While St. Louis officials consider a California developer's $1 offer for the vacant Arcade Building, workers are trying this week to spiff up the ground floor of the downtown landmark at 800 Olive Street.
A crew from Legacy Building and Environomental Operations is covering the Arcade's first-floor doorways and windows with plywood. Otis Williams, deputy director of the St. Louis Development Corp., says the work is intended to close up the building "while we wait for appropriate development."
"Our goal is to improve the building appearance," he says in an email. "We will add some graphic art to the first floor facade on Olive and extend that around the corner on 8th Street for about 50 feet."
Global Facilities Development, of Encinitas, Calif., is offering a buck for the approximately 90-year-old building as part of a plan to turn the Arcade into an international trade center. The city's Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, which owns the Arcade, wants at least $7 million for it.
As part of its nearly $80 million plan, GFD proposes restoring the building's ornate street-level arcade as a product showcase for foreign companies leasing offices on upper floors. Bruce DeBolt, GFD's chief executive, has said he believes the business model could work even if the proposed Midwest China Cargo Hub at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport never happens.
GFD's plan made public this month also calls for using parts of the Arcade as data centers, lab space for bioscience and medical companies and final assembly of "small high-value electronic devices." Parts of the building have closely spaced columns as a result of the Arcade's odd layout. The Arcade is connected to the Wright Building even though the two structures went up eight years apart.
Pyramid Construction began work in 2007 to convert the building into luxury condos. But the for-sale housing crash took down that project--and Pyramid--in 2008. GFD submitted the only response to LCRA's request for redevelopment plan.
A panel of city officials could decide by the end of the month whether to accept GFD's proposal and agree to negotiate the details or reject the plan and "mothball" the Arcade.