Monday, November 30, 2009

You Know His Law Firm

As mentioned in the Business Journal on Friday, Brown & Crouppen has signed a 10-year lease for 25,000 sf on the 16th floor of Met Square. The firm will be moving its 85 employees from the Laclede Gas Building.

With Husch Blackwell on its way out, the departure of Brown & Crouppen will be another significant loss for the Laclede Gas Building, but will leave another good sized vacancy for an opportunistic tenant.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

This is not Downtown

In recent weeks, several people have asked me about the new Walgreens downtown.

Seeing as how downtown, for some reason, still does not have a Walgreens, it always takes me a second or two to realize that they’re actually referring to the new Walgreen’s on Lafayette, across from the old City Hospital.

I’ve also heard TV news reports mention this Walgreen’s as serving downtown as well.

You can call it by the name the city has given it – Peabody, Darst, Webbe – or by the greater area it serves – Lafayette Square – but this area is not downtown. This store is not at all convenient to downtown residents, office workers or tourists/conventioneers, all of whom who would most likely be running errands on foot or bike, and not by car.

Hopefully Walgreens realizes this and opens a true downtown location – in the CBD – in the days ahead. It’s amazing to me that a company that has been relentless in opening new locations across the city has ignored a relatively untapped market for so long. It seems that just about every city of comparable size to St. Louis has at least one, and we once had two locations just a short distance from each other. In the final days of St. Louis Centre, Walgreens was the only business that appeared to still be busy.

A Walgreens would give downtown another much-needed amenity, fill a fairly large vacant retail space, and help add a little more life to the street. If CVS wants to add a full-size store downtown instead, they’re more than welcome to beat Walgreens to the punch.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Park Pacific Project Proceeding Promptly


After receiving approval on a $56 million loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Lawrence Group is nearly ready to begin the redevelopment of the former Union Pacific headquarters building at 13th and Olive as the Park Pacific.

Considering the current state of the economy and the fact that the Lawrence Group lost the commitment of a major office tenant – accounting firm Larson Allen, which instead decided to lease space at One City Centre – this is fantastic news.

The $109 million project will feature 232 apartments, 45,000 square feet of office space, 35,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space and parking for 580 cars. According to the Business Journal, the Lawrence Group has already received letters of intent from several tenants.

The financing for the Park Pacific is scheduled to close in January, with construction beginning in February and anticipated completion coming in summer 2011.

With this project and several others finally about to begin, downtown’s list of vacant, developable buildings is starting to dwindle – a very exciting thing.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Group 360 Chooses 1225 Washington


After considering options downtown and elsewhere in the city of St. Louis, marketing and advertising firm Group 360 has announced that it has chosen 1225 Washington for its new headquarters.

The firm will lease 60,000 sf on three floors of the seven-story building. 130 employees will move downtown from St. Louis County, joining the 50 Group 360 employees who currently work downtown in the Fashion Square Building.

1225 Washington, originally known as the Avenida Lofts, is currently receiving a $25 million renovation by the McGowan Brothers, and Group 360 expects to occupy its new space in about 10 months.

According to the Business Journal, Rosalita’s Cantina and Jive & Wail Piano Bar will occupy the ground floor, Group 360 will take floors 2-4, and floors 5-7 will be converted to apartments with 10 units on each floor.

Group 360 cited downtown’s “cool” factor as one of the reasons behind its decision to consolidate downtown.

Back in January, it was announced that architecture firm Kennedy & Associates was going to move its offices (and its 95 employees) from Met Square to two floors at 1225 Washington, but it appears that Group 360 is taking all of the available space instead. Is Kennedy & Associates staying put?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

GenAm Building Back on the Sale Block


The General American Building at 700 Market Street is now being offered for sale, with an asking price of $9.8 million.

This could be good news for downtown, as the building's current owners, Centaur Properties, has owned it for four years now and has been unable to find a tenant. They really dropped the ball by not closing a deal to sell it to DHR International, who had explored purchasing the building for its headquarters. DHR instead chose to locate in Clayton.

Kevin McLaughlin and Pam Hinds of Balke Brown are the listing agents. The building is available for sale for $9.8 million (Centaur bought it for $6.1 million in 2005), and for lease for $21.00 psf.

The design of the 128,250-square-foot property really only allows for it to be occupied by a single tenant, but it does make for a highly visible, architecturally significant headquarters building.

