Friday, February 29, 2008

Missouri Valley Conference HQ Plans Move Forward

Great news from Mayor Slay's blog - the St. Louis Development corporation has approved a $200,000 forgivable loan to assist the Missouri Valley Conference in constructing a new $10.5 million, 27,000 sf headquarters on a city-owned parking lot immediately south of the Scottrade Center.

According to the blog, "The City’s Land Clearance Authority has also assisted the Conference in making application for Missouri Development Finance Board tax credits to assist in the construction of the new facility."

The Missouri Valley Conference and St. Louis have been a perfect match for each other. The Valley's current 4,000 sf headquarters on Chouteau is also at the center of a recent wave of redevelopment efforts in Lafayette Square on a block that is undergoing a remarkable transformation. I'd expect it to lease quickly once the Valley vacates it.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

New Retail at Lumiere Place

Four new boutique shops have opened at the Lumiere Place casino complex on Laclede's Landing:

MensRoom, which will sell upscale brands like Lacoste, Tommy Bahama, DKNY jeans and Cutter & Buck.

Blush, which will sell women's apparel offering collections from fashion designers Steve Madden and Kensie, plus Lucky Brand Jeans, Jessica Simpson shoes and Rioni handbags.

L'ove, a lingerie boutique.

ETC, a the 24-hour stop for cameras, candy, newspapers, toiletries and Lumière Place logo merchandise.

While casinos are designed to be self-contained, with amenities catering largely to casino patrons, it's still nice to have some upscale shopping options in downtown St. Louis...until the Merchandise Exchange opens up, that is.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lewis Rice to Remain Downtown

Lewis Rice & Fingersh, which currently leases 110,000 sf at 500 N. Broadway, may not know exactly where it will hang its hat, but it has made it known that it will remain downtown. According to the Business Journal:

Tom Erb, a member of Lewis Rice's management committee who is leading the search efforts, said the firm is looking only at downtown choices. Erb said downtown's revitalization is playing a big role in the firm's decision to stay. Erb said he expects the firm will make its choice within the next few weeks. "We've been downtown for 99 years, and next year, it will be 100 years," he said.

The firm has been rumored to be looking into renewing its lease at 500 N. Broadway in addition to considering a move to other buildings, such as the General American Building. Wherever the firm ends up, it's great to see them make a commitment to downtown!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Crime Down in Downtown St. Louis...Again

The Downtown St. Louis Partnership has reported the latest crime figures for downtown:

According to the St. Louis Police Department, compared to January 2007, reported crime in the 4th District (which includes Downtown and Downtown West) is down. The statistics are as follows: Property crime (larceny, vehicle theft and arson) down 26.8%; Burglaries (business and residential) down 58%; Total burglaries in Downtown West went from 16 in 2007 down to 1 in 2008; and, Car clottings/break-ins are down 37.7%, a decrease of 52 reported incidents.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Art St. Louis Moving to 555 Washington

Deb Peterson of the Post-Dispatch reported last week that Art St. Louis is moving from its current space (with 5,000 sf gallery) at 917 Locust to 555 Washington. Could they possibly be taking space on the long-vacant first floor? In December, it was reported that the Lombardo family was interested in opening a new restaurant at 555 Washington as well.

Art St. Louis

Friday, February 22, 2008

705 Olive

Built in 1896, this historic building was designed by legendary architecht Louis Sullivan. It is nearly 80% leased and features very attractive lease rates as well as 60 covered parking spaces (4.00/1,000 sf).

Current vacancies are as follows:

1st Floor - 6,000 sf of retail space at $20.00/psf
2nd Floor - 200-14,000 sf of office space at $12.50 psf
3rd Floor - 200-8,500 sf at $12.50 psf
13th Floor - 8,500 sf at $12.50 psf

Major tenants include accounting firm Anders Minkler & Diehl LLP. Teutenberg's restaurant is located on the ground floor.

The building suffered a small fire on Monday morning after a space heater on the building's vacant third floor had been left on all weekend. Fortunately, the damage was contained.

For leasing information, contact Cindy Krehbiel of Jones Lang LaSalle - (314) 436-1212

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A-B Looking for Space Downtown?

