St. Louis County Depot issues Request for Proposals for tenant organizations –

The St. Louis County Depot, for the first time ever, has issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to potentially open up space for new tenants or change the space arrangements for existing tenants beginning in 2023. Non-profits and for-profits are eligible to apply.
The County is issuing the RFP to ensure the best mix of tenants and use of space within the 130-year-old building. Current tenants have been encouraged to apply and were consulted on the formation of the RFP. But other non-profit arts and culture organizations also are encouraged to submit proposals for exhibit, performance, workshop, and administrative space inside the Depot. All applicants in the RFP process will be analyzed based on how they fit with the mission and vision for the Depot.
“We’ve made a lot of changes at the Depot in the last few years to improve operations, and this is another step,” said Depot Director Mary Tennis in an official statement. “The RFP process is transparent and fair, which the taxpayers of St. Louis County deserve because they are helping to subsidize the space in this building for our tenants.”
Lease rates for non-profits start at just under $5 per square foot. For-profit opportunities may also be available for a slightly higher minimum rate if they fit with the mission and vision of the building. St. Louis County remains committed to a below market-rate rent and hopes the affordable cost and prime location will elevate and enable engaging organizations to flourish in our region.
The historic building features stages, train tracks, original 1892 architecture, and rare chateauesque design. There is also opportunity for some commercial/retail organizations to submit proposals. Approximately 80,000 square feet of leased space will be available. More than 110,000 people visited the Depot in 2021, despite it being closed for several months due to the pandemic.
The Depot currently is home to seven different non-profit organizations. One of these organizations, the Duluth Playhouse, previously announced it is vacating its space at the end of the year, which increases opportunities for new organizations to move in.
The RFP process is the latest in a series of operational changes at the county-owned Depot aimed at improving the vibrancy and viability of the facility. In 2019, recognizing the need to better invest in the Depot and stabilize operations, the St. Louis County Board created a director position and hired Mary Tennis for the role.
Earlier this year, the county adopted a mission and vision statement for the Depot. The mission includes serving as “…a landmark cornerstone of arts and cultural organizations that entertains, educates, inspires, and provides space for a diverse group of guests. The St. Louis County Depot provides new, engaging experiences; is a destination and a community center; and fosters community through a diversity of education and entertainment that enhances the quality of life for visitors.”
Significant capital improvements were completed while the building was closed during the pandemic, thanks to funding provided by the state in the 2020 bonding bill. These included roof repairs, long-term drainage solutions in the basement and new carpeting on the floors. 
Other improvements made include a facelift to the Great Hall, new electronic signage throughout to assist with directions and promoting programming, better branding, and upgrades to the boardroom, which is still adorned with a historic 25-seat oak conference table, and now has an 80-inch monitor and full remote meeting/presentation capabilities.
“This amazing building has weathered so much, and it stands as an important community resource with so much exciting potential,” said Tennis. “How we best serve this community depends largely  on our tenants so I am looking forward to seeing the responses we get from enthusiastic partners who believe in the power of collaboration as much as we do.” 
The deadline to submit an RFP is June 14. Depot staff will offer tours for prospective tenants later in May. Decisions on contracts will be made later this summer for 2023 leases. Organizations should expect short-term leases for 2023 and 2024, as the building is slated to undergo significant upgrades over the course of the next five years that could potentially affect space.
Information on the Depot’s mission and vision statement, as well as details on how to submit an RFP, are available online at Organizations interested in learning more about the RFP should email All RFPs are issued through Demandstar,  as a normal part of business for St. Louis County.
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Partly cloudy skies. Low 53F. Winds NW at 10 to 20 mph..
Partly cloudy skies. Low 53F. Winds NW at 10 to 20 mph.
Updated: June 8, 2022 @ 3:53 pm
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