Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ozzie's Set to Open Downtown



According to the Business Journal, Ozzie's sports bar will be opening in the East Bank Lofts Building at 1511 Washington.  The restaurant is slated to open by the Cardinals' home opener on April 12 and will take two stories of the building with room to display Ozzie Smith's 13 Gold Gloves.

Ozzie's will be run by Roberto Gallardo, whose father, Ramon, operated the previous incarnation of Ozzie's at Westport Plaza.  That restaurant closed this fall after a 20-year run.

A few years ago, this space was supposed to house a restaurant by renowned Idaho chef John Mortimer, but the deal never came to fruition.

While downtown is undoubtedly a superior location than Westport for Ozzie's, the loft district strikes me as an interesting choice.  It's just a block away from another sports bar, Flannery's, and is fairly close to the Over/Under as well.  Wouldn't Cupples Station or a spot closer to Busch Stadium have been better?

Regardless, it will be great to have this St. Louis institution downtown, where it should have been all along.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Clarkson Eyecare Coming Downtown

Clarkson Eyecare is opening a downtown location in the Syndicate Building at 917 Olive.  The store is expected to open March 1.

Interestingly enough, they chose a location directly across the street from Erker's Optical, which has served downtown for years from its location in the Frisco Building.

Can the two stores successfully coexist so close together?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Downtown Restaurant Bites


Two tidbits of downtown restaurant news:


Pablo Weiss has decided to close the venerable Kitchen K and will open a new restaurant in the same space called The Pacific Grill and an event space called The California Room.  Unlike Kitchen K, The Pacific Grill will only be open for lunch.


and...


David Bailey of Rooster and Bailey's Chocolate bar is slated to open his newest establishment, Bridge, a multi-story wine bar and tap house next to Left Bank Books at 10th and Locust.  Bridge will feature 100 bottled beers, 36 draft beers, 18 wines by the glass and full-service dining.  Bailey describes the menu as "sophisticated bar dining."





Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ballpark Lofts Update




The Business Journal recently provided a brief update on Blue Urban’s Ballpark Lofts #9 project in Cupples Station.

The $43 million development was originally slated to house first floor retail, the offices of Osborn & Barr (which is temporarily located in Blue Urban’s Ballpark Lofts #8 building), and 54 loft condos, which the firm claimed to have entirely reserved back in 2008.

However, Kevin McGowan, president of Blue Urban, told the Business Journal that he is still working with lenders to get financing in place for the project and that the condos will now likely be apartments instead.

Also still on the drawing board for Blue Urban is the $47 million Ballpark Lofts #7 development, which was originally slated for 120 rental apartments.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Arcade Building Headed Toward Foreclosure Sale


After being declared blighted by the city's Land Clearance for Redevelopment and authorized for 10-year tax abatement, the vacant Arcade Building will be offered at a foreclosure sale on December 31.
“This is a step toward getting the property back into circulation and get it redeveloped,” said Barbara Geisman, deputy mayor for development. “We were glad to see it.”
The Arcade is one of the few remaining buildings originally owned by Pyramid that has yet to be transferred to new ownership and is the most prominent vacant building in the Old Post Office district.
Hopefully the building will be purchased by a developer who can quickly get financing and begin working on restoring it to its former luster.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Look at Artists Lofts Downtown


As mentioned here last week, the Post-Dispatch ran an article on the Bottle Art Lofts, a planned 70-unit development geared to artists.  This project follows a growing trend in downtown St. Louis that includes the following:

Tim Boyle’s ArtLofts at 1527 Washington was one of the first loft developments downtown.  It opened in 1996 and currently has a waiting list for its 63 apartments.

The University Lofts at 1627 Washington features 26 units of loft-style, live/work space for artists and a first floor gallery operated by the Washington University School of Art.

The Syndicate Lofts development at 915 Olive includes 28 affordable rental units geared to artists, along with a large artist workshop and four galleries.  It was developed by LoftWorks and Sherman Associates.

Dominium Properties is working to secure funding for The Leather Trades Lofts at 1604 Locust, which will include nearly 90 apartments and studio space for artists, dancers and musicians.

Other buildings, such as the King Bee at 1709 Washington, have been marketed as raw loft space geared to artists and other creative types.  Chivvis Development’s plans for Chouteau’s Landing include live/work space for artists as well.  Whether or not those plans come to fruition remains to be seen.

There is hope though.  According to Dominium's Jeff Huggett in the Post-Dispatch article on the Bottle Art Lofts: “It seems to us the St. Louis arts community is very vibrant. It would easily support a number of projects.”

I certainly hope this is the case, as the Chouteau’s Landing and North Broadway (adjacent to the Bottle District) are prime locations for additional artist-driven development.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

HRI to Develop Artists Lofts at Bottle District

Tim Bryant of the Post-Dispatch had a great article on the Bottle Art Lofts, the newest project from Historic Restoration Inc.

HRI plans to convert the vacant McGuire Moving & Storage building at 1333 North Sixth Street to roughly 70 apartments geared to artists. The $22.2 million project will also include a 7,600 sf gallery and performance space.

HRI is partnering with Clayco Construction on the project. Pending approval on $1.35 million in federal low-income housing tax credits in February, the developer hopes to begin work on the project in July.

It’s great to see that HRI is continuing to develop projects in St. Louis; they were instrumental in helping to spur downtown’s revival, renovating the Lenox and Statler Hotels as the Renaissance Hotels, the Merchandise Mart and a Cupples Station warehouse.

It is also great to see this project moving forward. Hopefully, the Bottle District will be allowed to develop organically, as a neighborhood, with a variety of developers contributing different ideas for the area. The original approach, a self-contained entertainment district similar to what is planned for Ballpark Village, was doomed to fail from the start.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Gateway EDI Expands at One Financial Plaza

One company that has found downtown to be a great place to grow is Gateway EDI.

As reported in the Business Journal, Gateway EDI, which moved its headquarters to downtown from Crestwood in 2005, expanded its lease at One Financial Plaza, adding 22,724 sf to its 46,000 sf office.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Downtown Needs Zhu Zhu Pets Too

The must-have toys this holiday season are Zhu Zhu Pets, a line of adorable robotic hamsters. Zhu Zhu Pets are the brainchildren of Cepia LLC, a Clayton-based firm with 15 employees.

Cepia is led by Russell Hornsby, one of the founders of Trendmasters, a toy company that was based downtown at 1015 Washington Avenue, way before Washington Avenue was cool. Thanks to strong sales of its Rumble Robots and Powerpuff Girls toy lines (among others), the firm grew to 250 employees and was generating $150 million in sales. Unfortunately, Trendmasters went out of business in 2002 after a devastating holiday season that year.

Sounds like the minds behind Cepia have a great track record of developing popular toys. If the firm can keep growing, it’s going to need new office space. And of course, the best office space and overall working environment for creative professionals like those at Cepia is found downtown.

Downtown, and Washington Avenue in particular, has improved by leaps and bounds since Trendmasters closed in 2002. Perhaps Cepia’s leadership would be willing to give downtown a second chance? I can think of several spaces that would absolutely perfect for a firm like Cepia.

