Friday Live Chat

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live chat

It’s back, the Friday Live Chat. You know what to do – just use the comments section below. We’re open from 2-3pm today:

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  • Seems like the boom in Midtown Alley is slowing down a bit lately. Considering its dense streetscape and the fact that it links downtown to midtown, it seems like the corridor has enormous potential to become a hot destination street a la The Grove, yet it’s eerily quiet most of the time. Any news on that front?

    • Alex Ihnen

      I took a little tour recently and there seemed to be a lot happening – some renovations, some new businesses, etc. It has gaps around it that are a challenge to overcome, but it’s still growing.

  • citylover

    I am very excited about #lightstl project downtown. Do you think there’s math in improved street lighting? Will investment come with brighter energy and safety? If so where could investment be seen?

    • Nick Arb

      In other major metro areas that have made the change to LED street lighting, long term savings have been captured more on the maintenance end rather than energy. Although LED fixtures are more efficient, our energy costs are relatively low. A longer lifespan and remote diagnostics will allow preventative maintenance rather than reactive. Enhanced visibility/safety will definitely be a bonus. The part that remains to be seen are the additional opportunities that an upgraded fixture presents, such as a location for wifi hotspots, security camera, etc.

  • Nick Arb

    There are a number of boutique hotel projects on the horizon downtown, plus rumblings about the Millennium renovation. Other than more expected expo bookings at the dome, is there really an appetite for additional hotel capacity downtown?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Good question. With the Arch project wrapping up, everything happening at Union Station, and continued development further west, I’ll go with probably. The Millennium closing took a huge number of rooms off the market (betting against that coming back as a hotel). Boutique size hotels are more popular than ever.

      • tony

        That hotel had almost 800 rooms. Even with all the boutique hotels popping up, it would take several to just replace those lost.

        • jkf1220

          I count 5 potential hotels that have been identified. The announced number of rooms for all of those hotels combined is about 800 rooms (assuming about 250-300 for the Railway Exchange) So all of those just equal the 800 lost at the Millennium. And. realistically, the completed re-development of REx is likely 5 years away. So, I think these additions will bring new product to the market without overloading the market.

  • Alex Ihnen

    No Centene questions? Burn out? No one cares about Clayton?

    • tony

      Will this development mean anything for the smaller satellite offices around town, like Town and Country?

      • Alex Ihnen

        I ask for a question and get one I can’t answer! Don’t know – so much depends on the scale of growth for Centene. The four phases of this project wouldn’t be completed until at least mid-2020. Still, I’d imagine that not every role would need to be moved to the Clayton campus.

  • rgbose

    Anyone know who is behind the signature gathering for moving STL City elections to November?

    • stef

      No idea – but we were approached at a grocery store in our neighborhood to sign. The guy with the petition was brought in from Florida to circulate petitions.

      • rgbose

        Is the language of the, I assume, charter amendment anywhere? I’m on board if there’s no primaries anymore, maybe a runoff if no one gets 50%

        Maybe the effort is backed by Rex? I’ve been wondering if the recent attention on abatements and other developers subsidies has some Rex backing too. Moving elections to Nov saves money, fewer abatements adds to property tax revenues. Goal as always is to get rid of the earnings tax.

  • STL

    There’s been talk recently of BPV Phase II. Rumors have been mentioned on urbanstl that the developers are looking at the Western side of the lot and announcements could be made this year. Have you heard anything regarding the development?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Only the same thing. People at the city are excited, for what that’s worth, but I know no details.

  • jkf1220

    Alex, first, congrats and good luck with Dutchtown. . . The article you posted on the value of local rather than regional transportation planning sports my belief that the downtown to CWE streetcar in the Olive corridor would be a huge support and driver on the central corridor.

    • Billikens&Bricks

      Speaking of Ducthtown…what are you looking forward to most of all working in that area, Alex?

      • Alex Ihnen

        I’m here (Dutchtown) because I think this area is the future of St. Louis. It’s great to see the high-profile big investments in the central corridor, but there are big expanses of the city that have incredible potential and challenges. I’ve said many times over the years that if someone could be dropped in the middle of Dutchtown 20 years from now and know exactly how healthy the city is. I want to do what I can to make that future better.

