By Bill Beggs Jr.
It’s big business when small businesses sprout, but it’s not all small businesses and restaurants popping up all around downtown.
Educational institutions are swinging open the doors of brand-new branches.
Schnucks has put its money where its mouth is, with a store named Culinaria set to open this summer on two levels within the 9th Street Garage.
Upscale ethnic restaurants continue to open and tempt the palate: Most recently, Gio’s (Italian) and El Borracho (Mexican).
Arcturis, the multidisciplinary design firm, decided to renew its commitment to downtown, moving into a one-floor space in the Laclede Gas Building at 720 Olive.
Left Bank Books has opened its second store in a 5,000-square-foot space on the ground floor of the Louderman Building. (See sidebar for details about Arcturis and Left Bank.)
The Adam’s Mark is undergoing a $63-million facelift and will reopen in July as the Hyatt Regency St. Louis Riverfront.
Another snapshot of Downtown’s vigorously improving health: Downtown Urgent Care has opened, and operates six days-a-week. There’s a Minute Clinic next to the new CVS Pharmacy now open in the lobby of the AT&T Building. WellPoint Inc., parent of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Missouri, is keeping its Anthem office downtown and relocating 300 employees there from its HealthLink office in Creve Coeur. The company had been scouting other real estate in the region, including in Clayton.
The following compendium of new downtown businesses and services small and very big does not pretend to be comprehensive, but is intended to show that you can get a flu shot, your dog walked, buy a book or learn Chinese—most of which were not possible prior to 2009.
Arcturis, a Second
Left Bank Books,
Opt to Nest Downtown
Arcturis, the multidisciplinary design firm, had been on several floors in a building on Pine Street. But they wanted everyone on the same floor, an open space designed to facilitate collaboration. And they wanted to put their money where their mouths are, so they decided to go “green.” They’re tracking for a silver LEED certification. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, as defined by the U.S. Green Building Council.)
For the decision-makers at Arcturis, the decision to create a LEED-certified space was a no-brainer. Nearly half of the staff travels to and from the office in car pools, on bicycles, or uses public transportation, so they already were drinking the Kool-Aid.
Arcturis moved into the Laclede Gas Building at 720 Olive, and got busy tearing down walls. Natural light spills in, with little but exposed concrete supports to block it.
Clients and prospects can take a scavenger hunt to find green features throughout the offices, finding anything from low-VOC-emitting adhesives and sealants (which reduce the quantity of indoor air contaminants) to explanations of why natural light is important (provide[s] occupants a connection between indoor spaces and the outdoor environment and views into the regularly occupied areas of the tenant space.)
This information is hand-written on the (low-VOC-sealed) supports, in chalk.
You can’t help but breathe out a sigh of… is it relief?… when you walk through. Clients used to the Pine St. offices “had no idea we were so big!” exclaims Pat Whitaker, president of the firm whose business ranges from planning and architecture to interiors and graphic design.
“Everyone likes the light—even bankers and lawyers love the space,” she adds, with a grin.
But no one at the firm would wrestle a client into accepting a vision that would win awards, yet be inconsistent with the client’s goals and objectives.
As Whitaker emphasizes: “We pride ourselves in designing in our clients’ image, not in ours.”
The smashing of the champagne bottle inside the 9th street garage last winter signified the ground breaking for the new Schnucks in downtown St. Louis: Culinaria. The store will be approximately 21,000 square feet on the lower level and 6,300 on the top level.
“We’ve put our 70 years of experience into this new store, and every step of the way we have worked to remain respectful of the wants and needs of the downtown community,” says Scott Schnuck.
Plans call for a strong emphasis on prepared foods, grab-n-go sandwiches, pizza slices and other popular lunch items. In addition to the basic grocery items and a pharmacy, Kaldi’s Coffee and Benito’s Gelato will be offered.
The store is slated to open this summer.
Lindenwood is leasing 6,300 square feet of space in the five-story building at 1409 Washington Ave. This is Lindenwood’s 10th satellite campus, featuring classrooms with Internet access and other high-tech features. Initially, classes will include undergraduate courses in communications and graduate programs in business, communications, and human resources. All classes will be offered through Lindenwood’s College for Individual Education (LCIE) program, an accelerated format designed for working adults. Annual enrollment for the campus is 500-plus and made up of mostly downtown residents and workers.
Besides Lindenwood and Webster University (below), other institutions offering classes downtown include Fontbonne,
St. Louis Community College, Patricia Stevens, University of Phoenix and Keller School of Management.
Webster University Confucius
A little over a year ago, the People’s Republic of China, through the China National Office of Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, announced the selection of Webster University as the permanent site of the only Confucius Institute in the state of Missouri.
The Confucius Institute is a non-profit, public institute with the goal of promoting the understanding of Chinese language and culture, the acceleration of multiculturalism and supporting Chinese teaching internationally through affiliated Confucius Institutes around the globe.
