the most important issue here.

Update 10/30: Panera has publicly stated that its headquarters will remain in St. Louis! Now, let's just convince them to move downtown.!

Armstrong Teasdale Reiterates Interest in Ballpark Village

Certainly nothing new, but the Business Journal has confirmed earlier reports that Armstrong Teasdale is giving "serious consideration" to Ballpark Village in its search for 100,000 sf of space.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Laclede's Landing Not Languishing

Laclede's Landing seems to have been left out of the recent discussions of downtown's renaissance. While The Landing has largely fallen out of favor as an entertainment destination in the minds of many St. Louisans, it has been a surprisingly resilient submarket for office space. And with Pinnacle making a huge investment in the area in the form of the Lumiere Place casino, Four Seasons Hotel and eventually condominiums, perhaps the exposure will bring The Landing renewed interest and new development in the future.

The Landing is a great spot for small businesses and startups due to its affordable lease rates, and its architecturally significant buildings with cool loft-style office spaces are a nice alternative for tenants looking for something more than just a traditional office suite.
The Bi-State Development Agency has been a longtime fixture of Laclede's Landing, occupying all of the office space in the Christian Peper Building at 707 N. 1st Street, and creative firms like Fuse Advertising, Kicking Cow Promotions and Habanero all call The Landing their home.
Recent leases include Pinnacle Entertainment and Full Circle Solutions in the Raeder Place Building. A quick review of office vacancies on Laclede's Landing yielded the following results:
  • Raeder Place - 727 N. 1st Street - 2,650 sf at $16.50
  • Cherrick Building - 800-804 N. 1st Street - 15,000 sf at $15-19
  • Cutlery Building - 612 N. 2nd Street - 4th and 5th floors, 8,000 sf apiece, $15
  • Witte Building - 707 N. 2nd Street - 3,300 sf at $8, 1,250 sf at $13 and 2,457 sf at $13
  • Feather Building - 807-809 N. 2nd Street - 6,000 sf at $12
  • Old Judge Building - 708 N. 2nd Street - 600 sf at $12, 1,610 sf at $12
  • Cast Iron Building - 712-714 N. 2nd Street - 1,800 and 5,500 square foot suites at $12 - http://www.castironbuilding.net/
  • Traders Building - 801-805 N. 2nd Street - no space available
  • Greeley Building - 618-624 N. 2nd Street - no space available
  • First Street Ironworks - 716-720 N. 1st Street - no space available
  • Hoffman Brothers Produce Building - 700 N. 2nd Street - no space available
  • Levee House - 6800 N. 3rd Street - no space available

The gorgeous Cast Iron Building

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

An Eco-Friendly Concept from Our Neighbors to the North

In Chicago, Baum Development is hard at work converting a 93-year-old factory into a one-stop shop for environmentally focused stores and services. Known as the Green Exchange, the 250,000 square foot loft building will serve as a "green" retail center and an incubator for fledgling environmentally-conscious companies.

30 of the Green Exchange's 100 commercial spaces have already been leased. Tenants include an electric vehicle dealership, a car sharing service, a commercial printer that uses all-vegetable ink and recycled paper, and a company which sells hand-produced packaging for the specialty gift industry made from wild grass, banana fiber and other "tree free" paper.

True to the mission of the Green Exchange, Baum Development anticipates that the renovation will earn a silver certification from LEED. The project will include a green roof, bike room, cistern for rainwater collection and other environmentally-friendly features.

This project is a fantastic idea, and a concept that would be perfect for downtown St. Louis. The Art of Living building and the tech incubator in the Bandwith Exchange building are just two examples of successful of similar projects here. There's certainly room for more!

Friday, October 19, 2007

New to Downtown

Kansas City-based Zimmer Real Estate Services has opened an office in downtown St. Louis in the Shell Building at 1221 Locust. Zimmer specializes in the sale, leasing, development and management of commercial real estate, and its St. Louis office will be led by Richard Ward, formerly of Development Strategies.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Union Station Office Space

Despite the recent exodus of retail tenants from Union Station, the Union Station Office Center appears to be quite healthy. A recent check on available office space at Union Station yielded the following results:

Grand Central - 1000 Union Station - 6,676 sf at $19.00 psf

Post Office Annex - 700 Union Station - 5,788 sf at $16.50 psf

The Power House - 800 Union Station - 100% leased

The nearby 43,000 sf theater space is still available as well. Perhaps it would be better to suited as office space?

There is one additional office building on the Union Station grounds which is separate from the Union Station Office Center - 326 S. 21st Street. Hilliker had the listing on this building for quite a while, but it no longer shows up in their inventory.