        I’ve been here a whole five days, and there are dozens of things we’ll be doing in the realm of community engagement, housing stabilization, and more, but if we can facilitate the saving/reuse of 3307 Meramec, Cleveland High School and the Virginia Theatre – at least one dream would be accomplished!

    • Alex Ihnen

      Thank you and I agree. The Dutchtown area is already great – we’ll do what we can to make it better!

      • STLrainbow

        Is it really true you get free Ted Drewes as part of the job?

        • Alex Ihnen

          Yes.

          • STLrainbow

            I bet your compensation package is like $9/hr. + all-you-can-eat-and-drink in neighborhood establishments. Which wouldn’t be a bad deal!

  • Nick

    Someone mentioned Bull Moose in another post. Do you know when the lofts are supposed to be completed in the Missouri Theater building? Also, is BB Kings still a thing that’s coming in?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Haven’t seen a new timeline, other than that it’s been pushed back. I’d be skeptical of BB Kings at this point since most recent news items haven’t mentioned it, but haven’t heard that it’s *not going in.

    • stlnative

      No longer a housing project. Its a boutique hotel now. No BB Kings. There will be significant dining and entertainment in 634 though.

      • STLrainbow

        has a hotel brand been announced yet? and do you know if Bull Moose still plans for its HQ there or maybe it’ll choose their new investment in City Foundry? (also, a building $100K permit for the Grand project was just issued this week.)

  • Nick

    Any word on The Dubliner spot? L3 Corporation is in charge of leasing it now and I’m curious if there has been any rumblings with the change?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Sorry, no.

  • STLrainbow

    What do you see as the top 2 or 3 urbanism-related issues for the city’s mayoral race?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Incentive reform tied to clearly articulated development goals. North/South MetroLink. Robust support for historic tax credits/forceful demo by neglect oversight/funds for home repair.

    • rgbose

      With all the TIF/abatement chatter lately, I hope it’s an issue.

  • tony

    So what will Bull Moose’s presence be in both Grand Center and City Foundry? I thought their headquarters was going into the Missouri Theater building, so if that is the case, what will be in Foundry?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Good question. It at least crossed my mind that they may be interested in new construction at The Foundry, but have heard nothing of changed plans in Grand Center. That project seems to be on a bit of a slow roll though.

    • stlnative

      Lord Swaraj Paul (Caparo) is just an investor in the properties.

      Bull Moose will be moving their headquarters from Chesterfield to Grand Center into 634 N. Grand.

      • tony

        That makes sense; wasn’t sure if they had reason for additional space there as well.

  • stlnative

    Any new developments on the Chemical Building at 721 Olive? Last I heard developments were dropped and building was back on the market back in March. I walk past it daily and noticed a bit of commotion going on the ground floor (doors opened). Almost looked like a survey was ongoing or something similar.

    Keeping with the theme of Olive St, it seems that 705 is close to demo commencement, as all but Pickles Deli has since moved out of the space. I see people hovering around the building almost daily taking pictures and such.

    Also seems like the LaSalle building is getting some life to it too. Some light demo on the ground floor and new core drills in the floor.

    What about Railway Exchange?

    Olive St. is primed for some new development!

    • Alex Ihnen

      These are big – Chemical is back on the market with interest of course, but it’s been down that road a couple times. 705 should kick off any day/week now. LaSalle too. We hear good things about planning at Railway Exchange. I’d put money on that sale closing soon.

      • Alex Ihnen

        Bonus: it may take longer, but there’s reason to be optimistic on the developer closing on the Jefferson Hotel as well. These, especially together, would represent a massive change downtown.

      • jkf1220

        Too bad that the Gills passed on Chemical. The surface lot at the corner of 6th and Locust that was part of their 705 Olive deal could have been a garage that would serve both 705 and Chemical. Love the idea of that lot being new construction mixed use with first floor retail, garage for 705 (and Chemical) with new office or apts. above.

  • Any news on the Laclede power building on Chouteau that was once slated for residential conversion?

    • Alex Ihnen

      We keep our eye on it, but no, nothing. I think it’s safe – that it won’t be demo’d, but if neglected long enough…

  • Ben Harvey

    Ever consider doing an AMA on Reddit’s r/StLouis? I feel like it would get a good reception.

    • stlRepostDotCom

      Seconded. Almost every single article on this site gets posted there and gets quite a few upvotes

      • Alex Ihnen

        Sure. Would be great.