Monday, November 30, 2009

You Know His Law Firm

As mentioned in the Business Journal on Friday, Brown & Crouppen has signed a 10-year lease for 25,000 sf on the 16th floor of Met Square. The firm will be moving its 85 employees from the Laclede Gas Building.

With Husch Blackwell on its way out, the departure of Brown & Crouppen will be another significant loss for the Laclede Gas Building, but will leave another good sized vacancy for an opportunistic tenant.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

This is not Downtown

In recent weeks, several people have asked me about the new Walgreens downtown.

Seeing as how downtown, for some reason, still does not have a Walgreens, it always takes me a second or two to realize that they’re actually referring to the new Walgreen’s on Lafayette, across from the old City Hospital.

I’ve also heard TV news reports mention this Walgreen’s as serving downtown as well.

You can call it by the name the city has given it – Peabody, Darst, Webbe – or by the greater area it serves – Lafayette Square – but this area is not downtown. This store is not at all convenient to downtown residents, office workers or tourists/conventioneers, all of whom who would most likely be running errands on foot or bike, and not by car.

Hopefully Walgreens realizes this and opens a true downtown location – in the CBD – in the days ahead. It’s amazing to me that a company that has been relentless in opening new locations across the city has ignored a relatively untapped market for so long. It seems that just about every city of comparable size to St. Louis has at least one, and we once had two locations just a short distance from each other. In the final days of St. Louis Centre, Walgreens was the only business that appeared to still be busy.

A Walgreens would give downtown another much-needed amenity, fill a fairly large vacant retail space, and help add a little more life to the street. If CVS wants to add a full-size store downtown instead, they’re more than welcome to beat Walgreens to the punch.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Park Pacific Project Proceeding Promptly


After receiving approval on a $56 million loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Lawrence Group is nearly ready to begin the redevelopment of the former Union Pacific headquarters building at 13th and Olive as the Park Pacific.

Considering the current state of the economy and the fact that the Lawrence Group lost the commitment of a major office tenant – accounting firm Larson Allen, which instead decided to lease space at One City Centre – this is fantastic news.

The $109 million project will feature 232 apartments, 45,000 square feet of office space, 35,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space and parking for 580 cars. According to the Business Journal, the Lawrence Group has already received letters of intent from several tenants.

The financing for the Park Pacific is scheduled to close in January, with construction beginning in February and anticipated completion coming in summer 2011.

With this project and several others finally about to begin, downtown’s list of vacant, developable buildings is starting to dwindle – a very exciting thing.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Group 360 Chooses 1225 Washington


After considering options downtown and elsewhere in the city of St. Louis, marketing and advertising firm Group 360 has announced that it has chosen 1225 Washington for its new headquarters.

The firm will lease 60,000 sf on three floors of the seven-story building. 130 employees will move downtown from St. Louis County, joining the 50 Group 360 employees who currently work downtown in the Fashion Square Building.

1225 Washington, originally known as the Avenida Lofts, is currently receiving a $25 million renovation by the McGowan Brothers, and Group 360 expects to occupy its new space in about 10 months.

According to the Business Journal, Rosalita’s Cantina and Jive & Wail Piano Bar will occupy the ground floor, Group 360 will take floors 2-4, and floors 5-7 will be converted to apartments with 10 units on each floor.

Group 360 cited downtown’s “cool” factor as one of the reasons behind its decision to consolidate downtown.

Back in January, it was announced that architecture firm Kennedy & Associates was going to move its offices (and its 95 employees) from Met Square to two floors at 1225 Washington, but it appears that Group 360 is taking all of the available space instead. Is Kennedy & Associates staying put?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

GenAm Building Back on the Sale Block


The General American Building at 700 Market Street is now being offered for sale, with an asking price of $9.8 million.

This could be good news for downtown, as the building's current owners, Centaur Properties, has owned it for four years now and has been unable to find a tenant. They really dropped the ball by not closing a deal to sell it to DHR International, who had explored purchasing the building for its headquarters. DHR instead chose to locate in Clayton.

Kevin McLaughlin and Pam Hinds of Balke Brown are the listing agents. The building is available for sale for $9.8 million (Centaur bought it for $6.1 million in 2005), and for lease for $21.00 psf.

The design of the 128,250-square-foot property really only allows for it to be occupied by a single tenant, but it does make for a highly visible, architecturally significant headquarters building.

The building has only a handful of internal parking spots (2, IIRC), but the Stadium West garage is located catty-corner from it. The building's listing claims 205 available parking spots, although I'm not sure where they are.

If the building is purchased or leased by a large user, the impact on downtown's Class A vacancy rate would be substantial. There's got to be someone out there willing to move to this great building.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Entrepreneurial Spirit Alive and Well Downtown

Tim Bryant of the Post-Dispatch wrote an article on James Trogolo Co., one of the nation's largest providers of commercial holiday decorations, which is looking to expand its design and sales operation by opening an office in downtown St. Louis.

A location has not been chosen, but company president Jim Espy hopes to lease space by next spring to accommodate at least six to eight new employees.

Espy, a Southern Illinois native who splits his time between DuQuoin and an apartment in downtown St. Louis, said he is eager to contribute to what he said is downtown's remarkable resurgence.

"I'm crazy about downtown," Espy said. "With our little piece, I'd love to help."
The Business Journal is also reporting that Ted Disabato and Charles Nitsch have partnered to start law firm Disabato Nitsch LLP, specializing in real estate. The new firm has set up shop at 727 N. First St. on Laclede’s Landing and is seeking to add attorneys.

It's great to see the entrepreneurial spirit alive and well in downtown St. Louis. Best of luck to downtown's newest businesses; we need more startups and small businesses to follow their lead by choosing downtown!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Arcade Building in Need of a Developer

The city's Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority has taken the first steps toward helping make the vacant Arcade Building more attractive to developers by declaring the building blighted and authorizing 10-year tax abatement.

The Arcade, along with The Alexa (aka the Chemical Building), are the last two remaining undeveloped buildings in the Old Post Office District. It is one of the few Pyramid-owned buildings still owned by Pyramid and a critical component to downtown's ongoing renaissance.

While Pyramid was marketing The Arcade as condos, I would like to see the building's next developers include a larger percentage of office space to help increase the Old Post Office District's daytime population.

Friday, November 06, 2009

A St. Louis Centre Rendering!


We keep getting more and more news on the planned $220 million redevelopment of St. Louis Centre into parking and retail space.

The Post-Dispatch provided a nice rundown on the project that mentions that not only is a movie theater being considered for the second floor, a fitness center is being considered as well.

Also featured in the article was Amos Harris stating that the redevelopment of the Dillard's Building into apartments and an Embassy Suites hotel could be completed in early 2012.

Finally, Building Blocks came through with a rendering of the St. Louis Centre project, pictured above.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Ch-ch-changes

Good news on the retail front: The Time boutique is slated to re-open in the Paul Brown Building in an 1,200 sf space formerly occupied by Curves.

The Business Journal is reporting that Great Clips will lease 1,200 sf in the building as well.

Finally, the rumor mill is buzzing with the news that Nepalese eatery Everest is planning on returning to downtown, opening a second location at 711 Olive, in the space formerly occupied by Bahn Thai.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Downtown West Goes to the Dawgs

Downtown West's newest business, Dawg Day Afternoon, is about to open at 2321 Locust to cater to all your canine needs, including overnight boarding, dog walking, pet sitting and grooming.

