Friday, December 28, 2007

Office Space for Sale on Washington Avenue

Jacob Development is marketing two floors of office space totalling 30,000 sf in its Avenida development at 1235 Washington Avenue in the (still hot) loft district. The space is listed for sale for $3.6 million ($120 psf).

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Life for 1711 Locust

1711 Locust (left) and the Dragon Trading Building at 1709 Locust (right)

Sam Koplar has purchased the 7,500 sf former electrical substation at 1711 Locust, with plans for a restaurant or event space. The sale price was $385,000.

Next door, the four-story, 60,000 sf Dragon Trading Building was sold to New York real estate developers Cyrus and Darius Sakhai in 2006 for $1.8 million. The Sakhais had planned on converting the building into 36-40 rental lofts, with first-floor retail space.

Nothing has materialized there yet, but if/when both of these projects get off the ground, it will help strengthen the Locust corridor, which includes the Terra Cotta, Printers Lofts and the upcoming Leather Trades Lofts to the east and the Motor Lofts, the Tap Room and Jim Edmonds' restaurant, F15teen, to the west.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Room for More in One City Centre?

An article in last week's Business Journal focused on David Sabino, the owner of accounting firm Sabino & Co. in Des Peres, and an investor in several of Pyramid Construction's downtown projects. He has intimate knowledge of Pyramid's operations as a result of his work as the developer's CPA.

It has been speculated that Pyramid has been pressuring law firm Polsinelli Shalton Flanigan Suelthaus into leasing space in One City Centre, which it is currently renovating.

I wonder if they have room for a CPA firm?

Friday, December 21, 2007

No Downtown Office for DHR

As expected, DHR International has decided on 8000 Maryland in Clayton for its new headquarters. The firm had been considering the General American Building among other downtown sites.

Unfortunate news for downtown, but still, it's great for the region overall.

Arcturis Moves to Laclede Gas Building

As reported in the Business Journal, Arcturis has leased the 30,000 sf second floor of the Laclede Gas Building at 720 Olive. The firm has signed a 12-year lease, with an option for 15,000 sf on the third floor. Its move will free up a 20,500 sf block of space at 1910 Pine.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Husch and Blackwell to Merge

Well, Husch & Eppenberger and Blackwell Sanders have agreed to merge. The combined firm will have 630 attorneys and will be the second largest law firm in the state of Missouri.

The deal is expected to close next month. We'll see what kind of impact this has on Blackwell's presence downtown. If the combined firm ends up in the CBD, it would be a major coup for downtown St. Louis.

Lewis Rice Staying Put?


The Post-Dispatch is reporting this morning that Lewis Rice will likely remain in its current space at 500 N. Broadway after considering moving to the General American Building and the Bank of America Tower.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What's Left to Rehab? (Part III - The Gill Building)


The Gill Building at the corner of 7th and Olive is easy to overlook. Built in 1910, this little five-story terra cotta structure is dwarfed by the surrounding office buildings and practically swallowed whole by a massive parking garage that serves the downtown Macy's store and employees of Macy's Midwest. Only one other building - Charlie Gitto's restaurant - remains on a city block that is dedicated almost entirely to parking.

A few years back, the building's owners, Jack and Pearl Randall, fell victim to hardball tactics on the part of the May Company, which had wanted to buy the building, presumably to raze it for more parking. May, which owned the adjacent parking garage, shut off access to the Gill Building's emergency exits and sprinkler system. A condemnation order was filed by the city. The Randalls, who were living in the building, and Sen Thai, a successful restaurant in the building's basement, were forced to leave.

Sere we are, a few years later. May is now owned by Federated Department Stores, the parent company of Macy's. Fortunately, Sen was able to relocate to a great ground-floor space in the Shell Building, and Randall retained ownership of the building, which remains completely vacant.
Isn't it about time for a truce between Randall, the city and Federated so that the building can be put back to productive use?

Monday, December 17, 2007

What's Left to Rehab? (Part II - The Alverne Building)


The Alverne Building at 1014-1024 Locust is a 16-story, 160,000 sf structure designed by noted architect Tom Barnett and built in 1923. It originally served as home of the St. Louis City Club and later as the Hotel DeSoto. In its most recent incarnation, it housed apartments for senior citizens operated by the St. Louis Archdiocese. Its first floor space has housed numerous nightclubs over the years, the most notable being The Living Room.

Despite its addition to the National Register of Historic Places (which would qualify its renovation for federal tax credits), the building has sat vacant for some time now. Since 2000, it has been owned by Alverne Associates LLC - Stephen L. Wells of Ladue and Sam Berger of Clayton are listed as members of the ownership group. In 1997, Ken Flynn and Christi Waggener purchased the building with the intent to renovate it into residences, but sadly, that plan never materialized.

The small windows on the building's north and west elevations most likely negatively affect its conduciveness for use as an office building, but the building would work well as apartments or a hotel. It has two ballrooms, including one on the top floor that features some amazing views of the city. Its ground floor is ideal for retail or a restaurant.