Update: The building pictured above is known as Union Square Plaza and is listed by the Sansone Group. This 50,000 sf building has 2,000-25,000 square feet available at $14.00 psf and is listed for sale at $3.8 million.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Downtown Leases this Week

There were two downtown leases reported in today's Business Journal:

Brown & Brown LLP leased 7,685 square feet in the Gateway Tower at One Memorial Drive.

Lord & Taylor LLC leased 12,100 square feet at 500 N. Broadway - a nice-sized lease for a building that has a pretty significant amount of vacant space.

Monday, October 08, 2007

At the Top of My Wish List: Scottrade

Scottrade recently announced plans to nearly double the size of its headquarters in west county, adding a seven-story parking office building and a parking garage adjacent to its current office building. Scottrade's rapid growth - it recently surpassed Charles Schwab in number of offices (309) and expects to have 500 branches by 2010 - is great for the St. Louis region and its status as a financial services hub.

Of course, there's nothing I'd like to see more than to have downtown regain its status as the region's financial center. Having Scottrade take on 400,000 square feet of space downtown would not only go a long way towards re-establishing downtown's financial district, it could provide huge visibility for a firm that has done a great (and aggressive) job of promoting itself in recent years. So don't get me wrong, I am very excited about Scottrade's growth and success, I just see their decision to expand in west county as a bit of a missed opportunity.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Millenium Center - Quality Class B Space

The Millenium Center is a well-managed, nicely maintained Class B office building in the heart of downtown St. Louis offering a great value to tenants looking for quality space in a prime location.

Currently, the 262,000 square foot building has just over 100,000 square feet of space available at $12-$14 per square foot. It features vacant suites in a variety of sizes ranging from 525 square feet to 11,,860 square feet, up to 21,951 square feet of contiguous space, and a 4,726 square foot penthouse suite.

Tenants include law firm Evans & Dixon, and suite 902 (1,852 square feet) was recently leased to Transaction Transport Technologies, LLC. The ground floor retail spaces include Starbuck's, Geechi's Florist and Atom boutique.

For more information, visit: http://www.millenniumcenter.net/

Friday, September 28, 2007

Law Firm Leases - The Ongoing Saga (Part II)

According to the Business Journal, John Steffen of Pyramid has told Polsinelli (Pyramid's law firm) that if it does not lease space in One City Centre (which Pyramid is renovating), then it will take its business elsewhere. Polsinelli had been considering Ballpark Village, but is now giving One City Centre serious consideration.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mercantile Exchange Project to Include Renovation of Mercantile Library

On Wednesday, Pyramid Construction unveiled its plans for the Mercantile Exchange, a major downtown retail district that will encompass the former Dillard's building and St. Louis Centre as well as one of my personal favorites, the Mercantile Library building. While Wednesday's announcement doesn't give specific details regarding the Mercantile Library building, the overall plan calls for a total of 160,000 square feet of new retail space, a 216-room hotel, 525,000 square feet of office space, 175 condos and 120 luxury apartments.

The first phase appears to be the renovation of the Dillard's building - now known as The Laurel - which already has a sales center open at the corner of 7th and Washington. The Washington Avenue skybridge is slated for demolition in the spring of 2008, with the transformation of St. Louis Centre - which will be known as The Concord - to follow. The Mercantile Library building will most likely be the final phase of the project.

The Mercantile Exchange should tie in nicely with downtown's other planned retail developments around the Old Post Office (namely, the Arcade) and its existing retail anchor, Macy's.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Law Firm Leases - The Ongoing Saga

A blurb from today's Daily Record:

Armstrong Teasdale, which has Centene as a client, stated that Centene's new building is "very high" on its list of possible locations. It was considering moving into the proposed Centene HQ in Clayton. Armstrong's current lease in Met Square is due to expire in two years.

Kenneth Luther, the executive director of Thompson Coburn, said that the Centene move "sort of validates that Ballpark Village is a real option." Thompson Coburn's lease in the US Bank building expires in 2010, and is considering renewing, or relocating elsewhere in downtown, or in Clayton.


Said another attorney: "You're dealing with a checkers game. If one law firm moves from one location to another, landlords sitting on vacant space get aggressive, so it kind of trickles down."

Barb Geisman says the City is in touch with all firms downtown looking for space.

"We are hopeful that the Centene announcement will not only make it possible to encourage those law firms to remain, but to attract other professional offices to the City," she said.


