Counting the Costs of Cupples 7 Demo or Redevelopment

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C7 draft rendering stlcorp2

Cupples 7 is a seven-story, 200,000 sq ft brick building and the last remaining building in the historic Cupples Station district that has not been renovated. That district was constructed by Eames and Young for Samuel Cupples between 1894 and 1917. The buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. Cupples 7, at 11th and Spruce Street, was condemned by the city in 2008. (summary of the Cupples 7 saga)

Demolition Scenario  
Purchase note from Montgomery Bank $850,000
Demolition cost $660,000
Grade and seed cleared site $250,000
Total $1,760,000

To purchase and demo Cupples 7, then convert the roughly half-acre site into green space will cost an estimated $1.76M. This total does not include the annual cost of maintaining, securing and lighting necessary for a half-acre “mini park.” There are no revenue generating initiatives in this scenario; only expenses. This lot would be added to the numerous empty, non-tax revenue generating lots scattered throughout downtown St. Louis.

Redevelopment Scenario  
Purchase note from Montgomery Bank $850,000
Sell building to developer $850,000
Total (net) $0
Redevelopment $50,000,000
Annual retail sales tax (estimated) $339,640
Annual parking revenue (estimated) $234,000

In the redevelopment scenario, the Treasurer’s Office purchases the building and sells to a developer. The redevelopment of the building provides a great economic opportunity. First is the generation of jobs- a project of this size 200k sf and $50M, is enough to generate 400 temporary (construction related) jobs. That’s easily twice as many workers as it would take to demolish the building. After construction, opportunity arises for new retail/restaurants to open in the popular district. With the right tenant mix, we can estimate an additional $339,640 per year in sales tax revenue being generated by 20k sq ft of retail/restaurant space. The math: 20k sf retail * $200 sales/sf * 8.491% = $339,640.

With a building redeveloped into offices, it provides a new option for the several companies who are currently in the market for new space. C9 reached 99% occupancy by the time it opened for tenants, demand has been proven for such a renovation in this location. For example, if a 400 person firm were to lease office space in Cupples 7, and assume 65% drive their cars to work, the company will lease those spaces from the adjacent garage owned by the treasurer for $234k per year. The math: 260 spaces * $75/month = $234k/year. I’m guessing an additional $200k+ per year will be beneficial to the treasurer’s budget.

So we’re looking at a potential $550k per year in new taxes and fees. The redevelopment scenario presents an economic impact of more than $40M plus an additional 750k per year in new tax revenues and fees, increased construction employment, and permanent employment opportunities. Sounds like a win.

Cupples Station district is steadily becoming a hot cluster for new media, tech and design firms. Whether or not Cupples 7 can immediate attract similar tenants to Cupples 9 (Osborn & Barr, Asynchrony, Mackey Mitchell Architects, and Yurbuds), the stage is set for future success. While Osborn Barr was already located in the district at Cupples 8, the other companies join the ranks of Cannon Design and Rogers Townsend. Creative companies want to be near one another. The ability to brush shoulders and share ideas with other like minded individuals helps to stimulate innovation as well as positively effects quality of work-life issues often cited by firms who relocate from suburban, non-walkable working environments.

These creative firms and other like-minded businesses seem to migrate to “up and coming” areas. In 2001, TOKY led the way to Midtown Alley. Now it’s bustling with more than 20 creative agencies. This is the opportunity for Cupples Station district to continue to growth and attract jobs, adding tax revenue and vibrancy to downtown. This is a prime opportunity for a company to be associated with completing the last piece of the puzzle. Who’s next?
 

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  • Adam

    @Hasan,

    This is a recent comment on the Treasurer’s Facebook page:

    “Yes, that’s the real issue. The term sheet submitted by Vertical has the City leasing the building from them after they spend the money developing it. They need to present a plan that has proof of funds, and an immediate plan for stabilization and development. Several attorneys have reviewed their term sheet and think it could ultimately adversely affect the City’s bond rating.”

    Has VR attempted to officially revise the term sheet so that the City would not be leasing the building back after redevelopment?