Unfortunately, the Alverne's original cornices have been removed, but with a full restoration, it could regain its original "wow" factor and would provide a nice complement to the beautifully-renovated Louderman Building to the west.

The Alverne is currently listed for sale by Eric Friedman of The Friedman Group for $3,400,000.

Shop DOWNTOWN this Holiday Season

One of Macy's holiday display windows

The number of options for holiday shopping in downtown St. Louis grown considerably in recent years, with new shops and boutiques springing up just about everywhere. And of course, there's something for everyone at the venerable (and recently improved) Macy's store, which offers a fun shopping experience that you just can't get at the suburban malls. Their outstanding new window displays alone are worth the trip!

For a great listing of downtown shops and events, visit: http://www.shopdowntownstl.com/.

By patronizing these businesses, everyone can pitch in and do their part to help keep downtown vital. Start a tradition to spend a day shopping downtown - then come back each year to see how many new shops have opened up! By the time the Mercantile Exchange opens, the downtown holiday shopping experience will really be something.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cardinal Realty to Set Up Shop in the Shell Building

Hal Hanstein's Cardinal Realty Group will open a downtown satellite office in the Shell Building at 1221 Locust in early 2008. Cardinal Realty brokered Rocco Bratic's recent purchase of the building from McGowan Walsh.

Downtown Leases this Week

Pohlman Reporting Company leased 9,827 sf at the Equitable Building, 10 S. Broadway

Casey & Devoti, P.C. leased 4,608 sf at the Bank of America Tower, 100 N. Broadway

The National Children’s Cancer Society leased 9,835 sf at the Gateway Tower, One Memorial Drive.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Re-establishing the Financial District

It irks me that despite the presence of numerous financial firms in downtown St. Louis, Clayton is now considered to be more of St. Louis' "financial district." I can't think of any other major city whose financial district is located outside of the center city, in another municipality and county altogether. Financial districts play a major role in the vitality of their cities' respective CBDs, and having a stronger financial presence in downtown St. Louis would help our city immensely.

As an example, Fifth Third Bank's lease is expiring at 8000 Maryland, and it is exploring other options in Clayton, but apparently none downtown. National City has also established its regional headquarters in Clayton and Montgomery Bank is relocating its headquarters to a new tower there. Commerce Bank's St. Louis headquarters is located in Clayton while its Kansas City headquarters is actually located in downtown Kansas City (what a concept!).

Boatmen's, Mercantile, Centerre and other banks thrived for years with their headquarters based downtown. Had they not fallen victim to the trend of consolidation within the banking industry, they could easily still be thriving downtown (and Bank of America and U.S. Bank still maintain major presences there). So why do today's banks feel that they absolutely must have their headquarters in Clayton?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What's Left to Rehab? (Part I - The Farm & Home Savings Building)

Thanks to a variety of factors including tax credits for the restoration of historic buildings, downtown St. Louis has experienced a wave of rehab not seen since the 1980's. In virtually every corner of downtown, historic warehouses and office buildings have been renovated and converted primarily to loft apartments and condos, but office space as well. As a result, we're running out of buildings and approaching the point at which we'll start to see more and more new construction.

There are a few major buildings, however, that are still awaiting rehab. The Farm & Home Savings building at 1001 Locust is one of them.

Right now, the first floor of the building is being used by the construction crews working on the renovation of the Syndicate Trust building across the street. It is otherwise completely vacant. The Farm & Home Savings Association was at one time Missouri's largest savings & loan, but was acquired by Roosevelt Bank in 1994, and the branch at 1001 Locust was closed shortly thereafter.

The Farm & Home Savings building is currently owned by Craig Heller of Loftworks, one of downtown's most prominent developers, which leads me to believe that it may be his next project after Loftworks completes its current projects - the aforementioned Syndicate Trust, and the Ludwig Lofts on Olive, both of which are rapidly approaching completion.

If Loftworks does renovate the building, what remains to be seen is what it will do about the facade. Much like the Mercantile Library building, the Farm & Home Savings building was the victim of an unfortunate "remuddling" job and had its facade covered by blue and gray panels. Some of the panels have been removed, revealing the original building underneath.

All of Loftworks' previous projects feature a mix of residences, office space and retail space. The addition of that mix at the corner of 10th and Locust would be a fantastic way to liven up an otherwise sleepy block.


A sneak peak of what lies beneath the panels

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A New Old Look for the Mercantile Library

At last week's public presentation on the Mercantile Exchange project, Pyramid's John Steffen revealed that the panels on the Mercantile Library building will be removed, exposing the historic original facade underneath. Hopefully the result will be as stunning as Meade Summers' renovation of the old Post-Dispatch building at Olive and Tucker, which had previously been the victim of a similar "remuddling" job.

