Friday, March 14, 2008

What happened to Ballpark Village?

The following is a Ballpark Village timeline I compiled by searching through the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s archives. Note that these are excerpts and not the full articles. Every entry includes the date it appeared in the paper, the edition, and the headline.

May 21, 2000, Sunday, FIVE STAR LIFT EDITION


Developers would like to revive Chouteau's Pond, created just after St. Louis was founded in 1764 but drained in the 1850s. They would build homes, businesses and parks around the 15-acre lake just south of downtown, making it the center of a $ 1 billion, 195-acre redevelopment area that could be the springboard for bringing people back into the city.

Baron said his firm would take the lead in building parts of the plan, in addition to the work it is doing at Cupples Station. He said he's particularly interested in building housing to overlook the new lake, and in working with Cardinals owners who have already proposed a 12-acre Ballpark Village development in conjunction with a new $ 370 million stadium. Ballpark Village, mostly where Busch Stadium stands today, would be a mixture of housing, office, retail and entertainment.

The plan for housing and other development in Ballpark Village alongside Southgate is exactly what the Cardinals owners have in mind, said Cardinals President Mark Lamping.

Lamping said the owners are also talking about possibly contributing their land to help make it happen.

"We think this would bring fans downtown 365 days a year . . . and provide a nice residential option for those who would like to live downtown, but can't because adequate housing is not available," he said.

September 10, 2000, Sunday, FIVE STAR LIFT EDITION


Lamping's latest numbers show a total of 48,800 seats at the new ballpark, compared with 49,738 at Busch. But the new ballpark total includes 1,000 low-cost "festival" seats that might not be in the ballpark. Lamping says they might end up on rooftops of a Ballpark Village development the Cardinals want private developers to build next to the new ballpark.Ballpark Village also would feature an apartment building and parking. But, for now, the $ 380 million plan is just a concept.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri)

December 17, 2000, Sunday, FIVE STAR LIFT EDITION


The Ballpark Village plan includes:

* An aquarium featuring walk-through tunnels in fish tanks and other aquatic exhibits.

* A partly underground baseball museum with about 15,000 square feet of space for the Cardinals owners' growing collection of baseball memorabilia. Some of it is now on display in about 5,000 square feet in the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame near Busch.

* A 20-story apartment building with 110 apartments, many of them overlooking the new ballpark.

* Three mid-rise buildings, about seven stories tall, with retail and restaurants at the street level, offices above the retail and apartments and two-level townhouses above the offices. The buildings also might have rooftop seating, like apartments overlooking Chicago's Wrigley Field.

* A landscaped, outdoor plaza just north of the new ballpark containing the entrance to the baseball museum, and partly surrounded by shops, restaurants and the mid-rise buildings. Architects for the new ballpark left a gap in the north wall of the ballpark so it opens onto the plaza, and people in the plaza can see into it.

* A two-level, underground parking garage with 1,900 spaces that would be built into the scooped-out foundation left by Busch. New development would rise on top of the garage.

Overall, Ballpark Village would contain about 410 apartments and condominiums; more than 400,000 square feet of office space; and 135,000 square feet of retail shops and restaurants.

Michael West, a spokesman for St. Louis Mayor Clarence Harmon, said the Ballpark Village plan won't sway the city to act any faster in its scrutiny of the ballpark proposal.

"A lot of statements about what (Ballpark Village) could be are just fictitious until details are worked out," West said. "A lot of things can be tossed out and probably will."

March 18, 2001, Sunday, FIVE STAR LIFT EDITION


As the Cardinals press for the city, county and state to pay most of the cost of a new baseball stadium, they offer the lure of Ballpark Village, a proposed development of retail, entertainment and housing designed to build up a thriving downtown neighborhood around the new ballpark. But guess what? They say plans for Ballpark Village can't go forward until the new stadium is a done deal.

he owners also still are looking to recruit private developers to build what's being called Ballpark Village. Colorful sketches of this proposed $ 380 million development, which would be just north of the new ballpark, suggest it could include a long-elusive aquarium for St. Louis, a residential tower and other housing, offices, retail space and parking.

Ballpark Village also would have an outdoor plaza and a baseball museum for displaying the owners' growing collection of baseball memorabilia, but the $ 15 million that they would cost is part of the new ballpark's price tag. Also at this point, the owners still haven't decided if they would or would not contribute six blocks of land, most of which now has Busch Stadium on it, upon which Ballpark Village would rise.

In Jefferson City last week, the team owners and their architects carried around 20-page booklets with renderings and descriptions of how Ballpark Village could be "a fresh urban neighborhood." Their notion is that this new neighborhood, along with the new ballpark, would keep fans downtown after games and help revive the rest of downtown as well.

Architect Eugene Mackey III, former president of the American Institute of Architects' local chapter, is also skeptical. He questions whether the Cardinals' owners can even get Ballpark Village built, let alone filled up. To illustrate that concern, he recalls previous promises of development that was supposed to come up around the Trans World Dome, what is now called the Savvis Center, and even the current Busch Stadium. But not much got done. And he says that if Ballpark Village is built, it won't resolve the fundamental problems that keep downtown St. Louis trailing behind other thriving downtowns.

Here's what is planned at Ballpark Village, in summary:

* Three six-story buildings, each covering a block, containing retail businesses, restaurants and neighborhood services at street level, three levels of flexible office space above the retail space, and two levels of living units on the top floors that could be rental or for sale.

* A 21-story residential tower overlooking the new ballpark and other parts of downtown with townhouses facing Walnut Street on the same block. Again, the housing could be rental or for sale, depending largely on who comes forward to build it.

* An outdoor plaza across Clark Street from the new ballpark, facing an opening in the outer wall of the ballpark. This would be designed so that people could stand on Clark and look through a fence onto the playing field, and possibly get glimpses of action on the field from the plaza as well, "like the old knothole gang," Fetterman says. The plaza also would contain a partly underground baseball museum, three times as big as the space that the existing baseball museum occupies in part of the International Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame, adjacent to Busch Stadium

* 1,896 parking spaces, most of them underground.

* An aquarium with fish tanks and marine-life exhibits, the likes of which St. Louis civic leaders and others have tried to lure here for at least 30 years.

In total numbers, Ballpark Village as proposed would have: 408 residential units; 475,960 gross square feet of office space; 114,120 gross square feet of shops, restaurants and neighborhood services (a cleaners or a food store, for example); and 111,000 gross square feet of entertainment, including that aquarium.

April 25, 2001, Wednesday, THREE STAR EDITION


On Tuesday, the Cardinals made public a letter from St. Louis developer Richard Baron, who is heading the Cupples Station renovation next to Busch Stadium. He had faxed a letter to Holden signaling his intention to develop Ballpark Village, the Cardinals' mixed-use project.

"To ensure that the promise of Ballpark Village becomes a reality, we are prepared to enter into a development agreement with the Cardinals in the near future as their lead developer for the area," wrote Baron, president of McCormack Baron & Associates.

Attempts Tuesday to reach Baron were unsuccessful. His letter does not detail how his firm would finance the proposed $ 380 million project, which would include an aquarium, high-rise apartment tower and office buildings with rooftop views of the new ballpark.

April 25, 2001, Wednesday, FIVE STAR LIFT EDITION


Mr. Baron, president of McCormack Baron & Associates, is a developer who combines a proven track record with a positive vision for St. Louis. His work in the Murphy Park neighborhood near downtown underscores his belief in the city as a place to live and work. The recent grand opening of the Westin Hotel at Cupples Station is proof that Mr. Baron can deliver on projects that others think are impossible.

His Cupples project would be adjacent to the Ballpark Village, which the Cardinals had proposed as an adjunct to a $ 370 million ballpark built with a combination of public and private funds. The village would combine 1,000 apartments and condos with office space, retail space and perhaps even an aquarium. It would be located beyond the left field wall of the new stadium, on land now occupied by Busch Stadium.

Mr. Baron's firm helped the Cardinals develop the village concept, but he had not signed on as a partner. That changed Monday when he faxed a letter to Gov. Bob Holden. "To ensure that the promise of Ballpark Village becomes a reality," he wrote, "we are prepared to enter into a development agreement with the Cardinals in the near future as their lead developer for the area."

On Monday, the governor had expressed reservations about the Cardinals' stadium funding plan, in part because of its cost and in part because the Ballpark Village was so speculative. Mr. Baron's decision to enter the project should alleviate that part of the governor's concern. McCormack Baron not only has the $ 355 million Cupples project under way, but on the drawing boards is a proposal for the Chouteau Lake District. That project would put a lake just south of the proposed stadium, with office, retail and residential units built along the lakefront.

April 26, 2001, Thursday, FIVE STAR LIFT EDITION


Although they don't have the money in hand or any guarantees, Cardinals President Mark Lamping and developer Richard Baron say they're confident the $ 380 million Ballpark Village development would rise alongside a new ballpark in downtown St. Louis, provided the ballpark gets built.

"There are no guarantees, because the state hasn't made any guarantees to us yet," Lamping said Wednesday.

"But I am 100 percent confident Ballpark Village would be developed. ... And I'm confident," he added, "that if we announced tomorrow that we were starting a waiting list for people interested in purchasing condos in Ballpark Village, with views of the playing field, we'd have more people on the waiting list tomorrow than we would have room for."

As planned, Ballpark Village, covering six blocks, would include an aquarium, a 21-story residential tower and three six-story buildings containing a mix of housing, retail, neighborhood services and offices. Wi thin it would be:

* About 400 condos and other residential units.

* 135,000 square feet of retail and restaurants.

* 450,000 square feet of office space.

* An outdoor plaza and a new museum for Cardinals memorabilia.
* 1,900 parking spaces, many of them underground.

April 28, 2001, Saturday, FIVE STAR LIFT EDITION


"I think the community is missing the point that it's more than just a ballpark," said Paul J. McKee Jr. this week; he is a local developer who wants to work with the Cardinals. "It's a revitalization project of the first degree."

Ballpark Village would cover six blocks and include a 21-story residential tower and three six-story buildings containing a mix of housing, retail, neighborhood services and offices. Within it would be:

* 110,000 square feet of retail space.

* 25,000 square feet of restaurant space.

* 450,000 square feet of office space.

