Can Downtown St. Louis survive with unused office space amid the pandemic?

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – It’s been about a year now since the pandemic began and thousands of people moved their offices from Downtown St. Louis into their living rooms.

Mayor Lyda Krewson issued the city’s first stay-at-home order on March 21, 2020. Employees working in large downtown office buildings packed up their computers and headed home.

David Biales is a managing director at JLL, a commercial real estate company. Biales specializes in office space and says they have been surveying their clients.

“What we heard from them was that once it is safe to do so, most employers want employees back in the office for meetings, to collaborate, for culture building,” he said. “And the majority of employees want to be back in the office as well, but they want a more flexible work environment.”

JLL found most employees want to work 1 to 2 days at home and 3 to 4 days at the office.

Biales said office space isn’t going anywhere but how we use office space is going to change.

The trend for the past 5 to 10 years in office environments has been an open collaborative work space with a more densely-populated headcount. In a post-COVID environment, we’ll see that revert back to more private offices, barriers in office space, and room for social distancing.

Biales is hearing that 80% of employees will be back in the office by December 2021.

As people return to the streets of downtown, they shouldn’t expect to see many more vacant buildings then when they left.

Jason Hall with Greater St. Louis Inc. said there was $8 billion of downtown reinvestment when the pandemic began and that hasn’t stopped.

A Memphis developer just bought the historic Butler Brothers building. The building takes up a full city block and has at vacant for over a decade. The developers plan to turn it into a mixed-use residential and commercial space.

There are other large vacant buildings like the AT&T Building and the historic Railway Exchange. Hall said they are looking at buyers but they are complex real estate.

Biales thinks the pandemic could unexpectedly work in favor of those old buildings and downtown all together.

“I hope St. Louis can be the benefactor of this new thinking of workplace strategy,” he said. “As technology increases, employers are starting to realize that they don’t have to be in major cities and they are starting to gravitate towards lower-cost options. I think that’s what St. Louis offers. Low cost of labor, low cost of real estate, and I think there is an opportunity there that St. Louis can capitalize on.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.

Popular

Latest News

More News