Tuesday, June 30, 2009
It will be interesting to see if City Garden is able to spur any additional development in the surrounding area.
While City Garden includes its own restaurant - operated by Jim Fiala of Liluma in the Central West End - suddenly, the vacant first floor space in Bank of America Plaza directly across the street becomes a prime spot for an upscale eatery overlooking the park.
On the office front, perhaps City Garden will help generate some interest in the long-vacant General American Building, or even eventually lead to the construction of a new Class A tower on the vacant parcel adjacent to Bank of America Plaza, which was part of the original development plan for that building but never came to fruition.
Monday, June 29, 2009
The west side of Broadway, between Locust and Olive, has to be one of the most desolate stretches of sidewalk in all of downtown. The sidewalks themselves are in poor condition, and the lack of street trees allow the sun to beat down on pedestrians on hot days.
Of course, the vacant Mercantile Library Complex and LaSalle Building just add to the feeling of loneliness this block creates. It's a shame, because this block is fairly prominent and well-traveled, especially when the Cardinals are in town. Even despite the vacant buildings, new sidewalks, trees and lighting would go a long way here.
Friday, June 26, 2009
It was encouraging to see so many people take an interest in helping plan the future of downtown, and the results provide a great framework for the direction in which downtown is heading. Attendees were given the opportunity to rate the priorities that are most important to them, and the long list of excellent options showed that the Partnership has a firm grasp on what needs to be done in order for downtown to reach its potential.
I liked the fact that many of the presentation materials stressed connectivity - making downtown more pedestrian friendly, and doing a better job of linking downtown to surrounding areas such as Old North St. Louis and Soulard.
The priorities that I ranked highest involved business development - making downtown THE center for small businesses and entrepreneurs, enlisting downtown firms to encourage other businesses to move downtown, utilizing local universities to help launch businesses downtown, and constructing Class A office space. I also listed the redevelopment of vacant buildings such as St. Louis Centre and the Arcade Building as a priority, along with streetscape improvements and ongoing retail and residential development.
In my opinion, the more we can strengthen downtown as a business center, the more attractive it will be to residents and retailers. A boom in the number of office tenants could help fuel another boom in residential construction.
There's a lot of work to be done, but I think things are headed in the right direction.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Luther & Associates PC leased 2,133 sf feet at 1010 Market Street.
The St. Louis Sports Commission leased 4,723 sf in the Welsh Flatness & Lutz Building at 308 N. 21st Street.
Anderson & Gilbert LC leased 3,120 in the Millennium Center at 515 Olive.
Level 3 Communications renewed its lease for 1,641 sf at 1015 Locust Street.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
This move will benefit both employees and customers as the new building will meet industry standards for a modern office configuration and improve energy efficiency.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Not only will this location be a good fit for the school, it will also have a significant impact on downtown's Class B vacancy rate. Confluence has signed a 20-year, 120,000 sf lease which will provide approximately $1 million per year to the St. Louis Public Library, the building's owner.
The building currently houses the St. Louis Public Library's administrative offices and McCormack Baron Salazar. The library's 125 employees will relocate to another location within the building complex, and McCormack Baron Salazar is looking for 30,000 sf elsewhere downtown.
Confluence is the second charter school to sign a major lease downtown. In late 2007, the Ethel Hedgeman Lyle Academy signed a full building lease 110,000 sf at 1881 Pine.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Joe Bonwich of the Post-Dispatch has the scoop on Mama Figlia, an Italian food and gift store coming soon to the former Paper Dolls space in the Bee Hat Building at 11th and Washington.
Friday, June 19, 2009
How does St. Louis rate as a place to grow a tech business?Downtown's IT infrastructure is the best in the region, which is why it surprises me that any tech firm would choose Maryland Heights, Creve Coeur or even St. Charles over downtown.
In the last dot-com era, we called St. Louis a tier-two city. It was really destined to be a tier-one city from an IT infrastructure standpoint. We have a really overbuilt infrastructure from a fiber optics standpoint.
So, from Datotel's standpoint, we really have a strong infrastructure today to apply these types of services. And the cost of Internet bandwidth and transport is plummeting through the floor, which makes access to these services a lot easier than it was previously. So the assets are already there.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The $100+ million project - to be known as The Laurel - would include residential units and a 200-room Embassy Suites hotel.
Any progress in this current economic climate is a good thing.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The non-profit's collection includes 5,000 cameras and 35,000 photographic images.
Sounds like a great anchor tenant for this development and an exciting cultural venue for downtown. Perhaps it will be comparable to the new Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles.
Hopefully we'll be hearing about commitments from additional artists and creative organizations soon.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
While losing a 16-attorney firm certainly isn't as devastating as the loss of Armstrong Teasdale to Clayton, it still stings.
One of the new attorneys joining the firm specializes in tax and estate planning for high net worth individuals, which I'm guessing may have something to do with the move.
What I don't get is why firms feel they can't serve affluent clients from a downtown location. Perhaps Kohn, Shands could be persuaded to stay downtown and keep their small (400 sf) Clayton office?
Monday, June 15, 2009
Well, they apparently have set up shop in the St. Louis area...in St. Peters, of all places.
Considering that the most creative minds in the St. Louis restaurant scene are almost exclusively working in the city and inner-ring suburbs, and that downtown St. Louis is the most accessible site in the St. Louis area in terms of both public transportation and highways, why would Le Cordon Bleu choose a location 30 miles away from the city, in an area dominated by chain restaurants?
