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City Hall in Talks With AT&T Over Decision to Vacate Downtown Skyscraper

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - A City Hall spokesperson said Thursday that she was surprised to hear of AT&T’s plans to vacate the downtown St. Louis building it has called home since 1986.

The company announced Thursday it is “working on a multi-year plan to consolidate employees who currently work at One AT&T Center” to other nearby buildings.

Workers at One AT&T Center were told this week that they would be relocated to other downtown buildings or St. Louis County facilities by 2015.

About 2,000 people currently work in the 44-story office tower at 909 Chestnut Street, down from a peak of 4,800 employees years ago.

“I no idea that was happening,” said one employee Thursday. While others outside their current office speculated about where their new office might be. “I don’t want to drive all the way down I-270,” said an employee. “I live in Soulard, so for me, downtown is much easier,” said another.

But the possibility of free parking and no earnings tax did make a move out of downtown worthy for some.

Mayor Francis Slay’s Communications Director Maggie Crane said city officials, including the mayor, “had no idea” about the telecommunication company’s plans. She said talks are now underway between the city and company.

AT&T’s lease at the skyscraper lasts through 2017 but the company has been moving employees to other facilities in recent years. The company has an office building at 1010 Pine downtown and at 12851 Manchester Road and 13075 Manchester Road in St. Louis County.

Slay’s Chief of Staff Jeff Rainford said it is too soon to speculate about where the employees will go.

“They have two other buildings downtown which they own and those buildings have excess space so a lot of these employees will stay in downtown St. Louis,” he said. “The other issue that AT&T has, they’ve discussed this with us, is they’re a technology company and they’re creating the office of the future.”

Rainford points out that the company’s Yellow Pages division still occupies four floors of the building. He assumes the new owner of the building knew AT&T would not be its anchor tenant.

Rainford added that no economic incentives were offered to the telecommunications giant because the incentives would have been too far-reaching. He said that like it or not, the global economy is a dynamic place where one day you win and the next you lose.

At 588 feet tall, One AT&T is downtown’s third-largest structure behind the Gateway Arch and the Metropolitan Square building.

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