Link

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Look at Law Firms (Part III)

Of firms nos. 21-58, 13 are located downtown:

21. Moser & Marsalek (St. Louis Place)
25. Williams Venker & Sanders (Bank of America Tower)
27. Lathrop & Gage (Equitable Building)
29. Stinson Morrison & Hecker (Deloitte Building)
29. Herzon Crebs (615 N. Sixth Street)
33. Hinshaw & Culbertson (Gateway One)
36. Holtcamp Liese Childress & Schultz (217 N. Tenth Street)
40. Roberts Perryman Bomkamp & Metres (U.S. Bank Building)
49. Amelung Wulff & Willenbrock (705 Olive)
49. Brown & Crouppen (Laclede Gas Building)
53. Rynearson Suess Schnurbusch & Champion (Gateway Tower)
56. Fox Galvin (Gateway Tower)
58. Kohn Shands Elbert Gianoulakis & Giljum (U.S. Bank Building)

Of the smaller firms, 14 are located in Clayton, 9 are located elsewhere in St. Louis County and 4 are located in Illinois. While downtown has done a great job of attracting and retaining the area's largest firms, perhaps addition focus should be placed on positioning downtown as a great place for newly-formed and smaller firms to set up shop. After all, it's not uncommon for small firms to experience rapid growth.

A Look at Law Firms (Part II)

Let's take a look at law firms nos. 11-20 on the Business Journal's Book of Lists:

11. Gallop Johnson & Neuman (Clayton)
12. Sandberg Phoenix & Von Gontard (One City Centre)
13. SimmonsCooper LLC (East Alton)
14. Evans & Dixon (Millenium Center)
15. Senniger Powers (Met Square)
16. Blumenfeld Sandweiss & Kaplan (Clayton)
17. Lashley & Baer (714 Locust)
18. Sonnenchein Nath & Rosenthal (Met Square)
19. The Stolar Partnership (Lammert Building)
20. Rabbitt Pitzer & Snodgrass (Deloitte Building)

The seven downtown firms on this list give downtown 15 of the top 20. Not bad.

Stinson Morrison & Hecker, #29 on the list and located in the Deloitte Building, recently acquired Blumenfeld Sandweiss & Kaplan. The combined firm will have approximately 60 attorneys. The firm's attorneys will continue working at their present locations as Stinson looks for a space large enough to accomodate all 60 attorneys. Let's hope that space is somewhere downtown.

A Look at Law Firms

Law firms make great tenants. They lease huge amounts of space and their employees are typically well-compensated. According to the St. Louis Business Journal’s Book of Lists, downtown is currently home to 8 of the 10 largest law firms in the St. Louis area:

1) Thompson Coburn (U.S. Bank Building)
2) Bryan Cave (Met Square)
3) Armstrong Teasdale (Met Square)
4) Husch & Eppenberger (Clayton)
5) Greensfelder Hemker & Gale (Equitable Building)
6) Lewis Rice & Fingersh (500 North Broadway)
7) Burroughs Hepler Broom MacDonald Hebrink & True (Edwardsville)
8) Blackwell Sanders Peper Martin (Laclede Gas Building)
9) Brown & James (1010 Market Street)
10) Polsinelli Shalton Welte Suelthaus (Deloitte Building)

Here's a recap of the office space needs of some of downtown's top firms:

In late 2004, Bryan Cave signed a lease at Met Square through 2022.

Thompson Coburn is contemplating a 2010 move and seems to be leaning toward remaining downtown, but is considering Clayton as well.

Unfortunately, had Husch & Eppenberger not moved from the Bank of America Tower to Clayton roughly five years ago, downtown would have 9 of the 10 largest firms. However, Husch & Eppenberger is in merger talks with Blackwell Sanders, which would create the largest law firm in St. Louis. If the combined firm were to end up downtown, the addition of Husch's 170 attorneys would provide a huge boost for the CBD. In early 2006, Blackwell Sanders had planned to move into the General American building, but the deal fell through and the firm ended up renewing its lease for five years in the Laclede Gas building.

As mentioned in an earlier post, Armstrong Teasdale had been considering leasing space in Centene's proposed tower(s) in Clayton, but with Centene now relocating its headquarters to Ballpark Village, perhaps Armstrong Teasdale will now remain downtown and move its offices to the new Centene building. Its other current option is to renew its lease in Met Square.

In 2006, Greensfelder renewed its lease in the Equitable Building, expanding its square footage from 82,000 to 116,000. In the process, it displaced another law firm, Williams, Venker & Sanders, which then moved to 25,000 square feet in the Bank of America Tower. The firm plans to add 55 attorneys over the next five years.

Lewis Rice is looking to move from its current digs at 500 N. Broadway. Husch's old space in the Bank of America Tower appears to be the front-runner.

Polsinelli is apparently considering two downtown sites - One City Centre and Ballpark Village - and two Clayton sites - Shaw Park Point and the new Montgomery Bank tower. It currently has attorneys in both downtown and Clayton.