I don't get L'Ecole Culinaire's choice of Ladue for its school either, but that's another story. St. Peters is absolutely mind-boggling.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Police Chief Isom has stated that the 80+ year old downtown police headquarters building is in need of a complete overhaul, and will be presenting three options to the Board of Police Commissioners at its next meeting:
Of these options, I hope the second one is not taken into consideration. Downtown has lost enough historic buildings as it is.
Pour tens of millions into renovating the 82-year-old building at Tucker Boulevard and Clark Avenue downtown.
Move into temporary digs while the building is torn down and a new one is constructed in its place at unknown cost.
Leave the building and permanently move into an existing building.
If the cost of renovating the current HQ building is too great, my hope is that the SLPD can find another suitable existing building downtown. Maybe the old Sherwood Medical Building at 1915 Olive would be a good, modern choice.
More information here.
Perhaps Enterprise Bank could be persuaded to make the move downtown from Clayton. It would certainly enhance their visibility while saving them money on rent and helping re-establish downtown as the financial center of the St. Louis region.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Sadly, Mizzou and Illinois won't be continuing the annual Arch Rivalry football game at the Edward Jones Dome after the current series expires in 2010. Said Illinois Athletic Director Ron Guenther:
“Eventually, we might resume it on a home-and-home basis, or perhaps return to St. Louis, but we have been leaning toward games on campus at some point in the future. This has been a big-time game that draws good income and TV coverage. With all that said, since we want to get to seven or eight home games, you have to evaluate the neutral game.”
It seems to me that everybody loses in this case - the schools and their football programs lose not only the $1 million payout, but the national TV exposure and the recruiting benefits that come from playing a game in St. Louis, the fans lose out on the ability to see Mizzou or Illinois right here at home, and St. Louis loses a great event and its economic impact.
I'll miss the college football atmosphere that the Arch Rivalry series brought to town. The games were a blast to experience in person, and I'm not even an alumnus of either school.
Hopefully Frank Viverito and the Sports Commission can get the two schools to agree to return to St. Louis in the near future. Like the Braggin' Rights basketball game between Mizzou and Illinois, the Arch Rivalry series needs to be a yearly tradition here.
Monday, June 08, 2009
The recent storm damage to the Renaissance Suites on Washington reminded me that I had intended to address the convention hotel's current financial situation.
The bondholders on the Renaissance Hotel – who are now its owners – have hired Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels to advise them on how to cut costs and boost the hotel’s profitability. One strategy that has been discussed is selling the hotel’s suites building, which is located on the north side of Washington, across from the main hotel property. According to Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels’ report, it “can be independent and self-sustaining without any physical ties to the hotel.”
If the suites property is spun off, would it make the most sense to operate it as an independent, all-suites hotel? Perhaps it would be a more suitable spot for the Roberts Brothers’ proposed Hotel Indigo boutique hotel. Or maybe an extended-stay hotel?
Could the suites be converted to apartments? Leon Strauss’ Pantheon Corporation originally renovated the building as apartments back in the 1980s, but unfortunately, it was an idea that was ahead of its time for St. Louis, and the redevelopment failed. Downtown’s residential market is much larger and stronger now – maybe it would work?
Friday, June 05, 2009
Let's hope SCP can get started this summer, as planned. It will be incredible to see this gem brought back to life!
As reported in the Business Journal, Gourmet to Go will open a downtown café late this summer in St. Louis Place at Olive and Broadway. The 4,000 sf space will provide indoor and outdoor seating for 40, with food to order and salads and sandwiches to go.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
I was thinking about this building the other day.
Maybe office space isn't the best use of this property. Maybe it would be better suited as a venue for private events such as parties, wedding receptions, etc. With its wall of windows fronting the Arch grounds, there may be no better setting anywhere in town.
A restaurant might work here as well, although accessibility might be an issue.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Fast Company magazine recently released its annual list of "Fast Cities," a listing of the world's leading cities in terms of creativity, innovation, forward-thinking and other "it" factors that separate the Portlands and Austins of the world from the rest of the pack.
The article on Seattle, this year's "City of the Year," included this interesting quote:
The creative people who have transplanted to Seattle have sought out this place for a reason. Wherever they came from, they left because that place was stuck in tradition. And these people, these innovators, are not happy with that. They want to turn that idea of tradition on its head.That's pretty amazing; I wish we had more of that spirit here.
In 2007, the magazine named St. Louis as one of its five "Slow Cities," along with Budapest, New Orleans, Detroit and Havana, describing our fair city thusly:
Too normal for its own good. It ranks dead last on CityVitals' "Weirdness Index," a measure of passion and engagement.In 2008, Kansas City was listed as a "City on the Verge"
A $9 billion redevelopment is restoring downtown KC's shine with the new Sprint Center and Steven Holl's glorious expansion of the Nelson-Atkins Museum. This Missouri city also anchors a new animal-health corridor -- a bovine Silicon Valley -- that's home to more than 120 bioscience firms. The hope is that this old cow town's new spin will boost job growth and keep young people from seeking greener pastures.What can we do to make downtown - and the St. Louis region - "faster?"
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
- Liquor license hearing for Jade scheduled for June 10.
- My Bar & Pizzaria appears to be opening soon at 9th and Pine. Web site - www.mybarandpizzaria.com is still under construction.
Correction: It's already open!
- Peruvian restaurant Mango is moving from Shrewsbury to the original Mosaic space at 1101 Lucas.