Carson Pirie Scott: A Solution for the Railway Exchange Building

What will we do with the giant empty hulk of the Railway Exchange Building? It seems that the age of the august department store in downtown is over, because, despite angry nostalgia when they close, nobody shops at them. My heart sunk when I walked in to buy a wedding gift at the downtown Macy’s in St. Louis last summer; while the employees were friendly, there was absolutely no reason for anyone to go out of their way to that store. Any trace of the interesting architecture, which you could catch in glimpses before during the Famous Barr days, was gone. I knew it was only a matter of time…

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Which brings to my happy discovery from my recent trip to Chicago; the iconic Carson Pirie Scott Building, designed by the great Louis Sullivan, has found new life as a Target. I examined an urban Target last year in Seattle, and I was happy with the results. I had visited the venerable Carson Pirie Scott before it had closed, and it was a sad sight; low quality merchandise, a tired and run-down interior pervaded.

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Sullivan’s masterpiece has never looked better in all the time I have visited Chicago; restored and cleaned, the interior lobby is beautiful. Interestingly, since it is an historic landmark, the Target sign had to be creatively inserted on the interior of the building.

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Likewise, while you feel like you’re in a Target, their designers left important design elements, such as the capitals of the columns intact. We can bemoan the death of Famous Barr/Macy’s, but we must also find a solution for the vast empty retail spaces left behind. Is a Target the best option? Perhaps.

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Hey, at least there is a gigantic parking garage for everyone in St. Louis.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. David says:

    I think that a downtown Target would be what St.Louis needs. There are probably enough residents living in the loft district and nearby in the Soulard, Lafayette square and CWE neighborhoods to support it. It amazes me that a city the size of St. Louis has only one Target store and one JC Penney and two Kmarts and that is it. Across the river in Alton, Illinois they have less than one tenth the population of St. Louis, but they have a Target, Kmart, Kohls, Macys, Jc penney and until recently a Sears and Value City. I think that more tax revenuie could be kept in the city instead of everyone shopping in the county. Schnucks will probably try to block a. Target because they don’t want any grocery competitors downtown

  2. Amy in StL says:

    There are many Target stores on the Missouri side of the river located in St. Louis county. The majority of the population lives in the county, so it makes sense for the retailers to have built near those that shop there.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      You’re right, Amy, though I know many people who would shop at a downtown Target if it were available. The Target on Chippewa is perfectly fine, but a bit of a drive for many people.

  3. Jay says:

    Hear that thumping sound? It’s Louis Sullivan kicking the lid of his coffin!

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Yeah, probably.

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