March 1, 2024

A New York developer is eyeing redevelopment of one of downtown St. Louis’ biggest vacant buildings.
The 1.2 million-square-foot Railway Exchange Building, the former flagship location and headquarters of Famous-Barr department stores, at 615 Olive St. is being considered for a project by Brooklyn-based Carnegie Management Inc., people familiar with the matter told the Business Journal.
St. Louis-based general contractor PARIC Construction Co. filed a zoning-only permit with the city to rehab the building into apartments. A representative of PARIC said the company filed for the permit on behalf of a developer, but would not name the developer.
Carnegie Management declined to comment. The firm was founded in 1999 and is led by CEO Isaac Jacobs, according to New York state records.
It has taken on redevelopments that are unique or challenging.
The redevelopment of the Mott Haven section of the South Bronx started with Carnegie’s residential project, which saw the rehabilitation of a former piano factory into 155 live-in artists’ studios.
In a separate project, the company used brownfields tax credits to redevelop a contaminated site at 100 Union Ave. in Brooklyn. The company is not registered under its name in Missouri, according to state records.
The city’s economic development agency, St. Louis Development Corp., has taken steps toward allowing eminent domain at the property and its surrounding blocks, bounded by Locust, North Sixth, Pine and North Seventh streets. Officials said the city would not take any privately owned property against the will of owners, but that eminent domain would clear certain title issues and pave the way for redevelopment.
A plan including eminent domain and tax incentives for Railway was scheduled for a vote in the Housing, Urban Development and Zoning Committee of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen Sept. 22, but the bill’s sponsor, Alderman Jack Coatar, said that city officials and the new developer needed more time to work on the plans.
“The Development Corp. is still in discussion with the proposed developers of this building,” Coatar said, asking for a delay in the hearing until Oct. 20. “It’s a very big project. There’s still things to work through.”
The bill allows eminent domain of all properties in the redevelopment area except 622 Olive St., which is not part of the redevelopment plan. Owners would be given fair market value for their properties. The buildings include the parking garage connected to the Railway Exchange building, a parking lot and three commercial buildings, including the former Charlie Gitto’s downtown restaurant at 207 N. Sixth St.
Any redevelopment of Railway Exchange has been held up for years by lawsuits filed by contractors that worked for Florida-based Hudson Holdings, the developer that purchased the building in 2017 with plans to convert it into apartments. A judge ruled in favor of the lienholders in August, awarding four companies more than $3.8 million for their work on Railway Exchange.
New York-based lender Gamma Real Estate Capital waived its priority claim on the building this year, after asking a court in 2020 to foreclose on the building, alleging Hudson owed the company more than $18 million on a $19.7 million loan taken out in 2017.
The building has state historic tax credits in place that are granted to the owner, HH St. Louis Railway LP, a limited partnership that could be transferred to a new owner, keeping the tax credits in place, people familiar with the matter previously told the Business Journal.
Macy’s closed its store in the building in 2013. And the T-REX co-working space, which occupied two floors, left for the Lammert Building on Washington Avenue in 2014.

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