Microsoft will be the anchor tenant for the newest expansion of the Cortex tech hub, the software giant said Wednesday.
The company will move its offices from the CityPlace office complex in Creve Coeur to the Central West End technology district when Cortex’s newest office and lab building opens in the summer of 2018.
Microsoft will occupy about 30,000 square feet of the new $55 million, 180,000-square-foot office and lab complex being developed by Wexford Science and Technology on the parking lot next to the @4240 lab and office building.
A total of 150 Microsoft employees will work at the new building at 4220 Duncan Avenue, including about 60 people who are currently based in its Creve Coeur office.
The new St. Louis office will serve as a regional headquarters for states such as Missouri, Kansas and Tennessee, Ervin Flores, the general manager of Microsoft’s Mid-America District, said at an event attended by city and state officials to announce the move. The company will also include a new Microsoft Technology Center, where customers can work with the company’s employees to design custom information technology systems. Microsoft, based in the Seattle area, has about 40 such centers around the world.
“To put one in St. Louis is a significant development,” Flores said.
He said he expected Microsoft employees to benefit from interactions with startups and researchers in Cortex. Mayor Francis Slay, on hand for the announcement at Cortex’s @4240 building, said the district’s tech firms would in turn be able to test new products at Microsoft’s Technology Center.
Gov. Eric Greitens, who also came for the announcement, commended “the real sense of community” in Cortex. Companies “recognize Missouri is moving in a new direction,” he said.
Microsoft’s investment in the district is a “remarkable vote of confidence and validation” for Cortex, said Hank Webber, Cortex board chair and a vice chancellor at Washington University.
“This is about more than 150 jobs,” he said.
Doug Woodruff, a local Wexford official, said about half of the new building had been spoken for by other tenants. He declined to identify any additional companies.
Also included in the latest Cortex development phase is a 150-room Aloft hotel planned by Boston-based CV Properties on Forest Park Avenue just north of the new lab building. But Cortex decided to put on hold plans for a 1,000-car parking garage and 220 apartments.
The $100 million development phase is being supported with $9.5 million in tax increment financing from St. Louis. Otis Williams, head of the city’s economic development arm, said Wexford wass seeking New Market Tax Credits from the city for the new office building, but the amount is not finalized yet. St. Louis last year received a $75 million allocation of the federal tax credits. They’re used to leverage private financing for projects.
The state of Missouri has not offered any incentives to the project. Over the last decade, Cortex has turned an old industrial corridor sandwiched between the city’s two research universities into a thriving tech hub. The concentration of biotech companies and computer developers is building on itself, and officials say 800 workers will join the existing 4,100 employees in the district once the latest expansion is complete.