Webster University Expands in St. Louis
ST. LOUIS, MO (June 3, 2014) - A partnership among Webster University, Dominium Development and multiple commercial enterprises will complete the final piece of the nearly 20-year redevelopment effort of Old Post Office Square in downtown St. Louis through a $116 million renovation of the historic Arcade Building, located across the street from the Old Post Office.
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The redevelopment of Old Post Office Square (bordered by Olive Street on the south, Locust Street on the north, Eighth Street on the east and Ninth Street on the west) has long been recognized as critical to the vibrancy of downtown St. Louis. When the project began, in 1997, there were 70 empty buildings in downtown St. Louis.
“This is a very big building so this redevelopment is a very big step forward for Downtown,” said Mayor Francis Slay. “I am also very pleased that this marks the completion of the Old Post Office Square. As an added bonus, Webster University is expanding its downtown footprint. This was a very tough deal. It took relentless people with vision, creativity and patience to get it done. But, it is worth it. This project will put people to work, and bring the Arcade back to life with living, learning, entertainment and other vibrant activities.”
As it was in the initial 1997 effort to renovate the Old Post Office, Webster University will again serve as the lynchpin in this final Old Post Office Square renovation project. Webster will be the key anchor tenant in the restored and remodeled Arcade Building and will occupy the most historically significant portion of the building. The project is slated for completion in 2016, just months after Webster celebrates its 100-year anniversary.
“Webster University has been the university anchor for downtown St. Louis for 40 years. This expansion marks the next phase of our partnership with the city and those who live and work downtown,” said Elizabeth (Beth) Stroble, president of Webster University. “We know that vibrant cities depend on the educational opportunities and cultural offerings that universities provide. This dynamic new space enables us to partner more effectively with all who welcome a thriving St. Louis. For that reason, we have now named this campus of our university the Webster University Gateway Campus, grounding in this city’s history and future.”
While students will attend the new Gateway Campus, the classroom buildings will retain their individual names of “The Arcade” and “The Old Post Office.” Webster University has been offering graduate classes in the Old Post Office for almost a decade.
Dominium Development, of Minneapolis, is the lead developer for the Arcade building. It plans to restore the first two floors and the building’s mezzanine into offices, classrooms, a café and an art museum. There also will be a small auditorium built where lectures, small group concerts and presentations will be held. The rest of the building will be converted into 282 artist lofts and market-rate apartments. Renovating the Arcade, at 810 Olive Street, would be Dominium's largest St. Louis project so far, taking up more than one-half block of downtown St. Louis.
“Returning the Arcade to its rightful place as a major center downtown is both a challenge and an honor,” said developer, Jeff Hugget.
“To help our students succeed, we must expand their access to all levels of education,” said Julian Schuster, Webster’s provost, senior vice president and chief operating officer. “The Webster University Gateway Campus will serve as just that – a gateway to a myriad of opportunities discovered through pursuit of education.”
The Arcade building is actually two buildings that were joined together approximately a century ago. The first building, the 18-story Wright Building, was completed in 1906. Then in 1919, the Arcade Building was built around the Wright Building with 14 stories on one side and 16 stories on the other, and the two were joined together.
The keystone to this complex was the building’s two-story vaulted arcade, which extends from Pine and Olive Streets and was used as one of the first indoor shopping malls in the United States. Much of the original Gothic terra cotta moldings are still in the building and will be restored, whenever possible.
Some of the original windows in the arcade portion of the building will be kept in place, windows that advertise former businesses such as “The St. Louis Wrestling Club” and the “St. Louis Ticket Office.”
The entire structure was designated a city landmark in 1980 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.
With its home campus in St. Louis, Webster University (www.webster.edu) is the only Tier 1, private, non-profit U.S.-based university providing a network of international residential campuses and a robust online learning program. Founded in 1915, Webster University’s campus network today includes metropolitan, military and corporate locations around the world, as well as traditional residential campuses in Asia, Europe, North America, and Africa. The university is committed to delivering high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.
Founded in 1972, Dominium is a Minneapolis-based owner, developer, and manager of apartment communities nationwide. With more than 21,000 owned and /or managed units at 188 sites in 18 states, Dominium is known for creative solutions to unique and challenging development projects, and management expertise. For more information visit www.dominiuminc.com.