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Maryland Plaza Development info/news

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Maryland Plaza Development to Be the 'Rodeo Drive' of Central West End

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Sam Koplar with an architect's model of the Maryland Plaza development with street-level retail, high-tech office space, European-style dinning, and fountain planned for the former Saks Fifth Avenue, Greenberg Gallery and Medical Arts buildings in the Central West End.

by Bob Moore, SLFP.com

ST. LOUIS, (SLFP.com) April 28, 2004 - Koplar Properties has announced plans to bring glitter and prestige back to Maryland Plaza in the trendy Central West End (CWE) neighborhood.

In an interview at their headquarters in downtown St. Louis, Edward (Ted) Koplar, president and CEO of Koplar Properties, and his son, Sam Koplar, vice president of Koplar Properties and leader of the Maryland Plaza project, outlined plans for their development.

The ambitious $20 million project includes the gut rehab and modernization of the former Saks Building, the former Greenberg Van Doran Gallery building, and the Medical Arts Building - as well as more than $3 million of improvements to the street, sidewalks, lighting and landscaping of Maryland Plaza, from Kingshighway to Euclid.

"After the Argyle Parking Garage was built, the question became, what do we do with our properties," stated Ted Koplar. "So Sam and I and a couple of design people took a trip around the country. We went to places like Seattle, San Francisco, Phoenix, Florida and Boston to try to look at concepts that would keep the integrity of this area."

"What we found in vogue was the concept of combining retail with urban living. In some of the places we saw that they had tried to recreate what we already have in the Maryland Plaza area, which is a turn-of-the-century neighborhood," said Koplar.

The Koplars began developing a concept that would be an experience for visitors and residents to come to the area for retail.

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Architect model of the proposed Maryland Plaza Development featuring the landmark fountain.

"The fountain will continue to be a landmark unique to Maryland Plaza," said Ted Koplar. "The location of the current fountain in the middle of the street has an accessibility problem."

"We are working with a world class design firm and are looking to their recommendations as to how much of the current fountain can be preserved," he said. "We are trying to create a centerpiece that will not only be a fountain, but a work of art with an area for people to sit and enjoy the fountain. It will be the catalyst and the magnet to bring different activities to the street."

Using an architect's model to display a night-time view of the street, Koplar explained that the cobblestones will be removed and replaced with smooth pavers. Flower planters will be place along the storefronts for a pleasant walking experience. A design proposed by noted St. Louis landscape architect Austin Tao will also add trees and grassy areas, and new wider sidewalks."

The alley way in back of the properties is not exactly the greatest place to walk, especially if you're with your kids," he stated. The Koplars plan to create a European feeling along York street. An indoor/outdoor bistro will be built on the roof of the former Greenburg Gallery to take advantage of the ambience of the neighborhood.

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Maryland Plaza water fountain

The Koplars believe that Maryland Plaza will also attract those who live in a wireless world. Hi-speed wireless Internet access will be installed at Maryland Plaza so that guests can enjoy wireless web access from anywhere in the Plaza.

"In keeping with the new urbanism concept, we are keeping the second and third floors as office space," stated Sam. "The buildings will be totally wired for high-tech. The state-of-the-art office space will have all the features people will want."

Koplar Properties is currently working with an experienced retail specialist from Dallas to bring in fashion, specialty goods, galleries and other retailers.

"If we are going to complete not only for the residents of the CWE, the entire St. Louis market and visitors, we have to have unique retail," noted Sam. "What we see are stores with first-time locations in St. Louis. These stores are not going to be chains but more collections. We see unique shopping opportunities, especially for the guests at the Chase Park Plaza."

"This development will set a new bar for retail and add to what we already have in the CWE and the entire city," added Sam enthusiastically.

The Koplars envision the new Maryland Plaza as an entertainment destination for the neighborhood, families, tourists and St. Louis community.

"Maryland Plaza used to be the Rodeo Drive of St. Louis," Ted stated proudly. "This development is going to show things have come back. Saks Fifth Avenue is not going back in there, but the new retail will make this a destination."

St. Louis-based architecture firm Klitzing Welsch Associates Inc. is the project's primary architect. The historic buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the exterior may experience some restoration but will not be altered. Construction is expected to begin later this summer, with shop and restaurant doors scheduled to open in late summer, 2005.

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Architect model with a view of the proposed European-style alley with dining opportunities.

Source: Rodeo Drive of the Central West End

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Looks like yet another great project for STL! I knew that STL was rebounding, but I had no idea that there were so many different projects going on! Is there a chance that STL could see a population increase in the 2010 census?

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