* 400 housing units.

* An aquarium.

A study the Cardinals commissioned on the economic impact of the stadium and Ballpark Village projects that Ballpark Village would not be fully developed and occupied until 2011, at the earliest.

That means the full economic impact of the proposed $ 382 million investment in the village is at least aRichard Ward, the firm's president, agrees that the biggest

payoff for the state would be the creation of Ballpark Village rather than the construction of a new stadium.

But given the long-range nature of the development, Ward said, the Cardinals will be hard-pressed to give the Legislature many concrete details on that phase of the project in the next few weeks.

"It's not something where you're picking up a spade and getting started on tomorrow afternoon," he said.

April 28, 2001, Saturday, FIVE STAR LIFT EDITION


Richard C.D. Fleming, president of the Regional Chamber and Growth Association, said Holden's call to craft a stronger redevelopment plan in the next few weeks is "not at all realistic."

He said lawmakers should authorize the Greater St. Louis Sports Authority, which would own the proposed ballpark, to create the "tools" that would make the Ballpark Village a reality.

Mayor Francis Slay also said Friday that he supported Holden's position on needing to get more specifics on the Ballpark Village idea before moving ahead on a stadium deal.

"I agree with the governor," Slay said.

April 29, 2001, Sunday, FIVE STAR LIFT EDITION


The Ballpark Village would have entertainment, retail and housing adjacent to the stadium. The plan calls for a high-rise apartment tower, retail and restaurant space, office buildings with rooftop views of the ballpark and even an aquarium. It could provide just the momentum that downtown needs for a much-needed rebirth.

The details, in terms of who will pay for what and how much, still must be worked out. But the talks should continue. Holden should continue meeting with the Cardinals. Mayor Francis Slay should continue meeting as well, to make sure that the city gets the best deal it can get out of the negotiations. And St. Louis County Executive Buzz Westfall deserves praise for his agreement that the stadium should remain downtown, where all the expressways meet.

There are plenty of doubters and naysayers. But, hey, that's St. Louis. There were folks opposed to the 1904 World's Fair. I've read news stories about the people who opposed the Arch. It should come as no surprise that some are skeptical about a new stadium downtown.

But every skeptic should take that drive along North Grand. If the stadium leaves the city, that could be downtown's future.

May 1, 2001, Tuesday, FIVE STAR LIFT EDITION


Slay said Saturday's City Hall meeting grew out of a mutual decision with Holden "to try to put together something that will address the Cardinals' needs, address the governor's and our budgetary concerns" and be more specific about a nearby Ballpark Village development that the team has talked about.

Slay said he wants to see a commitment by the Cardinals' owners and other developers "that is identifiable and measurable to making this Ballpark Village become a reality."

May 10, 2001, Thursday, FIVE STAR LIFT EDITION


Lawmakers pushing state aid for a new Cardinals ballpark continue waiting for Gov. Bob Holden's signal to move forward, with less than two weeks left in the legislative session.

Bills in the House and Senate were put on hold after Holden met privately with Cardinals owners last month. The governor told them he wouldn't support their effort to replace Busch Stadium with a $ 370 million, old-fashioned ballpark unless it includes a firm downtown revitalization plan.

May 30, 2001 Wednesday Five Star Lift Edition


What the owners are offering

The Cardinals owners have agreed to the following concessions to help get financing for their new ballpark:

* A new financing plan that would cost the state less money

* Profit-sharing with state and local governments if owners sell the team

* Stronger guarantees about the proposed Ballpark Village

June 20, 2001 Wednesday Five Star Lift Edition


By agreeing to cover about 40 percent of the cost of a new downtown ballpark and to oversee $300 million in related development projects, the Cardinals have accepted one of the priciest stadium deals in Major League Baseball.

Including the secondary development, to be known as Ballpark Village, the Cardinals would be responsible for financing more than 67 percent of the combined $646 million in costs, Holden said.

June 20, 2001 Wednesday Five Star Lift Edition


If there's a cost overrun, the Cardinals will pay for it. If the Cardinals fail to develop the village, they'll have to pay penalties. That's good.

The politicians claim that the ballpark and the village will generate enough revenue to cover taxpayer investment. That's questionable. And if there's a shortfall, the difference will be made up by a stadium naming-rights fund. We'll see about that.

The ballpark "village" that supposedly will save downtown St. Louis has until 2014 to be completed. That's bad. Everyone might be living in St. Charles County by then.

June 20, 2001 Wednesday Three Star Edition


the Cards are pledging substantial financing to develop a ballpark village. Total private financing for the village is projected at $300 million, and there are significant penalties for the Cards if this development is delayed. The team is, in essence, guaranteeing that the ballpark will generate commercial synergies, expand employment opportunities and enrich cultural choices downtown.

June 21, 2001 Thursday Three Star Edition


The first half of Ballpark Village could be completed as early as the spring of 2007, a year after the stadium is scheduled to be completed, said William DeWitt III, the team's vice president for business development.

The initial phase would include a Cardinals museum, an aquarium and a building that would have retail space at the street level and office and residential space above.

The stadium-finance deal the Cardinals signed with St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, St. Louis County Executive George R. "Buzz" Westfall and Gov. Bob Holden gives the team until April 1, 2006, to start that work and until April 1, 2011, to complete it.

The agreement gives the Cardinals and their development partners until 2014 to complete the second half of Ballpark Village, including a 21-story residential tower that would overlook the new stadium.

But DeWitt said that section could be finished by 2009 or 2010 - if not sooner.

"There's a chance the whole thing could get done at once," DeWitt said. "We've talked to some developers who want to do it all."

The designs for Ballpark Village call for:

* 470,000 square feet of office space.

* 110,000 square feet of street-level commercial and retail space.

* 400 residential units.

* 1,850 parking spaces.

* 16,000 square feet of museum space.

* 94,000 square feet of aquarium space.

Although the Cardinals agreed in their financing deal to take responsibility for $300 million in development work at Ballpark Village, that figure does not reflect the full cost of all the buildings the team is envisioning, DeWitt said. "That's more a negotiating number that we need to deliver," he said.

Some downtown watchers question whether the project will deliver the benefits the team is suggesting.

"If there was a real demand for this sort of development, it seems to me that it would be happening right now," said Jamie Cannon, a retired architect and president of the Landmarks Association of St. Louis. "There are probably lots of good land buys available downtown."

If Ballpark Village simply causes businesses to relocate within downtown, the effect in the already struggling core area could be disastrous, Rishe said.

DeWitt noted that occupancy rates are running above 90 percent for first-class office space in downtown St. Louis, suggesting that more room is needed to attract new businesses.

"If we can't absorb another 400,000 square feet of office space over the next seven years, then we really are in trouble," DeWitt said.

The Cardinals have been studying mixed-use buildings elsewhere to determine how to make the combination of street level retail and commercial space work with the office and residential space above and the attractions nearby.

"It should be a mix of retail that supports the development above and around it," DeWitt said.

The development plan for Ballpark Village calls for town houses along Walnut Street. If those units find plenty of takers, then construction of the 21-story residential tower might be moved up to meet demand, DeWitt said.

Although some of the residential units would be affordable enough for young professionals, others would come with a hefty price tag, he said.

"I would hope the penthouse on the top of that residential tower would be as high-end as anything in the city," he said.

July 10, 2001 Tuesday Five Star Lift Edition


DeWitt said he could foresee offering the bowling museum another site in the Ballpark Village development in exchange for its property.

When Cardinals owners began showing off their colorful renderings of red-brick Ballpark Village and their old-fashioned, dream ballpark to civic groups and politicians last year, antsy museum officials invited their neighbors over to chat.

"You're going to see pictures in the paper with your building off the face of the Earth," DeWitt warned.

But he also set up an easel with a different sketch, where the bowling museum is left in place.

Adding more uncertainty, the Cards want to build their own 15,000-square-foot museum in the Village. That's triple the space they've been using to house their memorabilia at the bowling museum since 1997.

When the Cardinals moved in, the bowling museum's slumping attendance shot up more than 30 percent to about 44,000 last year - a big boost for a nonprofit museum that relies on donations to keep it out of the gutter.

Local bowling leagues, national bowling organizations, bowling center owners and manufacturers subsidize more than half of the museum's nearly $1 million budget.

"I've been getting a lot of phone calls on what's going to happen (to the museum) and I honestly don't know," said Dale Bohn, executive director of the Greater St. Louis Bowling Associ ation. "I can't get answers from anyone. Either no one knows or everyone's keeping their mouths shut."

September 9, 2001 Sunday Five Star Lift Edition


William DeWitt III, vice president of business development for the Cardinals, said that while the plan for Ballpark Village remains a priority, his attention is directed toward keeping the stadium on track for opening in 2005.

"The Village is involved," he said, "but mostly I'm blocking and tackling to get the stadium site ready."

Ballpark Village figures in all the planning, but DeWitt pointed out: "We have to build the park first, or you don't have a village."

January 20, 2002 Sunday Five Star Lift Edition


Oxford called Ballpark Village a "pipe dream." She said a development promised near the Texas Rangers' park when Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt owned part of that team never materialized. She said the assurances that the Cardinals would complete the Ballpark Village project or that naming rights money would repay the state were inadequate.

February 7, 2002 Thursday Five Star Lift Edition


Hanaway said Tuesday that a Cardinals stadium bill would be filed within the next week or two. She said she wanted it to include guarantees that the Ballpark Village development will be built along with the stadium, assurances that the state would share in a profit if the team is sold and wording that defines how much the owners will put into the project.

February 12, 2002 Tuesday Five Star Lift Edition


The Cardinals could be on the hook for a $100 million penalty if the team gets public money for a new ballpark but the surrounding Ballpark Village isn't completed as promised.

But the bill does not specify, for example, how long developers would have to complete Ballpark Village before paying the penalty.

The plan includes construction of a $300 million Ballpark Village within the six-block area around the stadium. The village would include restaurants, a museum, shops, offices and condominiums.

February 15, 2002 Friday Five Star Lift Edition


1. A penalty of at least $100 million if the Cardinals fail to complete the accompanying Ballpark Village. The deadline for completion, though, is fuzzy. Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. got a similar provision a decade ago into a bill to finance construction of The Ballpark in Arlington and its surrounding retail complex. Ground has yet to be broken on the retail area, and no one has paid a penalty.

