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by Bob Moore, SLFP.com
ST. LOUIS, (SLFP.com), October 27, 2006 - Cardinals Nation will soon be able to enjoy world-class entertainment and lifestyle experiences next to the new Busch Stadium when Ballpark Village rises from the footprint of the old Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis.
An elaborate scale model of the $387 million development was unveiled Friday, October 27, at the Cordish Company's office overlooking the new Busch Stadium. The international commercial real-estate development company partnered with the St. Louis Cardinals for the project which could transform downtown St. Louis into the center of the universe.
The six-block development features: 270,000 sq. ft. restaurant & entertainment; 90,000 sq. ft. retail; 100,000 sq. ft. office; 250 resident condominiums (330,000 gross sq. ft.); and 1,200 parking spaces. Pending approval of a formal development agreement and the concurrence of several additional local and state authorities, construction on Ballpark Village could begin Spring 2007, with the anticipated completion of the first phase in the spring of 2009.
In an interview with Saint Louis Front Page following the unveiling and presentation, William O. DeWitt, Jr., chairman of the board, St. Louis Cardinals, stated that when they bought the team, they hadn't considered a major downtown development. "As time went on, we realized the opportunity, especially with the fact that we needed a new ballpark. That opened up a piece of ground that tied it all together. We're very pleased," said DeWitt.
He acknowledged that the process had taken longer than originally planned. "Both sides had issues that needed to be resolved," stated DeWitt. "These are not simple projects to get completed."
DeWitt said that they had looked around the country for developers who had experience and success in downtown areas. "We're pleased that the Cordish Company chose to come here because a lot of cities are also after them. They saw that St. Louis could be something pretty special with the type of development associated with the ballpark," said DeWitt.
The Mayor explained that they are going to use a portion of the new taxes generated to help finance the project. "No existing tax revenues are going to be used for this," emphasized the Mayor. "General revenue will not be at risk. If you don't go to Ballpark Village, or to the restaurants or buy anything at the retail, or if you don't live there or occupy office space you will not be paying for this," said the Mayor.
Mayor Slay stated that the vast majority of the financing is privately funded, including $271 million in private debt and equity, $5 million subordinate bonds put up by owners, plus another $26 million in user fees to go to the Ballpark Village. Nearly 2,000 jobs are expected to be created through the construction of Ballpark Village.
The City of St. Louis will be asked to allow $56 million of tax increment financing, based on the incremental increase in base property taxes on the site and on half of the incremental increase of economic activities on the site. The State of Missouri will be asked to allow $29 million of MoDESA, based on half of the incremental increase in state income tax and undesignated sales tax.
"Believe me, they will come from three hours away," stated Cordish, proudly wearing a St. Louis Cardinals jacket. "They will get conventions here they never had before. It's going to be 365 days a year, not just eighty games."
When asked how Ballpark Village will impact the current businesses around the area, Cordish responded enthusiastically, "It will impact the other businesses. It's going to help them because we are going to bring people downtown. We are going to have people working downtown and living downtown by the thousands. They will spill out into the community."
The Cordish Company played a prominent role in the redevelopment of four highly successful projects in Baltimore's world-famous Inner Harbor. The company currently has over one billion dollars in construction focused primarily on Sports Anchored Districts.
"Every city we have done it in, the other businesses may have been apprehensive at the beginning," stated Cordish. "But at the end of the day after we opened, they say it's the best thing that ever happened to them. I guarantee that."
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