According to its web site, at Dawg Day Afternoon, dogs 35 pounds and larger have almost 2,000 square feet of play space while smaller dogs have over 1,000 square feet to enjoy. In addition, each pet is walked multiple times throughout the day.

With City Pet Supply at 1915 Washington and the 12th Street Animal Hospital at 412 N. Tucker, downtown dog owners now have access to practically every product and service that Fido could possibly need.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

1111 Olive Plans Moving Forward


Bob Guller's proposed redevelopment of the vacant former Post-Dispatch printing press building at 1111 Olive has taken another step forward, with a request of $2.35 million in tax increment financing to help cover a portion of the $11.75 million in planned improvements.
IT firm Xiolink will lease the bulk of the space in the 100,000 sf building. Roughly 20,000 sf will be offered to other tenants, and 8,000 sf of space on the ground floor will be available for retail tenants.

Xiolink will retain its current space in the Bandwidth Exchange Building at 900 Walnut, where it has 20 employees, and eventually add 50 employees with annual salaries exceeding $50,000 at 1111 Olive. The relatively small number of employees in such a large space would lead me to believe that most of the space will be used for servers and other IT infrastructure.
Personally, I hope that the renovation plans include the removal of the unsightly radio tower from the building's roof. The Marquette Building once had a similar tower and looks much better since its removal.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The New (and Improved?) Macy's

We know that the downtown Macy's will shrink from its current seven floors to just three floors in the near future to help ensure that the store remains viable.

What we don't know yet is the specifics of the plans for the store.

Will the charming Papa Fabares restaurant on the second floor be retained? What about the St. Louis Room? Or the candy counter by the Olive entrance? Hopefully the store will still retain some of its unique features that make shopping downtown a different experience than shopping at a suburban store.

One interesting tidbit: Jerry Berger reports that Macy's is "refreshing" (and re-thinking) its offerings at the downtown store, possibly adding a department featuring fashions from local designer.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Encouraging News on the Railway Exchange

Encouraging news on the Railway Exchange Building has emerged.

Mayor Slay is reporting that Rick Yawkey and Bill and Brian Bruce have the building under contract for $18.5 million, and are set to close in January. The developers are planning a $122 million overhaul and have requested $28.7 million in subsidies for the project.

The Macy's department store would be downsized from seven floors to a more manageable three floors, more consistent in size (125,000 sf) with the chain's more recent stores. Macy's would also lease floors 9 and 10 for office space.

The remaining space would be leased for office an other "non-residential" use. The developer is already in talks with prospective tenants.

Mad Men (and Women) Spotted on Jefferson


Yet another creative firm has set up shop downtown, further strengthening the creative community.

Located at 227 N. Jefferson, Scorch Agency is the latest addition to the downtown advertising scene.

Launched in September by Chris Buehler and Mike Kociela, Scorch is a full-service marketing and events agency delivering "piping hot creative to fuel brand activation" to a diverse roster of clients including Major League Baseball and The Gateway Mall Project.

To Scorch: Welcome!

To the few remaining advertising, PR and design agencies still doing business in bland suburban locales: What are you waiting for? Make the move to a truly creative environment downtown!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Concealing the Future St. Louis Centre Garage


As I mentioned in my last post, I am eager to see a rendering of the redeveloped St. Louis Centre.

One thing I'm curious about is how the two Locust Street entrances to the property will be addressed.

In particular, the southeastern entrance is set back from the street and faces an open plaza (see picture above). With a parking garage going into the southern half of the former mall, there really isn't any reason why it would need a formal entrance plaza. This space could easily accomodate the construction of a new building, which would help to conceal the garage and add density.

Is there any reason to leave this space open?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Somebody Produce a Rendering!


More details on the redevelopment plans for St. Louis Centre have emerged.

According to the Business Journal, the moribund mall will be receiving a $37.5 million overhaul.

The northern end of the building, facing Washington Avenue, will house up to 100,000 sf of retail space, which I am assuming will be spread out over multiple floors (the article didn't specify). Spinnaker, St. Louis Centre's owner, is looking to attract a movie theater, which would be great for downtown.

The southern end will be converted to a 750-car garage for Thompson Coburn (located in the nearby U.S. Bank Plaza) and One City Centre tenants.

The Washington Avenue skybridge is coming down, and the Locust skybridge may be coming down as well.

The plan sounds pretty great. Now I just need a rendering to see what it all will look like!

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Future of 500 N. Broadway

It's been an exciting week, with lots of good news on the redevelopment of One City Centre, St. Louis Centre and The Laurel.

The only downside to all the recent news is that Lewis Rice's impending move to One City Centre will leave 500 N. Broadway in peril.

The Sklarov family, owners of 500 N. Broadway claims that when Lewis Rice vacates its 110,000 sf space, they will likely lose the building to foreclosure. They bought the building in 2003 for $11.8 million and currently have it listed for sale for $17.5 million.

500 N. Broadway's other tenants include LaBarge Pipe & Steel, Burton Greenberg, RBC Dain Rauscher, McGlynn & Luther, Beneficial Capital Leasing, Coleman & White, Barken & Bakewell and The Castle Law Office. Together, they lease about 65,000 sf - less than a quarter - of the 282,965 sf building.

The Sklarovs are taking issue with the city and state assistance being provided to Lewis Rice and SCR Investments, which owns One City Centre. On one hand, I can see their point; on the other hand, they've had more than enough time to attract more tenants. For years the building has had several vacant floors, so it's not as if a lack of large blocks was a detriment to its marketability.

500 N. Broadway has many positive qualities which should make it attractive to a wide variety of users, such as a great location, parking for 282 cars, modern layout and low lease rates. It offers a outstanding opportunity for a value-oriented tenant to take up to 200,000 sf, making it an excellent potential headquarters site.

Perhaps the loss of Lewis Rice will force the Sklarovs to be more aggressive in signing on new tenants. We can only hope that this building does not languish for long.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

PRORehab Opening Downtown Clinic

You never know where you'll pick up information about downtown happenings. This morning, while visiting my orthopedist, I learned that PRORehab is opening a physical therapy clinic downtown at 201 N. 7th Street. This is the retail space in the garage located adjacent to the Laclede Gas Building at 7th and Olive.

Just another convenient option for downtown workers and residents, joining Downtown Urgent Care and other health services providers who have opened up downtown in recent months.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Larson Allen Moving to One City Centre


Building Blocks has a great post detailing the ongoing saga at One City Centre.

The great news is that accounting firm Larson Allen has signed a letter of intent to lease 23,000 sf in the 290,000 sf tower. The firm will be moving roughly 100 employees downtown from Town & Country. They will join law firm Sandberg, Phoenix & von Gontard, which currently leases 56,000 sf.

If Lewis Rice makes it official and moves to One City Centre from 500 N. Broadway, it will take 100,000 sf, pushing the building's occupancy rate to over 60%.

While Larson Allen's move to One City Centre likely means that the Lawrence Group's Park Pacific project is dead, it is GREAT to see a growing, successful firm making the move downtown. Congrats to Larson Allen - their employees are going to love their new location.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Way Cool Washington Avenue Property


2233 is a single-story, 27,000 sf warehouse/service center with a cool art deco facade and unbelievable potential.

