In July 2011 I blogged about three unfinished houses on North 22nd Street, in a development known as Bosley Estates. Last week they remained unfinished and decaying. They’re at 3920, 3916, and the worst is 3912 (see on Google Street View).
Two weeks ago I visited a building I’d been in many times before. The 6-story warehouse on the SW corner of Euclid & Delmar, known as the Euclid Plaza Building for decades, is being transformed into high-end apartments known as 625 Lofts at Euclid. I got a personal tour from the developers. I previously posted about this project in May, see: Delmar & Euclid Building Will Soon Have New Use As Apartments.
The following are gone:
The 70s/80s dated 2-story center lobby
Former offices, hallways, bathrooms, etc
The fixed windows
Freight elevator in SW corner of the building
The following were retained:
Three passenger elevators
Medicine Shoppe pharmacy
Three of five floors are finished, residents have begun moving in. We took a look at the display units, plus a couple units on a floor still being completed.
Each unit is unique compared to others on the same floor. One bathroom featured a rain shower head, for example. Due to construction, we didn’t get up to the roof. When finished, it’ll be fully accessible, but it wasn’t yet when I visited. Interior parking is wisely unbundled — you pay extra if you need a parking space.
The developers say they’ve had no problems leasing the units, anticipate full occupancy despite rents on the high side. I think it’s important for cities to offer a variety of housing options — at a variety of price points. Purchase & rental.
After they get all the 82 residential units finished and occupied they’ll push for commercial tenants facing Euclid. Euclid & Delmar is a corner to watch. If you’re in the market for a nice apartment check out their website and visit the leasing office.
Last month I posted about how the employee line for the main Post Office parking garage was two blocks long — costing workers time & money — and polluting. My point was to find a way to reduce/eliminate this shift-change queue. However, a few comments were classic strawman fallacy — saying I wanted this post office to close — moving the sorting & processing jobs to a suburban. Uh…no. Again, my point was to collectively find a way to get people to their jobs without having to queue up just to park. That said, the USPS might decide to move mail process out of downtown to more modern facilities. If they do — it won’t be because I don’t like the daily queue for the parking garage.
The possibility of the processing moving got me thinking about the history of the Main Post Office on this site. I knew online city records didn’t have the year built, so I’d need to investigate beyond a quick online search. Buildings from this era usually had cornerstones — people weren’t embarrassed to have their names displayed on them for eternity. Though I’d never seen a cornerstone here before, I knew one had to exist.
Back home I found online that an article from October 1935 talks about the design. So off to the 3rd floor genealogy department at the Central Library to find it on microfilm. Note: searching Post-Dispatch articles 1874-1922 can be done online through a free database, using your library card account for access.
So we know the Main Post Office in October 1935 was at 18th & Walnut, from the article:
The excavation and foundation work have been completed for some time. It is estimated that it will take 900 calendar days, approximately two and a half years, to complete the superstructure. The architects are Klipstein & Rathmann of St. Louis, Engineers are W. J. Knight & Co, on structure. John D. Falvey on mechanical work and Joseph A. Osborn on electrical work.
An earlier post office, at 18th & Walnut, was razed to build the present one between 17th-18th. An older post office annex building still exists between the Union Station train shred and 18th Street.
Foundations done for some time? An earlier paragraph explains the delay:
Construction of the superstructure was delayed by the Supreme Court decision on the NRA which necessitated asking for new bids. Representative John J. Cochran of St. Louis has been in constant communication with the procurement division of the Treasury and with the Post Office Department in an effort to speed up the project.
NRA? A different one.
National Recovery Administration (NRA), U.S. government agency established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to stimulate business recovery through fair-practice codes during the Great Depression. The NRA was an essential element in the National Industrial Recovery Act (June 1933), which authorized the president to institute industry-wide codes intended to eliminate unfair trade practices, reduce unemployment, establish minimum wages and maximum hours, and guarantee the right of labour to bargain collectively.
The agency ultimately established 557 basic codes and 208 supplementary codes that affected about 22 million workers. Companies that subscribed to the NRA codes were allowed to display a Blue Eagle emblem, symbolic of cooperation with the NRA. Although the codes were hastily drawn and overly complicated and reflected the interests of big business at the expense of the consumer and small businessman, they nevertheless did improve labour conditions in some industries and also aided the unionization movement. The NRA ended when it was invalidated by the Supreme Court in 1935, but many of its provisions were included in subsequent legislation. (Encyclopedia Britannica)
Besides serving the postal needs of St. Louis, the new building will be a distributing center for all postal supplies, machinery ns equipment for post offices throughout the Southwest.