While the recladding job gave the "building" a cohesive, consistent appearance, it's actually seven individual, but connected, buildings. The interior walls were knocked out to create a single 270,000 sf space. The two most prominent sections are located at Broadway and Locust and Sixth and Locust, with smaller buildings interspersed on Broadway, Locust, Sixth and Olive. Exposing the original facades of the individual buildings will go a long way towards making the area much more visually interesting.

The original facade of the Mercantile Library building at Broadway and Locust.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Lammert Building - A Downtown Beauty


The stately Lammert Building, one of downtown's most attractive historic office buildings, has multiple suites available for smaller users at just $16.00 psf. It received an award-winning renovation - desiged by Mackey Mitchell - in 1986 and has one of the most unique lobbies anywhere in the city. Located on bustling Washington Avenue, this building is just a short walk to many of downtown's most popular shops and restaurants, as well as America's Center and numerous hotels. Major tenants include The Stolar Partnership, Bank of New York and Historic Restoration, Inc. The first floor retail space features the outstanding AIA Bookstore and DeeDee's Deli.

Current available suites include:

Lower Level - 4,178 sf
Lower Level - 8,710 sf
1st Floor - 5,600 sf
1st Floor - 2,324 sf
1st Floor - 2,899 sf
2nd Floor - 1,976 sf
2nd Floor - 1,235 sf
3rd Floor - 3,798 sf
4th Floor - 1,751 sf
4th Floor - 1,532 sf

For leasing information, contact Zach Williams of Bakewell Commercial at (314) 749-0362.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Ollie Dowell Communications Moves to 100 N. Tucker

Downtown's PR community has a new member - Ollie Dowell Communications, a public relations and media consulting agency, has "graduated" from the St. Louis Enterprise Center business incubator in Midtown and has moved to a permanent home at 100 N. Tucker downtown. If that name sounds familiar, you may have seen her on City TV 10 or remember her from her days as a reporter with KMOX.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

What's Up with DHR?

DHR International received a brief mention in Joe Whittington's column in the Post-Dispatch this morning. Apparently the Fifth Third Center in Clayton, which DHR had been considering purchasing for its St. Louis office, is now under contract, but Whittington declines to mention to whom. If it is DHR who has the building under contract, it could mean that the General American building downtown will have to sit vacant a little longer.

As reported last summer, DHR, the fifth-largest executive search firm in the country, is moving its executive group and the bulk of its operations from Chicago to St. Louis, bringing 125 new jobs to the region.

In addition to the Fifth Third Center and another building in Clayton, the firm had also been considering purchasing the 128,250 sf General American building at 700 Market Street. DHR will take 40,000 to 50,000 square feet and lease out any remaining space. The unique configuration of the General American building, best suited for a single user, might make it a less attractive option than its Clayton competitors. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for downtown, but am not overly optimistic about DHR's chances of locating there at this point.

The General American building: Somebody, lease this space!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Winter Magic in St. Louis

The Convention and Visitors Commision's latest marketing campaign, launched on November 9, is already paying off for local hotel operators. The campaign, Winter Magic, seeks to increase tourist activity in the St. Louis area during the winter months - typically a very slow time of year for St. Louis hotels.

According to the CVC, more than 12,000 new visitors have logged onto the CVC's Web site, explorestlouis.org, since the beginning of the campaign. Hotel reservations made through the site have increased 58 percent, as compared to November 2006.

At the Renaissance Grand downtown alone, approximately 200 additional room nights have been booked thanks to the campaign. That means more people spending money downtown, which is always a good thing.

The upcoming opening of the Lumiere Place casino and the eventual addition of new shopping venues in the Mercantile Exchange and Ballpark Village should make the CVC's job even easier in the future.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Summer Bay Resorts Calls Downtown Home

Mayor Slay's blog has a great write-up about Summer Bay Resorts, a growing downtown company:

For a little while now, Summer Bay has been quietly moving its employees from locations all over the country to 100 N. Tucker, a building formerly owned by AT&T and now owned by Mr. Scott. Summer Bay now has more than 100 employees located on Tucker and plans to grow its downtown St. Louis presence to 300 employees over the next year. Many of these Summer Bay employees are from (or have moved to) the City, and the company is finding its downtown location to be very useful in attracting new employees who can benefit from its accessibility.

For the full write-up, check out Mayor Slay's Blog

More information on Summer Bay Resorts can be found here:
Summer Bay Resorts

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Restaurant for 555 Washington

Deb Peterson of the Post-Dispatch is reporting that the Lombardo family, owners of two downtown eateries - Lombardo's Trattoria near Union Station and Carmine's Steak House on Fourth Street - are looking to open another restaurant downtown at 555 Washington.

Looks like the upcoming demolition of the St. Louis Centre skybridge as part of Pyramid's Laurel (Dillard's Building) and Concord (St. Louis Centre) redevelopment projects is already paying early dividends. I've always thought that 555's first-floor space would be perfect for a restaurant with its high ceilings and huge windows.