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Guest donaltopablo

Redevelopment of The Old Post Office

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Another very cool sounding redevelopment project in St. Louis. For non-St. Louis forumers, read some of the numbers at the bottom of the article for an illustration of St. Louis recent redevelopment activities. Very cool stuff IMHO.

Old Post Office clears hurdle

Margaret Jackson

The redevelopment of the Old Post Office downtown cleared a major hurdle with the signing of the document establishing the covenants for the historic preservation of the building.

The document is a significant milestone required to clear the way for final negotiations to transfer the property from the federal government to the Missouri Development Finance Board (MDFB) as a National Historic Landmark, said Bradley Scott, regional administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Heartland Region. The actual transfer of the deed is expected to occur in November, Scott said.

"This is a huge step toward the transfer of the title," Scott said. "It puts in place the historic covenants the state and DESCO must abide by in order to preserve the building. This has been a grueling process for all parties."

Gwen Knight, vice president of development and corporate services at DESCO Group, which is co-developing the property with DFC Group, said that with the agreement signed, construction should start in November.

"This is a major milestone for us, and we're moving forward on the architectural front and expect to have the plans out for bid in September," Knight said. "We still have all the financial documentation to finalize, but we're moving forward and we are excited."

The ultimate vision of the public-private partnership is the redevelopment, restoration and adaptive re-use of the 119-year-old building into a mixed-use development, Scott said.

In March, the developers closed the funding gap needed to start the project. The project is being financed through $28 million in contributions from U.S. Bancorp, Bank of America, Ameren Corp., May Department Stores Co., the Danforth Foundation and SBC Corp., which at $10 million is the largest corporate contributor.

The contributions are to the MDFB and give the state the ability to make a second mortgage loan on the Old Post Office building and the ability to own the Ninth Street Garage, which will be built on the site of the Century Building across the street from the Old Post Office.

The contributions came after the MDFB agreed to issue up to $5 million in tax credits to contributors of up to $10 million to the project. In all, the MDFB has agreed to issue up to $14 million in tax credits and an $18.6 million bond issue. The bond issue will pay for construction of the 1,062-car garage.

Officially known as the U.S. Custom House and Post Office, the National Historic Landmark opened on March 14, 1884. Designed in the modern French style of the Second Empire by Alfred Bult Mullett, the building has four above-grade floors and two below-grade levels.

The project is considered critical to the revitalization of the area surrounding the Old Post Office, and ultimately downtown St. Louis. The U.S. Court of Appeals Eastern District will occupy 47,927 square feet on the third and fourth floors. Webster University has signed a letter of intent to lease 51,000 square feet of the building. DESCO is asking about $20 a square foot for the remaining 55,000 square feet of space.

"This will spur millions of dollars of investment into that immediate area and cause the renovation and preservation of surrounding buildings," Scott said. "It's a $40 million project in and of itself, but what it will mean to the Old Post Office redevelopment district is astounding. That's the part that kept us excited about continuing what were grueling negotiations."

A handful of developers already have taken a leap of faith, investing more than $100 million in the district since 1999. Eight projects have added 447 apartments, 57 condominiums, 60,800 square feet of retail space and 3,600 square feet of office space, according to a Downtown Now survey.

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Cool. It sounds like Downtown St Louis is rebounding. It's nice to see cities like St. Louis & Detroit rebounding after loosing so many people.

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Doe anyone have any updates on this project?

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This is a HORRIBLE project on so many levels, I don't even know where to begin. The deal is crooked and it will cost the city yet another irreplaceable historic building-- the Century Building. I am so against this project, you can't even know. Everyone who gives a crap about this city is adamantly against it. We have organized time and again to protest and challenge the proposal, but are attempts are futile against a determined and greedy city government. Go here for more info:

www.centurybuilding.org

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Because it "requires" the demolition of the historic Century Building, which is a National Historic Landmark, built of rare Georgia marble-- the only building of its kind west of the Mississippi River. They want to tear it down to build a parking garage, which is NOT necessary. This is one of the most historic blocks in downtown St. Louis, and they want to permanently blemish it. Urbanites throughout the city have assembled against this project, but we are peons compared to the old guard, backroom politicians.

Here is a pic of me at the last rally to save it:

vines.jpg

More pics:

group2.jpg

group5.jpg

The Century Building:

century-overall.jpg

This photo from Built St. Louis

18979791.jpg

Go here to read more about the effort against the Century's demolition:

Built St. Louis: The Case Against an Urban Plaza

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Thanks for the info. I had no idea this was going on. Sounds very familar though....exactly like the fight we've put up to save our old buildings.

Putting a green space in place of the Century is the worst idea I've ever heard of! What about all the open parkland around the arch? Or is the 60 acres (it is 60 acres, right?) not enough green space? It seems that developing more green space should not be downtown St. Louis's first priority at this time.

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They don't want to put greenspace in place of the Century, they want to put a parking garage on the Century site. They want to make a park out of a huge vacant lot nearby that could have just as easily accommodated the Garage Mahal, sparing the Century.

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Oh, ok. Thanks for clearing up the confusion.

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I am sad to see the Century go, but it is a lost cause now. :(

Webster U. becomes first to ink lease at Old Post Office

Beth Miller

Webster University has become the first tenant to sign a lease for space at the Old Post Office.

Gwen Knight, vice president of development for DESCO Group, said the university committed to about 32,500 square feet at the building, about 18,500 square feet less than it originally planned to lease. In January, the university said it was considering reducing its space in the building in order to decrease its $600,000 funding gap for the project.

Knight said Webster will lease one full floor on the mid-level of the building and have a small administrative office on the street, or mall, level.

The move is significant for DESCO Group, which is co-developing the property with DFC Group. "We are one step closer to starting construction, but as a result of Webster downsizing, it has created a funding gap and we are in the process of trying to close that gap just as quickly as possible," she told the Business Journal Monday. "We are hopeful that we can get this gap closed quickly and be under construction by the end of May, but we first have to close the gap."

Knight said the U.S. Court of Appeals Eastern District is close to signing a lease for nearly 48,000 square feet on the third and fourth floors. DESCO is asking about $20 a square foot for the remaining 55,000 square feet of space.

DESCO started looking at redeveloping the Old Post Office about four years ago. The project is considered critical to the revitalization of the area surrounding the Old Post Office, and ultimately downtown St. Louis.

The $73 million redevelopment project is being financed through $28 million in contributions from U.S. Bancorp, Bank of America, Ameren Corp., May Department Stores Co., the Danforth Foundation and SBC Corp. The project also includes work on the Ninth Street Garage, which would be built on the current site of the Century Building.

Representatives from Webster University were not immediately available for comment

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NO!!!! Hasn't STL learned from Detroit? Apparently not. Can someone explain to me why they need to build a parking garage? Are people too lazy to walk two or three blocks? They could at least turn the Century into a parking garage...that's what they did to the Michigan Theater in Detroit.

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I hope that they do keep it. Turning it into a parking lot would be a disaster!! :o

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