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Enterprise buying old court building from St. Louis County

Enterprise buying old court building from St. Louis County

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Former family courts building

The old St. Louis County Family Courts building at 501 S. Brentwood Boulevard as pictured on Dec. 13, 2017. Enterprise Holdings, which abuts the property to the south, is interested in purchasing it from the St. Louis County Port Authority. Photo by Jacob Barker, jbarker@post-dispatch.com

CLAYTON — After sitting vacant for years, St. Louis County is finally selling the old family courts building on South Brentwood Boulevard.

The buyer is rental car giant Enterprise Holdings, which has eyed the property on the northern edge of its campus for 20 years.

The sale means a sizable payday for the county’s general fund — roughly $8.7 million, net — even as it braces for the impact of a large sales tax drop due to the pandemic and stay-home orders. The sale puts prime property onto the tax rolls and an empty property, but for the occasional police tactical drill, into productive use.

“This sale will produce much-needed revenue for St. Louis County and will clean up an eyesore near downtown Clayton,” St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said in a letter to the county council Wednesday.

As part of the agreement, St. Louis County will demolish and clear the site for Enterprise, an estimated $4 million cost included in the total sale price of $12.1 million. Enterprise will pay an additional $1 million toward the cost of demolition for a total consideration of $13.1 million. The county will set aside $4.2 million for demolition costs and receive back whatever isn’t spent.

The sales price is above an appraisal commissioned by the Port Authority that estimated the property was worth, after demolition, $3.23 million with its current zoning and up to $11.25 million if it is rezoned as commercial.

“We were notified we were the successful bidder in early March and while we do not have any immediate plans to redevelop the property at this time, we’re pleased to add this land as a cohesive part of our corporate campus and to have the flexibility to potentially expand in the future,” Gary Cunningham, Enterprise Holdings senior vice president corporate business management, said in a statement.

If the company had planned to expand its offices any time soon, that action is likely on hold due to the coronavirus, which has hit the rental car business particularly hard as travel screeched to a halt. Enterprise has laid off at least 2,000 in St. Louis, including at least 500 from its corporate headquarters.

The sale closed Wednesday, and has been in the works since late last year, when the St. Louis County Port Authority solicited proposals for the purchase of several properties the county owns in the heart of downtown Clayton, considered the strongest real estate submarket in the region. Offers were due at the beginning of the year, and the Port Authority, tasked with finding buyers for the real estate, has been negotiating contracts since.

The Port Authority received interest from several bidders and three formal bids, but Enterprise’s was the highest. The authority will oversee the bidding of demolition. It will also be reimbursed for its costs of holding, marketing and appraising the property, worth about $200,000.

The Port Authority is also trying to find buyers for 21 South Meramec Avenue, the former headquarters for Seven-Up, most recently used for county offices. Empty since 2012, the structure is in bad shape and some think it will likely need an expensive demolition.

Adjacent to that 10-story building is a vacant lot that once housed the county health department. Officials believe potential developers will likely want to combine the site with the Seven-Up building site.

Off the table, for now, is the county-owned parking lot on Central Avenue across from the government center. It could be part of a future plan to build new county offices to replace the Lawrence K. Roos government building.

Voters passed a bond issue in 2012 to finance a new family courts building next to the main courthouse in downtown Clayton, putting the reshuffling of county-owned real estate in motion.

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