    • Hasan

      While we appreciate everyone’s concern and willingness to see C7 saved, we just don’t feel that this is the appropriate forum to discuss (negotiate) terms. And this is such a sensitive situation, but I will disclose here what I can..

      The city is not “leasing” the building as if they will be occupying it. We are asking the city to participate as a “master lessee” and we will act as sublessee. If the city won’t put any funds toward stabilization, why would we think they would pay $4mil (or whatever) per year for a building they won’t own or occupy? Being “master lessee” does not put the city in a situation for them or tax payers to be responsible for any debt related to the redevelopment of this project. We will purchase, redevelop, and own the building. Municipalities are not eligible to receive historic tax credits; so why would we ask them to own the building since the tax credits are the reason this deal works in the first place.

      We are trying to save a building that is a major part of who we are as a city. The city should be happy to play such a pivotal role that leaves them in a risk-less position and gives them an opportunity to actually generate revenue.

      We understand our financing plan is new and has never been done before in St. Louis. And we truly believe that this is a tool that can take our region to the next level. It took us (VRA) about a year to create and solidify this strategy, so we understand there is a learning curve and we’re happy to educate.

  • Adam

    @Hasan, are you able to give us some specifics? Is the Treasurer’s office making unreasonable demands? Making no effort to compromise?

    I think that somebody (maybe me though I’m not currently a MO resident) needs to compile ALL the facts on this debacle (engineers reports, stabilization estimates, contracts, etc.) into one place for scrutinizing. Something is going on in the back room, otherwise the Treasurer would be more forthcoming with the details. Her explanations have been overly convoluted so far.

  • Adam

    @Hasan, any updates from today?

    Mayor Slays tweets are pissing me off. First he tweets something about using the city’s resources wisely now that the economy is picking up, which i assume was a references to Cupples. Now he tweets, and Rainford retweets, that buildings collapse and people get hurt and engineers reports have to be taken seriously. I’m so sick of the damn waffling. JUST TAKE A DAMN STAND ON SOMETHING FOR ONCE, SLAY. the building shows absolutely no external signs of collapse, the street is closed off, and Vertical claims that stabilization could be completed in under two months. the whole thing is absolute goddamned b*llshit.

    • Adam

      oops, i censored the wrong vowel. sorry ’bout that. see! that’s how flustered i am!

    • Hasan

      Actually he tweeted that in December. I just RT’d it today because it was so relevant. I understand the “buildings collapse” tweet because of what happened in Philadelphia, but I dont know the point he’s trying to make. Who’s not taking what report seriously? Or is this simply a reminder?

      At least the hearing between Ballpark Lofts (II or III) LLC & Montgomery Bank LLC vs STL City was rescheduled for next week.

      Hope to learn more tomorrow.

      • Adam

        ah, i just saw the news about Philly a few minutes ago. at least there’s some context for his comment then, whatever point he’s trying to make. also, didn’t notice the prior tweet was a RT… guess i’d better calm down and take a few deep breaths.

        • John R

          Interestingly, the cause of the Philly building collapse was b/c of bad demo procedures… quite a different situation than here. Perhaps STL needs to do a review of demolition rules and procedures.

  • Adam

    The conversation so far:

    Adam Woodson No offense, but repeating a sound byte over and over instead of answering questions makes it look like you’re dodging them. Why didn’t the Treasurer’s office look into stabilizing the building via exterior bracing, which may actually be cheaper than th…See More
    54 minutes ago · Like
    St. Louis Treasurer The treasurer’s obligation to purchase this property is triggered by a demo permit. If no demo permit is issued the treasurer is not obligated to purchase the property. The plan has the treasurer buying a building it would not have to buy but for a dem…See More
    43 minutes ago via mobile · Like
    Adam Woodson But the demo permit HAS been issued, so the Treasurer’s office is already obligated to purchase it. One question is, now that the permit has been issued and the office is obligated, are you saying it is not possible to take a different course of action…See More
    36 minutes ago · Edited · Like
    St. Louis Treasurer The estimates by several independent engineers and contractors were between $4-10 million.
    28 minutes ago · Like
    St. Louis Treasurer We don’t have that kind of money.
    28 minutes ago · Like
    Daniel Layton Were any of those for EXTERIOR BRACING?
    27 minutes ago · Like
    St. Louis Treasurer Yes they were for all types of bracing and stabiliization.
    26 minutes ago · Like
    Adam Woodson Would you be willing to share the names of the independent engineers and contractors with whom you consulted?
    24 minutes ago · Edited · Like
    St. Louis Treasurer The estimates were given to SLDC. However, Kwame Construction’s estimate was $10 million.
    23 minutes ago · Like
    Adam Woodson Thank you. Then we can contact the SLDC then to find out which forms of stabilization were considered, I assume.
    19 minutes ago · Like
    St. Louis Treasurer Yes. Any other questions?
    19 minutes ago · Like
    Adam Woodson If something cheaper than demolition could be found, and since you are already obligated to buy the building, would you legally be able to take a course of action other than demolition?
    16 minutes ago · Like
    St. Louis Treasurer I would welcome anyone other than me to purchase the building and do stabilize it. We do not have funds ‘earmarked’ for demolition and have to finance it. I do not think it is a wise use of funds to purchase a building we have no use for. We are not in the real estate or development business.
    12 minutes ago · Like
    Adam Woodson I understand that, but you didn’t address my question. Contractually, you are now obligated to finance the demolition, presumably to eliminate the supposed threat of collapse. Does your contract specifically demand demolition, or does it allow for stabilization if that stabilization can be done more cheaply than the demolition? I realize you don’t want to, and shouldn’t, get involved in real estate development. I don’t believe stabilizing the building would necessitate that.

    • Adam

      sorry… when i pasted it form Facebook it was formatted all nice and stuff.

      here’s a link:

      https://www.facebook.com/stltreasurer/posts/559954777379251?comment_id=6086253&offset=0&total_comments=13&notif_t=feed_comment_reply

    • Adam

      And the final responses from the Treasurer:

      St. Louis Treasurer No one has submitted an estimate for stabilization that is cheaper than demolition. We are not interested in purchasing the building at all. Do you know anyone who has the money to complete the project?
      32 minutes ago · Like

      St. Louis Treasurer The Parking Commission approved the funds for demolition, I am obligated to follow their instructions.
      32 minutes ago · Like

    • Adam

      And my final response:

      Adam Woodson No, I don’t know anyone personally who has the money to complete the project. However, I know that Vertical Realty and, I believe, at least one other firm have been working on a $40 million redevelopment plan. Unfortunately they’re working against a very short and arbitrary deadline.

      So the Treasurer’s office is not interested in purchasing (and then, of course, divesting of) the stabilized building, but it’s fine with owning the vacant lot. The Parking Commission approved the funds to demolish the building and acquire the land but presumably they would not allow those funds to be used instead for stabilization even though, in either case, the Treasurer’s office ends up owning real estate that it supposedly doesn’t want.

      Anyway, thanks for addressing my questions. I will admit that the explanations given seem to me overly convoluted, somewhat inconsistent, and dismissive of alternatives (such as charging the McGowans for the stabilization work) but I appreciate the responses nonetheless.

  • Daniel Layton

    It seems that the Treasurer’s Offices’s “No Change, No Problem” slogan applies to more than just parking meters. Check out the dismissive Cupples 7 exchange on the Treasurer’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/stltreasurer?fref=ts

    • Just read the dialogue on the Treasurer’s Office Facebook page, Dan.

      I can see its (Or Tishaura’s…whoever’s commenting on that side) point that they’re just fulfilling the contract Larry Williams was unilaterally allowed to make years ago, but boy is it fishy, huh?

      One would think a City’s Treasurer’s office — the department responsible for collecting, maintaining and investing all funds collected — would and should look for the best possible monetary outcome in any given City-centered discussion. In this case, that’s likely redevelopment/construction and a return to the active tax rolls.

      If, as she says, their hands really are tied by the contract, all it seems it would take is for the Mayor’s office or the Board of Alderman to revoke the City-issued demolition permit, at which time — as Paul Hohmann says in the dialogue — the City could put up those exterior braces you mention (for less the cost of demo/purchase, possibly) and charge the property owner either upfront or after sale.