February 15, 2002 Friday Five Star Lift Edition


The deal calls for the city to kick in $4.2 million annually for 30 years, or $126 million, from increased taxes generated by the new facility. The plan includes Ballpark Village, a $300 million housing and retail development nearby.

February 17, 2002 Sunday Five Star Lift Edition


Some things about the stadium deal have changed in 11 months, mostly for the better. The memorandum of agreement between the team, the city and the state lays out these changes. The team will bear a greater share of the project's cost than originally proposed. The Cardinals will develop six blocks adjacent to the new ballpark into a "Ballpark Village" of offices, shops and tourist attractions. If the village isn't built, the team will pay $120 million in penalties. The public gets naming rights revenue. If the team is sold, the public gets a share of the profits. The city schools and other taxing districts won't lose any revenue.

February 26, 2002 Tuesday Five Star Lift Edition


The St. Louis Cardinals would have until 2035 to fully pay a $100 million penalty if the team doesn't build Ballpark Village under a stadium funding plan worked out Monday.

he team owners also are committed to building the $300 million Ballpark Village development including shops, offices, restaurants and condominiums. Holden had been adamant that for him to support any kind of stadium deal, a major component had to be downtown redevelopment.

The $100 million penalty had been announced previously, but the project agreement details how it would be paid.

February 27, 2002 Wednesday Five Star Lift Edition


The only way the Cardinals would pay the full amount in penalties is if the owners make no effort to develop Ballpark Village.

The agreement calls for the Cardinals to reach certain targets on the first three-block phase of project by the end of 2009, or at least spend $100 million toward that goal.

The annual penalties for failing to meet that timetable start at $500,000 for 2009 and rise to $6 million by 2031.

However, if the Cardinals have completed some work on Ballpark Village, the penalty would be adjusted to reflect the progress toward completion.

The formula also would allow the Cardinals to deduct an amount equal of the taxes paid on the property or produced by any businesses there.

If the Cardinals fail to develop the second phase of Ballpark Village, they would give up some land on which it would be built.

The Cardinals say the provisions exist only to protect the city of St. Louis and the state.

"From a negotiating point of view, you try to mitigate the risks that you have," said Bill DeWitt III, a team vice president. "From our planning point of view, we don't think those would even come into play at all."

An economic impact report prepared for the team last year projected that Ballpark Village would generate $4.5 million in city and state taxes in 2007, followed by $10.6 million in 2008, $11.8 million in 2009 and $17.3 million in 2010.

The potential penalties should quiet skeptics, DeWitt said.

"I think the sheer magnitude of the guarantee will send a message that we're serious about Ballpark Village, and hopefully we'll get a 'go,'" he said.

For example, the first phase of construction of the village would begin in 2006 - after the stadium is done. If the Cardinals aren't working on it by 2009, sources said, the team would pay $500,000 of the $100 million penalty.

March 15, 2002 Friday Five Star Lift Edition


That secondary development, dubbed Ballpark Village, is now one of the main selling points in the funding agreement between the team's owners and the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County and the state of Missouri.

Backers of the stadium plan say Ballpark Village will help revitalize downtown St. Louis and generate millions each year in additional tax revenue, giving the public a solid return on its stake.

Opponents wonder about the Cardinals' commitment to Ballpark Village and question whether the $100 million in penalties the team's owners would pay if they fail to develop the project are adequate to ensure its completion.

"The Cardinals are putting this in at the insistence of the politicians," said Fred Lindecke, a spokesman for the Coalition Against Public Funding for Stadiums.

The Cardinals say the financial penalties, plus another clause that could force them to forfeit one or more blocks of downtown real estate, prove their determination to follow through on the project.

But one politician with a vote on the deal is hoping to give it more teeth.

State Rep. Richard Byrd, R-Kirkwood, does not believe the penalties are sufficient to guarantee the construction of Ballpark Village, which would rise on the land now occupied by Busch Stadium.

Byrd is preparing an amendment that will be offered to the Cardinals stadium bill that would withhold state payments if components of the village are not substantially completed by the end of 2010.

"If there is going to be any economic benefit, it will come from Ballpark Village," he said. "The stadium itself will not produce any new income of a substantial amount over and above what's currently produced by Busch. "

Even if the stadium does not produce a net gain in taxes or economic activity, it could add to the vitality of downtown St. Louis, said Patrick Rishe, an assistant professor at Webster University.

"I think it's going to create some energy that currently doesn't exist," said Rishe, who specializes in the business of sports.

The first phase of Ballpark Village is to include:

* 470,000 square feet of office space.

* 110,000 square feet of commercial space.

* 16,000 square feet for a Cardinals museum.

* 94,000 square feet for an entertainment attraction.

* 400 residential units.

* 1,850 parking spaces.

The agreement calls for spending on those projects to total at least $100 million.

The second phase of Ballpark Village calls for additional office, commercial and residential space, with a combined investment of at least $200 million.

The Cardinals have agreed to start work on the first phase of Ballpark Village by April 1, 2006, and to "substantially complete" that part of the project by April 1, 2009.

If they miss the 2009 deadline, they start paying damages to the city and state.

But the maximum penalty the first year would be just $500,000. It would rise to $1 million the second year, $1.5 million the third year and $1.75 million for each of the next four years.

The penalties would rise several more times, ending at $6 million in 2035.

However, any amounts the Cardinals would owe would be reduced according to a formula that measures the team's progress by dollars spent.

In other words, if investment in the first phase of Ballpark Village stood at $50 million - halfway to $100 million - the penalty for that year would be cut in half.

Byrd said his amendment would require that at least five of the six components of the first phase of Ballpark Village be substantially complete by Dec. 31, 2010, or no additional state funds would be appropriated for the baseball stadium.

"I don't want the Legislature passing a bill that is perceived as guaranteeing a ballpark village but it really doesn't," he said.

Under the stadium funding agreement, the city, county and state would cover $208 million of the stadium's $346 million construction cost. The Cardinals' share would be at least $138 million, including the value of the land under the stadium.

The state would pay $7 million a year for 30 years to finance its share; the city would pay $4.2 million a year for 30 years. The county would pay $95 million over the life of the agreement.

The city thinks that taxes generated by the stadium alone would cover its bond payments. Mayor Francis Slay said the state would get back $610 million for providing $210 million over the 30-year life of the agreement.

But the deal contains language that hedges. For example, it says "the Cardinals make no representation that the project will generate the projected economic activity taxes or the projected new state revenues."

Smith, the city's bond attorney, called that language standard legal boilerplate.

But Lindecke, one of the opponents, calls it something of a loophole.

"The entire economic development argument is built on this," he said. "And yet they write in their own agreement that they don't believe it, that they don't stand behind it."

Team could offset penalties

The $100 million in penalties equals the $100 million investment the Cardinals have guaranteed for the first phase of Ballpark Village.

But the actual cost of the penalties could be much lower.

In present-day dollars, the $100 million in payments over 25 years would cost $34.8 million.

Put another way, the Cardinals could put $34.8 million into treasury bills, make no effort to develop the village and cash in some of that investment each year to pay the penalties.

That expense might be more than offset by an increase in the value of the Cardinals. A new ballpark would boost the team's ability to generate revenue and profits.

Greg Smith, an attorney who worked for the city on the stadium deal, says this scenario is ludicrous.

"Like taking $35 million out of your pocket is nothing," he said. "Can you imagine anybody doing that?"

No developers have signed on yet for Ballpark Village, but the team's owners say they have no doubts that they will be able to pull off both phases of the project, perhaps ahead of schedule.

"I'm confident we'll make good on the promise to develop the village," said Bill DeWitt III, a vice president.

The Cardinals might even begin work on both phases of the village simultaneously, Smith said.

The underground parking garage included in the preliminary designs runs under both sections of the village, so it makes sense to approach that construction as a single project, he said.

Spending may top projections

If the Cardinals follow their original development plan for Ballpark Village, spending on the first phase should top $100 million. Spending on the entire project should also exceed the long-term target of $300 million.

The second phase of Ballpark Village, like the first, consists of three blocks of land.

The stadium agreement requires the Cardinals to start developing one of those blocks by April 1, 2009. Work must begin on another block the following year and on the last block the year after that.

If the Cardinals miss any of those deadlines, they must surrender a block of land.

But if there's little demand for the property, "That's no penalty at all," Lindecke said.

"They simply dump these nuisance blocks on the city," he said. "The city has got hundreds of problem blocks already."

Lindecke can envision a worst-case scenario in which the Cardinals ownership group decides to milk the new stadium for all the cash it can and then bail out.

He calculates that the owners could do nothing on Ballpark Village from 2006 to 2015 and pay just $10 million in financial penalties.

March 16, 2002 Saturday Five Star Lift Edition


Outnumbered opponents said the deal has loopholes and that the board should not rush it. They questioned the revenue estimates and predicted that the owners would never build the neighboring Ballpark Village despite the threat of as much as $100 million in penalties.

April 28, 2002 Sunday Five Star Lift Edition



45.7% SAY NO

38.3% SAY YES

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri)

May 10, 2002 Friday Illinois Five Star Edition


As for Ballpark Village, Murphy said, the Cardinals owners could fulfill their commitment by simply building an 1,850-space parking garage.

"Don't the penalties give you some comfort?" asked the committee chairman, Rep. Henry Rizzo, D-Kansas City.

"They remind me of a spaghetti strainer," Murphy replied.

DeWitt said later that the economics of the deal were sound and that the commitment to build Ballpark Village extended beyond the parking garage.

"We have a tremendous incentive to do it, not to mention the fact that we want to do it and feel that it's a great thing for the city and great for the stadium," DeWitt said.

May 19, 2002 Sunday Five Star Lift Edition


When the ballpark deal died, so did the development, dubbed Ballpark Village. It'll be up to the city of St. Louis to renegotiate to revive the development.

July 7, 2002 Sunday Five Star Lift Edition


While the retro design could be resurrected -- especially if the ballpark is built downtown -- people close to the project say that team owners are not seriously discussing Ballpark Village.

Cardinals President Mark Lamping says a Ballpark Village or similar development is "ancillary" but not a necessary part of a new ballpark.

