Wednesday, April 30, 2008

500 N. Broadway On the Market

500 N. Broadway is listed for sale by Marcus & Millichap for $17.5 million. The 22-story, 282,965 sf building features parking for 288 cars and received a $5 million renovation in 1999. It is currently 38% vacant, so hopefully the building’s new owners will work to maximize the value of their investment by filling the vacant space.

The building’s tenants include Lewis, Rice & Fingersh (who may or may not be staying in the building when their lease is up), LaBarge Pipe & Steel, Burton Greenberg, RBC Dain Rauscher, McGlynn & Luther, Beneficial Capital Leasing, Daedalus Capital and The Castle Law Office.

Stifel Nicolaus to Ballpark Village?

Joe Whittington of the Post-Dispatch has reported that Stifel Nicolaus is in lease discussions to move to Ballpark Village. According to a commercial real estate insider quoted in the column, Stifel, along with Polsinelli, would "provide Ballpark Village with approximately 150,000 sf of pre-leasing," but I think it could be even more than that.

Stifel currently leases over 100,000 on floors 1, 7, 8 and 9 of One Financial Plaza and had been rumored to be interested in leasing an additional entire floor - the 35,000 sf fifth floor. Add Polsinelli to the mix, and the total amount of pre-leased space should be well over 150,000 sf.

While Stifel's move would be good for Ballpark Village, it's really just another game of musical chairs. Is there a tenant out there that could fill the space left behind by Stifel?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

One City Centre Under New Ownership

As reported by the Post-Dispatch, SCR Investments LLC has taken ownership of One City Centre after Pyramid Construction defaulted on a $7 million loan from SCR. SCR is led by Stacy Hastie, chairman and CEO of Environmental Operations Inc., who plans to redevelop the building by forming a partnership with Spinnaker, Pyramid’s former development partner on the Mercantile Exchange.

According to Hastie, SCR plans to invest an undisclosed amount of money in One City Centre to "update and enhance the facility and attract new tenants" immediately, and none too soon - The 25-story office building is currently just 35% occupied. The firm will take will take responsibility for any debt associated with One City Centre, including the repayment of a $14.5 million city tax increment financing bond.

Monday, April 28, 2008

LaSalle Building Up for Sale

One of downtown's most interesting historic office buildings, the LaSalle Building at Broadway and Olive, is up for sale as Pete Rothschild looks to liquidate a good portion of his real estate holdings. What makes this 13-story building so unique is its tiny floor plates, consisting of just 2,550 sf per floor. The floors are practically impossible to subdivide for office tenants, meaning that tenants basically have to lease entire floors. Rothschild's original plan was to sell off each floor individually for around $150 psf to businesses or for loft conversion.

The LaSalle is listed on the National Historic Register and has qualified for both federal and state historic tax credits as well as brownfield tax credits, which will help its marketability. Its first floor retail space has been vacant since the Post Office moved out a few years ago, but is well suited for a variety of uses and is situated in a high-traffic location.

The LaSalle is listed for $1.9 million by Milton Rothschild of Rothschild Realty - (314) 367-7787.

To Paraphrase Lloyd Bridges in Airplane!...

...looks like I picked the wrong week to take a break from blogging. I'll be back adding more updates this week.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pyramid Post-Mortem

Everyone with an interest in downtown happenings is closely following the ongoing saga of Pyramid Construction. The firm is no longer part of the Mercantile Exchange project and rumors are swirling that it is closing its doors altogether, the result of having too many irons in the fire.

The good news is that Pyramid’s former partner, Spinnaker, plans to keep the Mercantile Exchange on track. The Laurel – the first phase of the Mercantile Exchange that involves the renovation of the historic Dillard’s Building on Washington Avenue – is already more than 30% pre-sold and now includes plans for an Embassy Suites hotel on the lower floors. Work is expected to begin in June. The sooner Spinnaker can begin construction on The Laurel, the sooner it can turn its attention to marketing the next phases, which include a complete makeover of the former St. Louis Centre into a mixed-use development (The Concord) and the renovation of the Mercantile Library Building.

Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding Pyramid’s other projects:

What will become of the One City Centre office tower? While Ballpark Village continues to stall, Pyramid was poised to re-introduce some much-needed Class A office space to the market.

What will become of the Arcade Building? Construction work appears to have stopped, which is a shame, as the Arcade was one of the most exciting projects underway downtown.

What will become of the Leather Trades Building on Locust? Pyramid was marketing the building as lofts, but was unable to pre-sell any of the units. Hopefully John Steffen can sell it to another developer. Orchard Development has two other projects nearby – the Terra Cotta Lofts and the Ely Walker Lofts – maybe they’d want to get involved. Perhaps the Leather Trades would make a good loft-style office building or studio space for artists?

What will become of the Jefferson Arms Building? Previously used as apartments geared toward retirees, Pyramid purchased the Jefferson Arms and booted the tenants in order to renovate the building. Even though the building needs a substantial amount of work, getting rid of paying tenants in an uncertain market was probably not the best idea. Now it sits vacant, its ground floor windows boarded up.

Let’s hope for some answers…

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Two Downtown Buildings to Be Added to the National Register?

There are two downtown buildings up for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places at the April 24 meeting of the Preservation Board:

The Farm & Home Savings and Loan Association Building at 1001 Locust, and the former Peabody Coal Company National Headquarters at 301 N. Memorial Drive.

We know that Craig Heller has plans to renovate the Farm & Home Building as office space, but I haven't heard any plans for the Peabody Building. If it is added to the National Register and eligible for tax credits, perhaps that means a renovation is imminent and that new tenants will be coming soon.

The three-story, 48,000 sf Peabody Building is completely vacant, and space is available for $12.00 psf. Rick Messey of Colliers Turley Martin Tucker is the listing agent - (314) 862-7100.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Landmarks Association to Open Architecture Education Center

The Landmarks Association of St. Louis is moving forward with its plans to relocate its office to ground floor of the Lammert Building at 911 Washington and launch Architecture St. Louis – an architectural education center.

According to Landmarks:

"The new space will permit the Association to continue its research and advocacy work while expanding and enriching its educational mission. In addition to new office space, Architecture St. Louis will include a gallery for first rate exhibitions, and a multi-purpose educational space for lectures, presentations and forums. We are already planning an opening exhibit for fall as well as other programs that will commence as soon as the new space is ready."

The Landmarks Association has raised over $275,000 thus far, but is looking to raise an additional $250,000 to cover the costs. For more information, and to make a donation, click here.

Architecture St. Louis will give downtown a much-needed cultural attraction while helping to raise awareness of preservation-related issues in St. Louis. This will be a very exciting addition to downtown.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

St. Louis Shooting for Another Final Four

The St. Louis Sports Commission is hard at work attempting to land another men’s NCAA Basketball Final Four. A delegation from the Gateway City met with NCAA officials during last week’s Final Four in San Antonio.

Formal bids for Final Fours from 2012-2016 will be due in early June, and 10 cities will be selected as finalists in August. Competitors are expected to include Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Glendale, Ariz., Houston, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New Orleans and San Antonio. One of the bids is guaranteed to go to Indianapolis, leaving nine cities competing for four bids.

Detroit and Houston may be at a disadvantage, having never hosted the tournament before the NCAA makes its decision (Detroit hosts the Final Four in 2009; Houston in 2011). St. Louis missed out on hosting a Final Four in the current sequence in part because it had not yet hosted the event when the NCAA made its decision. But now, after its success in 2005 and established track record of success in hosting other NCAA championships (Women’s Final Four, Frozen Four, Wrestling Championships), St. Louis is poised to land another Final Four.

And while 2005 doesn’t seem like that long ago, downtown St. Louis has come a LONG way since then and will continue to get better. Who knows, by 2012, we might even have Ballpark Village. Wishful thinking, I know.

Best of luck to Frank Viverito and his team!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Improvement Needed: PR Firms

When it comes to public relations firms, the good news is that downtown is already home to the headquarters of PR powerhouse Fleishman Hillard and a local office of publicly-held Weber Shandwick. In addition, three more of St. Louis' top PR firms will be moving downtown when Osborn & Barr and Adamson relocate from Clayton to Cupples Station and Millenium Communications is absorbed by the Hughes Group.