      I would think if the City took the effort to take that most basic of steps, you might see a developer and even a financier step up to gut it out and rebuild within. But again…it takes a show o support/strength from the City first.

      • Daniel Layton

        It wouldn’t surprise me if some demolition company isn’t somehow in cahoots with the government given how many large scale demo projects go on and how little the populace tends to pay attention. I have no evidence of course, but it really didn’t seem like the Treasurer’s Office has any interest in saving the building.

    • Adam

      I started a new convo over at the Treasurer’s Facebook page in response to their posting of the RFT article. The person posting for the Treasurer actually asked, specifically, which questions have been asked that they haven’t answered. I posted a couple. This might be a good opportunity to ask questions if you got ’em. My hunch, though, is that they’ll be selectively answered with sound bites or ignored.

  • Daniel Layton

    Has anyone contacted the city government? We can talk about it all we want, but pressuring the Mayor and Treasurer is the only chance to make anything happen:

    [email protected]

    [email protected]

    Twitter: @tishaura, @stltreasurer, @MayorSlay

  • Megrot

    What does Tishaura Jones have to say about this?

    • Daniel Layton

      Her response to me: “go to Facebook. Look up Landmarks Association STL. Our Chief of Staff (J Boyd) explains our position in comments.” Pretty lame, I’d say.

  • Any idea what the expected cost would be to retain the facade for 2 or three sides of the structure and build new behind it?

    At this point, that’d be my preferred option. Hopefully, whoever is submitting proposals to the City has that in mind.

    • Don

      I don’t believe anyone is submitting proposals to the city. That is the problem.

      • Scott Jones

        They could tear the building down and prop up the walks like the model home Gob built on Arrested Development. 🙂

      • I think I’ve heard of at least two groups (via Twitter and such) who have expressed interest to @MayorSlay in creating a purchase/development package.

        If one of these companies (if they exist) could secure a portion of the facade and build new within, they could even reduce they’re total cost by doing a top-to-bottom (or almost top-to-bottom) atrium similar to that of the Laurel/Embassy at 7th and Washington.

        It builds the same footprint, but removes ~20% of the new build-out.

        Yes, that’s the right way to go about this one. The idea is free to anyone who wants to use it!

        • Don

          Name names. What credible developer with funding has a plan for Cupples 7 and why haven’t we seen their renderings?

          Rumors within preservationist circles of developer groups wanting to preserve buildings are as common and endless as Republican rumors of Obama’s Kenyan past. Invariably, we find out these would-be developers are 5 people with no money who remain convinced that a developer with actual money is out there somewhere looking for them and being prevented from developing subject building by a City Hall cabal who want nothing more in life than to destroy Saint Louis’ treasured past. And if only they had another 10 years surely someone would show up.

          We know when real life developers with money are actually interested because buildings get developed/redeveloped.

          The Cupples redevelopment has been going on now for nearly 20 years. Well all need to accept that there may be legitimate reasons Cupples 7 has not been redeveloped while the other Cupples buildings have.

          • Hasan
          • Don

            God’s speed. We don’t need another couple acres of green space where once a building stood.

            I wish you nothing but success.

          • Hasan

            I agree, Thank you.

          • Olin Graczyk

            @disqus_blWFg3STHx:disqus – any updates?

          • Hasan

            None yet..

          • Adam

            Says the Treasurer via Facebook:

            St. Louis Treasurer Yes. There is a way out of this. Ask Vertical Realty to buy the building from the bank. Develop it. And NOT to lease it back to the city, but to retain ownership themselves.

            We are more than willing to sell the building to any wiling developer who has the money and a plan to stabilize the building as soon as we close on it this week. However, no one has stepped forward with this plan.
            about an hour ago via mobile

          • Adam

            This was supposed to be a reply to Hasan, not to Olin. Not sure what happened. Have to say I’m not a fan of whatever commenting system this is.

          • Hasan

            We will retain ownership. And we would buy it from the bank if we could, but not before the agreement she already has to acquire it. We sent term sheets to her counsel, SLDC, and the Mayors office outlining details of our plan. Our attorneys have been waiting for a call back from Jared Boyd. I think their issue is mostly public safety and timing. They don’t want the building to fall as soon as they take ownership (a liability issue). We can’t close on a loan of nearly $50 million by Friday, but we have other options to stabilize the building in the meantime. Are we asking too much by requesting them to hold the demo? Just enough time for our attorneys and the citys attorneys to hash out a deal.

          • Adam

            Thanks for the response, Hasan. I find it unbelievable that they’re not being more accommodating. I hope you don’t mind; I shared your comment above on the Treasurer’s website to see how she responds. If you disapprove I’ll be happy to delete it.

          • Hasan

            You’re welcome and I don’t mind. I just checked her response..

            We are not asking the city for $4 mil/year. Actually, we’re not asking the city for any money. We will own the building, we will take construction risk, and we will make the payments. The fundamentals of the deal (incentives, etc) make enough sense for us. We have a plan and a partner who is willing and ready to pump $100+ mil into projects we identified in downtown St. Louis. So either she or her counsel are misinterpreting the terms. We welcome the discussion, but it makes me wonder why she is so vocal about any opposition on public forums as opposed to the people we have on retainer to make everyone happy. I hope Jared did indeed speak with our attorneys this afternoon. If so, we look forward to hearing good news tomorrow morning.

            And if we should be speaking with Montgomery Bank and the SLDC, then they should’ve told us that last week. Granted, we can’t meet her at the closing table this week with $50 mil. If we could, we would. Look, we just want to help save a building like Mayor Slay asked. We don’t care who we have to speak with. We don’t care if we have to chase them down ourselves. But if we’re too late, just tell us so we can make the most efficient use of our time and our attorneys time.

          • Adam

            That gives me some hope, at least. We all appreciate the effort that you and VR are putting into this, Hasan.

            For others reading, here are Ms. Jones’ most recent Facebook comments to which Hasan is referring (as well as my own most recent comment):

            St. Louis Treasurer If they are serious, Montgomery bank and SLDC would be seriously considering their offer. They could meet us at the closing table and simultaneously close and acquire the property. I would not stand in their way. But the article fails to disclose their original plan, which was to develop Cupples and lease it to the City (dept TBD) at $4 mil/year. Again, money we don’t have. My option is not standing in the way. If they have the money like they say they do, they should contact the bank directly and buy it or meet me at the closing table.
            about an hour ago via mobile · Like

            St. Louis Treasurer Their attorneys spoke to Mr. Boyd this afternoon. This is false.
            about an hour ago via mobile · Like

            Adam Woodson Ms. Jones, thank you again for the quick reply. Their original offer notwithstanding, it seems that they are making a serious effort to get the financing in place as quickly as possible. It’s hardly realistic, though, to expect them to work out a $40 million loan in such a short amount of time. It also sounds, based on your comment above, that they would not be allowed to purchase the building unless the redevelopment financing is in place this week at the time of closing. Is this accurate? If so, it strikes me as a specious option. I hope that the city and Vertical Realty can come to a compromise that saves Cupples 7 from a pointless, bureaucratic fate, but it seems unlikely unless the city is willing to extend the arbitrary demolition deadline that they’ve set and make an effort to work with the developer. Thanks again for your time.
            3 minutes ago · Edited · Like

          • Alex Ihnen

            I share your frustration and wish that the developers who have approached the city could/would stand up and shout about their experience. But that doesn’t make any sense. Developers want the next deal, they want to work in downtown. Calling out city agencies, officials, etc. wouldn’t be very smart for them, would it? Your criticism is understood, but misplaced.

          • Don

            In my admittedly limited experience I have not found City Hall to be an impediment to development. Strict and only interested is spending time with people they believe have the wherewithal (money and what they believe to be realistic plans which might be subjective at times), but that’s not the same thing as being an impediment.

            Alderman can be another matter,…although my own is very pro development.

            Preservation at all costs is not the agenda at City Hall and it’s also not the agenda of the voters who elect City officials. When dealing with elected officials it’s always helpful to remember that they often are faced with competing agendas.

            Cupples 7 collapsing would be a health, safety, economic and political disaster for which no one here would bear any responsibility or suffer any harm (unless you’re buried in the collapse) but that is not true for the decision makers involved in the building’s fate.

          • guest

            Cupples redevelopment proposed in 1999, started in 2000, 7 has had challenges since the start due to structure, building 5 (part of the Weston) was actually worse shape but was needed as part of the hotel.

            Problem is once its gone its gone, and its not like anything else is going to take its place soon, and it does not go away for free, if it costs 1 million more to button it up for 5 more years over demo, why get bent out of shape? 1 mil is, and believe this, not that much money

            Too many bad choices have already been made downtown for vanity or because the decision makers could not see past 2 years (Ambasador demo, anyone banked w/ Mercantile should be PO’d) the cost to make a good choice is pretty small

          • Don

            When Cupples redevelopment started is pretty subjective. In my mind it started in 1990-91 when then Mayor Vince Schoemehl blocked the demolition of the entire site to make way for a new arena. It was 8 or so years after that to get the Westin in place, and the rest, as they say, is history.

            When it’s time to ‘cut bait’ is also at least somewhat subjective. I’d love to see Cupples 7 saved. It’s a beautiful building. And people have been trying for many years to redevelop it, and yet here we are, 20 years after it was saved from the wrecking ball, with all the remaining Cupples buildings having been redeveloped, Cupples 7 remains.

          • guest

            Well the plan that was adopted came around in 1999, it was also at that time that BoA threw their weight behind it. Prior to that there was no developer and no plan so there was no redevelopment.
            This city has been “cutting bait” for 40 years, time for a different plan

  • Don

    I think what I love most about the artist rendering up top is that it pretends there is no interstate highway ramp on the west side of the building and that the entire south wall is adjoined by a parking garage making both sides very undesirable office/residential space with the possible exception of the upper 2 floors.

    • Hasan

      Considering the situation at hand (timing), drawing an interstate ramp and the windows at Cupples 8 (east side) didn’t seem necessary. Also, with the corporate signage opportunity, we believe this to be very desirable office space, especially for a marketing/pr company or a tech company. Similar to Cupples 7.

    • guest

      Building 9 is much more impared by the 40 ramps than 7, the garage to the south only comes up to floor 3, and there is a good distance between between the two (over 25 feet) and to the east you have a completed building that has the same issues that does not seem to be suffering, actually #7 has better windows

  • JustFlushIt

    #9 was a $30 million project. It’s 175,000sf gross, 147,000 sf net rentable, which puts the project between $171 to $204/sf depending on if you use gross or net. Point to a building in Downtown St. Louis that is worth anywhere near that much. We’ve saved some great examples in Cupples, but #7 is just too far gone/economically unfeasible.

    • Hasan

      That $30 million isn’t a net number to the developer. And if we use those same ratio’s, #7 at 201,635 gross, 169,000 sf net rentable, which puts the project between $247 to $295/sf. High?…maybe. But there are several other variables at play that determine the economical feasibility of a development. And please don’t forget about historic tax credits, after all, that is the reason why these deals work.

      • JustFlushIt

        Not net to the developer is part of the problem. All the office space that went up in the 1980’s is out of tax abatement and they need to survive on their own in a flat market. Subsidizing new space to compete with them is not sound policy.

        And “High?… maybe.” Let me answer that for you: It’s astronomical. #7 worked because they got State & Fed historic tax credits, New Market Tax Credits, Brownfield Tax Credits that were more than half the project costs. And what is their average base rent? $16/sf, which supports a property value below $100/sf. The difference is made up with taxpayer money.

        I think there is a disconnect in people’s brain between historic preservation, market demand, and government subsidies.

        • Don

          “I think there is a disconnect in people’s brain between historic preservation, market demand, and government subsidies.”

          Exactly!

        • Hasan

          So because old office space is out of tax abatement, STL shouldn’t have more space built? Maybe thats why we have a high vacancy rate..because companies want higher quality space but can’t find it downtown so they go elsewhere. And competition is good for the market – forces the owners of the 1980’s office space to make upgrades to attract new tenants. Look at 500 N Broadway, making upgrades and attracting tenants.

