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St. Louis Bottle District- Libenskind Renderings


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Construction will begin on the Phase I September 27 2005 and the redevelopment project will continue over the next several years. Scheduled for completion in phases, the Bottle District will include approximately 250,000 square feet of entertainment retail. Daytime attractions will offer fun, food and shopping for the whole family. At night, the district will transform into a unique evening experience with restaurants, shops, clubs and live entertainment. Ample secure parking will be provided and up to 150,000 square feet of historic buildings will be redeveloped into loft residential and office space with retail located at the street level. In addition, 300-500 new condominium units with spectacular 360-degree views are planned, providing downtown St Louis

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Artist's rendering

A developer planning a $100 million project in Charlotte, N.C., is poised to become co-developer of the Bottle District in downtown St. Louis.

Afshin Ghazi, founder of the Ghazi Co. in Charlotte, said his group had been looking for projects here when it learned about the Bottle District. The $290 million complex with restaurants, entertainment, housing and offices is planned north of the Edward Jones Dome.

"We are finalizing all our points now. We will be involved in the project," Ghazi said. "We think St. Louis is a great market, a great sports town and a great tourist town."

Bottle District officials have been talking with Ghazi about taking on the job of co-developer, said Matt Bernsen, the Bottle District's marketing director.

"We're interested in partnering with a proven developer, and Ghazi does have experience."

The 11-year-old company does mostly specialty retail and partners with others on housing and office development. Ghazi's Web site says it strives "to be on the cutting edge of real estate development."

The EpiCentre project in downtown Charlotte, an entertainment and retail complex with a 53-story residential tower, is to rise on the site of the recently demolished convention center.

In St. Louis, Bottle District officials plan a groundbreaking Sept. 27 for the still-evolving project, which will cover nearly 15 acres on more than six blocks. It was made public a year ago by Dan McGuire, president of McGuire Moving & Storage Co., and a team of associates and experts he assembled.

The moving company occupies a 101-year-old building that's to be recycled for housing as part of the project after McGuire moves to another location.

The property is near a $400 million casino complex Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. got under way earlier this month.

The latest renderings, by the Studio Daniel Libeskind firm in New York City and Forum Studio at Clayco Construction Co. in St. Louis, show three condo towers that would bring a distinctive new look to the city skyline.

The tallest tower is sketched in at 630 feet - nearly the height of the Gateway Arch. Together, the towers would have up to 700 condos.

Bernsen said the district plans to team up with a residential developer to check out the market for that many condos and help get them built. About 100 people already have requested price and other information from the district's Web site.

Several commercial tenants have signed letters of intent, including Rawlings All American Grille, Cabo Wabo restaurant and a Grand Prix Speedways kart-racing center. Joe Edwards, the pioneering developer in University City's Delmar Loop, plans a "boutique" bowling alley.

Bernsen said demolition to make way for the project has started at a vacant school on the property. Later, a recycling center and warehouse will be taken down.

At this point, he said, a construction start date has not been set.

The city has approved tax increment financing for the project that Bernsen said will generate about $51.3 million. And, he said, "we are interviewing and considering multiple proposals for financing" from banks and other private lending sources.

Barbara Geisman, deputy mayor for development, said St. Louis is anxious to see the project move forward.

"It will provide new entertainment and things to do for people who visit the convention center," she said. "It will add new commercial, office and residential opportunities for people who want to be downtown in newly constructed buildings."

And, she noted, Daniel Libeskind "is one of the top architects in the world these days, and he has accepted this commission. This will add a whole new dimension to the architecture of our city."

The Bottle District name came, in part, from buried bottles found on the property. It's also a connection to the city's history as a hub for breweries and other bottlers. Developers also want to restore a 34-foot-tall Vess sign, shaped like a soda bottle, on the property.

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I do not understand why any urban planner would suggest building a residential component directly on top of an interstate highway (they tried this once in St. Louis - The Mansion House - and it failed. People like to be able to open windows and not smell gas fumes, and I think there are more calming sounds to sleep by other than interstate highway traffic. St. Louis has done a great job renovating wonderful loft spaces for the minimal residential market in this town. These developers need to understand on proven fact; to create generational residential occupants of any true urban area still requires amenities (churches, schools, grocery stores, parks, dry cleaners, etc...). Good luck St. Louis, but I think this misses the mark (can you say Pruitt-Igo).

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How exactly is Mansion House a failure?

On what level (as a piece of architecture, or as a financially feasible urban residential development). It has failed on just about every level - check the vacancy rates and the rents generated even before you begin the discussion on it's design.

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Hey Brickcity,

You seem to be very knowledgeable about this project (and St. Louis projects in general), so do you have any idea when this project is going to begin any kind of true construction. I know the project press release said there was a "groundbreaking" late September (p.r. and photo opportunities only), but when is real construction going to take place? What are they waiting for - they have dangled this project in front of the public for 2 years now - when will we see some steel come out of the ground? Let me know if you have any insight. Thank you.

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