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‘We’re so happy.’ Square bucks trend, opens office in downtown St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS — Monday marked move-in day for Square Inc.’s more than 850 local employees, who will finally experience their new downtown St. Louis office after more than a year of working from home.

The San Francisco-based payment processing company is allowing vaccinated employees to work from its new office at 900 North Tucker Boulevard, the former home of the Post-Dispatch. The company, led by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, moved from the Cortex innovation district.

Downtown has struggled to attract companies over the past few decades and has one of the highest office vacancy rates in the region. Some smaller firms have moved in — Sterotaxis, a surgical instrument maker, moved to the Globe Building in 2020, and Chesterfield-based private equity firm Larson Capital Management opened an office at 100 North Broadway this year — but Square is the most high-profile company to move downtown in recent years.

“Something both our co-founder Jim McKelvey and I always wanted to do was to give back to our hometown,” Dorsey said in a statement. Dorsey and McKelvey grew up in St. Louis. “We’re so happy we can grow Square in downtown St. Louis, and hope others will do the same.”

Square, including its mobile payment service Cash App, will occupy about 226,000 square feet on North Tucker. The company signed a 15 year lease.

The company says its new space can accommodate up to 1,200 employees. It has 300 job openings across engineering, sales, operations, design, recruiting and customer service that could be done in the St. Louis area, officials said. Square employed nearly 5,500 people companywide at the end of 2020.

Square instituted a mandatory work-from-home policy in March 2020 due to COVID-19. The company has begun a phased return to the office and will let employees choose how often they want to work in the office, officials said.

The building underwent a $70 million renovation, receiving $11.8 million in tax increment financing after McKelvey’s company The StarWood Group acquired it in 2018 for $3.5 million and the Post-Dispatch moved to 901 North 10th Street in 2019.

The Post-Dispatch building was built in 1930 by the St. Louis Globe-Democrat to house presses, distribution equipment and offices. The Post-Dispatch bought it in 1959.

Square has kept remnants of the building’s history including a two-story printing press, an original spiral staircase and a conference room named the Pulitzer Room. John Berglund, McKelvey’s partner at The StarWood Group, said the building has 50,000 square feet left to lease that could accommodate one or more tenants.

“The StarWood Group is thrilled to see employees of Square and Cash App begin to occupy the building at 900 North Tucker, which is impactful for the area,” Berglund said in a statement. “We’re excited to see this project come to fruition after two years and support more jobs coming to the 5th Ward. We are thankful for all of the support from both the city and state which made the project possible.”

Square’s move to downtown also is key to a planned innovation district that aims to add more jobs and economic growth to the area north of Washington Avenue. The district, called Downtown North Urban Insight District, would include the tech incubator T-REX and the Globe Building, which is establishing a tenant roster of geospatial companies.

The North Tucker building was designed by Mauran, Russell and Crowell, which also designed the Federal Reserve Bank at 411 Locust Street and the Southwestern Bell Building at 1010 Pine Street in the 1920s.

A bevy of local companies worked on StarWood’s renovation, including construction firm Tarlton Corp., Trivers architecture firm and McClure Engineering. CannonDesign designed Square’s space.

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