Joe Whittington of the Post-Dispatch reports this morning that Anheuser-Busch is looking for 35,000 sf downtown. According to Whittington's column:

A likely spot is said to be in the Bank of America Plaza, 800 North Market Street, where the brewery has a presence. The most likely spot would be on the first floor that the landlord has been marketing as a restaurant.
If the brewery is looking for 35,000 sf, it would need more than just the first floor. The first floor space is 18,000 sf at $16.00 psf. There is also a 15,935 sf space available on the second floor at $22.00 psf - those spaces together total almost 34,000 sf. The only other decent-sized block of vacant space is the 19,307 sf availability on the 18th floor.

Bank of America Plaza is currently 92% leased. If A-B were to lease the 34,000 sf available on floors 1-2, the building's occupancy rate would hit almost 97%.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It's Official: Schnucks to Open Downtown Store

Schnucks announced today (finally) that it will be opening a store downtown - downtown's second grocery store, along with City Grocers - in the first floor of the parking garage at 9th and Olive in Old Post Office Square. According to the press release:

The planned 20,800-square-foot urban concept store, a first for Schnucks, will be smaller than the chain's typical stores, which are about 55,000 square feet. The store will feature all of the services of a traditional store, including a pharmacy, floral department, bakery and meat department. The store also will feature a Kaldi's Coffee bar, and a 6,303-square-foot mezzanine with a wine department, tapas bar and seating space

City Grocers has cancelled its plans to expand in the Syndicate Trust building, adjacent to the site of the new Schnucks. Will they be able to compete with Schnucks not even a block away, or would they be better off moving to a new location, perhaps in the western portion of downtown? It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The good news is that when people ask downtown residents where they do their grocery shopping (a common question), they can point to the new Schnucks store. Downtown is running out of reasons to not live or work there.

Could Stinson Return to Downtown?

A recent Business Journal article reports that Stinson Morrison Hecker, which is moving its office from downtown to Clayton as part of its merger with Blumenfeld, Kaplan & Sandweiss, may be considering an eventual return to downtown.

The firm is vacating its 29,000 sf office in the Deloitte Building to consolidate its employees in Blumenfeld's larger 36,000 sf office in Clayton. Stinson's managing partner describes the move as a "short-term decision" and will be considering leasing 60,000 sf either downtown or in Clayton when the firm's lease expires in 2012, or perhaps sooner.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Locust Building Sold

The 269,140 sf Locust Building at 1015 Locust was recently purchased by 1015 Associates LLC for $1.6 million ($22.66/psf).

Major tenants include the St. Louis Development Corp. The building currently has a total of 78,547 sf available on various floors (31% vacant), the largest contiguous vacancy being the entire fifth floor at 25,560 sf. Space leases for $11-$14 psf.

An interesting aspect of this building is that its modern facade actually covers a historic brick building. With the availability of tax credits for historic restoration, perhaps the new owners will explore the option of returning the building to its former glory. It would certainly improve its marketability.

The Locust Building in its current state:

And underneath the facade:

Friday, February 15, 2008

Osborn & Barr - Come on Down(town)!

Today's Business Journal has a great section on "Doing Business Downtown." One particularly interesting article explores how downtown's resurgency has started to lure new businesses. Clayton-based ad agency Osborn & Barr is mentioned as scouting locations downtown as its lease nears expiration (the firm is also considering renewing its current 40,000 sf lease).

Cupples Station is apparently one of the locations under consideration - talk about the perfect space for an ad agency! Osborn & Barr's Kansas City office is located in that city's downtown (Link); it's time for the St. Louis office to follow suit!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Simple Request...

TO: Dunkin' Donuts
FROM: The Downtown St. Louis Business Blog
RE: St. Louis Area Expansion

Please, please give us at least one new Dunkin' Donuts in downtown St. Louis as part of your expansion efforts in the area. I go to other cities' downtowns, and I can't seem to walk 50 feet without passing one; all I'm asking for is ONE here. With 100 new restaurants projected to open in the St. Louis area, you've got to throw us a bone - a downtown location would be a GOLD MINE!


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Adam's Mark to Become Hyatt, Receive Makeover

The Adam's Mark has a new owner - Chartres Lodging - and will soon be rebranded as the Hyatt Regency St. Louis Riverfront. The hotel is scheduled to receive $63 million in upgrades as Chartres plans to renovate all of the guest rooms as well as the public areas and restaurants. Also planned are updates to the building's exterior. While the building could really use an entirely new facade - nothing about its exterior indicates that it is a "luxury hotel" - every little bit helps.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Random Lease Roundup

Polisinelli, Shalton, Flanigan, Suelthaus PC leased 15,566 in the Deloitte Building at 100 N. Fourth Street.