More law firm updates to come...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Centene to Move Downtown!

Ballpark Village has its first major tenant now that Centene has decided to move its headquarters to two new office towers to be built at Broadway and Walnut. The first tower will be 27 stories and will consist of 700,000 square feet of space. Centene will occupy 400,000 square feet and lease out the remaining space until it needs it. Armstrong Teasdale - Centene's law firm - had been mentioned as a tenant in the headquarters building that Centene had originally planned to build in Clayton, so perhaps they will make the move from Met Square to Ballpark Village.

The second structure will include 1,750 parking spaces and two floors of retail space, and will be designed to accomodate up to 550,000 square feet of additional space as needed.

The plans also call for a 180-room hotel to be built by Cordish. With the Ballpark Hilton and the Westin at Cupples Station within such close proximity, I'm not really sure if an additional hotel is needed in the area.

Centene will be bringing an additional 1,200 workers to downtown St. Louis and hopefully their decision to locate its headquarters in downtown St. Louis will inspire other companies to make downtown their home as well.

Friday, September 07, 2007

One City Centre - A Big Deal

In a Q&A piece in this week's Business Journal, David Steinbach of CB Richard Ellis says that Pyramid's acquisition of One City Centre is the biggest deal in St. Louis real estate in the past year.

"The renovations and re-branding to 600 Washington will provide St. Louis the much-needed existing Class A product to compete for companies looking to locate in the region."

Always good to see one of the local real estate community's "Heavy Hitters" who's bullish on downtown.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The End of an Era Downtown

Omnicom Group announced this week that it has closed the St. Louis office of its media buying group, PHD (formerly located at 200 N. Broadway). Approximately 20 employees are effected by the move, but five ex-PHD staffers have already been absorbed by another downtown agency, Shupp Co.

The move officially marks the end of storied ad shop Gardner Advertising, which got its start in St. Louis back in 1904 and was responsible for developing legendary campaigns for Chicken of the Sea, Chuck Wagon Dog Food and Pet Milk, among many others.

While Gardner closed its doors in 1989, it lived on through Advanswers, the media services group it spun off in the 1970s. Advanswers was later acquired by Omnicom Group, which integrated it into its PHD unit. In its heyday, Advanswers employed over 50 people.

This decade has not been kind to the St. Louis advertising community, which also saw the closing of D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles in 2002 and Arnold Worldwide in 2006.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

An Odd Little Office Building

Just north of the Peabody Building, but also located within the Mansion House complex, is this quirky little 18,500 square foot office building, 335 North Fourth Street:


While fairly nondescript when viewed from the perspective of the photo above, the building's eastern elevation (which faces Memorial Drive) is much more impressive - a three-story wall of glass facing the Arch grounds. Its setting is a reflection of 1960s-era urban planning principles, with the building built into the side of the Mansion House parking garage and separated from the rest of the complex by a small courtyard (basically a grassy area atop the roof of the garage).

It's rather hard to get to as well. Sitting one story above street level, the building's main entrance is accessible only by traversing one of two sets of stairs - one on Memorial, the other on Fourth Street.

It's interesting how on its eastern side, the building's design embraces its view of the Arch, unlike many of the buildings fronting Memorial Drive (the Adam's Mark, Gateway Tower, etc.), but its western side could not be any more cut off from the rest of downtown.

I'm sure that this building's odd location poses many issues in terms of leasability, but for the right tenant, the spectacular Arch views might be enough to overcome its deficiencies.

Friday, August 31, 2007

A Potential Home Run for Ballpark Village?

Centene is considering Ballpark Village (among other sites) for its new headquarters. If the city and Cordish can pull this off, it would be a true watershed moment for downtown revitalization. Not only would it have a huge impact on downtown, it could go a long way towards luring other businesses to the CBD.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Why Not Downtown?

Another firm passes up downtown St. Louis...

Atlanta-based Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., a national employment and labor law firm, has opened a temporary office in Creve Coeur and is expected to move to a permanent office in Clayton in December or January. The firm plans to have 15 to 20 lawyers within the next three to five years.

Their Atlanta headquarters is located in that city's downtown, so they're clearly not averse to operating in an urban environment, so why wouldn't they choose a location in downtown St. Louis? Frustrating...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Downtown Speaks

After hearing about Express Scripts expanding its original plans to build its headquarters on the UMSL campus, I was reminded of a letter that Kevin McGowan and Nat Walsh wrote to the Business Journal shortly after the company made its decision (see below). What a missed opportunity for Express Scripts and for downtown. How could they pass up a sweetheart deal like this?

