St. Louis Centre Changes Name, Moves South, Adds Buttload of Brick

Oct 29, 2006 at 5:37 pm

If you didn't already know that the RFT's Ballpark Village story was a parody, you found out during Thursday night's Game 4 Cardinals victory, when KTRS (550 AM) snuck into Mike Shannon and John Rooney's play-by-play to announce that the Cardinals and the city had reached an agreement on financing the real Ballpark Village.

Their plans, alas, most definitely do not include Emmy Pulitzer, Stanley Elkin or Frank Gehry -- let alone William H. Gass or the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

The Ballpark Village we're actually gonna get will consist of six blocks of retail, condos and restaurants developed by Baltimore-based Cordish, Inc. on the ten-acre plot just north of the new Busch Stadium. "Highlights" include a "gourmet" grocery store, a pair of "celebrity chef" restaurants (we're gunning for an Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popcorn Cafe and a George "Goober" Lindsey's Country Kitchen), a relocated bowling museum/Cardinals Hall of Fame, boutique shops and a bowling alley.

Here's what else we know. The gourmet grocery store ain't gonna be a Whole Foods, at least not that Marcia Whelan, public relations director of the Whole Foods on Brentwood Boulevard, has heard. "Personally, I think that would be awesome," she qualifies, "but I have not heard anything about it at all. There are a lot of rumors flying around about it these days. But if it was going to happen, I'd probably know about it, and I haven't heard anything."

Probably ain't gonna be a Trader Joe's, either.

The bowling alley isn't going to be run by Joe Edwards, whose own Flamingo Bowl is planned for Washington Avenue. "I wouldn't mind it," Edwards says when asked about the possibility of locating a Pin-Up progeny in the new Ballpark Village, "but I think it's probably early for them, other than superficially talking to people. But hopefully they will look local."

Don't count on it, Joe. Cordish's Kansas City development, the Power & Light District, will contain a Lucky Strike Lanes.

Edwards doesn't feel threatened by a competing bowling alley. "I think anybody who lives in the loft district would bowl at the Flamingo Bowl," he says. (Edwards says construction still hasn't begun on Flamingo Bowl, which will be located in the Lucas Lofts Building at 1123 Washington Avenue. The project still awaits the green light from building owner Patrick Stanley. "I have my liquor license, the signage approval," says Edwards. "Everything's ready, but I'm just sitting here tapping my fingers. But I'm hopeful it will all come together.")

Ballpark Village's bowling alley might or might not be part of the International Bowling Hall of Fame, currently located on the northwest tip of the planned development. In some drawings of the fancy new Ballpark Village, the footprint consumes St. Louis' premier sports hall of fame. In others the old building is left intact. "We own the building and the land," notes Gerald Baltz, executive director of the International Bowling Hall of Fame. "So any drawings that eliminate us are purely conceptual. Depending on whose does the drawing, we're either a close neighbor or somehow enveloped into the complex. I saw drawings about four months ago and we were included in the Village. But in this new drawing, we've been eliminated.

"We've been moving around a lot," Baltz laughs.

As for other potential tenants, similar Cordish developments in other cities contain large national chains. Cordish's Atlantic City project, Atlantic City Outlets -- The Walk, includes outlet stores such as Tommy Hilfiger, Polo and Nautica. At Bayou Place in Houston, visitors find the 3,000-seat Angelica Film Center and a Hard Rock Cafe. The Power Plant in Baltimore contains an ESPN Zone, a Barnes & Noble, a Hard Rock Cafe and a Gold's Gym. At Kansas City's Power & Light District, Cordish has signed on Bristol Seafood Grill, Cosentino's Gourmet Market and Gimme Sum Asian Grill.

-Randall Roberts