Architectural Healing

 In Culture, Feature

Three St. Louis City development projects make their big reveal this month.


WE SHOULD KNOW BY NOW, the Cardinals don’t quit. During years of delays mostly due to the financial crises, the Ballpark Village development next to Busch Stadium sat muddy and empty, an eyesore. That’s all about to change. Set to debut on Opening Day on April 7, Ballpark Village will welcome Cardinals fans in all its grand glory. Featuring single and multilevel restaurants, a concert venue, Budweiser Brew House, Fox Sports entertainment venue, PBR Big Sky cowboy bar, an outdoor park, rooftop seating, Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum, Drunken Fish Japanese and Sushi restaurant, a Ted Drewes and more, one might say the Cardinals have knocked it out of the park.

At a cost of $100 million, the two-city-block, 10-acre Ballpark Village—developed in partnership with the Cordish Companies—is phase one of a project that will ultimately consume seven city blocks containing office, retail, residential and hotel space at a projected cost well into the hundreds of millions.”We wanted people to have a reason to come down and experience Cardinals baseball every day of the year,” says Cardinals President Bill DeWitt. “We think we can accomplish that.” The building and its many tenants and features are a good way to start. Anchoring the south side of the building, the more than 20,000-square-foot Budweiser Brew House and Cardinals Nation feature two-story restaurants with first-floor outdoor seating and second-floor views of home plate and the field. Cardinals Nation also boasts a team store, the Hall of Fame and Museum, a third-floor party room and 300-plus rooftop deck seats overlooking the field.

At the heart of the building, FOX Sports Midwest Live is a 20,000-squarefoot entertainment marketplace in an atrium space with a retractable glass roof that can accommodate 2,500 people for concerts and events. It also features a massive 40-foot diagonal LED screen believed to be the largest ever that isn’t inside a sports venue. Outdoors, there’s Busch II, a small park area with an Astro Turf infield that sits exactly on the footprint of the old stadium infield and includes bases, so fans can run in the footprints of past Cardinal heroes. A large video screen will be used for watching films and live broadcasts of Cardinal games.

But how to draw people to the village on non-game days? “There are a few ways we’re going to do that,” says DeWitt. Special events will be held at the village throughout the year, including a concert series, several Family Days, events centered around food, such as cook-offs and barbecue contests, plus as many as 100 events relating to the holiday and sports calendars, such as Mardi Gras, Halloween, the Super Bowl and March Madness. All told, Ballpark Village will have more than 200 days a year of programming unrelated to the Cardinals, which ultimately is expected to draw millions of additional people to Downtown throughout the year, both increasing Cardinal game attendance and generating additional tax revenue for the city. “We know that 3 million people are going to come to Cardinal games every year, but how do you get the attendance up to 7 or 8 million?” DeWitt says. “That’s what all these events are going to do.”

THE 1913 HISTORIC SUN THEATER on Grandel Square in Grand Center is being reborn through an $11.5 million renovation by The Lawrence Group as phase two of the $23 million Grand Center Arts Academy project, which included restoration of the adjacent Beaux Arts Building as home to the Academy. The school now has one of the nation’s grandest high school theaters. Known for its neoclassical front facade with projecting cornices and theatrical grotesques over the arched windows, the renovation of the Sun—built in 1913— adds classrooms and restores the front, lobby and auditorium to their original grandeur. Updated technology includes elevators and a new sprinkler system. Set for completion this month, the striking refurbished interior—with its dramatic ceiling medallion, ornate moldings and details in gleaming gold against fields of aqua and royal blue—earns the theater the new description given by Lawrence Group CEO Steve Smith as a “mini-Fox and a mini-Powell.”

T-REX HAS OFFICIALLY TAKEN UP RESIDENCE in its newly purchased Lammert Building at 911 Washington Ave. The business incubator—which is jointly sponsored by the City of St. Louis, the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis and the St. Louis Regional Chamber—occupies the sixth, seventh and eighth floors with renovation or cosmetic work slated for much of the building. The project will ultimately cost an estimated $12.5 million, of which $4 million has been raised. T-REX, which houses 70 startup companies and five funding and mentoring groups, expects to add 40 additional businesses. The Lammert already features classically designed halls and magnificent wood beams, and renovations will add everything from solar panels and wind turbines to a rooftop garden—just the right atmosphere to nurture budding businesses.



Ballpark Village Northwest View Rendering

Ballpark Village Northwest View Rendering


The 1913 Historic Sun Theater


T-Rex’s New Residence at Lammert Building

T-Rex’s New Residence at Lammert Building


Photo credit: Photos courtesy of Ballpark Village, The Lawrence Group & T-REX.

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