Downtown Ghost Buildings

What's happening in our built environment.
With the closure of The Millennium, we now have two more "ghost buildings' downtown that are either vacant or vastly underutilized. Another significant newby to this unfortunate category is the Railway Exchange and AT&T tower seems destined in the near future as well. But others like the Alverne appear to have a bright future.

I believe recalling Mayor Slay say in one of the stories during the Cupples 7 saga that we were down to 30 properties downtown that were vacant. It would be interesting to know if there is any kind of roster or list available.

I also thought this Jan. 2011 STLBJ article on downtown's ghost buildings is pretty interesting:
http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/prin ... le-of.html

"Twelve significant buildings — more than 2 million square feet — sit empty in downtown St. Louis, awaiting redevelopment or demolition, despite 10 years and more than $4.5 billion spent on the city’s revitalization."

Some of the 12 were specifically cited: the Arcade Wright. Jefferson Arms, Chemical, Cupples 7, Cupples 9, and GenAmerican. Fascinating to see those 6... in the past three years since the article the collective has seen one demo, one restoration, three planned restorations and one stalled.

“Ten years ago, over 145 buildings were identified downtown that were either under-utilized or vacant and needed to be redeveloped,” Crim said.
“In the past 10 years, over 120 buildings — many of them very significant properties — were rehabbed and are now part of the new fabric of downtown.”


Hopefully we'll be able to tackle the remaining challenges and not have more needless losses like Cupples 7. The article closes out with an optimistic forecast:
“It’s a great story from the standpoint that there were five times as many buildings requiring redevelopment 10 years ago,” Symsack said. “We’ve progressed to a point where we’ve got pockets that have not been developed, but the pump is primed. Within the next five years, all these properties will be redeveloped, because there’s nothing left.”
Yeah, the Downtown of 2019 will really be something, won't it? The 2020's are going to be a new dawn for this City. As we enter that decade with a Downtown that has essentially no vacant buildings and who's parking lots are rapidly disappearing in lieu of new construction that must be built because there are no more vacant buildings to renovate, the attitudes about the City are going to change. And when that happens, you can bet we will be landing some pretty impressive corporate tenants in the neighborhood.
goat314 brought wonderful news of plans to redevelop the Butler Building.
viewtopic.php?f=5&t=10155#p223194

this would be an awesome development that could really boost prospects of some other classic buildings nearby.
With the Arcade-Wright, Lennox, Globe Drug and GenAm off the list, I'm trying to see what Ghost Buildings are left to tackle in the downtown core:

505 Washington
Lasalle Building
Railway Exchange Building
Mercantile Library
Chemical Building
Jefferson Arms (technically DW)
Millennium Hotel complex
AT&T tower
The 3 Buildings on 900 block Locust
Orpheum Theater

Any others?
What's the story on the Orpheum? It looks like they've been working on it, are there no plans for it?
CPI's Canadian spinoff is circling the drain, so 1706 Washington could be added to this list soon.
I was in Seattle today. I have been there before but never paid much attention to the fact it also has many of the things we are trying to fix in Downtown St. Louis:

-Parking lots...EVERYWHERE. I know their new construction is over parking lots, but they have just as long a journey as we do before they build new infill over all of them.

-Lots of ugly, suburban, 1970s-80s office buildings sitting in parking lots.

-Plenty of deteriorated and vacant (but once beautiful) historic buildings, particularly right by the highway. Think the north riverfront.

-Drive-thrus and other suburban development.

-Houses falling apart right next to Downtown. Like, Northside Regeneration area-style.

-Their homeless population absolutely trumps ours. It's huge!

-Heavy industrial all over the place.

-The one thing they do have that we don't is lots of new high-rise construction Downtown.

It's kind of like a giant version of Downtown Valley Park mixed with Downtown Clayton and full of homeless people and seagulls. The main reason people move there these days is the legal weed. I've been TOLD that by numerous people there over the past few years. I don't know what its appeal was beforehand. Obviously not the weather.
I don't know. I had a much different perception of Seattle when I was there. Lots of development in the urban core with cranes everywhere. Downtown is a giant mixed use district with corporate HQ, condo buildings, and just about any amenity one could want. Restaurants and bars all over the place with one of the largest shopping districts of any city it's size. There are also some great neighborhoods that butt right up to downtown. Pioneer Sq and the International District to the South. Pike and Pine to the East. Great neighborhoods like Belltown, Ballard, Denny Triangle, Queen Ann, and South Lake Union to the north. I did not see many surface parking lots. A very condensed vibrant downtown. I would love for downtown STL to be half as healthy Seattle's.

A few things I did notice about Seattle....

A large freeway cutting off the waterfront. Also another interstate separates the neighborhood to the East. It's kind of chopped up like our downtown but a bit smaller scale.

Everyone associates Seattle with tech but it's actually very blue collar. The logging industry had a lot of blue collar employment and the remnances can still be seen today. Much different than I anticipated.