The picture above, from the listing broker, appears to have been PhotoShopped - the trees in the photo do not exist, and the windows are currently boarded up.

Regardless, this building could be reused as truly unique office space for a firm with creativity and a little vision. Or, it would be great as a combination retail showroom and workshop for artisans such as furniture makers or metal workers.

Of course, when I look at this building, I think "microbrewery."

Really, the possibilities for a flexible building like this are endless.

Building signage is available, and plentiful free parking is available adjacent to the building. The space is available for lease at $14.00 psf.

Ben Friedman of CB Richard Ellis is the listing agent - (314) 655-6056

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

One City Centre Renovation Plans Moving Forward?

The financing of renovations to One City Centre may be taking another step forward soon.

The city of St. Louis is requesting a $5 million loan from the Missouri Development Finance Board to help pay for improvements to the 25-story Class A tower. $4 million in New Markets Tax Credits have already been allocated to help pay for improvements to the building; the price tag for the planned improvements could total $25 million.

Lewis Rice is reportedly considering moving to One City Centre from its current space at 500 N. Broadway. If this happens, it should have a nice impact on downtown's Class A vacancy rate, while delivering a blow to the Class B rate. However, Lewis Rice would be leaving behind a large block of very affordable, well-finished space that, combined with existing vacant space at 500 N. Broadway, could be very attractive for a budget-conscious large tenant.

The area around St. Louis Centre is in desperate need of help. Renovating the office tower and attracting new tenants would be a great first step toward revitalization. Demolition of the St. Louis Centre skybridge and construction on The Laurel would hopefully come next, with the renovation/repurposing of St. Louis Centre itself following.

Stem the Brain Drain by Investing in Downtown

Good stuff from Mayor Slay's speech at last week's Business Celebration Luncheon:

A recent survey showed that more than 77% of Americans born after 1981 want to live and work in an urban core. A more recent survey says “walkability” adds value to real estate. It’s clear to all of us that sustainability is becoming a way of life.

Our City has a lot to offer business leaders of today and tomorrow—our inherent sustainability with a wide variety of uses packed into a dense, centrally located, walkable and bikable core, our diverse architectural and cultural environment, our strong and diverse business base, and our great universities—and the entrepreneurialism they foster.
The message is clear, young people want to be a part of an urban environment, and businesses that operate downtown have a distinct competitive advantage when it comes to recruiting. I don't think many of our business leaders fully grasp this concept. The law firms that have left downtown for Clayton in recent years are a prime example. The firms that have chosen to stay downtown will have the edge when it comes to recruiting summer associates.

At the very least, people need to understand that unless they want their own kids to move away after college, helping create a vibrant, active, exciting downtown is the best way to get them to stay.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Strong Corporate Presence Makes All the Difference

I just read an interesting article on the future of America's cities, that touched on the role that Charlotte's corporate leaders - namely, former CEO Hugh McColl - had on that city's downtown:
With two money center banks and the urbanist leadership of Bank of America’s Hugh McColl Jr., Charlotte built a sparkling downtown from nothing in little more than a decade. McColl could have put B of A’s corporate center out in a suburban office “park,” as has happened all over America, as its cities have cratered. Instead, he located it in one of downtown’s most blighted areas, transforming it. He created delightful downtown neighborhoods. Bank of America and First Union (which took the name of an acquisition, Wachovia) competed to build skyscrapers and then civic assets. Their support was essential to the completion of the first light-rail line in the South.
Downtown St. Louis has some advantages over downtown Charlotte, such as a better stock of historic structures and overall character, but without a strong corporate presence, it will never reach its potential.

Imagine if in addition to Wells Fargo and Stifel Nicolaus, Edward Jones, Scottrade and smaller financial services firms like Smith, Moore and Stern Brothers and local banks such as First Bank, Commerce (joint HQ w/KC), Pulaski, Montgomery and Heartland were based downtown, instead of dispersed throughout the soul-less suburbs.

Then downtown St. Louis would really be in business.

The financial services industry is just one example; the presence of more companies in any industry would provide a major boost to downtown. Centene could have helped provide that boost but chose otherwise.

Who will be the next company to step up and make a major commitment to downtown?

Friday, October 09, 2009

A New Chief at the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis

The Partnership for Downtown St. Louis will have a new leader, Maggie Campbell, who will take over for the retiring Jim Cloar on November 2.

Ms. Campbell comes to St. Louis from Arlington, Texas, where she served as president of the Arlington Downtown Management Association since 2006. According to the press release announcing her hiring:

Campbell’s accomplishments over her 24 years of diverse downtown experience with organizations in Texas, California, Mississippi, and Oklahoma include: successfully recruiting new investors and tenants for the Center Street Station project, a $12 million expansion of a historic entertainment venue as a new performance hall and the recruitment of an anchor tenant; securing a substantial grant from the Mortimer Levitt Foundation to support the creation and operation of the “Levitt Pavilion”; raising more than $1.2 million in private donations in less than eight months for the Levitt Pavilion Business Plan and volunteer-based capital campaign; administering BID’s with budgets in excess of $1.5 million; and, successfully leading BID renewal’s.
Ms. Campbell comes to St. Louis at a critical juncture. Major developments like the Laurel, One City Centre, the Kiel Opera House, and St. Louis Centre need to proceed in order for downtown to continue its positive momentum. Work on Ballpark Village must commence at some point. Downtown needs new Class A office space and attracting new businesses to the CBD and retaining and nurturing downtown's existing businesses is of the utmost importance. Downtown needs to continue to add residents and is woefully underserved from a retail standpoint.

The good thing is, as Mr. Cloar showed us, these problems can be successfully tackled with good leadership. After decades of inaction, downtown has finally started to turn the corner and is headed in the right direction.

Welcome to St. Louis and good luck, Ms. Campbell! I look forward to seeing what you have in store for downtown St. Louis!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

2 North Jefferson


Many financial services firms have left downtown over the years in order to "be closer to their clients" who typically live in West County. For the most part, these firms have moved to Clayton.

Take, for example, a firm like Smith, Moore, which left the Security Building in 2004 for Clayton after spending 90 years downtown. Their reason for doing so, according to president Jim Deutsch:
"As far as the location, our clients have been moving west (of downtown) for some time. Clayton puts us closer to them."
But is Clayton really all that convenient? It is for clients who live in Clayton or off Ladue Road in Ladue, but for many people in the St. Louis area, Clayton may be closer, but not necessarily easy to access. From my home in the County, getting downtown takes me roughly the same amount of time as getting to the Sevens Building in Clayton, where Smith, Moore is now located.

Consider the former A.G. Edwards Trust building at the northeast corner of Jefferson and Market. Its location is fantastic, just blocks from Highway 40, and not far from 44. For clients traveling to the office from West County via 40 or 44, this location might actually be quicker to get to than a Clayton location. And for clients coming from Illinois, there's no comparison.

2 North Jefferson contains 84,370 sf of modern office space, including two conference rooms and a lower level lounge area. It also has a loading door and storage area, as well as its own 175-car parking lot.

While this building would work well for a variety of firms, it's ideally suited for a brokerage firm, law office, or any business looking for easy highway access and parking for clients.

The building is listed for sale for $7,000,000.

