Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mourning the loss of what never existed: Centene's Downtown Headquarters

This is probably my most unusual post yet, the loss of something that never existed. After recently announcing that they were canceling their plan to move to Downtown, Centene made the official announcement Tuesday that they would return to their original plan and build in Clayton at the corner of Forsyth and Hanley. While this is no surprise, and there was speculation that this would ultimately occur before the announced cancellation of the Downtown plan, it is still a hard blow to the ego of Downtown St. Louis.
Ballpark Village w/ Centene transposed over the present cess pool

Perhaps more than any event in recent memory, including the resurgence of a residential population, the new baseball stadium, or the movement of many other smaller companies to Downtown, the announcement that a major corporation was moving Downtown, building a new 30 story building (with possibly another in the future), and ultimately attracting 1,230 new jobs, was symbolically the sign that Downtown had after 50 years of decline again returned as the hub of the St. Louis region.
April 1962 - Ground breaking for the 16 story Pierre Laclede
building at Forsyth & Hanley. This building began the rush of
office tenants leaving Downtown St. Louis for the Clayton.
Harris Armstrong's Scruggs Vandervoort Barney department
store, which will be demolished for Centene's headquarters,
is in the background.

Now with Centene's headquarters, the recently announced redevelopment and expansion of Brown Shoe's headquarters, and several other large proposals on the boards, there will be some who will say that Clayton may well have taken that title.

Much of Clayton however lacks the integration of office, residential, and retail/restaurant that has occured in Downtown's redevelopment over the last decade. This alone makes Clayton a less desirable environment than Downtown for living and spending time outside the corporate headquarters.

1 comment:

Chris said...

The Ballpark Village Centene HQ was a bluff all along. I saw the same stuff in academia when we would be hiring for new professors. We knew some professors were only applying as leverage for a raise at their current institution. This was all a ploy to make Clayton sweat a little, and Slay was dumb enough to fall for it.