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: