By. Chris Stritzel
This afternoon, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, County Executive Steve Stenger and Explore St. Louis President, Kitty Ratcliffe unveiled plans to renovate and expand the America's Center. The plans come as overall convention hosting is down 18% from last year and Downtown businesses struggle with the lower amount of visitors. Both elected leaders and Ms. Ratcliffe heralded the plan as a way to grow the convention business in St. Louis. The plans were formed over the recommendation in a 2016 report that detailed that the America's Center would have to receive a 300,000 expansion to be competitive with markets like Kansas City, Denver and Nashville. The plans unveiled today detail how this will be done.
The Convention and Visitors Commission (CVC) will oversee the expansion of the America's Center onto parking lot and parking garages owned by the City of St. Louis. The garages and lots were acquired late last year, but the sale was made public earlier this year. The two parking lots acquired are on Lucas Avenue and are located just South of the Holiday Inn. The parking garage North of the Holiday Inn will be demolished for a new garage. The full expansion of the America's Center is to include...
- A New Greenspace at 9th and Lucas
- A New entrance by the green space
- 92,000 Square Feet of new space
- 64,000 Square Feet of additional ballrooms
- 28 new loading docks
- Façade aesthetic improvements
The project will cost approximately $175 Million and will be paid for by bonds issued by the city and county that will last 40 years. Those bonds will have to approved by the County Council and Board of Aldermen. A future plan could entail developing a parking lot into a garage and retail space right next door to the greenspace. Overall, the additional new space is a win for the convention business as it will give a “boost’ to lure new conventions into town. This is also a prime example of regional coordination working together to make the city and county thrive. This type of investment should become more common to help the region grow.
HOK is the Architecture firm. You can see additional renderings below.