An open letter to Express Scripts

Thank you, Express Scripts. I am Downtown St. Louis, located at the center of this great country, writing to thank you for considering me as a future home. A company as successful, as large and as growing as you will understand why anyone would seek you out as a neighbor -- and so we tried. From Francis to Zach to Jerry to Barb to Jack, and a hundred other people who knew they may never in their lifetimes have the opportunity to court another Fortune 150 company to venture a move downtown, we thank you for allowing us to extend to you our heartfelt invitation.

Over the past five years, I've gone through a complete transformation and am thrilled with my progress. I've waited in anticipation for the day when a great company like Express Scripts would one day call this area home, and I regret that you may not be joining us. We knew you cared about your employees, so we included them in our proposal. Who wouldn't love our parks, gardens, parades, festivals, three professional stadiums and MetroLink access within walking distance of home or office? Thank you to the developers who offered your employees $10,000 to $30,000 or more off of any new loft in downtown, as well as a 15 percent discount in rent in the fastest-growing and highest-appreciating neighborhood in the region. The finest restaurants also came together to feed your employees at discounts of 10 percent to 15 percent. Thanks also to our hotels for offering special pricing to your company. The growing number of downtown shops also sought your business and offered unprecedented discounts to your employees. All aspects of our vibrant lifestyle will greatly miss your long-awaited presence.

We knew pricing would be critical to making or breaking the deal, and so we made you an offer that no one has ever seen in this city. We envisioned what your presence would do for us in the eyes of the rest of the country. Unlike any other location in this region, a downtown address for Express Scripts makes us both better. An Express Scripts move downtown also elevates us in the eyes of other companies who might also be looking for a great city to call home. With this joint venture, both of our profiles would be raised. For these reasons, we offered you a long-term lease at a flat $10 per square foot rate and free parking, unmatched by any of the other proposed sites. We also offered you ownership in the project, allowing you greater control in your own future growth.

I'd like to thank the elected officials, bankers, developers and lawyers who dedicated their time to make ours the outstanding offer that it was. We can't forget all of those responsible for making our resurgence possible. Thank you to the thousands of new residents who have moved into our new downtown. Please know that without your foresight and energetic spirit, no Fortune 150 company would have considered a move here. Remember that the eyes of this nation are frequently upon me, and it is the spirit of all of you that allows me to shine.

Thank you, Express Scripts, for bringing us all together and for helping us to realize that we are a strong downtown, capable of making you and your employees the offer we did.

Sincerely,

Downtown (As dictated to Kevin McGowan and Nat Walsh, founders of McGowanWalsh)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Power House Update

The Post-Dispatch ran an article last week on Cannon Design's renovation of the historic power house building at 11th and Clark and the challenges the firm faces in adapting the building for its new headquarters. Not much new information was presented, but the article did mention that the building will include such green elements as a water collection system and gardens on the roof and in the courtyard. The best part was the rendering of the building's interior - talk about unique office space!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rodgers Townsend Moves to Cupples Station

Rodgers Townsend, one of St. Louis' largest and most prominent ad agencies, has relocated, moving from its previous digs in the Blanke Building just south of downtown to prime space in Cupples Station Building One (aka The Hammermill Building). The agency will be leasing 44,560 square feet of space on 3 1/2 floors of the building, which is also home to J. Buck's.

Tom Townsend, Rodgers Townsend co-founder and Agency principal, comments, “We couldn’t be happier to begin this next era in our company’s life here in the heart of St. Louis. Here near the courthouse, the ballpark, City Hall and the Riverfront, great things have happened over the last century. We look forward to contributing to St. Louis’ future success during the next one.”

This city could use more people like Tom Townsend.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

It's Not Easy Being Green

Today's Post-Dispatch features an article on the new St. Louis office of the William A. Kerr Foundation in a renovated bathhouse just north of downtown. With the help of environmental consultants Vertegy (www.vertegyconsultants.com), this $2 million project is the first building in the city of St. Louis to be platinum-certified (the highest level of certification) by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design of the U.S. Green Building Council (LEED). Upcoming downtown projects that will strive to achieve LEED certification include the SkyHouse on Washington Avenue and the Roberts Tower in Old Post Office Square.

The article got me thinking about Chicago's "green" city hall and how it could serve as a model for St. Louis. In 2001, at a cost of $1.5 million, a green roof was installed at Chicago City Hall to help combat the effects of that city's urban "heat island effect" and reduce energy costs while helping inspire developers and property owners to adopt environmentally sound building practices.

Perhaps the Gateway Foundation or the Danforth Foundation could step up to help fund a similar installation on the roof of St. Louis City Hall. Maybe St. Louis Metalworks would be willing to donate its exclusive Green Roof Blocks (www.greenroofblocks.com) to make it happen...