"I would assume there would be sites where we would not expect development to occur around the ballpark along the lines of Ballpark Village," Lamping said.

He said the retro design and accompanying Ballpark Village were chosen to build on the Cupples Station development and play off the Chouteau Lake District, an ambitious residential and recreational project that has not moved beyond the planning phase.

Ballpark Village was initially put on the table to make a new stadium more palatable to those who weren't fans of the game. The village became a condition of the new ballpark getting state dollars when the Cardinals and Missouri legislators were negotiating a funding package.

Now that state funding is an unlikely part of any plan, the Ballpark Village will be set aside, those close to negotiations said last week.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said Friday that he still hoped that Ballpark Village would be part of a downtown stadium plan.

"We want to use the Ballpark Village to replace Busch's pedestrian-unfriendly environment with something that keeps visitors downtown longer, spending their money," he said.

September 19, 2002 Thursday Five Star Edition


Slay said any deal the city would broker with the Cardinals would have to include Ballpark Village, the retail and housing development that was a part of the initial proposal.

The owners of the new stadium could recoup the cost of construction through sale of the naming rights for the stadium and through leasing properties in Ballpark Village, Slay said.

September 25, 2002 Wednesday Five Star Lift Edition


The city's Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority took the first formal step in the process Tuesday when it approved a redevelopment area for the ballpark and Ballpark Village, a commercial and housing development around the stadium. Slay said the move was an important first step and told the authority the city wants to maintain its long-term relationship with the Cardinals, whom he called a "wonderful, wonderful corporate citizen."

On Friday, for example, the Board of Aldermen will take the first of three votes on the redevelopment plan as well as a proposal that would eliminate the 5 percent amusement tax the Cardinals collect on tickets. Doing away with the tax would save the Cardinals about $3.4 million a year, money they could use toward the new ballpark or Ballpark Village.

Ballpark Village would be a separate project from the stadium and the responsibility of the Cardinals.

City leaders said Tuesday that the Cardinals expect that they can build two blocks of Ballpark Village as early as 2007, a year after the new stadium is scheduled to open. But under a proposed agreement between the city and the Cardinals, the team would guarantee that the first block of the village is completed by the end of 2009 with the second block finished two years later.

The proposed agreement calls for a 300,000-square-foot, seven-story office building that would include two levels of underground parking with street-level retail and rooftop housing. The second phase would include a public plaza with monuments of Hall of Fame players, a 27,000- square-foot, two-story retail and office building and a Cardinals museum. The National Bowling Hall of Fame, which faced relocation under the old plan, would be spared.

September 27, 2002 Friday Five Star Lift Edition


Through every phase of negotiations for a new Cardinals stadium, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and other city officials have maintained that the centerpiece of the new facility would be Ballpark Village, a six-block development of nearby office buildings, retail shops, restaurants and housing that would help revitalize downtown.

"It's never been about baseball," Jeff Rainford, the mayor's chief of staff, said Thursday. "It's about creating a neighborhood in downtown St. Louis."

But as the city scurries to complete a deal for a privately financed Cardinals stadium, it finds itself with a dramatically scaled-down version of the village concept -- and no guarantee that the city will ever get the development that city officials had originally envisioned.

The two blocks guaranteed to be developed in the latest plan include office buildings, a Cardinals museum and a few retail shops, but very little housing.

The city hopes the Cardinals eventually will develop more blocks. The team, which under the new plan would be responsible for building the development, says it would like to but that it isn't making any promises.

"Our assumption and intention is that the Ballpark Village project is developed as it was revealed many months ago," Cardinals President Mark Lamping said. "The question is, given the shifting of financing from public to private, how far are we going to stick our neck out to guarantee what gets done?"

Under the Cardinals' original plan, which died in the Missouri Legislature in the spring, the city, St. Louis County and the state would have paid 60 percent of the new stadium's cost.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will begin clearing the way for development today when a bill is introduced to create a redevelopment area for construction of the stadium and surrounding development. Creating a redevelopment area allows the city to use its power of eminent domain to acquire property for construction and gives the developer some tax advantages.

Legislation also will be introduced to eliminate a 5 percent amusement tax on the Cardinals tickets. By not lowering ticket prices, the team could then use the $3.4 million that the tax raised annually to help pay for leasing the new stadium from the private investors that the city hopes will build it.

So far, 14 of the 28 city aldermen have signed on as co-sponsors of the legislation, which is expected to pass easily.

The Ballpark Village plan currently on the table calls for the Cardinals to guarantee development of two blocks north of the new stadium on land now occupied in part by Busch Stadium.

The first block, to be completed by the end of 2009, would include a 300,000-square-foot, seven-story office building that would feature two levels of underground parking with street-level retail and rooftop housing.

The second phase, to be completed two years later, would feature a public plaza, a 27,000-square-foot, two-story retail and office building and a Cardinals Museum.

The National Bowling Hall of Fame, which was to be torn down and turned into retail space under the old plan, would remain where it is on one block.

There is not yet a timeline on when the other blocks would be developed, Lamping said.

"What we're trying to accomplish is a 365-day-a-year neighborhood, but one that will work in complement with the thousands of guests who show up at least 81 days a year (to Cardinals home games)," Lamping said.

Ballpark Village will still be an integral piece of revitalizing downtown, Rainford said.

Rainford said the city supports a heavy dose of office space in the early stages of Ballpark Village, even though about 15 percent of the Class A office space downtown is vacant.

"We don't see this as creating new office space just to shift things around downtown, but rather to provide more space so that we can attract other business to move into the city," he said.

When that happens, there will be more of an interest in living downtown and adding to the 1,200 new housing units that are under construction downtown or will be very soon, he said. That includes the loft district along Washington Avenue.

Dick Fleming, president of the Regional Chamber and Growth Association, said if Ballpark Village becomes fully realized, it would be the "crown jewel" of development, linking the Old Post Office District, Cupples Station and Kiener Plaza as a place to live, work and play in the city.

Lamping says talks are still early but the Cardinals are already getting "numerous expressions of interest from developers and tenants as well as those who want to buy housing in Ballpark Village," he said.

"We're confident about Ballpark Village," Lamping said.

October 4, 2002 Friday Five Star Lift Edition


This was the second aquarium plan to wash out this year. The owners of the baseball Cardinals had proposed building an aquarium as part of their original Ballpark Village development. But when the prospect of state funding disappeared, so did plans for a downtown aquarium.

November 17, 2002 Sunday Five Star Lift Edition


Cardinals owners also said they remain committed to building Ballpark Village, a $60 million mixed-use development that would be funded separately from and built after the new stadium is open and Busch Stadium is demolished.

January 12, 2003 Sunday Five Star Lift Edition


Clark Street would remain open to traffic except during home games, when it would be closed so fans can stroll from Ballpark Village to the game.

The hole left by Busch Stadium would be backfilled to create the Ballpark Village site, a six-block retail, office and residential area planned across Clark Street from the new ballpark. The Cardinals have committed to developing one block by 2009 and a second block by 2011.

The $60 million development for those two blocks would include a 300,000-square-foot, seven-story office building, a 27,000-square-foot, two-story retail and office building and a Cardinals museum. The team's administrative offices would also be located in the village.

November 19, 2003 Wednesday Five Star Late Lift Edition
Correction Appended


The Cardinals plan to create a six-block office and residential area known as Ballpark Village across Clark Street from the new ballpark and roughly where Busch Stadium now sits. The Cardinals have committed $60 million to developing one block by 2009 and a second block by 2011. The economy would dictate further development, the Cardinals have said.

January 21, 2004 Wednesday Five Star Late Lift Edition


Uber entrepreneurs Michael and Steve Roberts are in "preliminary talks to create residential, dining and entertainment" projects in Ballpark Village, adjacent to the looming baseball structure.

May 30, 2004 Sunday Five Star Late Lift Edition


The new stadium is scheduled to open in 2006, but Cardinals general partner Bill DeWitt Jr., said Friday the club really wouldn't want to host an All-Star Game that year or in 2007. DeWitt said that the club was shooting for 2008 or 2009 "when the Ballpark Village will be more developed."

February 20, 2005 Sunday

Cards likely are in line for 2009 All-Star Game

"That's probably the most likely scenario," said chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., referring to the 2009 game being in the newest of the Busch stadia.

"That will give us a couple of years to build up the Ballpark Village as a showcase rather than right after the new stadium opens. I think that (Ballpark Village) is going to be a great feature."

June 2, 2005 Thursday

Cardinals team up with developer for Ballpark Village

THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS today will announce a partnership with Baltimore-based Cordish Co. to develop Ballpark Village, sources close to the deal say. The Cardinals and Cordish apparently have agreed to be 50-50 partners on the office-residential-retail complex that will rise in and around where Busch Stadium now stands.

Cordish is perhaps best known for four large redevelopments in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. It has focused much of its urban renewal work on the East Coast but has been branching out. The company now is developing the Power and Light district in downtown Kansas City.

June 3, 2005 Friday

Cardinals want village where fans can eat, drink, shop, live

Cordish's plan for St. Louis already comes with a catchy name -- Ballpark Village -- but little else beyond the conceptual. A Cardinals museum seems to be the only near certainty for the development.

Cordish said Ballpark Village will be a bit softer on the flashy bars and nightclubs than the company's other projects. Here, the firm will focus more on creating a "neighborhood."

"The idea of living in a place where you could look out the window at home plate is pretty thrilling," Cordish said.

Ballpark Village is also a key reason the city agreed to give the Cardinals tax incentives to stay downtown. The Cardinals are obligated to finish one block of the development by 2009. If the entire Ballpark Village isn't complete by 2011, the team could owe up to $3 million a year in penalties.

The area won't be ready by the time the new Busch opens, set for Opening Day next year. Cardinals Vice President Bill DeWitt said groundbreaking won't be until later in 2006. The team owns the 12-acre site targeted for Ballpark village; Cordish and the Cardinals will be equal partners in developing the area.

It's fitting that a company based in Baltimore -- where Cordish has also done its flagship developments -- has been tapped to create a Ballpark Village. The Cardinals' new home is the latest in a series of throwback stadiums inspired by the retro design of Camden Yards, built for the Orioles in 1992.

