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City buys parking garage to make way for convention center expansion

The St. Louis Municipal Finance Corp. has purchased the parking garage at 701 N. 7th St. for $4.9 million
Credit: SLBJ

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis officials have taken one of the first steps toward the long-awaited $210 million expansion of the downtown St. Louis convention center by buying the parking garage that will come down to make way for the improvements.

The St. Louis Municipal Finance Corp. has purchased the parking garage at 701 N. 7th St. for $4.9 million, St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green announced Friday. Constructed in the 1960s, the parking garage had long been sought by the city's Convention and Visitors Commission for expansion of the America's Center convention complex.The convention center surrounds the parking garage on three sides.

“For quite some time, the garage’s condition has not been one that has provided the quality of experience that we want convention and event attendees to have when they come to St. Louis,” said Kitty Ratcliffe, president of the Convention and Visitors Commission, which does business as Explore St. Louis.

The $210 million project will involve expanding the center westward, adding a larger ballroom, more “usable” exhibit hall space and 26 loading docks — the sort of upgrades Explore St. Louis says competing cities have made in recent years. 

Announced in 2018 and the project was originally expected to be completed in two years, though it was best by delays during the Covid-19 pandemic. On Friday, Explore St. Louis said the project is in the design phase, with the tourism agency preparing a construction schedule that anticipates completion by the end of 2023, said Chief Marketing Officer Brian Hall.

Demolition of the garage is expected to happen in the "near term," with additional plans announced later, Municipal Finance Corp. said in a news release.

Click here to read full story from the St. Louis Business Journal.