Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

December 26 2012

MIDWEST: St. Louis

Ali Gramaglia

Downtown delivers for conventions and meetings

Talk about sitting pretty. St. Louis’ America’s Center convention complex has the enviable position of being located on one of America’s Top 10 Streets, Washington Avenue. The American Planning Association (APA) bestowed that accolade on St. Louis in its most recent survey of the nation’s top thoroughfares, noting that Washington Avenue “pulses with activity not seen since its garment district days.” APA calls the street a “virtual museum of late-19th- and early-20thcentury warehouse architecture, clad in brick, stone, and terra cotta.” After more than $100 million invested in renovations, the district is now greeting visitors as a modern hotspot filled with new hotels, restaurants, clubs, and shops.

America’s Center is the literal centerpiece of Washington Avenue. With 502,000 square feet of prime exhibit space, 80 meeting rooms, and the 67,000-square-foot Edward Jones Dome, the massive facility is amazingly flexible and surprisingly intimate. A program of recent upgrades totaling just under $48 million has sharpened the center’s competitive edge both cosmetically and environmentally via energy-friendly infrastructure improvements.

Convention attendees now can enjoy contemporary décor that reflects the look of modern St. Louis, as well as changes such as upgraded restrooms, new elevators and escalators, and enhanced directional signs throughout America’s Center. Behind the scenes, kitchen facilities have been redesigned and expanded and can now handle more than 13,000 meals per day. Wireless coverage has been deployed to all meeting rooms, and broadband capacity has been increased to meet the standards of even the most tech-savvy events.

Adjacent to America’s Center is the Laurel, a 630,000-square-foot development that includes a 212-room Embassy Suites Hotel and apartments that opened in the fall of 2011, bringing the new total of downtown hotel rooms to more than 8,000. New developments in the Laurel include street-level dining and retail, slated to open within the next few months. Across the street from the Laurel project, the new Mercantile Exchange (MX) District features an additional 100,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space - including the recently opened Pi Pizzeria. Also, a movie theater and three additional restaurants are slated to open this fall. The new, 150-seat 6th Street Theater, an intimate, modern performance space in the MX, also will open within the year.

MetroLink is in the center of the convention district as well, offering a connection to all the downtown attractions and sports facilities, as well as to both terminals at Lambert– St. Louis International Airport. By taxi, the airport is just 13 miles from the convention center.

Restaurants surround the America’s Center convention complex with dining delights. Mad for Mexican? Seeking sushi? Missing a microbrewery? St. Louis is well known as a foodie’s paradise where locals are so interested in restaurant culture that two monthly magazines are dedicated to dining. Within just blocks of the convention complex, attendees will find something to satisfy their hunger and their taste for fun.

For more information: (800) 325-7962 or explorestlouis.com

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