Friday, November 07, 2008
A Solution for the Mercantile Library Complex
The Mercantile Library Building is actually six interconnected buildings that have been reskinned to give a cohesive appearance. In my opinion, the redevelopment of this building/these buildings is among the most critical projects left to be undertaken, due to the sheer size of the complex – almost an entire city block – and its highly visible location.
But maybe keeping the buildings together is hindering their development. So, to encourage the redevelopment of these buildings, perhaps Spinnaker – the owner of the Mercantile Library complex – could sell off the complex piece by piece, as individual buildings. The buildings could be sold to different developers or sold off one at a time to a single developer like LoftWorks, with options to purchase additional buildings after rehab work is completed. Actually, one of the complex's buildings has already been sold off and renovated - it's the one right next to the LaSalle Building that is the home of Paradowski Graphic Design until the firm moves to its new home on Locust closer to the Tap Room.
Buildings one, two and three are the largest of the bunch and take up the corner of Broadway and Locust. It might be best to keep these three together and renovate them as office space with first floor retail space. The large floor plates should be attractive to both types of user. There is a prominent entrance on Broadway, with a secondary entrance on Locust.
Buildings four and five line Sixth Street, facing Macy’s. Each has its own entrance; Building four’s entrance is right at the corner of Sixth and Locust and is particularly appealing. These two buildings are fairly slender and might be better suited for residential use.
Building six is a tiny, five-story building facing Olive that could be easily renovated as live/work space. It might be hard to work first floor retail into this building due to its small size. This building might also be fairly easy to restore to its original appearance before it was recladded.
Even under separate ownership, maybe a deal could be reached with the new owners to allow General Growth Properties to handle the leasing of the ground floor retail spaces as originally proposed in the exciting Mercantile Exchange project proposed by Pyramid in 2007.