I get irrated at the notion that a new museum on the Arch grounds is the answer to downtown's ills, as if that's all it will take to bring downtown back to life.
It's not. What downtown really needs is businesses and their employees. Consider what we've lost in recent years:
Anheuser-Busch - 110,000 sf in One City Centre, leased 150,000 in Sunset Hills.
Armstrong Teasdale - 400+ employees, 100+ attorneys, 100,000 sf in Met Square.
Arthur Andersen - 60,000 sf (three floors) in 1010 Market.
Energizer - leased 170,000 sf in Maryville Centre.
Ernst & Young – 86,000 sf in Gateway One. Now leases 100,000 sf in Clayton.
General American - 128,250 sf, 400 workers.
Husch Blackwell – 57,000 sf in the Bank of America Tower. Now leases xx sf in Clayton.
May Company/Macys - Railway Exchange now 50% vacant, 1,700 jobs lost.
Smith, Moore & Company - A small loss in terms of square footage and employees, but a growing firm and once part of downtown's identity as a financial center. After more than 90 years downtown, left for Clayton in 2004.
TWA – 57,000 sf in One City Centre, reservation center on Olive.
This is not even an all-inclusive list by any means; these are just the firms I could think of off the top of my head. I'm sure I've missed a few.
The most disappointing losses on this list are Energizer, Ernst & Young, Husch and Smith Moore. Each of these firms could have chosen to remain downtown and help fuel the revitalization of the CBD, but passed up the opportunity. The others were the victims of mergers and outside circumstances; the decisions to move were made by players from outside the St. Louis area.
In the case of Energizer, Ernst & Young, Husch, and Smith Moore, our own citizens chose to cast a vote for mediocrity over a thriving, healthy downtown. This city would be a much better place had they stayed.