Monday, June 28, 2010

Phase I of Ballpark Village to be Scaled Back?

At a recent gathering of commercial real estate professionals, Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III told the crowd that efforts to finance the construction of Ballpark Village have progressed in recent months.  Of course, we've heard this song before on several other occasions, and Ballpark Village still consists of just a softball field and a parking lot (which looks absolutely atrocious on TV).

The interesting aspect of DeWitt's presentation was the revelation that the plans for the first phase of the development have been phased back a bit.  This could actually be a good thing.

According to DeWitt, phase I of Ballpark Village will be built on the tow blocks at the southeast corner of the development's 10-acre site, directly across from Busch Stadium at the northwest corner of Broadway and Clark.  It will consist of a new office tower totaling somewhere between 200,000 and 250,000 sf, as well as retail and restaurant space.  As a point of comparison, the Deloitte Building at 100 S. Fourth Street is approximately 250,000 sf.  It's also worth noting that the Deloitte Building has historically enjoyed stable, high occupancy rates compared to other downtown properties.

With Stifel Nicolaus planning to lease at least 175,000 sf, building a smaller office building could help minimize the potential for another round of musical chairs among downtown office tenants.  Stifel's four-plus floors in One Financial Plaza...And finally having tangible construction underway could help generate interest among prospective tenants for office space in future phases.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Unisys: Welcome to Downtown St. Louis!

The IT sector in downtown St. Louis has been on a roll as of late, and it received more good news on Thursday as Fortune 500 IT firm Unisys announced that it plans to open a data center in downtown St. Louis that will employ 300 workers by 2012.

The center will provide a central team of highly skilled experts focused on building, operating and maintaining innovative, leading-edge software applications for Unisys federal government and commercial clients.

Unisys is looking for 35,000 to 40,000 sf, and hopes to be in its new home by October.  555 Washington is one of the buildings under consideration.   The 165,000 sf 555 Washington currently has over 80,000 sf available, so a lease by Unisys could potentially push the building's occupancy rate to around 75% while adding workers to a section of downtown that is seeing a huge amount of redevelopment right now, with the Laurel and 600 Washington/7th Street Garage projects currently underway.

The firm chose downtown due to its desirability to young IT workers.  Seeing as how Unisys employs roughly 24,000 worldwide, it's safe to say they know what it takes to attract talent.  Hopefully they will serve as an example to other IT firms in the area, proving that the combination of unparalleled infrastructure and an exciting, stimulating work environment make downtown the most logical location for tech firms in the region.

At the same time, it's unfortunate that Centene appears poised to move forward with its plans to build its new data center in O'Fallon.  By locating in an existing building downtown, they could have keep the momentum rolling downtown and partially redeemed themselves for pulling out of Ballpark Village.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Low Quality Camera Phone Photo of the Day, 6/21

Gone daddy gone...

Friends, with Benefits

Looking for an easy way to support the revitalization of downtown St. Louis?  Become a Friend of Downtown, a new affinity program from the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis.

For a membership fee of $50, you'll receive a $10 Downtown Gift Card as well as a "Friends Pass" entitling you to a slew of other perks, including tickets to special events, discounts on dining, shopping and lodging and much more.  The membership fee pretty much pays for itself.

As a Friend of Downtown, you'll be making a tangible show of support for downtown St. Louis, while helping sustain the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis' outstanding events and marketing programs - programs that go a long way toward making downtown a better place to live, work and visit.

For more information, or to become a Friend of Downtown, visit

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

IT Firm Contegix Expanding Downtown

Following what seems to be a trend among downtown IT firms, Contegix is planning to double its staff from 20 to 40 by the end of the year.  The company is also on the lookout for potential acquisitions, so perhaps its presence downtown will continue to grow in the near future.

Contegix is based in the Bandwidth Exchange Building at 900 Walnut, which is fully leased.  In addition to Contegix, the list of tenants at the Bandwidth Exhchange Building includes Connectria, Xiolink, Broadwing Communications, Chase Paymentceh, Level 3 Communications and McLeod USA, among others.

The IT sector has been a real bright spot for downtown as of late, with Digital Realty Trust making a significant investment in its data center space at 210 North Tucker, Xiolink building a new data center and expanding to 150 employees at 1111 Olive, and Datotel consolidating its 36 employees in the Globe Building.

Who will be the next firm to join the party?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Plaza Square Apartments Under New Ownership, Receiving Upgrades

CityView (formerly known as the Plaza Square Apartments), downtown's largest apartment complex, will soon receive a $4 million in upgrades thanks to its new owner, Mills Properties.

Mills, which began managing the 911-unit complex last August and officially took ownership of it in May, has already raised CityView's occupancy rate to 60 percent.  Mills Properties previously managed Plaza Square back in the 90s, achieving an occupancy rate of over 90 percent.  Renovations are already underway - it would be a great accomplishment if Mills can return CityView/Plaza Square to its former glory.

Mills plans on retaining three of the complex's five buildings as rental apartments and will sell the remaining two buildings, which are currently vacant.  After receiving improvements, the two vacant buildings will be listed for $10 million and will be marketed as senior living units.