Yes a ton of homeless. Probably the highest concentration I have experienced of any major city.it dwarfs the population in STL. The great thing about Seattle is that the city understands and accepts it as opposed to STL where it scares people away.
the municipal courts building has been vacant for over 10 years.
downtown2007 wrote:
I don't know. I had a much different perception of Seattle when I was there. Lots of development in the urban core with cranes everywhere. Downtown is a giant mixed use district with corporate HQ, condo buildings, and just about any amenity one could want. Restaurants and bars all over the place with one of the largest shopping districts of any city it's size. There are also some great neighborhoods that butt right up to downtown. Pioneer Sq and the International District to the South. Pike and Pine to the East. Great neighborhoods like Belltown, Ballard, Denny Triangle, Queen Ann, and South Lake Union to the north. I did not see many surface parking lots. A very condensed vibrant downtown. I would love for downtown STL to be half as healthy Seattle's.

A few things I did notice about Seattle....

A large freeway cutting off the waterfront. Also another interstate separates the neighborhood to the East. It's kind of chopped up like our downtown but a bit smaller scale.

Everyone associates Seattle with tech but it's actually very blue collar. The logging industry had a lot of blue collar employment and the remnances can still be seen today. Much different than I anticipated.

Yes a ton of homeless. Probably the highest concentration I have experienced of any major city.it dwarfs the population in STL. The great thing about Seattle is that the city understands and accepts it as opposed to STL where it scares people away.


There are positive things about every city's downtown, even Detroit. But after living in WA for as long as I did and recently visiting again, it only reinforced my previous opinions about the place, as opposed to proving me wrong. I hoped that my memory of it was wrong, but it wasn't. My family was with me as well and finally understand why I didn't like it there. All this time, they've been sick and tired of hearing all the bad things I had to say about it. Within less than 24 hours, they were talking as much sh-t on it as I always have.

Downtown Seattle has a lot of suburban crap, decay, and not enough to do. Sure, there are new skyscrapers going up, and that's good for them. I would never live there, though. I would feel less safe there than any other city I've been to. Not to mention all the drunkards and beggars everywhere. It rains every day. All anyone cares about is doing drugs, though I guess I can't blame them since there's nothing else to do there. Washington's just the worst northern state I've been to. I would rather be shot in the face than have to live there again.

In short, Seattle has nothing to offer except good weed, if you care about that. If not, there's no reason to visit. All you'll do is walk around in the rain looking unsuccessfully for something to do as well over a dozen (that's not even an exaggeration) homeless people ask you for cigarettes every few blocks. And it's not even so much that beggars are annoying so much as it's just that you feel sorry for them.

Oh, and it STINKS! The rotting Puget Sound makes the whole city friggin' reek terribly. The ocean usually smells bad, but it's even worse in the northwest than it is anywhere else for some reason.
With the Arcade-Wright and presumably Chemical Buildings taken care of, I hope the next area to get Ghostbusted are the Mercantile Library and Lasalle Buildings. The surrounding area is perhaps the most desolate in all of the core CBD and in need of some desperate help... taking care of those two would help fill in this dead zone and give a boost to prospects for the Railway Exchange and filling up the off-Washington M/X retail spots.
It's kind of like a giant version of Downtown Valley Park mixed with Downtown Clayton and full of homeless people and seagulls. The main reason people move there these days is the legal weed. I've been TOLD that by numerous people there over the past few years. I don't know what its appeal was beforehand. Obviously not the weather.


I do love GC's rants against Washington State but I don't think many people can agree that weed is the only reason people go there.

The roughly dozen or so people I know who have moved to Seattle. Most who moved from St. Louis moved from inner ring suburbs, into the Seattle urban core. Seattle is a booming tech town. Most moved there for jobs that pay in the neighborhood of 100K. Most also love it there (I know a few that hated it, one since moved to Austin). I feel like its the city that's actually putting pressure on Silicon Valley in terms of attracting new talent because it is relatively speaking a lot cheaper. The investment and growth of Amazon in Seattle dwarfs almost anywhere else.

Not trying to sell Seattle but they are a serious competitor for EXACTLY the kind of talent St. louis wants, and needs. Its not wise to discount whats going on there. The weed issue is a blip.
I don't really care what's happening to their economy, the town is still crap and there isn't more to do in their DT than there is in ours. They have tons of ghost buildings, too. The weed thing is real, though. I mean, most people I've spoken with about it chose Denver. Because, let's face it: if you had to pick between the two, the choice is obvious...What could Seattle possibly have over Denver? Anyway, all those people I met under 30 there told me it was the weed. Which is fine if that's their lifestyle. I don't care if people smoke. I think WORK is a better reason to move to a new city, though. Seattle has that going for it, too, I guess.

But even here in St. Louis a lot of my college-aged friends and other young folks who complain about St. Louis tout WA's marijuana legalization as their reason why it's better than MO. I admit, WA does have that over us. But that's not a good enough reason for me to want to live in a bigger, rainier version of Valley Park. If getting high is that important, go to CO. Better state than WA overall, really.