The new post office opened in 1937. so that takes care of the history, right? Not quite. From the 1935 photo caption we know the previous Main Post Office was at 18th & Walnut, but because the current post office Walnut Street doesn’t exist between 16th-18th. So I turned to Sanborn Fire Insurance maps:
The Sanborn Fire Insurance Map Company, established in 1867, compiled and published maps of U.S. cities and towns for the fire insurance industry to assess the risk of insuring a particular property. The maps are large scale plans of a city or town drawn at a scale of 50 feet to an inch, offering detailed information on the use made of commercial and industrial buildings, their size, shape and construction material. Some residential areas are also mapped. The maps show location of water mains, fire alarms and fire hydrants. They are color-coded to identify the structure (adobe, frame, brick, stone, iron) of each building. Between 1955 and 1978, the Library of Congress withdrew duplicate sheets and atlases from their collection and offered them to selected libraries. Maps for Missouri towns and cities were given to the MU Libraries. Documenting the layout of 390 Missouri cities from 1883 to 1951, the University of Missouri-Columbia Ellis Library Special Collections Department has digitized 6,798 of the maps for Missouri cities from 1880 to 1922.
This Project is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as Administered by the Missouri State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State.
Most of the ones for St. Louis are from 1907-1911.
In the block bounded by Market, 17th, Walnut, and 18th is Excelsior Brewery. The only thing South of Walnut is a Union Electric building with vacant land. My unconfirmed assumption was a post office was built after December 1908 o the block South of Walnut. So the new post office replaced the brewery? That was my initial hunch, but it’s far more complicated.
An article from October 21, 1917 has the headline: “$1,000,000 HOTEL PLANNED TO FACE UNION STATION”. The “skyscraper type” hotel would have 450-500 rooms, to be built by someone from Oklahoma. From that article:
The site, which is owned by the St, Louis Brewing Association, will be acquired either under a 99-year lease or by purchase outright. Norman Jones, secretary and treasurer of the brewing association, stated the owners are not interested in the project, but are desirous of leasing the site for improvement with a building of the nature stated. He said the association would either lease or sell the plot, and for that reason it had declined to tie it up with short-term leases. He stated that the association had plans, several years ago, for a large hotel for this plot, but that they had been lost.
The Market street frontage is filled with a conglomeration of small stores, picture theaters and saloons. The rear, or Walnut street side of the block, was occupied by the Excelsior Brewery, the building of which was recently razed.
Several years ago a group of Chicago capitalists head this block under consideration for improvement with a large hotel structure, but the project collapsed when Europe was plunged into war.
This 1917 article says this hotel would be compatible with the St. Louis Real Estate Exchange’s plans for a plaza in the catty-corner block bounded by 18th, Market, 19th, and Chestnut. Side note: that plan eventually doubled in size to 20th, it was fined by a 1923 bond issue. The centerpiece Meeting of the Waters fountain & sculpture were completed in 1939 — two years after the new Post Office opened.
An article from November 11. 1917 says an $800,000 13-story hotel with 700 rooms was to be built on the Northeast corner of 18th & Market.
A brewery previously existed where Union Station was built, this was operated by the Uhrigs — who earlier had opened a beer garden at Jefferson & Washington.
A Julius Winkelmeyer and Frederich Stifel moved there small operations to 18th & Market in 1846, it was started the year before at Convent & 2nd.
Ok, so both 1917 hotel plans failed, the brewing association sold the Southeast corner years later for the post office? Yes and no, respectively.
Ever since the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis opened Union Station on September 1, 1894, there was an effort to “improve” the appearance of the blocks facing it. Prohibition lasted from 1920-1933. A week ago I found an article suggesting they had bought the Excelsior Brewery property, my assumption is they sold or donated it for the new post office.
At some point I may return to dig more into the history of this intersection, but I’ll stop for now.
I remember trips to Sears with my mom in the early/mid 1970s, plus I’d look through the Sears catalog at home. Much of my early wardrobe was from Sears. I also remember trips to the same Sears with my dad to buy/replace Craftsman tools. My parents had our new house built in 1965 — the same year the 160,000+ sq ft Sears store was built 2.2 miles away (map). That Sears store is still open, and isn’t on the recent list of Sears/Kmart closures.
A few years ago the Bridgeton Walmart moved to just East of this Kmart. But the Sears/Kmart closures are part of a bigger trend for these retailers:
Trying to cut its way to profitability, troubled Sears Holdings announced Thursday that it will close 68 Kmart and 10 Sears stores this summer in its latest move to cut losses.
Sears’ (SHLD) move (see the list of the stores) comes atop a previous announcement that it will close 50 other stores. Sales have been falling and Sears had a disappointing holiday sales season.
