Square Inc., a San Francisco-based financial technology company owned by Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey, signed an office lease in St. Louis that will allow the company to nearly double its headcount in Dorsey’s hometown and take its biggest space outside the Bay Area.
Square leased 225,000 square feet at 900 North Tucker, a 235,000-square-foot office building constructed in 1931 in downtown St. Louis, according to Square. The building at 900 N. Tucker Blvd. is owned by StarLake Holdings, a real estate venture of Jim McKelvey. He’s a fellow billionaire who with Dorsey co-founded in 2009 Square, a maker of credit card chip readers that allow tablets and smartphones to process credit card payments.
StarLake bought the building last year for $3.5 million from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper, which is relocating to a building roughly a block away at 901 N. 10th St. It’s just the latest example of a newspaper building, which once housed the leading communications technology of 100 years ago, getting replaced across the country with 21st century tech firms in once-expansive properties in prime locations as they downsize or relocate to cheaper areas.
“Downtown areas are coming back with a vengeance and what were once dusty old buildings in old areas are now trendy and interesting places that are perfect for redevelopment,” Jack Matthews, president of Dallas-based development firm Matthews Southwest, said in an interview.
Square has 500 employees at its current office at 4240 Duncan Ave. in St. Louis, which is about 4.1 miles away from the new lease.
“St. Louis has been an amazing home and partner to us. This city has so much energy, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it,” Dorsey said in a statement.
It is unclear when Square will move into the building and brokers involved with the deal were not disclosed. The St. Louis office is expected to be Square’s largest outside of its headquarters in San Francisco at 1455 Market St.
Dorsey and McKelvey both hail from St. Louis. Dorsey’s net worth is valued at $5.7 billion and McKelvey’s is valued at $1.6 billion, according to Forbes. St. Louis ranked No. 35 in CBRE’s 2019 Scoring Tech Talent report, which examined North American cities in terms of their tech talent pools, technology industries and labor conditions. St. Louis was also named the 27th-largest tech talent market for tech employees, according to the report.
“St. Louis is full of talent and economic opportunity, so it should come as no surprise that we’re continuing to grow in our hometown,” McKelvey said in a statement.
StarLake also owns the building the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is moving into at 910 N. 10th St., which it bought for $2.2 million in December 2018, according to CoStar data.
Newspaper buildings are getting sold across North America. In downtown Austin, Texas, plans are underway to transform a 19-acre site along the shores of Lady Bird Lake that is home to the Austin American-Statesman newspaper into a mixed-use development. Similar real estate has recently sold in Boston and across eastern Canada.
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