The listing agents are David Randolph - (314) 655-6006 - and Don Woehle - (314) 588-1623 - of CB Richard Ellis.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Jos A. Bank Checking Out Downtown


According to an informed poster on UrbanSTL, representatives from Jos A. Bank are in town checking out space in the vicinity of the Old Post Office. I had previously heard rumors of this myself, but was unsure how accurate they were. Glad to hear the rumors were true.

I just happened to be working on another "Businesses I'd Like to Have Downtown" post describing the need for a quality men's clothing store. If Jos A. Bank signs a lease downtown, I can cross that one off my list!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Post-season Baseball Means Big Business

One more reason to hope the Cardinals make a deep run in the post-season: an infusion of cash to downtown businesses.

Adam Allington of KWMU recently reported on the economic impact of Cardinal playoff games on the bars and restaurants near the ballpark:

The last time the Cardinals went to the playoffs was the year they won the World Series in 2006. At that time, the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association calculated the total economic impact at $3.1 million per playoff game and $4.5 million per World Series game.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Businesses I'd Like to Have Downtown: A Movie Theater


It doesn't have to be a 20-screen megaplex or anything, just a nice 1-4 screen theater, maybe something along the lines of the theater at the Chase Park Plaza, which is operated by St. Louis Cinemas.

A mix of independent and high-quality studio films would be ideal, and the opportunity to buy a bottle of beer or a glass of wine would be a nice touch as well.

Downtown has now gone years without a movie theater - the most recent movie theater was at Union Station and there once was one in one of the Kiener Plaza garages. These theaters failed because they tried to compete with the suburban cinemas, when an art house theater may have been more appropriate.

Before Pyramid went out of business, there was talk of adding a small movie theater to the Jefferson Arms, which would be a great spot. It would be great to see a local operator like St. Louis Cinemas step up and fill the void downtown.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Quick Alexa Update


I recently learned that The Alexa - the redevelopment of the Chemical Building at 8th and Olive - is still on track.

The developers, Heisman Properties of Los Angeles, have financing for the project in place and expects to begin construction in early 2010.

Originally marketed as for-sale condos, the plan now calls for 132 market rate apartments with ground floor retail space and possibly some creative office space on the second and third floors.

Just one more piece of the Old Post Office District puzzle falling into place. Once The Alexa is underway, that leaves only the Arcade Building as the last remaining undeveloped building in the area.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Centenary Tower Up for Auction


The Centenary Tower at 1530 Locust is scheduled to hit the auction block tomorrow at noon at the Civil Courts building.

The 100-unit apartment building was vacated more than two years ago by its former owner, Centenary Housing of Portland, Maine. The top seven floors of the 10-story building contain the apartments, while a YMCA occupies the lower floors. The YMCA's portion of the building is not included in the sale.

Built in 1925, Centenary Tower primarily served as housing for seniors and the disabled for more than three decades before it was shut down due to unsafe conditions.

It will be good to get this building under new ownership and hopefully filled with residents again at some point. With redevelopment of the adjacent Leather Trades Building coming soon as well, the 1500 and 1600 blocks of Locust could have a bright future ahead of them.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Big Changes Coming to Union Station

According to the Post-Dispatch, Marriott is planning a significant expansion of its hotel at Union Station.

Doug Dean, the Marriott's general manager, said the hotel renovation will restore some of the inn's original 1890s configuration. He noted that the original front desk was off the atrium, remarkable for its glass-block floor. All 539 rooms, including the 67 in the station's original "headhouse," will be redone. Dean declined to specify the overall cost, saying it remained "a moving target."

Four meeting rooms and a restaurant will be built near the new lobby. One floor above, the existing restaurant will be used mainly for private events. Beginning with a ballroom freshening done by November, the renovation project will be completed in late 2011, he said.
The expansion will extend the hotel’s meeting and restaurant space into the western portion of Union Station’s retail area, concentrating retail shops along the eastern concourse. My hope is that this will result in fewer low-quality retailers. Union Station needs to keep the few remaining quality stores it still has - such as the Cardinals Clubhouse - boot the bad stores, and work hard to pull in good new ones like it once had.

Also:
Frances Percich, Union Station's marketing manager, said "serious" discussions are under way with two retailers, including one that would be new to St. Louis. She declined to name them. Percich said the station will continue to market itself as a tourist attraction with numerous spring and summer events.
I have no problem with Union Station being a tourist-focused destination, but there's no reason why it can't appeal to locals, especially those who live and work downtown and in the surrounding neighborhoods.

It seems to me that the various entities that have managed Union Station over the years have always underestimated its appeal to local residents. I think there is a decent segment of the population who would like to visit Union Station periodically for dining or shopping, but are completely turned off by the one problem that Union Station has never addressed:

LACK OF FREE PARKING.

Simply validating parking for visitors who dine or make purchases at Union Station would have a tremendous impact on the number of locals who spend time there.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mosaic Expanding; The Time Moving

According to the Business Journal, downtown hotspot Mosaic is planning to expand again, this time adding a private dining space that will accomodate groups of up to 120 people.

The private dining space will be located catty-corner from Mosaic, in a retail space on the ground floor of the Renaissance's conference facility currently occupied by trendy boutique The Time.

According to the article:

The Time’s owner, Jennifer Gray, is vacating the storefront after nearly three years. Gray said she’s considering several options for continuing her five-year-old business, including opening elsewhere in the city of St. Louis.
Hopefully she will at least stay in the city, if not downtown. Downtown definitely needs more places like The Time.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Downtown Housing: Gaining Residents, Ready for More Units

The Partnership for Downtown St. Louis issued its Mid-Year 2009 Housing Report, which yielded some encouraging figures.

The first bit of good news is that downtown gained nearly 400 residents in the first half of 2009.

The second bit of good news is that nearly 300 condominium units were converted to apartments, stabilizing the occupancy rate of for sale units.

Here's a quick rundown of the numbers:

Population
− 12,409 residents: 5,000+ new residents since 2000
− 3% increase in residents over December 31, 2008

Residential Occupancy
− 89% for all units
− 86% for sale units
− 90% for all rental units
− 90% for market rate rental units
− 89% for below market rate rental units
These statistics indicate that the downtown market would be able to accomodate the addition of more residential units. Hopefully we'll see projects like The Alexa, the Ballpark Lofts, the Jefferson Arms and the Leather Trades begin construction in the near future.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

St. Louis Lands NCAA Midwest Regional

Thanks to the efforts of the St. Louis Sports Commission, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and SLU, March Madness will return to St. Louis in 2012, when the city will host the NCAA Midwest Regional!

The economic impact of hosting this event ranges from $8 million to $10 million, depending on which teams are playing. 2012 will mark the fourth time in nine seasons (including this season) that St. Louis has hosted the Midwest Regional.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Businesses I'd Like to Have Downtown: A Quiet Pub

Downtown already has plenty of sports bars, clubs and smokey dives, and a wine bar is even slated to open soon next to Left Bank Books. But what I'd really like to see is a nice, quiet(er), homey place in which to sip a pint and enjoy good conversation with friends. Preferably smoke-free.

Two perfect spots: the first floor of the LaSalle Building and 923 Locust, if the Roberts Brothers were to decide not to tear it down for a pointless driveway at Hotel Indigo.