“The decision to close stores is a difficult but necessary step as we take aggressive actions to strengthen our company, fund our transformation and restore Sears Holdings to profitability,” said Sears Holdings CEO Edward Lampert in a statement. (USA Today)
Sears said Thursday that its same-store sales fell 7.1% in the fourth quarter and revenue dropped 9.8% to $7.3 billion.
The company reported a quarterly loss of $580 million, or $5.44 per share, compared with a loss of $159 million, or $1.50 a share, the previous year. (Business Insider)
Retailing is competitive. but many put part of the blame on the libertarian leader: Eddie Lampert. From July 2013:
Every year the presidents of Sears Holdings’ many business units trudge across the company’s sprawling headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Ill., to a conference room in Building B, where they ask Eddie Lampert for money. The leaders have made these solitary treks since 2008, when Lampert, a reclusive hedge fund billionaire, splintered the company into more than 30 units. Each meeting starts quietly: When the executive arrives, Lampert’s top consiglieri are there, waiting around a U-shaped table, according to interviews with a half-dozen former employees who attended these sessions. An assistant walks in, turns on a screen on the opposite wall, and an image of Lampert flickers to life.
The Sears chairman, who lives in a $38 million mansion in South Florida and visits the campus no more than twice a year (he hates flying), is usually staring at his computer when the camera goes live, according to attendees.
The executive in the hot seat will begin clicking through a PowerPoint presentation meant to impress. Often he’ll boast an overly ambitious target—“We can definitely grow 20 percent this year!”—without so much as a glance from Lampert, 50, whose preference is to peck out e-mails or scroll through a spreadsheet during the talks. Not until the executive makes a mistake does the Sears chief look up, unleashing a torrent of questions that can go on for hours. (Bloomberg)
Why does he manage this way? From December 2013:
Once upon a time, hedge fund manager Eddie Lampert was living a Wall Street fairy tale. His fairy godmother was Ayn Rand, the dashing diva of free-market ideology whose quirky economic notions would transform him into a glamorous business hero.
For a while, it seemed to work like a charm. Pundits called him the “Steve Jobs of the investment world.” The new Warren Buffett. By 2006 he was flying high, the richest man in Connecticut, managing over $15 billion thorough his hedge fund, ESL Investments.
Stoked by his Wall Street success, Lampert plunged headlong into the retail world. Undaunted by his lack of industry experience and hailed a genius, Lampert boldly pushed to merge Kmart and Sears with a layoff and cost-cutting strategy that would, he promised, send profits into the stratosphere. Meanwhile the hotshot threw cash around like an oil sheikh, buying a $40 million pad in Florida’s Biscayne Bay, a record even for that star-studded county.
Fast-forward to 2013: The fairy tale has become a nightmare.
Lampert is now known as one of the worst CEOs in America — the man who flushed Sears down the toilet with his demented management style and harebrained approach to retail. Sears stock is tanking. His hedge fun is down 40 percent, and the business press has turned from praising Lampert’s genius towatching gleefully as his ship sinks. Investors are running from “Crazy Eddie” like the plague.
That’s what happens when Ayn Rand is the basis for your business plan. (Salon)
The retailer filed for Chapter 11 protection in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware in a move aimed at helping it shed much of its debt and clean up its balance sheet. A successful revamp would let Sports Authority improve its brick-and-mortar, perhaps with in-store boutiques similar to the Under Armour and Nike shops that have been so fruitful for rival Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Sports Authority, whose name adorns the stadium of the Denver Broncos, has been saddled with boatloads of debt ever since a $1.3 billion leveraged buyout a decade ago. At the time, the Colorado-based retailer and Dick’s DKS -1.79% were similar in size with annual sales of $3 billion. But since then, Dick’s has invested in its in-store experience and in-store tech, which have helped propel the retailer’s sales past Sports Authority’s. Analysts are forecasting total 2015 sales of $7.3 billion for the Pennsylvania-based company, compared to almost $3 billion at Sports Authority. (Fortune)
In early April it looked like the bankruptcy might work:
Embattled retailer Sports Authority has finally received a bit of good news: it looks to have settled a dispute with consignment suppliers that could resolve around 160 lawsuits.
The suits centered around $85 million-worth of winter gear currently being sold at the sporting goods retailer’s stores, and suppliers who had sold these products on consignment wanted them back in the wake of Sport Authority’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in March.
Now, if the settlement is approved by Judge Mary Walrath of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, Sports Authority will be able to sell this gear throughout the bankruptcy proceedings, according to the Wall Street Journal. (Fortune)
End of April:
Vendors, however, didn’t like seeing the merchandise they had consigned sold off in liquidation sales without reimbursement, and they sued. Sports Authority countersued.
