May 11, 2020

Ballpark Village apartment tower nears completion

A temporary piece of St. Louis’ skyline is going away as a permanent addition nears completion.

Construction crews have started to take down the crane that was used to build the 29-story, 297-unit Ballpark Village apartment tower.

“We had a topping off ceremony a couple months ago. That’s really the beginning of the end. Now we’re getting close to the end of the end, because other than some finishing touches on the exterior, we’re mostly working inside on (finishing) stuff,” said Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III.

Construction on the building, One Cardinal Way, is roughly 90% compete, DeWitt said. The project is the final major component of Ballpark Village’s $260 million phase, 700,000-square-foot phase two expansion. The expansion has already added an 11-story office building, three-story retail pavilion and a Live! by Loews hotel to the downtown district. The Cardinals and development partner Cordish Cos. broke ground on the phase two expansion in December 2017.

One Cardinal Way will open for residents at the start of August, about a month later than a previously targeted. The building is about 60% leased.

In March, the apartment tower began to offer hard hat tours. However, those tours had to soon stop due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. The tower's leasing team is now providing virtual tours.

“We’re letting people go to our website, make an appointment, then we’re going inside the apartment and FaceTiming or Zooming our future residents and being inside the exact apartment and letting them see it, letting them see what the view is,” said Marnie Sauls, executive director of residential management at Cordish.

The Business Journal on Monday spoke with DeWitt and Sauls about Ballpark Village’s construction. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

How has the construction crew on the project had to navigate Covid-19?

DeWitt: Paric has done a great job, under the supervision of our partners at the Cordish Cos., dealing with some changing work rules. Obviously with Covid, they are social distancing in the workplace, wearing masks, etc. I wouldn’t say that delayed us by much — maybe a little bit. The fact that we’re going to still plan on opening and bringing our first tenants in on the first of August is pretty remarkable, given what’s happened. They’ve done a great job managing this situation.

Is it surreal to have this project wrapping up without any games going on at Busch Stadium?

 DeWitt: It is very surreal. Not just for this building, but the rest of the project. Sports & Social (bar and lounge) is ready to go and ready to open. The hotel opened and then just right away closed. The health club — same thing. The office tower, thankfully, is still occupied and tenants are probably a little more spread out, but they are still coming. There’s a trickle of activity, but certainly not what we had hoped for at this time of year.

Given the city’s rules, how do you plan to reopen components of BPV amid the guidelines that have been established?

DeWitt: We’re still talking about that. Obviously, with the restaurants, we need to huddle and talk about whether that’s possible. The health club is going to be a little further away in a different phase of reopening. I think we’re still in the planning stages for that.

How has One Cardinal Way leasing been impacted by what’s going on?

Sauls: It has impacted it. We went from being able to bring people on site for a tour — that lasted almost a week before we shut down. It did slow down a little bit. But I think the whole world slowed down. We’re still getting a couple leases every week. We are a little over 60% leased, which is phenomenal for a project this far out still, without being able to be in the building and actually touch and feel everything you are getting.

What units have drawn the most interest in leasing?

Sauls: The two-bedrooms have gone the fastest. We’re over 70% leased on the two bedrooms. We only have six penthouse units available, so those leased up pretty quickly as well. You start to see a shift after the building is 60% leased where more people are wanting the smaller apartments. You’re getting the younger age group in there and they are saying “you know what, I want the smaller apartment.” Those are starting to lease right now too.

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