Monday, September 21, 2009

1918-1920 Washington Available for Lease

Located in red-hot Downtown West, across the street from the Tudor Building and just west of two other mixed use projects currently underway, space is currently available in the recently-renovated historic building at 1918-1920 Washington Avenue.

The 1,692 sf space is listed for lease at $13.00 psf and offers basement storage.

The building is listed by Duffe Nuerenberger Realty: Cindy Washington,(314) 494-6566 and Susan Sauer, (314) 571-7654.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Arcade Building vs. St. Louis Centre

Two buildings enter; one building leaves...

Which building would you rather see renovated first: the Arcade Building or St. Louis Centre?

Let's take a look at both, and what their redevelopment would mean for downtown.

The Arcade Building - The last remaining building to be redeveloped in the newly-reinvigorated Old Post Office Square (I'm assuming The Alexa is still going to proceed at some point). The historic two-story shopping arcade could lure upscale retail, boutiques, etc. Residential units would provide even more customers for the Culinaria and other retailers, as well as more users for Old Post Office Plaza. Add office space to the mix, and you have a building that would add life to the surrounding area seven days a week.

St. Louis Centre - A major eyesore directly across from the convention center. Renovating this building would go a long way toward improving the perceptions of the thousands of tourists and conventioneers who visit St. Louis every year. The first floor is large enough to accomodate the large, national retailers that downtown has lacked for years now. A redeveloped St. Louis Centre will also make the nearby Mercantile Library Complex much more attractive for rehab.

Hmmm...

In its current condition, the contrast between the Arcade and the adjacent Paul Brown Building is very stark - completely dead to the east; thriving and bustling to the west. A renovated Arcade Building would be absolutely amazing to see and would cement the Old Post Office District as one of liveliest spots downtown.

Right now, The Laurel (the redevelopment of the former Dillard's department store attached to St. Louis Centre) is moving forward, which will eliminate one of St. Louis Centre's unsightly skywalks. This could potentially encourage the redevelopment the leasing of vacant space in buildings such as 555 and 501 Washington. If all of this were to happen, the void currently created by St. Louis Centre becomes much less noticeable.

I definitely want to see both buildings renovated, but the Arcade is the one I'd like to see renovated first.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Businesses I'd Like to Have Downtown - Alpine Shop

I've never felt the need to patronize chain stores like REI for outdoor gear when we have a great store like the Alpine Shop based right here in St. Louis.

But right now, their only locations in town are in Kirkwood and Chesterfield, not exactly convenient for those who live in the city.

How about a downtown location? I have to think that downtown's demographics match up favorably with the Alpine Shop's target market.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Random Lease Roundup

Ralcorp Holdings Inc. leased 20,151 sf in the Bank of America Plaza at 800 Market St.

Daniel J. Cook and Anne F. Leners purchased a 5,000 sf office condo at 701 N. 11th Street.

Pete Rothschild purchased the "Peach Building" at 1115 Pine.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fashion Week

Deb Peterson of the Post-Dispatch had a brief blurb on Attilio D'Agostino, head of St. Louis Fashion Week (This fall's Fashion Week will take place October 12-19):

D’Agostino...said part of his goal is to help turn the Lou into a destination for the best designers in the world to reach their Midwest customers.

He said he also wants St. Louis to be a place where emerging designers, models, photographers and fashion brands can be launched.
St. Louis has a growing national reputation in the fashion world, thanks to people like D'Agostino, stars like Kimora Lee Simmons, and the talented grads of Wash U.'s highly-regarded school of design.

It's great to hear about St. Louisans who are willing to think big and do their part to put St. Louis on the map.

Way to go, Attilio!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Businesses I'd Like to Have Downtown - Companion

St. Louisans have been flocking to sample the delicious breads and other baked goods from Companion's three bakehouses - in the Central West End, Clayton and Ladue - for years now.

In fact, Companion was recently named to USA Today's list of "10 Great Places to Harvest a Bounty of Artisan Breads."

To me, a downtown location almost seems like a no-brainer, especially if positioned in a location that is convenient to both office workers and residents.

If downtown is going to reach its full potential, it's going to take commitment from local businesses, as exhibited by Schnucks with the new Culinaria. How about it, Companion?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Sold!


The Wall Street Journal is reporting that an unidentified buyer has signed a contract to purchase the Railway Exchange Building from Macy's Inc. for $35 million in a deal that is expected to close within six months.

Macy's will keep its department store open on the lower floors, leasing the space from the building's new owners.

The 21-story, 1,162,000 sf building currently has a vacancy rate of approximately 20 percent, the Journal reports. That number is lower than I would have thought. As for the Railway Exchange's redevelopment potential:

The building likely will be redeveloped as a mixed-used structure that could include a hotel, offices and residential space as well as retail, people said. Just what makes sense likely will depend on which real-estate sector emerges first from the downturn.
It will be interesting to see what the new owners have in store...

Update from Building Blocks: Link

North Riverfront Improvements


Mayor Slay's blog features updates on some upcoming improvements to the North Riverfront: a new road that will improve access to the bustling Produce Row and $50 million in improvements to the Municipal River Terminal, which could potentially bring new logistics jobs to the area.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Don't Do It, Sam!

According to St. Louis Gossip Guy Jerry Berger:

Sam Koplar was spotted checking out the Clayton real estate market with what friends say is a possible move of Koplar Enterprises from its downtown Jello-tower of indecision.
Koplar is currently located in the Gateway Tower at One Memorial Drive.

Based on a past interview in St. Louis Magazine, Sam Koplar seems to have an appreciation for the city and the need for a thriving urban core:

Sam talks about bringing the younger generation back into the city and making it more urban. He has his grandfather’s attitude: Out with the old, in with the new. He wants to tackle developments that will make St. Louis stand out as a big city. He says he doesn’t understand peers who graduate from college and move to the county as if they’re ready to retire.

“It’s like that movie Groundhog Day out there,” he says of the monotony he thinks that life affords.
Moving his family's business out of downtown to Clayton certainly won't help matters any.

Come on, Sam - Don't do it!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Low Quality Camera Phone Photo of the Day, 9/4

Tables and chairs have been added to Old Post Office Square.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Another New Restaurant

Good news for fans of Indian food: Mr. Curry's Indian Restaurant will be opening soon in the former Curry in a Hurry space on Olive between 6th and 7th.

Low Quality Camera Phone Photo of the Day, 9/3


210 N. Tucker is getting a new canopy over its front entrance. Hopefully it will spruce up what is an otherwise bland building.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Grist for the Rumor Mill

Just in the last two weeks, I’ve heard rumors of a major clothing retailer looking at space near the Culinaria and a national pharmacy chain scouting out locations east of the Old Post Office District.

I’d be interested to know if Ace Hardware is still considering a loft district store. Perhaps the success of the Culinaria will prove that the market for downtown retail is much stronger than many originally thought.

Of course, those who work and live downtown have known all along that the area is ridiculously underserved from a retail standpoint. There is money to be made in downtown St. Louis for retailers that possess a little vision. Let's hope more retailers out there - both local and national - are willing to seize the opportunity.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Restaurant Updates

Joe Bonwich’s Off the Menu blog made mention of the opening dates for two new downtown eateries: Gourmet to Go is set to open in the St. Louis Place Building on Monday, September 21, and will feature sit-down space. Peruvian restaurant Mango is slated to open its downtown location in the original Mosaic space in the Hadley-Dean Building at 1101 Lucas on September 11.