My mom and brother were very unimpressed by DT Seattle when we were there the other day. Even my younger brother, who always says he wants to travel "anywhere but here (St. Louis)," said Seattle was in pretty bad shape and that he actually preferred St. Louis! I know he likes Shitcago and New York more than STL, but those are actually good cities, so I can't argue against him much there. Anyway, being in SEA really brought back memories. Kinda gave me the same feelings driving through there that other people who are driving through STL who are from other cities probably think when they go past the north riverfront. Just like "How the hell did this place end up like this? Who would live here? Why does it look so bad? Why are there so many ghost buildings for such a cool, big city?" I guess my point is that we aren't alone with this problem here in STL, even "hip" cities have them, too. It was somewhat comforting to know we aren't alone, though, because you know how the old saying goes: "Missouri loves company!" Or something like that.
I got to "live" in Seatle for 4 months back in 2009. It was awesome. Would I want to live there...no, unless I made a LOT of money. Plus I was there during the perfect months, though April it really did rain every day. Pikes market is amazing though and I have never been able to accept Soulards farm market since. I do go to the Tower Grove market every weekend though.
I would live in Seattle in a heartbeat. I think it's a great city and far better than Denver. I would put it in my top 5 American cities.
^^Why not accept Soulard market, and why is the Tower Grove market acceptable?
Gateway City wrote:
I don't really care what's happening to their economy, the town is still crap and there isn't more to do in their DT than there is in ours. They have tons of ghost buildings, too.


It would be interesting to see what other cities large ghost buildings were.

Gateway City wrote:
But that's not a good enough reason for me to want to live in a bigger, rainier version of Valley Park.


Valley Park: The Seattle of Saint Louis :lol: :lol: :lol:
downtown2007 wrote:
I would live in Seattle in a heartbeat. I think it's a great city and far better than Denver. I would put it in my top 5 American cities.


I am not even exaggerating when I say that I would rather be stabbed to death than live in the Pacific Northwest again.
One of these days Gateway City is gonna open up and tell us how he really feels about the Northwest. :lol:
Well, anyways, we got off track. Point is, WA sucks a big floppy donkey weiner. Now, back to St. Louis' ghost buildings.

I am excited to see so much happening on the N. Riverfront. Hopefully by 2020 you will be able to walk through much of it and see VERY limited blight!
With construction beginning on the Arcade-Wright I suggested the Biz Journal re-visit the 2011 Ghost Buildings story.

http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/prin ... l?page=all

Of the original 12 buildings on the list, 4 have been successfully re-purposed and 1 demolished (Cupples 7). But it is daunting (or haunting?) to know that we have even more ghost space to fill with the Railway Exchange and One ATT Center building giving up over 2 million square feet.
^ here's the original Biz Journal list from Jan. 2011

The Final Dozen
Twelve downtown buildings remain vacant, encompassing more than 2 million square feet of unused space:

1. Mercantile Exchange, 510 Locust St. - 270,000-square-foot building
2. 505 Washington Ave. - 78,000 total square feet
3. Cupples Station 7, 11th and Spruce streets - 200,000-square-foot building
4. Cupples Station 9, 900 Spruce - 170,000-square-foot building
5. Arcade Wright Building, 800 Olive St. - 500,000-square-foot building
6. Chemical Building (also known as the Alexa), 721 Olive St. - 17-story, 177,000-square-foot building
7. GenAmerica building, 700 Market - 128,250-square-foot building
8. LaSalle Building, 509 Olive - 13-story, 33,150-square-foot office building
9. Jefferson Arms, 401-415 N. Tucker - 500,000-square-foot building
10. WS Hotel, 400 Washington Ave. - 120,000-square-foot hotel
11. 917 Locust St., Locust and 10th - 120,000-square-foot planned hotel
12. 921 Locust St., Locust and 10th - 120,000-square-foot planned hotel

I noticed that the Lennox Hotel was not listed but I can't recall if it was still open in '11 as part of the Renaissance Grand. Anyway, over 1 million sq, ft, is off that ghost roll list but we have to add back twice that amount for the RRX, One ATT Center and 2 Millenium Hotel towers.
^ And here is my stab at the current roster of Downtown Ghost Buildings:

The Final Ten

Ten downtown buildings remain vacant or vastly underutilized, encompassing nearly 4 million square feet of unused space:

1. Mercantile Exchange, 510 Locust St. - 270,000 square-foot building
2. 505 Washington Ave. - 78,000 total square feet
3. Chemical Building (also known as the Alexa), 721 Olive St. - 17-story, 177,000 square-foot building
4. LaSalle Building, 509 Olive - 13-story, 33,150 square-foot office building
5. Jefferson Arms, 401-415 N. Tucker - 500,000 square-foot building
6. 917 Locust St. - 120,000 square-foot building
7. 921-923 Locust St. (Locust & 10th buildings) - 120,000 total square feet
8. Railway Exchange, 515 Olive - 1.2 million square-foot building
9. One ATT Center, 900 Pine - 1.2 million square-foot building
10. 200 S. Fourth St. - 28 story tower & 10 story tower (formerly Millennium Hotel) - (300,00 total square feet?)
^Shouldn't we include the Butler Brothers building? It's 718,000square feet of potential.
Shouldn't we also include the Municipal Courts building?