Thursday, October 20, 2011

Big Summer for Ralcorp

Ralcorp Holdings has certainly had a busy summer.  After spurning a takeover bid from ConAgra Foods, the company agreed to purchase Sara Lee's North American refrigerated dough business for $545 million in a deal that is expected to be accretive to earnings.

Then, it named Ralcorp Chairman William Stiritz Chairman of its Post Holdings division, and Robert Vitale was named CFO.  Post Holdings, which encompasses Ralcorp's cereal business, is expected to be spun-off.

Finally, Ralcorp announced that it plans to expand its headquarters at Bank of America Plaza.  The company is seeking $20 million in tax credits that will enable it to add 100 employees to its current headcount of approximately 400.  Ralcorp currently occupies more than five floors in the Class A building where space leases for $22/psf.  Retaining Ralcorp is a big victory for downtown.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Verizon Boosting Wireless Capacity Downtown for Cards Games

Trying to get a cell phone signal downtown during major events can often be difficult, if not impossible.  I lose the signal on my AT&T phone at every Rams game, without fail. 

It's nice to see that Verizon Wireless is boosting its wireless voice and data capacity downtown during the upcoming Cardinal playoff games against the Milwaukee Brewers by bringing in a temporary cell site.  Does anyone know if AT&T, Sprint or the other carriers have plans to follow suit?

Monday, October 03, 2011

Lathrop and Gage Leaves Downtown

As announced some time ago, law firm Lathrop and Gage is shuttering its downtown office, consolidating its two St. Louis offices in a single location with 46 employees in Clayton.  The firm has leased two floors in the Pierre Laclede building for a total of 30,518 sf, and 23 employees will be moving there from the former downtown office, which was located in the Equitable Building at 10 S. Broadway.

Did the city of St. Louis make any attempt to convince Lathrop and Gage to remain and grow its presence downtown instead, or was it content to lose yet another law firm?  A 30,000 sf lease is nothing to sneeze at, and had Lathrop and Gage consolidated downtown, their lease would have helped stablize the Class A vacancy rate.  Instead, downtown now has another hole to fill. 

Lathrop and Gage was willing to take space in a Class B building in Clayton instead of Class A space downtown.  That says a lot about what downtown is up against these days.  Clayton has seemingly long held an edge over downtown as a location for small firms and solo practitioners, while downtown has traditionally been home to the larger firms.  Downtown has begun to lose its edge in recent years after the exodus of firms like Husch & Eppenberger/Blackwell Sanders, Armstrong Teasdale and Stinson Morrison Hecker, and it's very disconcerting to see.