The Business Journal is reporting that Sweet Basil – a Thai restaurant – is slated to open in a 2,000 sf space in the Mark Twain Hotel at 9th and Pine in January 2010. It will join Planet Sub, Labeebee’s and MyBar and Pizzaria.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Tire Mart Building

One of the more prominent remaining unrehabbed buildings along Locust in Downtown West is the Tire Mart Building at 1815 Locust.

Designed by prominent architect Preston J. Bradshaw, this three-story building was named to the National Historic Register in 2004 and features huge windows that make it a perfect candidate for residential or commercial lofts.

Tire Mart Inc. owns the building and appears to still be operating its wholesale tire distribution business there, so at least it's not vacant. Perhaps Tire Mart could find a new location elsewhere in the city and give its current building a new life.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Two Downtown Companies Named to Fortune Magazine List

Two downtown companies – Stifel Nicolaus and Ralcorp Holdings – were named to Fortune magazine’s 100 Fastest-Growing Companies list. The fact that this year marks the first time that the list was expanded to include companies outside the U.S. makes this an even more significant accomplishment.

Stifel – located at One Financial Plaza – was ranked #25 on the list, while Ralcorp – headquartered in the Bank of America Plaza – was ranked #41.

A third St. Louis-area company – Monsanto – was ranked #75. The three St. Louis companies were the only Missouri companies to qualify for the list.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Budget-Friendly Downtown Option for Small Businesses


The 3,000 sf, two-story commercial building at 1908 Olive is listed for sale for just $138,000! This is a remarkable bargain for a well-situated small business space.

It would work well as office space, or a mix of office and retail space. Or, a building like this could be reconfigured with an apartment on the second floor for the business owner who wants to "live above his shop."

Don Woehle of CB Richard Ellis is the listing agent - (314) 588-1623.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Keep the Momentum Going by Moving Downtown

The Business Journal recently made mention of a few large tenants currently looking for space, including two currently based in the suburbs: Panera Bread and insurance broker Lockton Co.

When Panera began its search back in 2007, its CFO stated that "everything from downtown out to the airport, to I-270 and 40, including Illinois," was being considered. The company is in the market for 70,000 sf.

Creve Coeur-based Lockton Co. is looking for 35,000-40,000 sf in several submarkets. No mention of whether downtown is being considered.

Downtown now has several options available for large users such as these. Lockton, for instance, could take the remaining space in The 411. Panera could especially benefit from the high profile and signage that a downtown location could offer. Maybe the General American Building would be a good fit for Panera's corporate headquarters.

A move to downtown by either (or preferably both) of these firms would have a major impact on the momentum that has been building in recent years. Downtown needs to sustain continued positive absorption of office space in order to help bring about the eventual construction of new Class A space.

Monday, August 24, 2009

STL Makes a Splash at the Super Bowl of Conventions

Mayor Slay has a very upbeat blog post on the St. Louis delegation's recent trip to the ASAE Annual Meeting and Expositionin Toronto.

Known as the "Super Bowl of Conventions," this exciting event will be held in St. Louis in 2011. According to Mayor Slay:

The convention itself is a major economic event in its host city – and the occasion allows the host to show itself off to the people who will decide where their own groups will hold meetings and stage conventions in over the next decade.
This will be an unbelievable opportunity for St. Louis.

At the rate things are moving, I can only imagine how great St. Louis will look by the time the convention comes to town. Let's hope the economy improves and projects like Ballpark Village, The Laurel, The Alexa, St. Louis Centre and the Arcade Building can get going by then.

A mix of recently completed projects and under construction projects will really show convention planners that St. Louis is a city on the move.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Update on The Laurel Project


Last Thursday at a meeting held by the Downtown St. Louis Residents Association, architect Andy Trivers provided an update on The Laurel, the redevelopment of the former Dillard's department store at 6th and Washington.

As of right now, Spinnaker is working on procuring financing for the project and hopes to close toward the end of the year or possibly early next year. The specs on this project haven't changed from the original plan floated by Pyramid - first floor retail and a 200+ room Embassy Suites hotel with 200+ apartments above.

One encouraging note on the project, provided by Building Blocks:

Trivers said the $80 million construction cost includes restoration of the building’s brick facade. He added that installation of St. Louis Centre skybridge in the mid-1980s did little damage to the Dillard’s building, which previously was the Stix Baer and Fuller department store.
The demolition of the St. Louis Centre skybridge will have an amazing impact on Washington Avenue, helping connect the less lively 500 through 300 blocks with the thriving blocks west of the convention center. Buildings such as 555 Washington, 505 Washington and 500 N. Broadway could potentially become more attractive, especially the vacant - but very attractive - retail space in 555 Washington.

The Laurel will also leave downtown with one fewer prominent eyesore. Instead, it will help create a positive first impression for conventioneers and travelers getting off at the 6th and Washington MetroLink stop.

I won't pop any champagne corks until I see demolition crews start tearing down that skybridge (and I do plan to set up yard chairs on Washington to watch the demo if anyone's interested in joining me), but it's very encouraging to hear that this project is still moving forward.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Exciting Redevelopment Opportunity in Downtown West - 2035 Lucas


2035 Lucas is an exciting investment opportunity in the heart of one of Downtown West, one of the hottest spots for redevelopment these days.

This four-story, 50,000 sf warehouse is tucked away between the Adler Frame, Majestic Stove Lofts and Edge Lofts, and is located just a block from the Tudor Building and the other retail developments underway in the 1800 and 1900 blocks of Washington.

Due to its location, this building would most likely be better suited for residential conversion as opposed to office space (although that would certainly work well too). As a loft apartment or condo development, it would help create a critical mass of residents in this rapidly-growing section of downtown.
2035 Lucas is listed for sale for $1,450,000 ($29.00 psf).

The listing agents are Erv Heyde and John Warren of CB Richard Ellis.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Type of Attitude We Need in STL

In Sunday's Post-Dispatch, Deb Peterson profiled John Simanowitz, founder and CEO of Integrity, an interactive branding and marketing firm based just inside the St. Louis city limits.

My favorite part of the interview:

What are your goals for Integrity? — Personally, I would like to help change national perceptions about St. Louis. I would like the Midwest to play a leadership role in shaping the interactive landscape. I want people from San Francisco to move here for jobs. I would also like to continue to grow my company.
What a great quote.

Building a strong, thriving downtown will go a long way toward making St. Louis the type of city that will attract creative professionals from places like San Francisco.

Integrity sounds like it would fit in well downtown with Antidote, NGAGE, Adamson, Hughes and the many other creative firms that have set up shop downtown recently. Maybe someday, Mr. Simanowitz will move Integrity downtown from Clayton Road and help with the revitalization.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Two New Tenants for the Tudor Building


The first floor space at the Tudor Building in Downtown West has been filling up at a rapid pace. Joining City Pet Supply, Wicked Fresh Subs, Smoking Joe's BBQ (among others) will be two new tenants, according to Kevin Johnson of STLToday's Blender blog:

The City, a lounge/nightclub is coming to the 1917 Washington space. Owner Jason Spain has big plans for the space, including live music, movie nights and more.

