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)

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