Landlords also were upset that the company filed for bankruptcy protection one day after March rents were due, stiffing them out of $27 million.
“They didn’t get very far into this before they hit snags with their suppliers. That tells me they weren’t that close to getting the reorganization done,” said Dan Schniedwind, a credit analyst and retail specialist with Denver Investments.
In the end, creditors weren’t willing to allow the company to continue making large purchases, something required to keep stocking the shelves in even a reduced number of stores. (Denver Post)
Sports Authority Holdings Inc. will head to auction next week with bids in place from two groups of liquidators plus smaller offers from rivals Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. and Modell’s Inc., according to people familiar with the situation.
However, the bids from Dick’s and Modell’s were considered “disappointing” and for fewer stores than initially expected, one of the people said. Dick’s, which one equity analyst said could make an offer for 180 stores, instead placed a bid for less than 20 stores; Modell’s made an offer for a small handful of stores, the person added. (Wall Street Journal)
Heres’s a list of the St. Louis area locations, the first three were announced in March:
New retail tenants are moving into the space in Ellisville Square in Ellisville that Kmart vacated earlier this year.
Brixmor Property Group, the New York-based commercial real estate company that owns Ellisville Square, said the space will be filled by three new tenants: a 40,000-square-foot Sports Authority, a 19,000-square-foot Michaels and a 16,000-square-foot Party City. The stores are slated to open in the third quarter of 2015, Brixmor officials said in a statement. (St. Louis Business Journal)
The Ellisville location was announced in January 2015:
Three new stores — Michaels, Sports Authority and Party City — will be opening soon at the site of what was a K-mart store at Clarkson and Manchester roads in Ellisville (Post-Dispatch)
Earlier we discussed the Sears/Kmart CEO, but why did Sports Authority fail?
Once one of the largest sports retail chains in the country, Sports Authority has now slipped behind outlets like Dick’s Sporting Goods and REI. These chains have positioned themselves more successfully in the market through establishing strong relationships with their suppliers, developing the leverage to keep prices low that their competitors have had difficulty matching, Rory Masterson, an industry analyst at IBISWorld, told the Los Angeles Times in April. They’ve also adapted more sucessfully to the online marketplace. Online sales at Dick’s climbed at a compounded annual rate of 39 percent from 2010 to 2015.
While Sports Authority may be faltering, the sporting goods industry as a whole is growing. It accounts for an estimated $150 billion per year globally. In 2014, the most recent year available for figures, the industry was worth $63.7 billion in the United States, an increase of 24 percent since 2009 and a jump of 2 percent from the year before.
Sports Authority faces tough competition from traditional sports retail outlets, yet its financial struggles point to the increased diversification of the sports retail market. A wide array of more specialized competitors have entered the field, providing both traditional sports garments and “athleisure”, or casual wear inspired by workout clothing that has exploded in popularity over the past few years. (CSM)
The Bridgeton Kmart & Sports Authority are both part of Hill Top Plaza.
Hilltop Plaza Redevelopment Area Tax Increment Financing Redevelopment Plan – Hilltop Plaza Community Improvement District; analysis of the eligibility for TIF and CID, and the planning and financial projections for the redevelopment of the 70% vacant portion of Hilltop Plaza, formerly a destination shopping area on St. Charles Rock Road. (EDR)
I was at the MetroBus stop on St. Charles Rock Rd in 2013 — had no idea at Kmart & Sports Authority were close. Was wasn’t/isn’t any pedestrian access. Even between Kmart & Sports Authority there’s no pedestrian route! I know the lack of pedestrian access didn’t cause these stores to close, but it didn’t help them either. Pedestrians do exist in the area — there are sidewalks along St. Charles Rock Rd and the parallel internal road — they just don’t connect the businesses to transit or each other.
A week from tomorrow is the general election in St. Louis. I already posted about the School Board & Junior College Board races. We all know about the mayor’s race, and some of us live in a ward electing an alderman to a 4-year term. All of us have the following six ...
Two weeks ago one local municipality voted to repeal a prior ban on pit bulls: The Florissant City Council voted Monday night to end the city’s ban on pit bulls and pit bull mixes. The new ordinance that passed states it “allows pit bull dogs in the city with mandatory spaying ...
In a little over a week St. Louis voters will return to the polls for the general election — mostly a rubber-stamp of the Democratic nominees selected earlier this month. In addition to propositions that I’ll cover next week, there are two often overlooked nonpartisan races on our ballot (sample): ....