Hennessy & Roach PC renewed its lease for 2,969 sf in the Laclede Gas Building at 720 Olive.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Why No Downtown Walgreens?

Since the closing of St. Louis Centre in 2006, downtown has been without a Walgreens. It once had two, the other being in the ground floor of the Century Building. As a downtown office worker, it was incredibly convenient to be able to pick up necessities or prescriptions just a short walk from the office.

An article in today's Business Journal outlines Walgreens' plans for growth in the St. Louis area and mentions that those plans do not include a downtown store.

My question is, why? With a growing residential population and relatively strong daytime and conventioneer/tourist populations, it makes perfect sense. While not necessarily an "exciting" or "upscale" retailer, Walgreens is the retailer that downtown needs the most.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

WeCar Comes to Downtown St. Louis

According to the Downtown St. Louis Partnership, Enterprise Rent-A-Car is rolling out its WeCar car sharing program in downtown St. Louis. WeCar is "a convenient, environmentally friendly car sharing program that is a great alternative for those wanting to reduce reliance on a personal automobile" and will have nine locations downtown.

The official launch and ribbon-cutting will be held Tuesday, February 12, 2008 at 11:30 a.m. at Met Square.

It's great to see this concept rolled out in St. Louis. It should provide a nice option for downtown residents who wish to go car-free.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Macy's Midwest Closing - What's in Store for the Railway Exchange?

Macy's announced today that its Macy's Midwest division will be consolidated into its Atlanta-based Macy's South division. The result is a loss of 850 jobs in the heart of downtown St. Louis.

This move will also leave a great deal of vacant space in the Railway Exchange building at 6th and Olive - Macy's Midwest occupies/occupied floors 8-14. What does the future hold for the Railway Exchange? Several buildings of similar vintage, such as the Syndicate Trust, Paul Brown, Arcade, Marquette, and Dillard's, for example, have been converted to residential uses, and perhaps the Railway Exchange would be better suited as condos/apartments than office space. It's been several years since I've seen Macy's offices, but as I recall, the ceilings were rather low and the space might be difficult to market to today's office tenants. Maybe with a gut rehab, it could become marketable office space again.

Let's hope that at least Macy's continues to maintain its downtown store on the lower floors.

Stifel Nicolaus to Expand in One Financial Plaza?

Rumor has it that Stifel Nicolaus is looking into expanding its headquarters space by leasing the entire fifth floor (35,000 sf) at One Financial Plaza, where it currently occupies floors 7-9 and part of the ground floor. The firm has freed up a little space for other uses, however, with the recent closing of its downtown brokerage office. All of its downtown brokers have moved to a new office in Frontenac.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Year-End Office Market Statistics

The year-end office market statistics have been released by Colliers Turley Martin Tucker:

Class A
Total 4Q Vacancy Rate: 16.9%
Prior Quarter: 17.4%
4Q Net Absorption: 33,000 sf
Total 2007 Net Absorption: (91,000 sf)
Average Full Service Rent: $19.09 psf

Class B
Total 4Q Vacancy Rate: 22.0%
Prior Quarter: 22.4%
4Q Net Absorption: 21,000 sf
Total 2007 Net Absorption: 69,000 sf
Average Full Service Rent: $14.41 psf

As a point of comparison, here are the year-end figures from 2006:

Class A
Total 4Q Vacancy Rate: 14.7%
Total 2007 Net Absorption: 203,000 sf
Average Full Service Rent: $19.71 psf

Class B
Total 4Q Vacancy Rate: 26.0%
Total 2007 Net Absorption: (36,000 sf)
Average Full Service Rent: $13.85 psf

Right now, there is over 1 million sf (1,129,296 sf) of vacant Class A space in the CBD. It's important to note that half of the vacant space (563,000 sf) is available in three buildings: One City Centre, which is under redevelopment (290,000 sf), the Sherwood Medical Building at 1915 Olive (143,000 sf) and the General American Building (130,000 sf). There's also nearly 100,000 sf currently available in the Bank of America Tower, consisting of numerous smaller vacancies spread out over several floors.

500 N. Broadway has the largest contiguous block of Class B space, with 82,000 sf. Lewis Rice's decision to stay there or move will have a major impact on the Class B market this year. If they stay (or stay and expand), the Class B market will remain steady or improve slightly, and if they move, it will likely be to Class A space, leaving a large block of vacant Class B space available. The Class B market will be buoyed by the recent whole-building lease of 1881 Pine.