However, there is still much room for improvement, and public relations is one industry to which downtown is an appealing locale. According to the St. Louis Business Journal's Book of Lists, the following prominent St. Louis PR firms are located outside of downtown:

- Black Twig Marketing & Communications - Clayton - 18 employees - $6.1 million in billings (Black Twig was founded by former Kupper Parker chief Bruce Kupper)

- Cushman/Amberg Communications - Clayton - 11 employees - $5.6 million

- Standing Partnership - Chesterfield - 23 employees - $3.5 million

- Clayton-Davis Associates - Clayton - 3 employees - $3.2 million

- The Vandiver Group - Chesterfield - 19 employees - $2.8 million

- DDC Advertising and Public Relations - Clayton - 5 employees - $1.2 million

- Casey Communications - Clayton - 7 employees - $1.2 million

- Brigton Agency - Clayton - 39 employees - $495,000

- KolbeCo Marketing Resources - Dardenne Prairie - 6 employees - $447,345

- Common Ground Public Relations - Chesterfield - n/a - n/a

The Standing Partnership and The Vandiver Group are both located in Maryville Center - they would be absolutely perfect for downtown, as would the others. (Editorial note: my first job out of college was with a firm in Maryville Center. Toiling in that glorified office park was an absolutely soul-crushing experience.)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Random Lease Roundup

Razorsight, LLC leased 3,187 sf at 612 N. 2nd Street.

Goldenberg Heller Antognoli renewed its lease for 2,290 sf in the Gateway One Building at 701 Market St.

Two deals in the Laclede Gas Building at 720 Olive:

- Vandover & Godfrey, PC renewed its lease for 3,112 sf.
- Early, Miranda & Petraborg PC leased 5,000 sf.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Senniger Powers Relocates to Bank of America Tower

The Business Journal is reporting that Senniger Powers is moving from Met Square to 35,000 sf in the Bank of America Tower at 100 N. Broadway.

Unfortunately, Bank of America is in the process of vacating 140,000 sf in the building on April 22 but will still maintain 120,000 sf there after the reduction. The upside is that the availability of 100,000+ sf of Class A space at a very reasonable ($18 psf) rate. The Senniger Powers lease will push the Bank of America Tower's occupancy rate to roughly 65%.

Senniger Powers will be leaving behind 45,000 sf at Met Square.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Whatever Happened To the Planned Exhibition Hall?

Back in the late 90s, the Civic Entrepreneurs Organization - a local association of mid-sized companies - floated the idea of constructing an exhibition hall in downtown St. Louis. The facility would be used to showcase the large traveling exhibits that apparently pass St. Louis by because we do not have an appropriate venue.

In January 1999, the group set up a not-for-profit organization - Gateway Exhibits - commissioned a feasibility study and even pledged $1 million to get the project started. The feasibility study by Economic Research Associates in Chicago concluded that a typical five-month-long show at the proposed exhibit hall would attract nearly 430,000 people from St. Louis and within a 600-mile radius.

The group proposed "an 80,000 to 100,000 square foot building that would contain a high-ceilinged, 25,000 square foot exhibit gallery, 200 seat theater, banquet hall, gift shop and an area for receiving and setting up exhibits." The total projected cost would be $10 million.

Sounds great, right?

They then went to select a site, initially ruling out the Old Post Office, 555 Washington/Union Market and St. Louis Centre from the running, and eventually settling on three options in April 1999:

- The Merchandise Mart - then vacant, since converted to loft apartments

- A vacant lot on Laclede's Landing - now the site of the Lumiere Place casino

- Using air rights owned by Bi-State Development Agency over a block bounded by 15th, 16th, and Spruce streets and Clark Avenue to build over MetroLink’s tracks and include a tunnel for the trains. The lot next to the tracks is the site of the Missouri Valley Conference's proposed headquarters.

It sounded like an exciting project that would give dowtown a much-needed cultural venue. However, despite the feasibility study and the money committed, the plans apparently never got off the ground.

So what happened? How did this idea die? Is this still a viable concept? It would be great as part of a mixed-use development, and there are still plenty of good sites available downtown (Ballpark Village, anyone?).

