Cardinals reveal new plan for Ballpark Village

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 | 11:53 a.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS — The latest plan for Ballpark Village in St. Louis is far less ambitious than previous proposals, but the Cardinals say it is far more likely to succeed.

The team on Monday announced a scaled-back plan for the area just outside of Busch Stadium. It includes plans for a team hall of fame and a themed restaurant, space for huge outdoor events, and restaurants, bars and other entertainment.

Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III isn't naming tenants but said the 100,000 square-foot retail and entertainment complex is 80 percent spoken for. The Cardinals and co-developer Cordish Co. plan to foot most of the $100 million bill.

"I'm excited about this," DeWitt told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I think our package is coming together at the right time."

The Cardinals first unveiled plans for Ballpark Village 12 years ago, six years before the new Busch Stadium was built. The team promised to build the development as part of a deal for more than $200 million in state and local subsidies for the new stadium.

The initial plan was far more lavish than the latest one, with 400,000 square feet of office space, a 21-story condo tower, stores, even an aquarium.

But the work had to wait for the new stadium, which opened in 2006, and then the economy soured. Other plans have been proposed, but didn't materialize. The area where Ballpark Village is planned became something of an eyesore.

DeWitt said high-rise office buildings and condos still may come. The team still hopes to eventually expand Ballpark Village into a $700 million project.

The new plan includes a large building north of the stadium. One part would hold a Cardinals Hall of Fame and themed restaurant; the rest would house restaurants, bars and other entertainment around an open-air event space called Live Plaza. That space would have a retractable roof. DeWitt said it could hold up to 150 events a year, not counting Cardinals home game-days.

City officials were pleased to see the plan. St. Louis Development Corp. executive director Rodney Crim said the Cardinals always have intended to make Ballpark Village work.

"They made a commitment to do it," he said. "And they have not wavered."

The project will get some public assistance through $18 million in bonds backed by taxes generated from the site. City and state approval are required if Ballpark Village is to get $22.5 million in New Markets Tax Credits. A public hearing on the tax credits is July 5.

DeWitt said if those are approved and quickly, construction could begin this fall with an opening in the spring of 2014.


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