CREW-St. Louis Recognizes Members, Maxine Clark With Networking Awards

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Members lauded for contributions to organization’s mission; Clark receives honors as Woman of Influence in St. Louis region

The St. Louis chapter of CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) continued its tradition of honoring members with its 15th Annual Networking Awards. In addition to members, CREW-St. Louis presented its fifth annual Woman of Influence Award to Maxine Clark. The award recognizes a female leader who has impacted the commercial real estate industry through her leadership, accomplishments and service to the St. Louis region.

This year’s ceremony to present the awards was cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic. Honorees will be recognized next year if a formal program can be held.

“We are disappointed that we could not recognize these outstanding members and Ms. Clark at our usual formal banquet,” said Tracy Howren, 2020 CREW-St. Louis president. “The challenge of protecting the health and safety of our members, our industry friends and their families take precedence during these difficult days. We look forward to the day when we can gather and celebrate the achievements of our members and influential women without the worries of our health crisis.” 

The awards revolve around CREW-St. Louis’ mission to advance, educate and support women to influence the commercial real estate industry. Those honored this year are:

Woman of Influence: Maxine Clark, Founder and Former Chief Executive Officer, Build-A-Bear Workshop; CEO and President at Clark-Fox Foundation

The long-time retail innovator, Clark has taken on an ambitious development project to ignite development in the neighborhood between the Delmar Loop and the Central West End. Called the Delmar DivINe, Clark’s vision is to turn the vacant St. Luke’s hospital built in 1904 into a hub for nonprofit innovation and collaboration while transforming an area of the city long neglected.

Clark discovered the building vacant since 2014 when she made a wrong turn. She was driving around the neighborhood where she helped open a KIPP Charter School in the area. She originally approached Cortex, the region’s technology and bioscience innovation hub, to expand its campus to the site. But Cortex was immersed in developing its existing campus, which sits just a few miles away.

Clark decided to turn the vacant building into its own Cortex-like project to house the area’s many nonprofits as well as to provide affordable housing for younger tenants who want urban living but are just starting their careers.

The ambitious real estate development project will convert 177,000 square feet of the nearly 500,000

square-feet of buildings into office space. This space will serve as an incubator for social service organizations, similar to how Cortex brought together the tech industry. Washington University is a partner in the development, offering the tools, resources and direction to help tenants move forward.

Another 143,000 feet will contain 150 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments aimed at young professionals like teachers, nurses, social workers earning between $35,000 and $55,000. Ground floor retail space could house local businesses, a bank and a possible locally operated café. Plans include an auditorium and shared tenant and community meeting and collaborating spaces. Phase 2 may include an early childhood center and additional office space as demand warrants.

The name “Delmar DivINe” draws a sharp contrast to how the area has historically been negatively perceived. For many years, the area was referred to as the “Delmar Divide” due to racial and income stratifications that existed on the north and south ends of the street.

Clayco started construction on the $100 million development earlier this year, with the project’s first phase to be completed by the fall of 2021.

Clark began her career in retail more than four decades ago, working for the former May Department Stores. While her office at May was adjacent to the real estate department, she quickly found that retail was more than bricks and mortar. She was drawn to merchandising and focusing on the entertainment aspect of retail for customers. In 1992 Maxine was named the President of Payless Shoesource, May’s largest division.

She ventured out on her own in 1996, shortly before May spun off Payless as a separate public company. She wanted to find a way to connect with children and bring the stage to their world. Inspiration came from a neighbor’s child and Build-A-Bear followed in 1997. Today there are more than 400 Build-A-Bear Workshop stores worldwide. Cumulative sales have exceeded $8 billion, and nearly 200 million stuffed animals have been sold worldwide.

In June 2013, Clark stepped down from her Chief Executive Bear role to pursue her community interest in improving K-12 public education. This followed a chance meeting in 2012 with an elementary student in Jennings. The student, then a 10- year-old, inspired her to use her talents for other passions and purposes.

She also encourages and invests in women and minority entrepreneurs such as Goldie Blox, St. Frank and Healthy Roots Dolls to name a few.

New Member of the Year: Connie Kroenung, Working Spaces

Kroenung received praise for her energy, commitment and contributions to CREW-St. Louis. She began playing a key role on the program committee after joining CREW-St. Louis in 2019. Kroenung has been instrumental in developing monthly programs and recruiting speakers as well as soliciting sponsors and locating venues. Additionally, she has worked on the organization’s annual golf classic, the industry’s premier networking and golf event.

CREW Impact Award: Molly Studer, JEMA

Studer was honored for her ability to move the organization’s goals and mission forward. She serves as the chapter’s membership chair. As such, she constantly networks to extol the benefits of joining the organization. She regularly attends monthly Coffees with CREW, an informal morning gathering to explain CREW-St. Louis to prospective members. More than 75 members have joined the chapter under her leadership of the membership committee. She has also made an impact by finding ways to improve the experience of members who join the organization, including co-hosting the new CREW-St. Louis orientation program.