April 7, 2006 Friday

Ballpark figures won't add up without Village

"If it's executed well, it will be the next major jump" for development around sports stadiums, said Rosentraub, the author of several books about baseball parks. "Will the new stadium benefit the economy? I wouldn't think so. But Ballpark Village has the potential to change things in the region, to reshuffle revenue and bring some downtown."

Still, boosters and skeptics agree that Ballpark Village offers some hope that the massive project could deal a positive jolt to downtown.

"If you're going to see a benefit from the stadium, it's going to come from Ballpark Village," said Patrick Rishe, a sports economist at Webster University.

April 9, 2006 Sunday

Ballpark Village

Work is expected to begin in the fall on the biggest development in the neighborhood, Ballpark Village, a 12-acre site where old Busch Stadium once stood, between Clark and Walnut streets. It will feature a mix of offices, shops and housing.

Parking areas In the pocket guide you will find a map showing parking areas around the stadium.

April 10, 2006 Monday

It's time to play ball! Take me out to the new ballpark, an urban paradise for Cardinals fans

It's OK. It's your new baseball home, and you will love it, even if it will take several tours to discover all there is to know. Heck, the place isn't entirely finished yet. Parts of the left-field area are still under construction. And the full ambiance won't be realized until the planned Ballpark Village begins to form around the perimeter.

September 10, 2006 Sunday

Cards want public money for Ballpark Village

Team officials have promised that the site one day will be Ballpark Village, a bustling collection of shops, restaurants and condominiums that will transform downtown St. Louis. To get a tax break from the city, Cardinals executives three years ago promised that at least $60 million would be spent to develop two of Ballpark Village's planned six blocks.

Now they are back, pushing for a $650 million project on all six blocks. But with that renewed ambition, comes an outstretched hand -- more public financing. A look at similar projects shows that the taxpayers' burden could well exceed $100 million.

While the team says it can't complete its expanded vision of the village without city or state money, there's also the question of how the request will sit with a loyal but anxious fan base. Such fans have grudgingly parted with the old stadium and shelled out dollars for everything from Build-a-Fredbirds to old Busch Stadium urinals.

Either way, the team is obligated to develop the site of the old Busch. But without public assistance, the Cardinals front office warns, the plans will fall well short of the fences.

"We can do something without help -- and we can satisfy our development commitments without any help," said Bill DeWitt III, the team's senior vice president. "The question is what are you going to get with that?"

Vision shown on high

The Cardinals have been stingy with specifics about Ballpark Village. The downtown headquarters for the project is a 17th floor office that overlooks the site, six blocks that include the footprint of the old stadium and the current home of the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame.

Inside, plasma televisions give viewers a virtual tour of the design. A scale model, which the team's development partner would not allow to be photographed, offers a detailed portrait of the Ballpark Village vision.

Office towers and condominiums overlook the outfield, with terraces -- and even bleachers -- where spectators can see the game. Nearby is a courtyard with the same dimensions as Gramercy Park in New York. The main drag would be Clark Street, which would be closed to traffic on game days.

The model shows plans for a gourmet grocery, boutiques and a restaurant row. The video tour shows one building labeled "Cardinals Experience" and another that could be the new home to the bowling museum -- featuring a giant bowling pin out front.

There also are plans for an entertainment-themed restaurant -- think Hard Rock Café or ESPN Zone -- and a bookstore, such as Barnes and Noble.

Those amenities would be in line with what the firm hired by the Cardinals, Baltimore-based Cordish Co., has placed in other entertainment projects from Atlantic City to South Florida.

"The potential is just enormous," said Blake Cordish, vice president of the company that was founded by his great-grandfather.

Search for funding

But the potential has a price tag: $650 million.

That's nearly $200 million more than the cost of the new stadium -- or enough to sign six Albert Pujolses through the end of the decade.

Cordish confirmed that the project, at least in its proposed scale, would not happen without assistance from the city and the state, although he declined to name a target amount.

Most of the firm's other projects have been the result of a public-private partnership. In Kansas City, where Cordish is developing the city's Power and Light District, the company received from the state a pledge of $119 million over 25 years. The project also got significant local funding.

A spokesman for the Missouri Department of Economic Development, Mike Downing, said the state was in "preliminary discussions" with the Cardinals to obtain similar benefits.

The money would come from a law enacted in 2003, the Missouri Downtown Economic Stimulus Act, that allows developers in urban areas to keep half of the new sales tax revenue generated by the project.

The money could only be used for public improvements such as roads and sewers, improvements that would be a vital part of developing the site of the old stadium.

Downing said it is too early to tell how much money Ballpark Village would be eligible for -- it depends on the sales tax projections.

Talks with the city

The team and Cordish are in discussions with Mayor Francis Slay's office about providing tax-increment financing for the project, incentives potentially worth tens of millions of dollars.

Tax-increment financing, which the city has used for many lofts and other projects, allows the taxes from the increased value of the property to be used up front to help pay for redevelopment costs.

The city is already giving the Cardinals a tax break for more than $3 million a year by waiving the 5 percent tax on ticket sales. That incentive came with the promise that at least $60 million would be spent to build one block of Ballpark Village by 2009 and a second block by 2011.

Now that the team is talking about spending more than 10 times that amount on Ballpark Village, the city is contemplating giving more public assistance -- though the mayor's office won't say how much.

"We want the biggest, most exciting, most transformative project possible," said Jeff Rainford, Slay's top aide. "If we just said, 'We'll settle for mediocrity,' we would be done by now."

Asked about criticism that might come from approving more public funding for the Cardinals, Rainford said: "We've got a lot of small thinkers."

David Newburger, an attorney who chairs the city's Tax Increment Financing Commission, said the board would take a long look before deciding whether to give the Cardinals public subsidies beyond what was granted for stadium construction.

"The commission would want to know that the changes that are made in Ballpark Village are sufficient to justify any increases in the incentives that might be granted," Newburger said.

DeWitt, the Cardinals vice president, said he hopes to break ground on Ballpark Village in the spring, just before next season. If the public pitches in, he promises results.

"When you see what we have planned for this thing, it's just going to blow you away," he said.

As it stands now, fans are beginning to wonder how long they will have to stare at the pit of dirt just outside the outfield wall of the new stadium, coined Baseball Heaven by its owners.

"It certainly can't stay the way it is," said Paul McClelland, a Hannibal, Mo., native who was waiting for a stadium tour Friday. "It's a huge eyesore."

There is at least one sign, though, that the area is being to put to temporary use. "Ballpark Village," a placard on the site reads. "Game day parking."

September 15, 2006 Friday

Think twice: Don't be an idiot about a ballpark village

When I think about the plans for Ballpark Village, I remember what a businessman told me when the Civic Progress guys bought the Blues and promised they would fix up the Kiel Opera House in return for some favors from the city.

"Does the city have this in writing?" the businessman asked. "Yes," I said. "It's all guaranteed."

"Then don't count on it," he said. "If you have to get it in writing, you're in trouble."

That makes sense. If a project looks good to a businessman, he'll want to do it. Think about Chouteau's Pond, the much-talked-about proposal to build a lake just south of downtown. If the city were to help with that project, it wouldn't need any written guarantees that businessmen would develop around the lake. Quite the contrary. Developers would be scrambling for lakefront property. Housing, restaurants, the whole deal. If you have a lake, the developers will come.

Not so with a ballpark. If developers thought a Ballpark Village were a great idea, they would have built a village around the old ballpark. They didn't. So when the Cardinal owners wanted some financial help for their new stadium, they promised -- and put that promise in writing -- that they'd also build a Ballpark Village. This would be a big plus for the revitalization of downtown.

Now comes the word that yes, the Cardinal owners could live up to that promise, but the Village would be a lowercase sort of place: ballpark village. Doomed to failure. Who wants to live in ballpark village? On the other hand, the city could have something spectacular -- three times the size of the original plan -- but the taxpayers are going to have to help out again. Maybe $100 million or so worth of help.

There are, of course, different ways to look at this. Jeff Rainford, the mayor's top aide, took an exuberant approach when he talked to a reporter: "We want the biggest, most exciting, most transformative project possible."

Then there is the less exuberant view. If this is really a worthwhile project, a winner, a money-maker, shouldn't the businessmen who are going to make the money come up with the funding? If they're not confident that the project is a winner, maybe the taxpayers ought to hold on to their wallets.

In the same story in which Rainford took the exuberant stance, there was this sentence: "Asked about criticism that might come from approving more public funding for the Cardinals, Rainford said, 'We've got a lot of small thinkers.'"

The day that story appeared, the mayor, as he so often does, retreated into his office and pounded away on his blog. He repeated the Rainford quote about small thinkers and then wrote: "One problem, though. Here's what Rainford actually told the reporter: 'We've got a lot of small thinkers at the Post-Dispatch.'"

Yes, we do. Big heads, but small thoughts. The big-head part is obvious. You need an oversized ego to go into this business, to want to see your name in print. And what about somebody who wants his picture in the paper? I'll admit it. Given a choice between a raise and a bigger photo, I always take the bigger photo. And yet, tiny thoughts. It must be hard to be the mayor of a city when you have a newsroom full of small thinkers down the street.

What I mean is, maybe the mayor and Rainford have a point. Maybe the Cardinal owners have all the faith in the world that Ballpark Village is a good idea. Corporate welfare is good. Entrepreneurial risk-taking is bad. The free enterprise system is for small thinkers.

So maybe we should be rooting for the biggest, most exciting, most transformative Ballpark Village imaginable. Maybe it will be the best thing that has happened to downtown St. Louis since the Kiel Opera House was restored. Wait a minute. It wasn't restored.

September 17, 2006 Sunday
Correction Appended

Going yard The go-yard version of Ballpark Village is worth a shot, but the city and the state should move warily, question everything and be tough negotiators.

Now come the owners of the St. Louis Cardinals offering the public a choice of two visions of a "Ballpark Village" adjacent to their new stadium. Choice No. 1 is a sort of a bloop single of a Ballpark Village, a privately financed $60 million development of two blocks across Clark Avenue from the new Busch Stadium. The Cardinals promised to deliver the development in return for the city giving up ticket taxes at the new stadium. It would be nice: fan-friendly attractions, a couple of low-rise buildings and perhaps some high-end housing.