Chicago City Hall's Green Roof

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Peabody Building - A Hidden Gem

Tucked in between two towers of the Mansion House complex, this three-story, 1950's office building once served as the headquarter's of Peabody Coal. It's a real gem, offering breathtaking, unencumbered views of the Arch grounds.

The building has attached parking, thanks to the Mansion House's parking garage, and is completely vacant. With 48,000 square feet of space at only $12.00 per square foot, this building would be ideal for a single occupant looking for a prominent location with signage.

505 Washington

505 Washington is an architecturally interesting building in a great location downtown, at the corner of Washington and Broadway. (My only beef with this building is that I wish it was three stories taller, to match the height of the other buildings on the block.)

Greater Missouri Builders purchased the building from the state of Missouri in late 2006 and has been sprucing up the property recently. The exterior has been thoroughly scrubbed and given a fresh coat of paint within the last week, and looks great. Greater Missouri Builders also owns 505's next-door neighbor, 555 Washington, which is home to Zipatoni, Weber Shandwick, and several other firms.

Previously used as office space, the ground floor - consisting of 18,800 rentable square feet - will be marketed to retail tenants. I'm convinced that when the St. Louis Centre skybridge, just a block west of 505 Washington, comes down and construction begins on St. Louis Centre and the Dillard's Building, the retail space in both 505 and 555 will become hot commodities. Their proximity to several large office buildings, hotels, new housing and the convention center will make them very attractive to retailers.

Floors two and three consist of 19,000 apiece and will rent for $9.00 to $12.00 per square foot - a relative bargain.

Nearby parking is plentiful, with the Missouri Athletic Club, Drury Hotel, St. Louis Centre and convention center garages all just a block away and the Hampton Inn garage just on the other side of Fourth Street to the east. There is also limited parking on a small lot directly behind the building.

The space is ready; who's going to step up and lease it?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Woolworth's Lease

In May 2001, real estate investor Keith Barket purchased the lease to the old Woolworth's space in the first floor of the St. Louis Centre parking garage on Locust, between Sixth and Broadway. Barket completely gutted the retail space and converted it for use as additional parking. At that time, downtown's renaissance was in its infancy, and this proved to be a shrewd move on Barket's part.

However, downtown has seen an influx of new residents and businesses over the last six years, with more to come in the months ahead. Pyramid's upcoming redevelopment of the moribund St. Louis Centre, which will see the building converted to condos with first floor retail space, and other nearby projects, such as the new apartments and condos in the Marquette building, suddenly make the Woolworth's space attractive for use as retail space again.

While I don't know the specific square footage of the Woolworth's space, it appears to be large enough to pique the interests of national retailers. The Woolworth's space, along with the recently revitalized downtown Macy's and potential retail in the first floor of St. Louis Centre and the old Mercantile Library Building (also scheduled for redevelopment by Pyramid), give the area great potential for a rebirth as a major retail corridor.

Let's just hope that when Barket's lease is up, the City (which owns the garage) will do the right thing and find a retail tenant. When retail returns to the old Woolworth's, it will send a strong signal that downtown has turned the corner.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Makings of an Incredible Downtown Office

According to MayorSlay.com, Cannon Design has purchased the long-vacant Power House Building at 11th and Clark and will be relocating its offices there from One City Centre.

Designed to house boilers that provided steam heat to 12 municipal buildings, the building is basically just a shell: four non-load bearing exterior walls with no interior floors. Despite its attractive appearance, the challenge of constructing a "building within a building" has scared off many prospective developers over the years.

This project will serve as a western anchor to Cupples Station and play a role in the continuing revitalization of the southern end of downtown. Cannon is the third-largest architecture firm in the St. Louis area and has 40 architects working in its downtown office.

A Pleasant Side Effect of the Demise of Centene Plaza

Rumors had been circulating that Armstrong Teasdale was planning on moving to space in Centene's proposed headquarters tower in Clayton. However, now that Centene has scrapped its plans, it's sounding like Armstrong Teasdale will remain downtown. According to Joe Whittington of the Post-Dispatch, the firm has narrowed its choices to either leasing new space at Ballpark Village or renewing its lease in Met Square. Either option would be huge for downtown.

Armstrong Teasdale is currently ranked #3 on the St. Louis Business Journal's list of St. Louis' largest law firms with 174 attorneys.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

LarsonAllen Moving Downtown

According to the St. Louis Business Journal, accounting firm LarsonAllen will be moving its offices from Town & Country to the Park Pacific building in downtown St. Louis in 2009. The firm will be leasing 23,000 square feet and expects to grow to 120 employees in the coming years.

