Two years after opening a bar, restaurant and entertainment hub next to Busch Stadium, the St. Louis Cardinals are ready to resume building at Ballpark Village.
Bill DeWitt III, the Cardinals’ president, said Tuesday the team and its development partner hope to begin construction of the $220 million next-phase project by next fall. Completed about 18 months later would be an office building, a retail center and a 29-story apartment tower across Clark Avenue from Busch Stadium’s center field.
DeWitt said in an interview the “confluence” of an improving economy and low borrowing costs are prompting the team and its development partner, Cordish Cos., of Baltimore, to do more at Ballpark Village. The development is on the site of the previous Busch Stadium that was demolished by the time the current ballpark opened in 2006. Outside the single Ballpark Village building completed in 2014, parking lots cover the six-block site.
The most downtown skyline-changing part of the next proposed Ballpark Village phase is the apartment tower. A 310-foot building with about 300 apartments would rise above a parking garage for residents and users of the surface lot the tower would replace. The design is by Hord Coplan Macht, the Baltimore architecture firm that designed a 24-story apartment building for Cordish’s Power & Light District project in downtown Kansas City.
Also part of the next Ballpark Village phase are an office building of about 10 floors and a two-story retail structure next to the existing Ballpark Village structure. The apartment tower, office building and retail structure would complete the southern half of the redevelopment area. The Cardinals said the project would produce 1,500 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs. The team promised to raise standards for racial and gender equity in building the project.
Mayor Francis Slay and Missy Kelley, chief executive of Downtown STL, praised the project.
Ballpark Village’s first phase and the second, as proposed, would complete much of what the Cardinals pledged as a development goal a decade ago.
In 2006 — four years after announcing plans for the current Busch Stadium — the Cardinals and Cordish grew the previously modest Ballpark Village plan to include condo towers, shops, restaurants and a grocery.
The following year, Centene Corp. said it would move its headquarters to Ballpark Village from Clayton in a $250 million project that included more offices and shops. The deal with the city soon collapsed. Centene announced this year a huge expansion of its Clayton headquarters.
DeWitt said Tuesday the Cardinals and Cordish had “good momentum on leasing” but had yet to get tenants for their Ballpark Village office building, which is designed to include garage parking, restaurants and retail space. The developers have pledged not to poach office jobs from elsewhere in the city.
The “net new jobs” provision of a proposed amendment to Ballpark Village’s redevelopment agreement with St. Louis requires that the project’s office jobs must not come from elsewhere in the city unless they would be lost permanently or moved out of the city absent construction of the Ballpark Village office building. DeWitt said city officials sought the provision.
“They want to make sure we’re not just shifting bodies around,” he added.
The amendment submitted Tuesday to the Board of Aldermen would allow collection of a 1 percent sales tax authorized for the initial Ballpark Village project but never imposed. The projected $16 million in tax revenue would help pay for phase-two infrastructure, including structured parking. Public incentives for phase two could reach $65 million, including city and state tax-increment financing. The TIF framework was established for Ballpark Village’s $100 million first phase.
DeWitt said he believes Ballpark Village’s office building would complement a similar, newly proposed project by the Koman Group. Koman wants to build a $43.5 million, five-story office building on a parking lot west of Busch Stadium. Company officials said this month an existing downtown business could move its 310 jobs to the project, called Cupples X.
Koman officials did not return calls seeking comment about the Ballpark Village office building.
DeWitt said the downtown office market is “a little stagnant” but added that downtown needs the modern office space Ballpark Village and Cupples X would provide. Metropolitan Square, opened in 1989, is the most recent “class A” office building downtown.
Planned for the area between the Ballpark Village office building and the first Ballpark Village facility is a two-story retail building with a second-floor event space. It would be next to the Busch II Field open space.
The latest Ballpark Village proposal excludes the northern side of the redevelopment area. DeWitt said the Cardinals and Cordish plan to redo the existing parking lots eventually. Offices, commercial space and a hotel are possible, he said.
Redevelopment could occur piecemeal or in “one fell swoop,” DeWitt added.
Source: Tim Bryant