          Cupples 9 leased up because of pent up demand. Could those companies have leased space at 600 Wash etc? Sure. But they didn’t. If the building is to be demo’d, that lot will stay vacant for years to come. We should be utilizing the economic development tools we have to our advantage.

          You’re right about a disconnect in peoples brains.

          • JustFlushIt

            500 North was bought for nothing, has a tax abatement coming through, and the rents are $12 a foot. Drives down all rents which drives down values which makes historic redevelopment even less economically feasible which requires more government subsidy.

          • Hasan

            There are other factors that determine economical feasibility. I agree, projects get more difficult to do because of low avg rents. But rents only get driven down when a Class A office leases at B rates, and so on. If the Class A space stayed at a particular, non Class B competitive price point, there wouldn’t be a problem right? Also what about the quality factor?Shouldn’t we want to offer different types of product for different types of companies?

          • JustFlushIt

            I really wish we had the kind of office market that could support a variety of product and price point, but we don’t.

          • Hasan

            Well if 500 N Broadway (non historic bldg) leases at $12psf and Cupples 9 (historic bldg) leases at $16psf, then those are 2 different price points and products right?

          • JustFlushIt

            By simple arithmetic you are correct. Yet, #7 is coming down no matter what is said here. It is physically and financially not feasible and not maximally productive for the site.

  • JustFlushIt

    I was in that building in 2007 when only 20 to 25% of the roof was missing. Back then the estimate from HBD to just make the building structurally sound was $2.5 million. I cannot imagine how much that would be today with most of the roof now on the 1st floor and the structural timbers exposed.

    • Guest

      Considoring that the 2007 probably was about the same amount of work as would be required today I would say account for 2.5% inflation a year, with some minimal amount for additional shoring, cost is in mobilization and safety, that would be about the same, chances are that the amount of structure removed would be the same – water has been coming in since about 2000, there was a huge hole in the roof by 06

  • Scott Jones

    I agree with you that the building should be renovated and developed but is there anyone lined up to do so? If there is and the city isn’t responding then some heads should roll–but I don’t think this is the case. The best case scenarios are thus:

    1) Spend money to stabilize the building and cross your fingers that someone buys it soon. How much this will cost–I don’t know.

    2) Knock down the building and try to sell the–now empty–lot for development (don’t convert it to a park or park-ing).

    Regardless, in either scenario the developer will be aware that the city is desperate to see this lot developed and will try to extort tens of millions of dollars in TIF financing.

    • JustFlushIt

      The problem is if it cost $50 million to save and develop and not be worth anything near that when done. The difference is made up by subsidies, and we have enough subsidized and under performing office/retail/residential right now.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Maybe some heads should roll.

      • Scott Jones

        Are you saying that developers have expressed interest but the city wants to demolish it anyway?

        • Alex Ihnen

          Yes. Specifically the problem is that the Treasurer’s Office signed a deal to purchase the property for $850K. They say that can’t change. The Mayor has no authority over the Treasurer and neither does the city’s development corporation. In the end, there’s no one person or office that values keeping the building, even though there is developer interest.

          • Don

            Who are the developers interested?

            Before we built out our current space in 2008, my law firm was approached by a local developer about joining a deal to locate in Couples 7. We were interested in the beautiful building and unconventional space for a law firm. We were also looking at space on Washington Ave with someone else.

            We just didn’t think Couples 7 was workable because of the highway access and the south side garage. As lawyers, we needed offices and no one wanted an office overlooking a ramp or a garage and interstate along with the noise that brings. If I remember correctly, they wanted us on lower floors to save the top 2 for residential (but I could be confusing this with another deal). They eventually gave up because no one was interested in the space.

            It is a beautiful building and I’d love to see it developed, but I just don’t think it’s financially viable. Creative organizations in St Louis are a relatively small group, and there is plenty of funky space already developed for their use.

          • Alex Ihnen

            See comment above.

      • Don

        I’m really curious to know why?