Ah, but Choice No. 2. That is going yard, as they say in baseball. That's a soaring, moonshot, Albert Pujols-off-the-glass-in-Houston home run vision of a Ballpark Village. With help from the taxpayers (no larger a percentage, say the Cardinals, than any other developer has gotten downtown) they could build a Ballpark Village that "will blow you away": three times bigger (six blocks instead of two), 10 times more expensive ($650 million instead of $60 million) and way cooler (Office towers! Condos! Shopping! Museums! Dining! Dancing in the street!).

In an office on the 17th Floor of the Bank of America Tower downtown is a room-sized scale model of downtown, with the grander Ballpark Village tucked in the six blocks bounded by Clark and Market, Eighth and Broadway. But it does, as Cardinals' vice president Bill DeWitt III suggested, blow you away.

"This is the home run," said team president Mark Lamping, tapping the model for emphasis and knocking a railing off the miniature stadium. "Before you abandon the home run, you have to see if you can make it work."

"If you can make it work."

That's what the public must know -- razzle dazzle aside -- before any promises are made or any papers signed.

This is an opportunity for something special. We'd like to think the Cardinals, together with the Cordish Co., their Baltimore-based development partner, could pull this project off. Cordish, a family-held "multi-billion dollar conglomerate," specializes in fancy mixed-used, entertainment-driven commercial complexes, with more than a dozen in various stages of development around the country. One thing they all have in common: Taxpayer money is involved.

"Without help from the public sector, the financial equation does not pencil out," Cordish chairman and CEO David Cordish told The New York Times.

Details of the St. Louis plan -- including how much public help would be necessary -- still are being developed. But generally it would involve what are, in effect, two tax increment financing packages, one from the state and one from the city. Together, they'd allow the Cardinals and Cordish to keep about half of the new tax revenue generated by the project for about 23 years. After that, everything reverts to the state and city.

The details will determine whether this project merits public support. City and state development officials will vet the plan, but Mayor Francis Slay and Gov. Matt Blunt also should insist on a full and independent review by outside experts, with no ties to the Cardinals, the Cordish Co., or to state or city political entities. Such a review would include attendance projections; economic assumptions; the market for new Class A office space; the market for high-end housing and the project's potential impact on existing businesses.

In one way, the choice for the public comes down to this: The city and the state can have a sure thing: 100 percent of the taxes (sales, property, entertainment, etc.) generated by a two-block project. Or, they can swing for the fences and get half the taxes generated by a $650 million development for 23 years, and all of it after that.

It would be nice to think that downtown St. Louis has rebounded to the point where developers don't need tax subsidies. But in the real world, it's still riskier to build downtown than in the suburbs, and subsidies for development have become the rule even in the suburbs. In Fenton, local and state taxpayers are subsidizing the DaimlerChry-sler plant expansion to the tune of $78 million. In O'Fallon, Mo., CitiMortgage and Mastercard are getting a combined total of $63 million in state and local subsidies for new facilities.

It's also important to remember that what a developer originally asks for in terms of subsidy is not necessarily what he'll take. The Cardinals originally asked taxpayers to pay for two-thirds of their new stadium; in the end, it was built with less than 25 percent in public funding. In Milwaukee, the Cordish Co. and its partners originally asked for $74.8 million in public help for their $317 million PabstCity project, but later reduced the request to $41 million. The Milwaukee City Council last year rejected even this lower figure and the project was shelved.

Given the popularity of Cardinals baseball, it could be that the bloop single Ballpark Village, if started at the $60 million level by the Cardinals, would grow on its own, driven only by market conditions and demand. That might take a while, or it might never happen. Investors might prefer to take their money some place where the public is willing to take on more of the risk.

The go-yard version of Ballpark Village is worth a shot, but the city and the state should move warily, question everything and be tough negotiators. The city should insist that any plan put forward should include payments in lieu of taxes to the St. Louis Public Schools.

The devil is in the details, but if the city and state get the right pitch, they should swing for the fences.

September 21, 2006 Thursday

City must be open to ideas to strike deal on park plan

The mayor could use the break this developing news offers. Last week, he again took hits when Cardinals executives announced that they'd been meeting with his staff about providing tax-increment financing to help fund the revamped $650 million Ballpark Village project. A comment made by the mayor's top aide, Jeff Rainford, didn't help. When asked about taxpayers who might balk at the use of more public funds for the project, Rainford told a Post-Dispatch reporter: "We've got a lot of small thinkers."

September 24, 2006 Sunday

Village of dreams?

2006 Village crossroads

THE SCENE The new Busch Stadium opens to sellout crowds. The pit that was the old Busch Stadium, the proposed site for Ballpark Village, collects dust until part of it is paved for parking.

THE STATUS Team hopes groundbreaking would be spring 2007 -- the same year they once thought the first phase would be finished. Executives from Cordish pitch an expanded $650 million Ballpark Village -- a bowling alley, a gourmet grocery store and towers that rival the Arch in height.

THE MOOD Push for more public funds gets mixed reaction from loyal but anxious fan base.

THE REACTION "We can do something without help -- and we can satisfy our development commitments without any help," says DeWitt (left). "The question is what are you going to get with that?"

October 27, 2006 Friday

A deal on Ballpark Village

The mayor and a developer working with the Cardinals have reached an agreement for financing Ballpark Village, ending months of negotiations on a downtown project that could rival the new stadium in size and scope.

The complex deal would provide more than $100 million in public funds to help build a $387 million development. The proposal must be approved by other city and state officials.

Riding the momentum of the Cardinals' improbable championship run, representatives of Mayor Francis Slay this week reached the agreement with executives from the Cordish Co., a Baltimore firm that has built urban shopping and entertainment districts around the country.

Here, the firm is making a pitch to change the downtown landscape: six blocks of stores, condos and restaurants next to the new ballpark. Highlights include a grocery store, a pair of "celebrity chef" restaurants, a Cardinals museum, boutique shops and a bowling alley.

The village site - the spot where the old Busch Stadium once stood - has sat empty for more than 10 months as Cordish and the mayor's office negotiated several issues, including the number of residential units, the amount of parking spaces, and the size of the public subsidy.

Those issues have been resolved in an agreement that covers phase one of Ballpark Village - roughly two-thirds of the total cost of the $650 million proposal.

The first phase will include all of the ground-level retail and entertainment venues, plus 250 condos and 100,000 square feet of office space. The next two phases would add a pair of office and residential towers atop first-phase buildings. When those are built will depend on demand in the market.

"We've worked very hard on both sides to the point where we could make this important milestone," said Blake Cordish, vice president of the company founded by his great-grandfather.

The package still must pass several rounds of state and local approval before the deal is final. In the months ahead, city aldermen and others will be asked to support the incentive package.

Funding for the $387 million phase one will come mostly from Cordish, with tax dollars created by the development footing the rest. Details include:

- $271.2 million in private funds from Cordish.

- $56 million in tax-increment financing from the city.

- $29 million in state money authorized by the Missouri Downtown Economic Stimulus Act.

- $26 million from a special tax district created for the development. It would create an additional 1 percent sales tax in the district and a $1 ticket tax for the development's attractions, such as the Cardinals museum.

- $5 million in public bonds to be bought by the Cardinals and Cordish.

The $116 million public portion of the funding would be raised upfront by issuing government bonds. Those bonds would be paid back with taxes generated by the project.

Bill DeWitt III, the Cardinals' senior vice president for business development, noted that Cordish has received larger public subsidies in projects elsewhere.

In a similar downtown development under construction across the state, the firm was awarded nearly $300 million in tax incentives for the Kansas City Power and Light District.

The city "drove a hard bargain," DeWitt said. "I think the Cordish guys, just from my perspective, felt it was a stretch. At the end of the day, they kind of feel so excited by the site, and our partnership, and everything else, they are ready to go."

The agreement is a coup for Mayor Slay, who has made bringing more people and businesses downtown a focus of his 5 1/2 years in office. But the mayor also has expressed concern about public reaction to tax breaks for Ballpark Village.

The Cardinals' commitment to build Ballpark Village was a key reason the city supported tax incentives for the new $365 million ballpark. The city waived a 5 percent ticket tax, which has saved the team about $3 million a year.

Slay is quick to point out that city funds are not being used for Ballpark Village.

"Everything for the project will come from the project," Slay said in a statement. "Not one dime of anyone's tax dollars will be used to build phase one of Ballpark Village unless they are a user or consumer of the shops, restaurants, retail stores, office space, or the condo tower."

That also means public agencies such as the St. Louis Public Schools won't receive the full tax benefits of the development for more than 20 years.

Officials estimate that over a 40-year period, the project will bring in $142 million in new taxes to the school district and $291 million to the city.

In the tax-increment financing arrangement, a portion of the taxes generated by the development would be used to pay back bonds issued for construction. Much of the money will be used for building streets and other infrastructure.

Cordish is hoping for a similar arrangement with the state. Under a Missouri law passed in 2003, part of state taxes generated by Ballpark Village could also be used to help pay back the bonds.

An additional funding source would come from making

Ballpark Village a special taxing district, allowing for the creation of a 1 percent sales tax on goods purchased in the district. Tickets to attractions in the district would also carry a $1 surcharge.

Cordish and the Cardinals also have promised to buy $5 million in city-issued bonds that would be paid back with future taxes generated by Ballpark Village, but only after all other bondholders are paid first.

Blake Cordish said his firm has had detailed discussions with stores and restaurants that could anchor Ballpark Village, though he declined to identify them.

Many of the company's other projects in places such as Baltimore and Louisville include themed restaurants, like Hard Rock Cafe; or ESPN Zone. Cordish said that Ballpark Village would have one-of-a-kind entertainment venues and restaurants.

"I can say with absolute confidence that the tenant mix will be extraordinary," Cordish said.

Under the agreement between the developer and the Cardinals, the team has approval over every aspect of the village, including tenants.

The foundation of the partnership between Cordish and the team is the land underneath

Ballpark Village, which is owned by the Cardinals. The team gave the development company rights to the land in exchange for a percentage of the profits.

The team had initially committed to spending a minimum of $60 million to develop at least two blocks of Ballpark Village.

Now that the project has grown exponentially, DeWitt says the $60 million figure was "a placeholder."

