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The Bottle District

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Developers pop the top on new Bottle District

By Charlene Prost

Of the Post-Dispatch

09/04/2004

The area between the Edwards Jones Dome and McGuire Moving & Storage will be redeveloped into the Bottle District, with restaurants and stores.

Story continues below adAn entertainment area called the Bottle District - with restaurants, stores, a concert hall, a kart-racing track and even a bowling alley operated by developer Joe Edwards - is about to rise on 6 1/2 blocks in downtown St. Louis, just north of the Edward Jones Dome.

Dan McGuire, president of McGuire Moving & Storage Co., which occupies a 100-year-old building on the site, has been working on the nearly 15-acre project for more than two years. He has assembled a team of associates and experts who've signed on several tenants for the $200 million-plus project, including a Rawlings All American Grille and a Formula One kart-racing track, modeled after F1 Boston in Massachusetts. Other leases are in the works. Also, they're talking with developers to build housing.

McGuire said last week that he has a substantial amount of the financing lined up from investors and other private sources. He expects to use bank financing, too.

"Our plans are to break ground in December of this year and have it finished by spring or summer of 2006," he said. "We want to create a district and a destination" that will lure conventioneers, visitors, downtown workers and others from throughout the region.

McGuire and his two brothers - Robin McGuire and Kevin McGuire - own, have options to buy or have development rights for all the properties, much of them vacant.

Barbara Geisman, deputy St. Louis mayor for development, was "extremely impressed" after reviewing the plans last week. She said the city will consider approving a tax increment financing district to help with paying for new streets and sidewalks as well as 2,500 or so underground parking spaces and other improvements.

"It's a unique development with the potential to generate considerable tax revenue for the city, kick-start development in that part of downtown, complement activity at the convention center and dome, and provide an additional reason for people to choose to have conventions and meetings in downtown," she said.

"They've been working on this for years, acquiring property and getting tenants lined up. It seems like it is ready to pop."

First phase

The initial wave of construction includes about 300,000 square feet of entertainment, office space and retail space as well as about 1,200 underground parking spaces on three blocks closest to the dome. The cost is estimated at about $65 million for the buildings, designed by Lighthouse Architects, and nearly $30 million for parking.

One building will house a restaurant; a concert hall, with perhaps 600 to 1,200 seats; and a 12-lane bowling alley operated and partly owned by Edwards, a driving force in the development of the Delmar Loop. Last winter, he opened a bar, diner and bowling alley there called Pin-Up Bowl, east of Skinker Boulevard.

Edwards shares Dan McGuire's vision for the Bottle District.

"I think everyone will see more visitors downtown because of it," he said, "and I think it will attract people from the bistate region and beyond."

He said the bowling alley will be "top notch and a good size so people can have office leagues there during the day or after work, parties and a variety of events."

The owners of Cabo Wabo Cantina, a restaurant with a stage for live entertainment, are considering a move into the building, alongside the concert hall and bowling alley. Rock entertainer Sammy Hagar opened the first Cabo Wabo in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. There's another near Lake Tahoe.

"We are in discussions," said Sarah Williams, an executive at Cabo Wabo Enterprises in Berkeley, Calif. "St. Louis is a great niche. Sammy has a great fan base there. ... This is something we definitely would like to see happen."

Another two-story building nearby will be occupied by a Rawlings All American Grille, part of Rawlings Sporting Goods Co.

Jon Taffer of West Palm Beach, Fla., is chairman of a company that owns the license for the Rawlings restaurants. He said the one in St. Louis, with 30-foot-tall screens for televised sporting events as well as a retail area, will be the third in the country. There are two in Texas.

Taffer, who once owned a restaurant at Union Station, said he got interested in the district after one of its planners visited the Rawlings restaurant at Ameriquest Field in Arlington, Texas.

"At the time, we had been investigating a possible site (for a restaurant) in St. Louis," he said. After reviewing plans for the Bottle District, he jumped at the chance to open there. "It's a terrific, fantastic project," he said. "We have a lot of confidence in Dan McGuire and his team, and we believe it will draw from 400 miles away."

Meanwhile, the Rawlings restaurant in St. Louis, he said, "will be upscale, with a strong sports motif and a strong retail component where you might buy a bat signed by a baseball celebrity or a basketball signed by a basketball player. ... It's going to be a source of great pride for St. Louis."

F1 St. Louis, a kart-racing facility with a restaurant and meeting rooms, will go into a building across the street from the Rawlings restaurant.

Matt Bernsen, the district's marketing director, said it will be similar to F1 Boston, designed for corporate team building and leadership programs as well as for league races and individuals seeking fun. The district's owners and developers, operating as BDP LLC, will own the facility. F1 Boston's owner will help to operate it.

Later work

Once that part of the project is under way, McGuire said, construction will start on the remaining blocks. One project will be a 10-story building with 200 condominiums above two floors of commercial space.

