Monday, November 12, 2007
The Syndicate-Century Three Years Later
The title of this post could have easily been "life and death on block 273". Like day and night, the contrast of the two halves of the black are stark. On the west half, the beautifully restored Syndicate Trust is closing in on completion. Apartments on the lower floors appear to be ready for occupancy. The building's exterior is freshly painted (the building had been painted long ago), windows are in, and new storefront is finished on Olive Street.
To the east stands the 9th Street Garage, completed earlier this year, where demolition of the Century Building began a little over three years ago. At night harsh bright light floods the empty sloped concrete floors and spills out onto Olive and Locust Streets through the unscreened openings. The ground floor is still dark and empty months after the space was ready for its supposed tenant Schnucks, who seems to be playing the "I'm afraid to commit game", leaving City Grocer's earlier announced expansion plans in limbo.
Across 9th street is stands the Old Post Office, which has turned out to be largely lifeless itself. While the Library and Pasta House bring are a pleasant additions along Locust, but instead of retail as was originally promised, the remainder of the ground floor was given over to office space, which does nothing to activate the streets around it. Even the lobby off Olive and the grand sky lit atrium space at the center are completely void of any furniture, sending the message that the State of Missouri does not want anyone spending any more time in the building than absolutely necessary.
So after more than three years since the pounding of the headache ball against grey Georgian marble began, we must ask ourselves: Is downtown really better now?