This is outstanding news, and hopefully the first of many such announcements!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Mercantile Library Building

I’ve always been fascinated by the Mercantile Library Building. This 270,000 square foot structure takes up a key location in downtown St. Louis, occupying the entire 500 block of Locust and most of the 300 block of Broadway.

At the height of the tech boom, the building was completely gutted by its previous owners, who had intended to market the building as a “telecom hotel” similar to the Bandwidth Exchange building on Tucker.

Pyramid, the building’s current owner, has not made its plans for the Mercantile Library Building known to the public, and the firm currently has bigger fish to fry with its concurrent redevelopment of the Arcade Building, the former St. Louis Centre shopping mall, the One City Centre office building and the Dillard’s Building. After purchasing the building in late 2004, the St. Louis Business Journal speculated that Pyramid would likely renovate part of the building into a mixed-use development.

This building offers exciting possibilities. With some minor modifications, its minimalist fa├žade could easily be given a fresh, unique, modern look. With its large floor plates, the building lends itself well to large scale retail on the first floor and office space on the upper floors, which would be perfect for a single user such as a law firm.

It’s not difficult to imagine retailers such as Walgreens or Borders occupying the prime first floor space, providing a nice complement to Macy’s and the planned first floor retail space at the soon-to-be revitalized St. Louis Centre. The northwest corner of the building (at 6th and Locust) has a great entrance for a large retailer.

Nearby parking is plentiful, with the St. Louis Centre garage across the street and several other large garages just a few short blocks away.

With the exception of the Lawrence Group’s Security Building on 4th Street, downtown has not added much rehabbed office space in the last few years as most developers have focused on converted former office buildings and warehouses into residential lofts. The Mercantile Library Building could provide an interesting opportunity for office tenants while offering enough space for a national retailer to set up shop downtown. I hope that Pyramid has the vision to redevelop the building as office space instead of lofts.

View from Broadway:


View from Locust:


View from 6th Street:

Monday, February 12, 2007

Who Says There Are No Large Blocks of Space Available?

One of the knocks on downtown is the current dearth of large blocks of contiguous office space. However, two prominent buildings on the western edge of downtown offer an outstanding value for large tenants.

The Sherwood Medical Building at 1915 Olive contains 143,024 square feet of leasable space for lease at $18.50 per square foot. Renovated in 1999, this property was last occupied by A.G. Edwards, who vacated the space in 2003 as part of an effort to consolidate its offices on its main campus at Market and Jefferson. The building includes a 278-car garage and is served by numerous large surface lots nearby.


Just a block away, 1881 Pine Street currently has 110,000 square feet available (the entire building) at just $15.00 per square foot.
These are excellent lease rates for office space of this quality!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Develop Me!

It's clear that the time is right for the construction of new office space in downtown St. Louis. The vacancy rate for Class A space is now under 5%, absorption is up, and large blocks of contiguous space are in short supply.

So where should downtown's next office building be constructed? Here are my three top choices:

1) The northeast corner of Broadway and Washington. There are actually two large lots at this site, split by Lucas Street, which, despite its name, is actually more of an alley. This site is attractive for several reasons:
  • High visibility, prominent Washington Avenue address
  • Close proximity to the convention center and numerous hotels
  • Ample available parking in the Missouri Athletic Club and Drury Hotel garages as well as ample room to construct a new garage (on the northern end of the site, with the building fronting Broadway)

2) The vacant lot on Broadway at Spruce, immediately east of Busch Stadium. This site offers unbeatable visibility thanks to baseball traffic and proximity to Highway 40, and with the impending construction of Ballpark Village, this site will become even more attractive. The site has ample parking available in the two stadium garages and various lots south of Highway 40. It's still somewhat isolated and distant from the heart of downtown though, with few dining options (at least until Ballpark Village is built).

3) The Gateway Mall. The construction of Gateway One in the mid-1980s destroyed the Gateway Mall concept, so why not build on any of the three vacant parcels between Gateway One and the Civil Courts Building? Parking may be a perceived issue here, with little adjacent parking (although the Kiener Plaza garages, Century Building garage and Laclede Gas garage are all just a short walk away). This option would greatly enhance the streetscape on Market Street and would replace some of the Gateway Mall's "passive" and unused greenspace.

Other attractive sites include: the northwest corner of Tucker and Olive (underutilized site occupied by a U.S. Bank branch), 11th and Locust (a huge sea of parking lots), 9th and Clark (odd greenspace adjacent to the Eagleton Courthouse).

