Old Post Office Work Could Begin in Next Week
By Tom Weber, KWMU
St. Louis, MO – Crews are expected to start re-habbing the Old Post Office in downtown St. Louis either this week or next.
In a ceremony held inside one of the building's tall-ceilinged courtrooms, the federal government on Monday gave up ownership of the Old Post Office. The state of Missouri now owns it; a move that allows the long-delayed project to start.
The new Old Post Office will include Webster University classrooms. And the Missouri Court of Appeals will return after abandoning the building's courtrooms more than 70 years ago.
It also means a new parking garage where the nearby Century Building now stands. That has sparked two lawsuits from people trying to save the Century; a third was filed Monday afternoon. This newest suit questions whether some some tax credits that are helping fund the Old Post Office project are being issued legally.
Some opponents to the Century's demolition suggest the Century be gutted and made into a parking garage. But developer Steve Stogel dismisses that idea. "You can't proceed with something that's infeasible," he said Monday.
Developers of other nearby buildings add they need the new parking for their projects to work.
Mike Roberts is one of the Roberts Brothers who are re-habbing a number of buildings close to the Old Post Office, including the American Theatre. "There's a reason why downtown died, and the reason is there was inadequate parking in downtown," Roberts said.
"So, hopefully, with a number of thousands of loft apartments going in, people need one and perhaps two parking spaces. We may be still short of adequate parking even with that particular garage."
But lawyer Matt Ghio doesn't buy that argument. He questions whether any developer could get a bank loan for a building project without parking already available (instead of the prospect of a parking garage may one day be built).
Ghio questions "Every historic building around the Old Post Office, except for the Arcade and the Wright, has been renovated or is in the middle of renovation," Ghio said.
"Every one of those projects happened without the garage. So the claims by the developers that this was necessary to spur development in downtown St. Louis; it's patently false."