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/

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?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A First Glimpse of Downtown's New Grocery Store

The Post-Dispatch gives readers a sneak peek at the new Schnucks Culinaria: Link

I found this aspect interesting:
Customers who want to load up will find complimentary parking on the third level of the garage. A parking voucher will be printed with the store receipt. And if you want do your weekly shopping on a lunch break, the store will keep the bags in special holding area; you can pick them up after work in the store’s loading zone on Ninth Street.

The Evolution of City Grocers

Since it first opened in the Bell Lofts Building at 10th and Olive, City Grocers has filled an important void for downtown dwellers (and office workers), answering the age-old question from suburbanites, "Where do you do your grocery shopping?"

The store has provided staples and upscale items for almost five years now, and had planned to move to a larger space across the street in the Syndicate Trust Building.

However, Schnucks threw a wrench in those plans with its new Culinaria store, which will be opening in the 9th Street Garage (next to the Syndicate Trust and across from City Grocers' current location) next week.

While City Grocers is a great little store, it would be extremely difficult for it to compete with the Culinaria, especially on prices.

So, City Grocers is repositioning itself and revamping its business model. The store will soon be known as City Gourmet, and will feature to-go meals, a bakery, stir fry, a burrito station, espresso and smoothies, an expanded beer and wine selection (with lower prices) and additional dining space.

Sounds like a cool concept. It would be great to see both of these businesses co-existing and thriving.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

New Music Venue at 1114 Olive

The RFT is reporting that the former 2 Cents Plain location at 1114 Olive, will soon be reborn as a bar/music venue known as the Crack Fox. This is the second development announced for the 1100 block of Olive recently, along with Bob Guller's redevelopment of the Post-Dispatch printing building at 1111 Olive.

The bar will be owned by Mike McLaughlin, who also owns the popular restaurant/pub the Bleeding Deacon in Tower Grove South.

McLaughlin is shooting for a September 1 opening and plans to remodel the restrooms and install a new PA, lights and sound system.