Mark Eckhardt, a district partner who owns a commercial real estate company, said the condos will range from $160,000 to $240,000 each for 850 to 1,100 square feet. He said they'll have balconies for viewing the Mississippi River and the Gateway Arch. Discussions are under way with developers interested in building them.

"We expect them to attract young people, empty-nesters ... anyone who wants a new, modern condo downtown," he said.

McGuire said he plans to move his family's 69-year-old company to another location within the city so the five-story brick building it has occupied since 1988 can be renovated with condos or apartments.

The developers also are seeking retail and commercial tenants, and they're in discussions with several grocery operators.

"We think the grocery will be used by residents in the district, other downtown residents and residents in the surrounding area," McGuire said.

The district is next door to Columbus Square, one of downtown's largest apartment complexes, and it's within blocks of a new neighborhood being built to replace the Cochran public-housing complex.

Bernsen said the Bottle District's name came about, in part, because of buried bottles found on the property over the years, left from the days when the area was known as Kerry Patch. The old neighborhood, a melting pot for immigrants starting in the mid-1800s, was named after Kerry County in Ireland. Another bottle connection, Bernsen said, is the city's history as a hub for breweries.

Then, there's the shabby 34-foot-tall Vess lemon-lime soda bottle, a landmark erected near McGuire's parking lot and Interstate 70 in the early 1990s as an advertisement by Vess Beverages Inc., later acquired by Cott Corp. of Toronto. Joseph McCormac, marketing manager for Cott Beverages USA in St. Louis, said his company might restore the steel-and-neon bottle "to its former glory."

Bernsen said the district's developers would like to see the bottle become a symbol for the district, "totally restored and spinning again ... somewhere in the district."

Bottle District at a glance

Owner, developer: BDP LLC

Chief executive: Dan McGuire, president of McGuire Moving & Storage Co.

Site: 6 1/2 blocks, just north of the Edward Jones Dome

Cost: More than $200 million

Total square feet: 900,000

What's planned

Entertainment: 500,000 square feet, including a kart-racing track, concert hall and bowling alley.

Restaurants: 75,000 square feet.

Retail: 65,000 square feet, including a grocery

Office space: 70,000 square feet

Residential: 200 new condominiums besides 60 apartments or condominiums in a renovated McGuire Moving & Storage building

Parking: 2,500 or so underground spaces

Go online to www.thebottledistrict.com for more information

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Here are some new 3D scale renderings.

These really don't show any architectural detail at all but you can see the two residential highrises that will be built.

70-East.gif

Birds-Eye-View.gif

Fountain-Area.gif

North-Looking-South.gif

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Here are some new 3D scale renderings.

These really don't show any architectural detail at all but you can see the two residential highrises that will be built.

70-East.gif

Birds-Eye-View.gif

Fountain-Area.gif

North-Looking-South.gif

Hey Brickcity,

why did this project not only change so dramatically from your Sept. 5, 2004 post to the Jan. 27, 2005 post? I thought projects were supposed to advance in their development over time - this thing looks like it took about 50 steps backwards - I do not understand...why the drastic change. I agree with your Sept. 5, 2004 post - these images look great and very urban appropriate. The other images on Jan. 27, 2005 looked so underdeveloped and resembled a prison yard - very sterile and static. Hope something happens here - this part of town needs to be cleaned up.

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Well, the previous renderings are obviously from a 3-D model, and have a huge amount of detail. If a project is progressing, why this monsterous step backwards? This is such a schematic attempt - if this was all I had to show I would have waited to post images until the design could be advanced to an appropriate level. By the way, it looks like one of these images was taken from a Morphosis design (check out the Morphosis design for Caltrans District 7 Headquarters in Los Angeles, CA.).

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What is the deal with every city in the country building downtown entertainment districts. St luis's Bottle Disrict, Kansas City's Power and Light District. Seems like a band wagon.

In one of the renderings above there is a picture of something that looks like a boat mast. Denver has dowtown bridge that looks remarkable like that.

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What is the deal with every city in the country building downtown entertainment districts. St luis's Bottle Disrict, Kansas City's Power and Light District. Seems like a band wagon.

Cities are trying to give people things to do downtown. Why wouldn't every city in the country try something like this? They obviously serve their purpose; othwerwise developers wouldn't be willing to ante up.

Every city in the country could have a nice downtown entertainment district, and people would still attend each one if they could... because they're not all the same. Each city's entertainment district has different offerings which make it unique.

I think it's an awesome idea, and I don't consider it "bandwagon" when each city's district is unique.

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I've read many things, that one tower would be 54 floors, the second at 47 floors, and the third at 30 floors, plus a 12 floor hotel... Yet i've also read there are three towers at 15-30 floors... What is actually true? If the information on Emporis.com is wrong, I'd like to fix what is on SSP.

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