Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Downtown Could Use Some More Commercial Real Estate Firms

Out of the top 26 commerical real estate firms in the St. Louis area (according to the St. Louis Business Journal's Book of Lists), only two - Jones Lang LaSalle and EVS Realty Advisors call downtown St. Louis their home. A third firm, Balke Brown, has its offices relatively close to downtown in the Highlands development near Forest Park. The vast majority of commercial real estate firms are located in Clayton or Mid-County, with a handful scattered elsewhere.

Having an office in Clayton or Mid-County does have certain benefits for commercial real estate brokers, the most significant being that its central location makes for a relatively short drive to properties in just about any part of the St. Louis area. For example, a downtown office may be far from ideal for an industrial broker who spends most of his time visiting warehouses in Earth City. However, it is somewhat disconcerting to see that the larger firms such as Colliers Turley Martin Tucker and CB Richard Ellis do not maintain even a small presence in downtown St. Louis.

There are numerous instances of companies that generally locate their offices in the downtowns of other cities choosing suburban locations for their St. Louis offices instead (a few of which have been documented here), giving the impression that (with some exceptions) brokers here make little effort to promote downtown St. Louis and steer their clients to suburban buildings almost by default. In St. Louis, our own residents tend to be our own worst enemies, and this may be yet another instance of that. Are local brokers really prepared to work with clients who actually WANT to be downtown?

Perhaps the establishment of downtown satellite offices for the larger firms would allow St. Louis area real estate brokers to better get a feel for the pulse of the CBD and all it has to offer prospective tenants. It is important to note that Zimmer Real Estate Services recently opened an office in downtown St. Louis and Cardinal Realty will be opening a satellite office in the Shell Building, which will hopefully spur other firms to consider downtown.


JMedwick said...

Good stuff.

While downtown is not so well off that it can be picky about who it should and should not attract, I do think that making the extra effort to encourage at least satellite offices for the big-time commercial real estate firms is an important part of addressing downtown's longstanding image issues.

Anonymous said...

Your point that downtown is poorly represented by the major firms (CBRE, CTMT) because we do not have a satellite office is pretty much off base. It is obvious who does the bulk of the work and is dialed in to the happenings of our community. An eight minute drive down highway 40 generally doesn't prohibit someone from understanding "the pulse" of the CBD.

Brian said...

Certainly. There are brokers out there who appreciate what downtown has to offer and work hard to promote it, and we're lucky to have them.

There are also plenty of brokers who aren't willing to make that eight-minute drive down Highway 40 and who are oblivious as to everything that's going on downtown, brokers whose opinions of downtown are stuck in the 80s/90s and think that Clayton, Missouri is the center of the universe.