AFL-CIO May Help Finance Railway Exchange Redevelopment

By on November 27, 2017

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  A national organized labor investment fund may help finance the redevelopment of one of the largest vacant structures in downtown St. Louis into more than 600 apartments and five floors of office space.

The effort to bring the 21-story Railway Exchange Building — former headquarters of May Department Stores — back to life took a step forward Tuesday after the city’s Industrial Development Authority granted preliminary approval to issue up to $160 million in bonds to finance the project. Those bonds will be privately placed with the AFL-CIO’s Housing Investment Trust, according to the IDA report.

An AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust representative declined to comment.

Amos Harris, a local partner in the development effort, cautioned that the massive, $310.9 million redevelopment project is still “in a planning phase” and that “moving pieces,” such as the availability of state and federal historic tax credits, could ultimately derail it.

“I’d have to take off my shoes to count all the reasons it won’t work,” he said.

Harris, a principal with Spinnaker St. Louis who helped develop the MX District (Mercantile Exchange), the Laurel apartments and the National Blues Museum just to the north on Washington Avenue, is partnering with Florida-based Hudson Holdings on the project. Old Post Office developer Steve Stogel is also part of the effort.

They have already bought the 1.2 million-square-foot building, which takes up an entire city block, closing in February on the property at 615 Olive Street. As part of the purchase, the team also owns the adjacent parking lot and parking garage to the south. The garage, connected to the Railway Exchange with a skybridge, adds another whole city block to the project’s footprint.

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