The city is hoping Ballpark Village will bring more residents and businesses to the city's center, even in the off-season.

The approval process for the state and city funds could last through the winter, putting a potential groundbreaking at spring or early summer. That would allow the village to open in spring of 2009 - the same year that Major League Commissioner Bud Selig has strongly suggested the new stadium could host its first All-Star Game.



Who needs to sign off on $56 million TIF:

- The city's Tax Increment Finance commission, made up of representatives of the city, school district and other public agencies.

- The Board of Aldermen.

- The city's Estimate Board - made up of the mayor, the comptroller and the president of the Board of Aldermen.

Who needs to sign off on state tax incentives:

- The city's Downtown Economic Stimulus Authority, appointed mostly by the mayor.

- The Missouri Development Finance Board.


What's the plan?

Six blocks -

The proposal includes 270,000 square feet of restaurants and entertainment, 100,000 square feet of offices and 90,000 square feet of retail space.

Construction -

If approved, building could start as soon as spring or summer, with completion of the first phase by spring 2009.

Highlights -

- Four "signature" restaurants, including two endorsed by celebrity chefs

- 250 condos

- 1,200 parking spaces

- A Cardinals museum

- A bookstore

- A bowling alley

- A gourmet grocery store

- A boutique shopping area

- "Bleacher" seating overlooking the ballpark

October 28, 2006 Saturday

Cardinals pitch Ballpark Village as heck of a deal Retail-residential complex will be 'life changing,' ballclub chairman says.

The Cardinals owners, their developer partner and city officials capitalized on the World Series euphoria Friday as they unveiled a model of the

Ballpark Village project they hope will change the face of downtown.

Local business and civic leaders gushed during the announcement, describing the deal with Baltimore-based Cordish Co. as historic and one that could become the most significant economic development in the city in the past 25 years.

"It is much bigger and better than what was originally talked about," St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said at a news conference Friday afternoon. The $387 million development would rely on more than $100 million in public funds to finance the project.

Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said the mixed-use residential, retail and entertainment complex would change the way residents in the area shop and play.

"This is about a life experience," DeWitt said. Boosters say the project will raise the city's profile, generate millions in tax revenue and draw additional development to the area.

"We didn't just get a ballpark, we literally have gotten an urban village," said Richard Fleming, president of St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association.

Yet, those critical of using public tax incentives for private development were quick to recall the promises made when the Cardinals and the city lobbied for tax subsidies for the new stadium.

"Ballpark Village was supposed to be something Cardinals owners were going to do out of civic pride," said Fred Lindecke, spokesman for the Coalition against Public Funding for Stadiums. "Nobody said back then, oh by the way, it's going to cost another $100 million in taxpayer money."

In 2002, the city agreed to waive its 5 percent ticket tax for the Cardinals in exchange for the team promising to spend a minimum of $60 million to develop at least two blocks of Ballpark Village adjacent to the new stadium.

Even with subsidies, Slay says, the expanded project, which is to cover six blocks, should generate twice as much tax revenue as a smaller, non-subsidized project. City officials estimate Ballpark Village will generate $291 million in new taxes over 40 years.

Moreover, Slay said that no existing tax dollars would be used for the project. The $116 million public portion of the funding would be raised upfront by issuing government bonds, which would be paid back by taxes generated by the project.

Slay stressed that he doesn't believe the project could happen without the tax incentives.

Lindecke countered that a project being billed as such an economic gem shouldn't need public assistance.

"The real reason they want it is because they know they can get it," he said.

Rosy predictions

At the gathering Friday, officials offered rosy economic forecasts. Fleming said the project would create 3,040 permanent new jobs, along with 3,000 more construction jobs.

Chairman David Cordish wore a red Cardinals jacket and described the endeavor as "life changing" for the city.

"You need a critical mass in one area that gives a sense of place that then spirals out and has ramifications beyond that area," Cordish said. The village model showcased bleachers on condominium towers, a Cardinals museum, boutique shops and anchor restaurants.

Cordish said the company hopes to break ground in the spring and have the first phase completed by the start of baseball season in 2009. The first phase of the project includes ground-level retail and entertainment venues, 250 condos and 100,000 square feet of office space. The company said it plans to hold many free events, such as concerts, fairs and movies, to generate traffic to the Village, especially during the offseason.

The project still must pass several rounds of state and local approval before the deal is final.

St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Jim Shrewsbury said he did not think the proposal would have much trouble getting the numerous approvals the project needs from the board.

"At the end of the day, we're going to have a Ballpark Village," Shrewsbury said. "I don't get the sense that there is any overwhelming political opposition to it."

The Cordish Co. will provide $271.2 million in private debt and equity. The rest of the financing breaks down as: $26 million from sales taxes charged at Ballpark Village venues; $5 million raised by the sale of bonds to Cordish Co. and its partners; $56 million from tax increment financing from the city; $29 million from the Missouri Downtown Economic Stimulus Act tax.

Skeptical public?

James A. Cloar, president of the Downtown St. Louis Partnership, said he realized that supporters faced a skeptical public perception about the funding. Despite the relatively lower tax subsidy for Busch Stadium compared to stadiums elsewhere, "the public still seems to think they paid for the ballpark."

He said the tax incentives offered to Cordish for Ballpark Village are an investment rather than a subsidy.

"This site is probably the premier redevelopment site in the country because of its location and cleared land,'' he said. "It really takes St. Louis to another level."

October 29, 2006 Sunday

WHAT'S IT MEAN FOR THE CITY? This man has a plan for Ballpark Village.

Ballpark Village's impact also will depend on how many of the tenants are new businesses to downtown and how many are businesses that simply moved from other parts of downtown, Rishe said.

Tenants such as ESPN Zone, a national entertainment venue that developer Cordish has brought to other cities, could generate the kind of buzz that would bring in visitors. Cordish is also promising several unique restaurants and boutiques in the complex.

"That creates a bit more new revenue than simply recirculating revenue that's already downtown," Rishe said.

Economists and planners say the 29.9 percent public financing for the project puts Ballpark Village at neither the high end nor low end of the range of public financing for similar projects.

Gowrisankaran said he was a bit concerned that the initial phase of Ballpark Village included no more than 250 housing units.

"The best thing for downtown is to have people living there," he said.

The Downtown St. Louis Partnership estimates that there currently are 10,000 people living downtown. The Ballpark Village is expected to add 500 more.

Tranel and other experts agreed that the project needed more places for people to live. But the project can't hurt in increasing activity downtown.

"It's going to put more regular people on the streets: people working in office space, creating demand for lunchtime restaurants," he said. "To the degree that it has the elements that the city is trying to capitalize on -- to build a critical mass of people living downtown who need dry cleaners and drugstores and grocery stores -- it makes that area more viable as its own community. It's capitalizing on a lot of other efforts that the city is making."

Steve Moehrle, an associate professor of accounting at UMSL, said he'd rather see developments go in without a public financing component. He said, however, that wasn't realistic with cities competing for economic development.

"I think it's become the cost of doing the business of developing your downtown area," Moehrle said.

October 30, 2006 Monday

Cardinals deliver winning teams and more The owners' commitment to the community is clear.

DeMause and others have raised questions about the owners' commitment to the ballpark village project that is supposed to be built adjacent to the new stadium. The Cards initially pledged the land plus at least $60 million to develop this area into a residential, commercial and recreational destination.

The owners have not backed off of this commitment. Rather, the project has grown in vision to encompass several phases with a total value of $650 million. A tentative agreement announced last week between the city and the team's developer, the Baltimore-based Cordish Co., describes the plans and terms for the $387 million first phase of the project.

January 16, 2007 Tuesday

City gets '09 All-Star Game FIRST SINCE 1966 • New Busch Stadium nets prize for St. Louis

"2009 will be a great year to have the All-Star Game in St. Louis," Cards Chairman Bill DeWitt said. "The Ballpark Village should be up and running, and with everything going on downtown by 2009, it should be a showcase for Major League Baseball."

January 27, 2007 Saturday

Aldermen get bills on Ballpark Village

A series of bills related to Ballpark Village were presented to the Board of Aldermen on Friday, a first step toward final city approval of the ambitious project.

The Cardinals are hoping the plan is endorsed soon, creating a time frame that would allow them to break ground later this year and open by 2009 - when the new stadium hosts its first major league all-star game.

February 1, 2007 Thursday

Snag in talks delays hearing on project Legal language, developer's changes could be issues pushing vote till April 16 or later.

A snag in negotiations over Ballpark Village forced a City Hall hearing to be canceled on Wednesday, a move that threatens to delay the project for more than two months.

February 7, 2007 Wednesday

St. Louis fast-tracks two major decisions A series of special meetings is scheduled today on public financing for Ballpark Village and an agreement to lease a slice of Forest Park.

At 9 a.m., the board's Housing Committee will discuss a series of Ballpark Village bills that were abruptly removed from the committee's agenda last week. An hour later, the city's Board of Estimate and Apportionment will meet, with both Forest Park and Ballpark Village on its agenda.

On Ballpark Village, the Cardinals and their development partner, Baltimore-based Cordish Co., are seeking more than $100 million in tax subsidies for a six-block entertainment district being planned for land next to the stadium.

February 8, 2007 Thursday

Ballpark Village funding plan gets go-ahead for vote But first phase could be smaller, condos optional.

A reworked proposal for funding Ballpark Village got the green light at City Hall on Wednesday, making the deal eligible for a final vote later this week.

There was also a provision added that would require the developers to do more to train and hire city residents, especially minorities, to build and work at Ballpark Village.

Yet for the Cardinals, timing is a key factor.

The team is hoping to open at least part of Ballpark Village by the summer of 2009, when the new stadium will host its first Major League All-Star Game. That almost certainly requires final city approval to come before aldermen begin their two-month spring recess at the end of the week.

The Cardinals and Cordish are seeking up to $115 million in state and local subsidies for the project - taking only, according to city officials, new tax dollars generated by the project itself.

Although aldermen endorsed the proposal by a wide margin, some expressed concern they did not have enough time to go over the thick packets of information that contain the details of the plan.

"So many times we rush into deals, and we end up paying the price at the end," said Alderman Bennice Jones King.

