The Syndicate's long-running troubles began in 1993, when developer Mark Finney purchased the complex at auction for $600,000. A timeline of events since then shows how precipitously close the Syndicate tower has come to demolition:
1994: After purchasing the building, Finney cleared out most of its tenants and gutted the lower six floor for conversion into a parking garage. Subsequent investigation revealed what Finney claims is inadequate structural support for a garage, a matter that resulted in a court case with his architect.
With the building's structure in question, Finney abandoned the garage plan, favoring demolition after he was unable to sell the building. The building has sat empty since then. Demolition has thus far blocked by the city, based on the building's landmark status.
1997: a court judge orders the city to pay Finney's then-asking price of $4.2 million; the city is unable to come up with the money. After a piece of masonry falls off the building, a fence is erected around the property, blocking sidewalks and streets.
1999: The city agrees to buy the building through emminent domain. A commission settles on a value of $6.2 million -- less than the $9 million Finney wanted, but more than the $2 million the city had offered previously. The city declines the deal.
July 24, 2000: Finney's asking price for the building is six million dollars (ten times what he paid for it when it was a functional and occupied building); the city seeks to obtain the deteriorating property through condemnation.
September 14, 2000: St. Louis Circuit Judge Robert H. Dierker Jr. declares the building a hazard and gives the owner 30 days to file a demolition permit. Pyramid Construction Co. works to buy the building for development.
November 2000: Finney grants Pyramid an extension on the deadline to purchase the building.
February, 2001: Finney threatens to begin demolition of the complex on March 1st if Pyramid does not purchase the building by then.
March 1, 2001: Pyramid's John Steffen is unable to secure the necessary capitol to purchase the building.
March 2, 2001: Judge Dierker announces that he will approve demolition as soon as the owner files proof of a demolition contract.
March 29, 2001: a mediator is appointed to negotiate a settlement between Finney and the city.
June 2001: City development officials agree to pay Finney's asking price of $6.5 million for the complex.
November 2001: Webster University plans to move into the Old Post Office. As part of related developments, the Century portion of the complex is slated to be torn down and replaced with a parking garage, part of a proposal by DESCO Group and consultant Steven Stogel.
2002-2004: Citizens and Landmarks of St. Louis mobilize to fight the demolition of the Century. Both buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Inexplicably, the National Historic Trust becomes a supporter of the Century's demolition, claiming that it is the only way to "save" the Old Post Office across the street (despite the fact that the Old Post Office, while vacant, was never in any danger of demolition.) Both buildings continue to sit idle and vacant.
October 2004: Despite a pending court injunction, demolition begins on the Century Building.
November 5, 2004: The City of St. Louis issues a Request for Proposals to renovate the Syndicate-Trust.
February 2005: Demolition of the Century Building is essentially complete.
April 5, 2005: Sherman Associates and Loftworks, LLC are awarded the contract to redevelop the Syndicate Trust. The building will hold 91 condominiums, 84 apartments, and street-level retail.
November 2005: Work on the garage slated for the former Century Building site remains stalled (due to lack of funding?).
2006: Work commences on the Syndicate Trust renovation.
July 2007: October move-in dates projected.
Details of some of these events are chronicled on the next page.