Economic Impact: Angie Earlywine, Jen Nevil and Kelly Pimmel, Lamar Johnson Collaborative, and Susan Woodland, formerly with Interior Investments LLC

(Pfizer Research and Development Facility, Chesterfield, MO)

The CREW-St. Louis Economic Impact Award honors and recognizes the CREW-St. Louis members who played a pivotal role in the completion of Pfizer’s Research and Development Facility in Chesterfield, MO.

Pfizer’s decision to build a prominent R&D facility in St. Louis enhanced the region’s impact as a leader in the life sciences industry, while additionally potentially creating long-term economic benefits.

The 295,000 square-foot Chesterfield facility opened in 2019. The $236 million investment builds on Pfizer’s leading worldwide research and development network. The R&D facility will employ more than 600 people, bringing more than 80 new STEM jobs to the region.

“Pfizer’s choice of St. Louis County for this new facility is a testament to our skilled workforce, as well as our growing international reputation as a center for research in the  biopharma, plant science and information technology fields,” said St. Louis County Executive Sam Page at the grand opening. “The company’s investment in this expansion is one of the largest in the history of St. Louis County. But beyond the economic benefit for our region, the focus of Pfizer’s research and development work here will save lives and relieve suffering around the world.”

The project further supported the region gaining strength as a leader in the life sciences industry. “The new facility comes online as St. Louis is gaining national recognition as a hub for life sciences,” reported the St. Louis Business Journal. “CBRE ranked the region in its top 10 list of emerging life sciences clusters, judging cities on employment growth, number of key scientists, and quality of educational and medical research institutions, among other metrics,” the weekly business newspaper reported on May 30, 2019.

Pfizer looked for guidance in providing a flexible work and research space to meet its needs today and tomorrow. Angie Earlywine, Jen Nevil and Kelly Pimmel at Lamar Johnson Collaborative (LJC) led this process to ensure it met Pfizer’s objectives and coordinated their efforts with the broader Clayco design-build effort, making the project a success. This design effort involved everything from intensive discussions, focus groups and even a mock-up office for Pfizer leadership and colleagues to evaluate.

Earlywine, Managing Director at LJC, was the lead Workplace Strategist for the project. She was instrumental in guiding the building program of the offices through a successful redesign effort to realign the project with the budget while meeting core goals of the workplace strategy.

Nevil, Principal at LJC, served as a lead interior designer on the project. She worked diligently with the client through the design and construction process. She was instrumental in executing the furniture bid process and preparing a multi-vendor mock-up of workspace solutions for real-time evaluation by Pfizer leadership and colleagues.

Pimmel, Senior Associate at LJC, was a Workplace Strategist on the project and continues to work with Pfizer today on a fully integrated Change Management plan to prepare Pfizer colleagues for their new and different work environment. She also ensured there was as little disruption to the business as possible throughout the move and post-move process.

Susan Woodland, formerly Workplace Setting Specialist at Interior Investments LLC, supported and helped develop the furniture bid mock-up. She also assisted with the pilot space within existing Pfizer space where leadership was able to live-in, tryout and understand the space types in the new facility.

Career Advancement for Women: Lynn Goessling, Armstrong Teasdale

CREW-St. Louis members recognized Goessling for her constant efforts to support and advance the careers of women in commercial real estate. Goessling has been a fierce advocate for elevating the status of women in commercial real estate.

Her roots with CREW-St. Louis run deep, dating back to 2002. She has served on many committees, including chair of the sponsorship and golf tournament committees. She also contributed as a member of the executive board for several years before assuming a leadership role as the chapter’s president in 2018.

A consummate mentor to many fellow members for years, she initiated a formal mentoring program during her tenure as president. The program pairs mentors to offer mentees the tools to achieve their career and personal objectives. She continues to support the program by serving as 2020 chair of the mentor committee.

About CREW-St. Louis

CREW-St. Louis is one of the largest of CREW Network’s global chapters. Its more than 200 members come from all disciplines in commercial real estate. The mission of CREW-St. Louis is to advance, educate and support women to influence the region’s commercial real estate industry. CREW Network exists to transform the commercial real estate industry by advancing women globally. It does this by looking outward to bring more women into the industry, showcasing member successes and serving as a key resource to its members and the industry. CREW Network members represent nearly all disciplines of commercial real estate – every type of expert required to “do the deal.” Members comprise more than 12,000 commercial real estate professionals. For more information, visit www.crewstl.org. Follow CREW-St. Louis on Twitter @CREWSTL.

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