The St. Louis House of Comedy is moving from Laclede's Landing to the 1925 Washington space. Paul Mooney, Tommy Davidson and Earthquake have already been lined up to perform.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Paradowski Creative Building Listed for Sale


As Paradowski Creative plans nears completion on its exciting new space on Locust, it has put its current building at 303 N. Broadway up for sale.

The three-story building contains approximately 7,500 sf of office space and 2,000 sf of storage. It is listed for $1,350,000 and will be available for occupancy in January 2010.

Paradowski did an amazing job of renovating what would have otherwise been a fairly nondescript little building. This office space would be perfect for a creative firm.

Tony Kennedy of EVS Realty Advisors is the listing agent: (314) 241-1175/tony.kennedy@evsra.com.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Stinson Still Exploring Options

In 2008, law firm Stinson Morrison Hecker acquired Blumenfeld Kaplan & Sandweiss and consolidated its offices in Blumenfeld's space in Clayton. Stinson had its offices in the Deloitte Building at 100 S. Fourth Street, resulting in the loss of another law firm for downtown.

However, the firm is still exploring its options for a new permanent home, and is looking for 60,000 sf in either downtown or Clayton.

At the time of the consolidation, Chip Misko, Stinson's Managing Partner said, "We could not find any suitable locations with 60,000 square feet of space. Now that we'll have all of the attorneys and staff under one roof, we'll re-double our efforts to go back out and look for a building. We are looking primarily in Clayton or downtown and we've also looked at some opportunities in between."

What a difference a year makes.

When Stinson moved to Clayton, large blocks of contiguous space were hard to come by. Now, however, several downtown Class A buildings have available spaces that would be suitable for the firm, including One City Centre, 1010 Market Street, Met Square, and the Laclede Gas Building.

Having Stinson make the move back to downtown would help make up for the loss of Armstrong Teasdale and Husch Blackwell. Their presence would be a great shot in the arm for the CBD. Hopefully they'll decide to do what's best both for the firm and for our city's future by choosing downtown.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Stupidity

Here are some photos of the former Olive Street Terra Cotta District - the 600 block of Olive, across the street from the Railway Exchange Building. These beautiful terra cotta-sheathed buildings were named to the National Historic Register in 1986, which would have made them eligible for historic renovation tax credits had they not been torn down for a surface parking lot in a ridiculously short-sighted move.

The first photo shows the Gill Building, which still stands today (despite the efforts of the May Company) and was recently renovated.

On the other side of the parking garage were the Tower Building, which was home to Boyd's department store (then the city's foremost purveyor of men's furnishings), the former Erker Optical Building, and the elegant 610 Olive Building.

Sixth and Olive would be such an amazing intersection had these buildings been preserved.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Terrace View Restaurant in City Garden to Open Next Week


According to Joe Bonwich's Off the Menu blog on STLToday, the Terrace View, Jim Fiala's new restaurant in City Garden, is slated to open next week!

2200 Locust for Lease

The five-story, 35,000 sf warehouse at 2200 Locust - located directly west of the Schlafly Tap Room - is available for lease.

The building features 7,044 sf floor plates, passenger and freight elevators, two loading docks, and dedicated parking for 48 cars.

Looks like it would work well for a variety of users and could nicely accomodate first floor retail. It's close to many creative firms such as NSI, XG Advertising, Touchwood Studios and Bruton Stroube Photography.

The space is available for $6.50 - $10.50 psf, and offers prominent signage opportunity facing Highway 40/64.

Thomas DeWoskin of THD Realty is the leasing agent: (314) 580-5171.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Early Review of Schnucks Culinaria - Outstanding!

I had a chance to attend the ribbon-cutting at the Schnucks Culinaria this morning and returned this afternoon to find the store doing a brisk business.

The store is fantastic - great selection and prices that are in-line with any other Schnucks store. Shopping in a smaller store like this one shows how much square footage in a typical grocery store is "wasted" on things like seasonal items and home decor. The layout of the Culinaria is very effecient, and it features an exciting urban design.

I have to believe that this store has what it takes to be a success. The downtown residential population will continue to grow as projects that are currently under construction or stalled finally come online. The store makes downtown much more attractive as a neighborhood, and hopefully its presence will encourage people who are on the fence about moving downtown to take the plunge.

Its success will also hinge on downtown office workers as well. I hope that many decide to take advantage of this convenience.

It will be interesting to see if the Culinaria has the same "anchor effect" in the surrounding area that suburban grocery stores have on strip centers. Will retailers fill vacant storefronts near the Culinaria in an attempt to tap into its customer base? In an article in yesterday's Post-Dispatch, Steve Symsack of Coldwell Banker Commercial - who has several listings in and around Old Post Office Square - says he believes it will:

There's already a change in the climate, said Symsack, who is the broker for a block of storefronts around the corner from the new grocery. Interest in those properties has picked up, he said. He has one tenant who specifically wants to move there because Schnucks is next door.
If you haven't been to the Culinaria yet, check it out. Better yet, make an effort to do even a portion of your grocery shopping there and support downtown retail.

Lewis Reed was kind enough to take some photos at the grand opening this morning and post them to Flickr: Link

Group 360 Consolidating in STL City, Possibly Downtown

The Business Journal is reporting that marketing firm Group 360 is looking to consolidate its facilities – and its 275 employees – in either downtown or Lafayette Square.

Whichever option the firm chooses, 175 of those employees will be moving to the city from west county, which is great news for the city. Group 360 should be commended for its commitment to being part of the solution, as opposed to part of the problem.

Obviously, my vote is for downtown, which would help enhance downtown’s standing as the region’s premier location for creative professionals. The presence of creative businesses can help attract other similar firms to an area. If Group 360 were to choose to consolidate in say, Downtown West or Cupples Station, it could potentially have a snowball effect.

The firm is looking for 75,000 sf. I can't wait to hear what they choose...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sandberg Phoenix: Committed to Downtown


As reported in the Business Journal, Sandberg, Phoenix & VonGontard is looking for 60,000 sf and is considering several downtown options, including renewing its lease at One City Centre.

Said Tony Soukenik, an attorney with the firm who is handling the search efforts: “We’re very cognizant and sensitive of our presence to any chance of redeveloping (the St. Louis Centre) area. We are committed to downtown.”

That is so nice to hear!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

How About Some Green Walls?


In Pittsburgh, PNC Bank recently unveiled plans to add the largest "green wall" in North America to its downtown headquarters (must be nice to have a major bank headquartered downtown). The 2,380 sf wall will include a variety of plants that will be arranged to form an interesting design, complete with PNC's corporate logo!

Green walls reduce the heat island effect as well as glare and noise, and can even prolong the life of buildings by decreasing the rate of deterioration due to ultraviolet rays.

What a great solution for a blank wall. Not only is it great for the environment, in PNC's case, it's great for marketing purposes as well.

I can think of several walls in downtown St. Louis that would look great with a green makeover. The first one that comes to mind is the St. Louis Centre parking garage adjacent to One Financial Plaza. The corner of the garage, above the former Woolworth's entrance, could easily accomodate a green wall.

How about one with a fleur-de-lis design?