The market conditions are right - it's imperative that new space be developed in order to attract new firms to downtown and retain existing ones.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Charlotte: An Example to Follow

If you’d ever like to see firsthand the role that the corporate community can play in the redevelopment of a city’s central business district, look no further than Charlotte. The Queen City is booming, thanks to two of its largest corporate citizens, Bank of America and Wachovia. Both companies have made substantial commitments to the city, with each company trying to build more impressive office buildings than the other. The winner, of course, is Uptown Charlotte.

Here’s a quick look at each company’s holdings in Uptown Charlotte:

Bank of America

The stunning, 60-story Bank of America Corporate Center stands proudly as the Charlotte skyline’s signature structure. Bank of America also anchors the 47-story Hearst Tower (the second-tallest building in Charlotte) as well as the 40-story Bank of America Plaza. Also included in the Bank of America Complex is the 19-story Omni Charlotte Hotel and two buildings currently under construction: A 32-story, 750,000 square foot office tower and a 150-room Ritz Carlton hotel. Last, but not least, Bank of America was responsible for developing Gateway Center, a mixed-use development consisting of housing and office space.


Wachovia Bank

Charlotte’s other banking giant also calls Uptown Charlotte its home, with four buildings in the city’s central business district: One Wachovia Center (42 stories), Two Wachovia Center (32 stories), Three Wachovia Center (32 stories) and Wachovia Main (12 stories). It has also begun construction on a mixed-use project that will include a 46-story, 1.3 million square foot office tower as well as Wake Forest University’s MBA Progam and $97 million worth of arts and cultural venues. The Ratcliffe on the Green – 10 floors, mixed use w/condos and retail.

Imagine if downtown St. Louis had more corporate citizens like Charlotte does. The departures of SBC/AT&T, Boatmen’s Bank and Mercantile Bank have left downtown with less of a headquarters presence than it once enjoyed, but there are a few corporations that remain committed to downtown – A.G. Edwards, Stifel Nicolaus and Hardee’s/CKE Restaurants, to name a few.

But what if Centene could have been persuaded to build its new headquarters downtown, instead of Clayton? What about Express Scripts or Rawlings? The impact would be amazing.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Addressing the earnings tax

David Nicklaus’ column in today’s Post-Dispatch got me thinking about the city’s 1% earnings tax. The earnings tax is widely viewed as one of the largest impediments to downtown’s ability to attract and retain businesses. Unfortunately, revenue from the earnings tax also accounts for a substantial portion (one-third) of the city’s overall budget, making it too important to be phased out, in the absence of any viable alternative.

Here’s my idea…

What if the city were to incorporate a sliding scale approach, promising to reduce the earnings tax if enough businesses move to or expand within the city to offset it?

Make it clear to the business community how much new business activity would be required to provide a reduction in the earnings tax:

$X million in new business will result in a 0.5% reduction.
$Y million will result in a 0.75% reduction.
$Z million will result in a total elimination of the tax.

This approach would help make it clear to businesses the role that they can play in the revitalization of downtown St. Louis, that by relocating or expanding their operations within the city, they will be working towards reducing their own taxes as well as the taxes of other city businesses.

In such a campaign, communication with the business community would be critical; businesses should be constantly updated as to how close the city is to achieving its tax-reduction milestones. Imagine the goodwill generated by the company that decides to move to the city, resulting in the total elimination of the earnings tax!

Take the case of Anheuser-Busch, for instance. In addition to its city-based headquarters and brewing operations, it also leased approximately 100,000 square feet in the One City Centre building downtown. A-B recently vacated its space in One City Centre, consolidating its downtown offices with space it already leases in Sunset Hills. This move results in a loss of earnings tax for the city, incremental tax revenue generated by A-B employees who spent money at downtown businesses on their lunch breaks and after work, and has left One City Centre with a substantial vacancy.

However, A-B might have kept its downtown offices and perhaps would have even relocated its Sunset Hills operations downtown if it knew that doing so would help reduce its overall tax burden.

I realize that this proposal is incredibly simplistic, but it’s clear that something needs to be done about the city earning tax. In order to thrive, downtown needs to remove its roadblocks and become the region’s most attractive site for business.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Welcome!

The ongoing renaissance of downtown St. Louis has been widely documented in the local media and has even garnered coverage in the New York Times, USA Today, NPR, and other national outlets. The efforts of bold loft developers and entrepreneurs has brought about a recent influx of new residents and retailers to downtown, along with a new sense of vitality and a much-needed shot in the arm.

However, often overlooked in the media’s coverage is the role of the business community in the downtown revival. How can downtown build on its assets to attract new businesses and help its existing companies grow? What role does the central business district play in the future of our region’s economy?

In this blog, we'll take a look at the people and businesses that make downtown tick.