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.


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.