The building has only a handful of internal parking spots (2, IIRC), but the Stadium West garage is located catty-corner from it. The building's listing claims 205 available parking spots, although I'm not sure where they are.

If the building is purchased or leased by a large user, the impact on downtown's Class A vacancy rate would be substantial. There's got to be someone out there willing to move to this great building.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Entrepreneurial Spirit Alive and Well Downtown

Tim Bryant of the Post-Dispatch wrote an article on James Trogolo Co., one of the nation's largest providers of commercial holiday decorations, which is looking to expand its design and sales operation by opening an office in downtown St. Louis.

A location has not been chosen, but company president Jim Espy hopes to lease space by next spring to accommodate at least six to eight new employees.

Espy, a Southern Illinois native who splits his time between DuQuoin and an apartment in downtown St. Louis, said he is eager to contribute to what he said is downtown's remarkable resurgence.

"I'm crazy about downtown," Espy said. "With our little piece, I'd love to help."
The Business Journal is also reporting that Ted Disabato and Charles Nitsch have partnered to start law firm Disabato Nitsch LLP, specializing in real estate. The new firm has set up shop at 727 N. First St. on Laclede’s Landing and is seeking to add attorneys.

It's great to see the entrepreneurial spirit alive and well in downtown St. Louis. Best of luck to downtown's newest businesses; we need more startups and small businesses to follow their lead by choosing downtown!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Arcade Building in Need of a Developer

The city's Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority has taken the first steps toward helping make the vacant Arcade Building more attractive to developers by declaring the building blighted and authorizing 10-year tax abatement.

The Arcade, along with The Alexa (aka the Chemical Building), are the last two remaining undeveloped buildings in the Old Post Office District. It is one of the few Pyramid-owned buildings still owned by Pyramid and a critical component to downtown's ongoing renaissance.

While Pyramid was marketing The Arcade as condos, I would like to see the building's next developers include a larger percentage of office space to help increase the Old Post Office District's daytime population.

Friday, November 06, 2009

A St. Louis Centre Rendering!


We keep getting more and more news on the planned $220 million redevelopment of St. Louis Centre into parking and retail space.

The Post-Dispatch provided a nice rundown on the project that mentions that not only is a movie theater being considered for the second floor, a fitness center is being considered as well.

Also featured in the article was Amos Harris stating that the redevelopment of the Dillard's Building into apartments and an Embassy Suites hotel could be completed in early 2012.

Finally, Building Blocks came through with a rendering of the St. Louis Centre project, pictured above.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Ch-ch-changes

Good news on the retail front: The Time boutique is slated to re-open in the Paul Brown Building in an 1,200 sf space formerly occupied by Curves.

The Business Journal is reporting that Great Clips will lease 1,200 sf in the building as well.

Finally, the rumor mill is buzzing with the news that Nepalese eatery Everest is planning on returning to downtown, opening a second location at 711 Olive, in the space formerly occupied by Bahn Thai.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Downtown West Goes to the Dawgs

Downtown West's newest business, Dawg Day Afternoon, is about to open at 2321 Locust to cater to all your canine needs, including overnight boarding, dog walking, pet sitting and grooming.

According to its web site, at Dawg Day Afternoon, dogs 35 pounds and larger have almost 2,000 square feet of play space while smaller dogs have over 1,000 square feet to enjoy. In addition, each pet is walked multiple times throughout the day.

With City Pet Supply at 1915 Washington and the 12th Street Animal Hospital at 412 N. Tucker, downtown dog owners now have access to practically every product and service that Fido could possibly need.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

1111 Olive Plans Moving Forward


Bob Guller's proposed redevelopment of the vacant former Post-Dispatch printing press building at 1111 Olive has taken another step forward, with a request of $2.35 million in tax increment financing to help cover a portion of the $11.75 million in planned improvements.
IT firm Xiolink will lease the bulk of the space in the 100,000 sf building. Roughly 20,000 sf will be offered to other tenants, and 8,000 sf of space on the ground floor will be available for retail tenants.

Xiolink will retain its current space in the Bandwidth Exchange Building at 900 Walnut, where it has 20 employees, and eventually add 50 employees with annual salaries exceeding $50,000 at 1111 Olive. The relatively small number of employees in such a large space would lead me to believe that most of the space will be used for servers and other IT infrastructure.
Personally, I hope that the renovation plans include the removal of the unsightly radio tower from the building's roof. The Marquette Building once had a similar tower and looks much better since its removal.