Mayor Wants Plan for Railway Exchange and Millennium Hotel by September

The two vacant buildings have been a big source of problems in a key part of downtown St. Louis

May 17, 2024 at 2:54 pm
The Railway Exchange building in downtown St. Louis is covered in steel plates to block trespassers.
The Railway Exchange building in downtown St. Louis is covered in steel plates to block trespassers. ZACHARY LINHARES

Mayor Tishaura Jones held a press conference this morning with Greater St. Louis Inc. and the St. Louis Development Corporation asking them to create a plan to address two troubled downtown buildings: the Railway Exchange Building and Millenium Hotel.

In a post to X (formerly Twitter) Jones said she asked the two organizations “to deliver a plan for bold action” to address the buildings, which she says have been neglected for far too long. 

“We want downtown to be [a] place where you can feel safe doing something or nothing,” Jones added. “We also want downtown to be a place to work collaboratively and build camaraderie.”

In a press release, Greater St. Louis Inc. said, “In addition to developing a plan in the next 120 days for the Railway Exchange Building and the Millennium Hotel, city and business leaders announced that work to revitalize 7th Street between Ballpark Village and the America’s Center is slated to begin in the coming weeks.”

This area of downtown was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal, which referred to the area as a “doom loop.”

Last session the St. Louis Board of Aldermen passed Board Bill 130, sponsored by Ward 8 Alderwoman Cara Spencer, authorizing a blight study and eminent domain for the area encompassing the Railway Exchange building and an adjacent parking garage. 

RFT photojournalist Zach Linhares recently tagged along with urban explorers visiting the Railway Exchange Building, which once held the Famous-Barr department store — and found multiple groups of bored kids from the suburbs in a wildly dangerous setting. 

“Inside was a scene straight from John Carpenter’s 1981 film Escape From New York, famously filmed in St. Louis. Complete chaos. The place was pitch black, its glass panels smashed, with holes in every wall, collapsed ceilings, stairs falling apart, amateur graffiti on the walls and the remnants of wannabe arsonists trying to start fires,” he writes.

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