Webster is one of only four private universities in the United States to be chosen to host a Confucius Institute. Webster and its partner, the Beijing Language and Culture University, are promoting Chinese language and culture in the St. Louis region.
Highlights of the Confucius Institute planned activities during 2009 include:
Modern standard Chinese (Mandarin) language courses for adults
Beginning and intermediate Chinese language non-credit classes
Teacher training and credential workshops for K-12 Chinese language
teachers throughout Missouri in cooperation with Missouri Department
of Elementary and Secondary Education
Chinese culture classes on a variety of topics including: Chinese for
business; calligraphy; Chinese history and religion, and tai chi
Opening a gallery of Chinese art and artifacts donated by the
Jack and June Young estate at the Old Post Office
Presenting lectures on Chinese issues featuring experts on Chinese culture,
philosophy, economics, etc.
Hyatt Regency St. Louis Riverfront
Currently undergoing a $63 million transformation slated for completion in July, the former Adam’s Mark plays a significant role in downtown’s renaissance, says Greg Saunders, managing director.
“This is an exciting time of change for downtown and Hyatt is thrilled to be part of it. Our location near St. Louis’ most popular attractions will help bring visitors to the area,” Saunders says.
The top-to-bottom renovation includes all public areas, restaurants, guestrooms, bathrooms and meeting space. Highlights include a complete meeting-space makeover, along with a new pool deck and observation area on the top floor, 52 suites, 350 newly designed rooms with Gateway Arch views, three new full-service restaurants, a Starbucks and a 24-hour health club.
For meeting planners and attendees, the highlight of the hotel’s makeover is two additional meeting rooms on the 18th floor with Gateway Arch views—4,500 square feet of indoor/outdoor event space. When complete, the hotel will boast 83,000 square feet of meeting space.
CVS Pharmacy has opened in the lobby of the AT&T Building in downtown St. Louis. The pharmacy carries most cough and cold products and other healthcare-related items like pain medications, feminine supplies, antacids, etc. The store also has a small over-the-counter section and accepts all prescription insurances including Medicare and Medicaid.
Next door to the pharmacy is Minute Clinic, where nurse practitioners can prescribe prescription drugs when clinically appropriate. Flu shots and other vaccinations are available, and most insurances are accepted.
Downtown Urgent Care
Downtown now has an executive-grade acute care medical facility convenient to the more than 95,000 office workers and 15,000 residents.
Free X-rays and physicals were offered to all newly registered patients (or members of the immediate family) in the first few weeks after the center opened.
Annie Malone has opened a café on the seventh floor of the Carnahan Building at 1114 Market St. While enjoying breakfast, lunch or snacks, diners can learn more about services, programs, events, and volunteer opportunities offered through Annie Malone Children & Family Service Center.
A portion of the café’s proceeds will offset the costs of Annie Malone’s programs and services. Annie Malone serves more than 800 children and families annually through its residential treatment program, therapeutic school (Emerson Academy), transitional living program, early learning center and respite care services.
Doggie Day Care &
Feline Four Seasons
Downtown’s first-ever animal hospital and boutique has opened in the former Creepy Crawl space on Tucker Blvd. The upscale pet center offers high quality veterinary care, a doggie day care, grooming, an upscale boutique hotel for cats called Feline Four Seasons, pet sitting, dog walking and an array of pet products.
Left Bank Books
Kris Kleindienst decided to take her battle for the independent bookstore downtown, despite 2008 sales numbers that were less than robust at the flagship store in the Central West End. A fundraising campaign raised more than $14,000, which Kleindienst says went quite a way toward offsetting opening costs.
Kleindienst, co-owner of the store that has been a fixture in the Central West End in 1969, has been a professional bookworm for 32 years. Left Bank’s second location is on the ground floor of the Louderman Building. The 5,000-square-foot store features an extensive book and magazine collection, book signings by national and local authors and is the only book dealer in the downtown area.
“There are some dozen chain bookstores in the metro area, and a sizeable number of boxes with the ‘A-word’ on them being delivered to St. Louis doorsteps,” Kleindienst observes on her blog. “They’re selling millions of dollars of books to
St. Louisans. Then they’re taking the profits out of town.”
According to BUILD St. Louis, buying locally makes perfect sense. A locally owned, independent business returns 45 percent of every dollar to the St. Louis community. In addition, those dollars have a multiplier effect, five times that amount as they circulate through St. Louis—even the profits stay local.
Left Bank is a full-service store with a cultural and progressive political focus. Specialties include: Modern literature and poetry; the contemporary art and performing arts scene; political analysis, African-American, feminist, gay and lesbian
literature; psychology, and multicultural children’s books.
Former President Jimmy Carter was at the downtown store for a book signing in February.