Construction is Underway for a St. Louis Landmark
Peabody Opera House
ST. LOUIS, July 12, 2010 – The rebirth of the Opera House at Henry Kiel Auditorium in
St. Louis became a reality today with the formal announcement of the financing and
start of construction on the historic downtown performing arts and cultural center,
which will reopen in Fall 2011 as the Peabody Opera House.
The St. Louis Blues ownership group, headed by Dave Checketts and including local
partner Tom Stillman, is joining with Optimus Development, headed by Chris McKee, to
spearhead the rehabilitation and renovation of the iconic downtown building.
Paric Corporation, headed by Joe McKee, will serve as general contractor in partnership
with KAI Design and Build. And Peabody Energy, whose global headquarters are located
only a few blocks away in downtown St. Louis, will support the effort as naming rights
The event was attended by dozens of civic and business leaders as well as St. Louis
Mayor Francis Slay, who announced last week the successful closing of financing for the
$78.7 million redevelopment of the historic building. Construction has already begun
with an anticipated reopening of the Peabody Opera House in Fall 2011.
"Today is a momentous day for the City of St. Louis,” said Checketts, chairman of the
St. Louis Blues and CEO/Chairman of SCP Worldwide. “We now have everything in place
to restore this St. Louis treasure, including the support of Peabody Energy. Peabody
understands the historical relevance of this facility and the role its renovation and
reopening will play for St. Louisans and visitors to downtown for generations to come.
“I would like to thank Mayor Slay, Comptroller Darlene Green, Board of Aldermen
President Lewis Reed and Alderwoman Phyllis Young, our partners Mike McCarthy,
Ken Munoz and Tom Stillman, as well as the McKee Family. They have all shared in our
vision and, without their commitment and tremendous hard work, we would not be at
this place today."
“For more than half a century, Peabody has called downtown St. Louis home as we
power people’s lives all over the world,” said Peabody Energy Chairman and Chief
Executive Officer Greg Boyce. “We are now proud to help turn this opera house into a
home for creative energy, brightening people’s lives and further enhancing the city’s
magnificent cultural landscape. The Peabody Opera House is a product of the vision and
hard work of Mayor Slay, Dave Checketts, the McKees, and the many other community
leaders and skilled workers who are polishing this St. Louis gem back to its original
The Peabody Opera House will be operated by an affiliate of SCP Worldwide and will
offer citizens a variety of theater and musical events, including events produced by
Running Subway, SCP Worldwide’s New York‐based production company. The
completed venue will provide jobs and entertainment options in the City of St. Louis,
including the creation of 480 construction jobs with a total payroll over $23 million.
"Over the past three years and under very difficult economic conditions, our team
worked tirelessly to make this project happen,” said Chris McKee, president of Optimus.
“Many people deserve credit, especially my dad Paul, my brother Joe, Dave Checketts,
and the Mayor. These folks believed in our team and this extraordinary building from
the very beginning. The Peabody Opera House project will not only provide hundreds of
new jobs to the region but also awaken an area that is vital to downtown."
The plan for the renovation and reopening of the Peabody Opera House, an
architectural gem opened in 1934 on Market Street in downtown St. Louis, was
approved by the Board of Aldermen in June 2009. The City’s Land Clearance for
Redevelopment Authority (LCRA) issued $32.6 million in bonds to finance a portion of
the development. More than $46 million in state and federal historic tax credits, federal
New Markets Tax Credits, Brownfield tax credits, and first mortgage debt complete the
“The renovation and reopening of the Peabody Opera House is very important to
Downtown,” said Mayor Slay. “A reopened Opera House will bring new visitors to
Downtown, bring more entertainment options to our City, and save a prominent,
beautiful building from years of abandonment and decay. This is great news for the
City, for the Gateway Mall, and for architecture, theater and music lovers everywhere. It
took a lot of work from a lot of people to get this development moving. I’m grateful to
everyone – and I’m very happy to see the Opera House moving forward.