February 9, 2007 Friday

Developer gets its way: It's the firm's call on condos

The Ballpark Village proposal that the city's Board of Aldermen is poised to approve today gives the developer, Baltimore-based Cordish Co., exactly what it wanted early on: the ability to back out of building condos.

The reworked plan, made public Wednesday, does not require Cordish to build 250 residential units that were originally part of the first phase.

Other aspects in the revised proposal, which aldermen have been given less than three days to digest, would allow Cordish to shrink the amount of retail space in the entertainment district. There are also slight changes to sections of the deal on everything from signs to security, as well as components that help to protect the city, too.

February 10, 2007 Saturday

City's OK sends Ballpark Village plan to state Plan providing up to $115 million in public financing is approved by aldermen, 25-4.

Friday's decision puts the groundbreaking of Ballpark Village on track for sometime in the first half of the upcoming baseball season - with doors opening in July 2009, when the Major League All-Star game comes to St. Louis. Some of those dollars would come from state taxes, which is why the next stop for Ballpark Village is Jefferson City. Under a 2003 state law - the Missouri Downtown Economic Stimulus Act - major urban projects can keep up to half of the new sales tax revenue generated by a development.

An application for funds to help Ballpark Village soon will be submitted to the state Department of Economic Development. The department must review the funding application and send a recommendation to the state Development Finance Board, a 12-member panel led by Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.

May 19, 2007 Saturday

Clayco exits Ballpark Village General contractor says its hands are full with proposed Bottle District development.

Clayco has pulled its application to be general contractor on the Ballpark Village project, days after the Post-Dispatch reported that the company had taken an expanded role in another high-profile downtown development, the Bottle District.

May 23, 2007 Wednesday

Potential hurdles mean that ...Ballpark Village is not home free yet

The Cardinals insist their ambitious Ballpark Village is still on track to break ground later this year, but some potential obstacles are looming.

- The state still must sign off on millions of dollars in public subsidies.

- Other downtown projects could emerge as competition.

- And then there's the question of where to put 5,000 years of bowling history.

The vision for the $387 million entertainment district calls for most of it to be built on the crater that was the old Busch Stadium - property owned by the team. The rest of the site is held by the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame, a tenpins shrine that traces the sport as far back as ancient Egypt.

Obtaining the museum property is a key step for Ballpark Village, a long-awaited project that, despite millions in pledged public financing and years of discussion, has yet to show any physical signs of progress.

Even so, Bill DeWitt III, the team's senior vice president for business development, said construction will begin as planned - in late summer or early fall.

And the 2009 opening, in time for the stadium's first Major League All-Star Game, is on target, DeWitt said.

He said the team and its development partner, Baltimore-based Cordish Co., are "full steam ahead" on design, financing and negotiating with potential tenants, whom he declined to identify.

DeWitt acknowledged that until backhoes hit the soil, it might be hard for the public to picture Ballpark Village rising up from the rumble of a demolished stadium.

"We understand," DeWitt said, "people are going to be wondering if this is for real."

July 18, 2007 Wednesday

Ballpark Village moves closer to scoring state cash Less than expected: Agency recommends $26.8 million for development near Busch.

The Missouri Department of Economic Development recommended Tuesday that the state pitch in about $26.8 million for the development of Ballpark Village, fortifying hopes that the project adjacent to Busch Stadium can be finished by the time St. Louis hosts the Major League All-Star game in 2009.

August 22, 2007 Wednesday

Condos are back at Ballpark Village Cardinals clinch deal with state for $29.6 million to boost project.

Tossing aside earlier misgivings, the Cardinals now say that plans for Ballpark Village will include condominiums.

The move was announced at Tuesday's meeting of the Missouri Development Finance Board, which agreed to direct $29.6 million in state money to the project.

September 24, 2007 Monday

Centene to move downtown BALLPARK VILLAGE HQ • Firm will build skyscraper, parking, hotel, shops. CLAYTON DEAL FELL THROUGH • But company decided to stay in region.

In a move that local and state leaders touted as "historic" and proof of continued revitalization in downtown St. Louis, Centene Corp.

said Sunday it will move its headquarters to Ballpark Village.

The company has agreed to purchase two blocks where it will develop a $250 million office and retail complex.

The project will consist of two buildings - including a 27-story skyscraper - with up to 1.2 million square feet of office space, 1,750 parking spaces and 50,000 to 75,000 square feet of retail (about half the size of a Wal-Mart Supercenter).

Centene plans to add 1,200 jobs on top of those already in the Clayton office, where it will maintain a "significant presence," company officials said.

Centene, which manages Medicaid contracts for several states, will receive $78 million in tax incentives from the city, with the promise of more from state and federal programs.

The company sent out 60 requests for development proposals after its attempts to create a similar mixed-use project in Clayton fell through this summer, said Michael Neidorff, chairman and chief executive of Centene, and received 90 proposals back.

As the word spread, more offers came in "from across the state and around the country," Neidorff said. "But even though we looked at (many) locations around the country, we will keep the headquarters of Centene in the St. Louis region."

The complex will be developed in two phases. The developer is BW Development, a company formed by Centene and its development partners, Overland-based Clayco and Chicago-based U.S. Equities. Clayco recently withdrew from consideration to be the general contractor for Ballpark Village. The company's involvement in Centene's project does not affect that decision, said Bob Clark, Clayco's president and chief executive.

"Being involved in Centene's development falls in line with our policy of being involved in projects where we can be equity partners," Clark said. "We will be equity partners in this project."

Construction will begin on both blocks in the summer of 2008, but completion will be in two phases.

The 27-story building, at the corner of Broadway and Walnut Street, will have 700,000 square feet of office space. Centene will occupy 400,000 square feet and lease out the remaining 300,000 square feet until it needs the space. The building will include two stories of retail.

The second building also will have two floors devoted to retail and 1,750 parking spaces. It will be designed so that up to 550,000 square feet of additional office space can be added as needed. When complete, the building will be in the "20-story range," said Barb Geisman, deputy mayor of development for Mayor Francis Slay.

A third building, to be developed by Baltimore-based Cordish Co., developers of Ballpark Village, will include a 180-room hotel, which Centene anticipates will be used by its guests, clients and employees. The hotel was not part of Cordish's original plan for Ballpark Village.

The retail portion of the two buildings developed by BW Development will be sold back to Cordish at cost and count toward the company's commitment to 360,000 square feet of retail in the first phase of Ballpark Village. But it may not be ready in time for the July 2009 opening targeted for the first phase of the $387 million project.

Centene expects to complete work by 2010, Geisman said.

"I am very confident that every effort will be made to open all the retail in phase one of Ballpark Village in time for the All-Star Game," set to be held here in July 2009, Geisman said. "But if it is off by a couple months, it's not going to have a major impact."

The project and its incentives still must be approved by the city and various state bodies, including the Missouri Development Finance Board.

"While there are plenty of t's to cross and i's to dot, the most important decision has been made," Slay said. "This will open eyes and lead to greater milestones and open more doors." Centene's decision would draw other employers to the city, he said.

That sentiment was echoed by Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and downtown leaders.

"We support Ballpark Village wholeheartedly and want to keep the momentum of downtown revitalization going," Kinder said.

Bringing a major employer into the city continues the natural progression of revitalization that started with drawing residents back into the city, said Jim Cloar, executive director of Downtown St. Louis Partnership. The next step was to bring in restaurants and services. Adding a corporate headquarters will help support and accelerate growth in both fields, he said.

Geisman said: "This is a real coup for the city, for everyone in the city. We have worked really hard to not only keep what we have but attract other key and notable businesses to downtown."

Centene will be the largest employer to move its corporate headquarters into the city in decades, maybe as long as 50 years, Slay said.

Clayton Mayor Linda Goldstein expressed disappointment that her city wasn't able to find a suitable location for Centene, but she said the company's decision to stay in the region is a benefit for all. "If they were going to choose a different location, we are glad they stayed in the region," Goldstein said. "We are glad it will remain a significant presence in Clayton."

To encourage Centene to make the move to downtown St. Louis, the city will give the company a $48 million tax abatement and other incentives, for a total of $78 million in incentives.

Centene will receive $24 million through a federal incentive program for underdeveloped business districts. The company will get $1.9 million from a special one-cent addition to the hotel sales tax through the formation of a special tax district.

The city plans to request more funds from the state's downtown economic development program.

These tax breaks will be in addition to about $116 million in incentives already allocated to Ballpark Village.

September 25, 2007 Tuesday

Ballpark Village is pushing 'deadline'

Despite the fanfare Sunday surrounding Centene Corp.

's decision to move its headquarters to Ballpark Village from Clayton, the $387 million first phase of the project remains more promise than substance.

Cordish Co., the Baltimore-based developer of that project, has yet to announce a groundbreaking date. Indeed, a general timeline has been pushed back twice - the first time to late summer or early fall from spring 2007, and most recently to as late as early winter.

Long touted as the crown jewel of downtown revitalization, the Cordish development was slated to open by the July 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, to be hosted at Busch Stadium.

But portions of Centene's $250 million office and retail project, which falls in the "future build-out" area of Ballpark Village, may beat the Cordish project - first announced more than two years ago.

Overall, Ballpark Village calls for converting eight acres of land in two phases to seven blocks of entertainment and retail venues, with offices on upper floors of buildings. Phase one of the Cordish development would have 360,000 square feet of retail, 100,000 square feet of offices, and a residential component, which was recently added back to the project after a boost in state incentives.

City leaders and the Cardinals, who own the Ballpark Village site, remain hopeful that most of the retail portion of Cordish's development can be complete by the All-Star Game.

January 24, 2008 Thursday
Correction Appended

Not ready for prime time CARDS AND BUILDER AGREE It's not likely that much work will be done in time for next year's All-Star Game.

For the first time, both development partners in the $387 million Ballpark Village are saying it's unlikely that a significant portion of the project will be completed in time for the All-Star Game in July 2009.

March 14, 2008 Friday

Centene deal may have hit a snag Fate of the project could be determined in the next few weeks.

None of the four players in the project would say Thursday whether the deal to move the health care management firm's headquarters from Clayton will take place. But none said it was dead either.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would love to see an update to this is now april 2012. When does the city begin collecting on the penalties for ballpark village?