I'd be interested to know the circumstances surrounding its demise.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Tower 29 Marketing Group Moves to the Ludwig Lofts

Not to be overshadowed by the recent announcement that Osborn & Barr and Adamson are moving downtown, the Tower 29 Marketing Group has set up shop in the Ludwig Lofts Building at 1006 Olive and has posted some great photos of its spiffy new office space on its blog - here and here.

Welcome to the neighborhood!

Monday, April 07, 2008

209 N. 4th Up for Sale

Purchased by the Roberts Brothers in 2001, the former W.K. Woods Stationery Building at 209 N. 4th Street is now listed for sale for $1,493,000. The Roberts Brothers have already done most of the heavy lifting, removing the exterior cladding to expose the building's handsome original facade.

The list price of $1,493,000 also includes architectural plans for renovation. The first floor can accomodate 3,000 sf of restaurant or retail space. The second floor can be configured for a 2,270 sf office, and floors three through five can each accomodate two residential units - a 2-bedroom, 1,228 sf rear unit and a 1-bedroom, 1,030 sf front unit.

The listing agent is Catherine O'Neill of Realty Exchange - (314) 647-2220.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Two Major Ad Agencies Move Downtown!

How about a little good news?

The St. Louis Business Journal is reporting that Osborn & Barr Communications and Adamson, two prominent ad agencies currently based in Clayton, are both moving their respective headquarters to downtown St. Louis. Both will be moving to Cupples Station Building #9 (at which will be renovated by Kevin McGowan's new firm, Blue Urban.

Osborn & Barr will be leasing 44,000 sf on floors 2-3 and Adamson will be taking 13,000 sf on the fourth floor. Osborn & Barr has 120 employees with plans to grow to up to 200 or more, while Adamson will be bringing 53 employees downtown.

The building will also include a restaurant on the first floor and 54 lofts on the upper floors.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

New Plans for the Gill and Truman Buildings

Jack Randall passed away on February 27, and his family has sold the Gill Building at 7th and Olive. Rumor has it the new owners already have new tenants lined up - it will be great to see this wonderful little building occupied again!

Apparently one of Mr. Randall's other real estate holdings, the Truman Building, has been sold to a physician (according to one of our informed blog commenters) who will be opening an urgent care facility, which will be great for downtown's growing residential base.

These developments will be nice contributions to the vitality of Olive and the nearby Old Post Office District.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

David Nicklaus' Take on Downtown

David Nicklaus of the Post-Dispatch takes a fair look at the current state of the downtown office market in his column today.

A few highlights:

The law firms (six downtown law firms whose leases are up for renewal soon) do have a third option (besides staying put or signing on at a new building): Clayton, where developers are promoting new high-rises and where Holland says the market is ripe for more construction. Clayton has lured big firms from downtown before, including accountants Ernst & Young in 2001 and lawyers Husch & Eppenberger in 2002.
If any of the firms in question decide to move to Clayton, we might as well turn out the lights on downtown. The bleeding of firms from downtown to the suburbs has got to stop - Clayton should be a secondary business district, not the area's primary business district.

It's time for the local business community to show a little civic pride and make a commitment to downtown St. Louis. As Bob Lewis of Development Strategies Inc. mentioned in a recent Post-Dispatch article on Ballpark Village, "People form their opinions of a region based on the central downtown. If downtown St. Louis looks like it is disinvested, that's the first thing you notice about the region." When will we finally grasp this concept?

Ballpark Village remains the highest-profile spot for new offices, but it's not the only one. Richard Ward, a consultant with Zimmer Real Estate Services, says he's recently been looking at potential office-building sites downtown. "There are quite a few of them actually, more than I had thought," he said.

Ward says the city, and business groups like the Regional Chamber & Growth Association, should start packaging and promoting one or more of these sites, looking forward to the day when things don't look so bleak. "I think this is a good time to plan, to begin at least a slow drum roll," he said.
Bingo. The city shouldn't depend on Ballpark Village as the ONLY site for new office space, especially considering how long the development process has been drawn out. It's time to lay the groundwork for the construction of new Class A space elsewhere downtown.