Power of CREW

September 27, 2020
Written by: CREW-St. Louis

Awards Showcase The Mission; Members, Maxine Clark Live It

We all know it’s been a rather strange, frustrating and challenging year. But as the saying goes, “when life gives you lemons make lemonade.” 

We did just that by moving forward with the 15th Annual CREW-St. Louis Networking Awards. We carried on our tradition of honoring members for putting our mission into action. We also selected a leader for the prestigious fifth annual Woman of Influence Award. Maxine Clark embodies this honor, an award that recognizes a female leader who has impacted the commercial real estate industry through her leadership, accomplishments and service to the St. Louis region.

We tried mightily to hold a banquet to celebrate the accomplishments of members and Maxine. Unfortunately, this year’s ceremony to present the awards was cancelled in March, with hopes to try again in September. The ongoing pandemic, spike in cases and health restrictions made such a gathering impractical. We hope to recognize our honorees if a formal program can be held in 2021, which typically occurs in March.

“We are disappointed that we could not recognize these outstanding members and Ms. Clark at our usual formal banquet,” says Tracy Howren, 2020 President. “The challenge of protecting the health and safety of our members, our industry friends and their families took 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.”  
We owe a great deal of gratitude to our Awards committee for their perseverance. They had worked diligently to promote participation and arrange the event. Thanks to Mande Meyer, Chair, and Susan Bowen, Co-chair, for their efforts. Additionally, Mande and Susan had an excellent committee - Stacey Kamps, Kristy Hess, Dawn Humphreys and Alicia Kapolis (student member).
Several nominations in each category made this a challenging task. All those honored live up to the challenge by showing how they are making a difference in our industry and our region. Congratulations to this year’s honorees!

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

Started in 2016, the award recognizes a female leader who has made a significant impact on the commercial real estate industry through her leadership, accomplishments and service to our region.

"Maxine should be nominated for Women of Influence because she has been a well-known influence in the region and is the force behind many positive aspects of improving our community, bringing diversity, equity and inclusion to the forefront, and improving the built environment in what would otherwise be blighted areas in St. Louis,” a nominator notes. “She is truly focused on making St. Louis among the best cities nationally.”

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. 

Maxine Clark                                                                   Delmar DivINe

New Member of the Year: Connie Kroenung, Working Spaces

Presented to a new member who joined the chapter in 2018 or 2019 and demonstrated commitment and support to the chapter.

Connie receives 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.

"If you could sum up an incredible CREW member, it would be Connie!” a member says. “She joined CREW and quickly found her way to the programs committee. She was fast to offer her help, both planning and sponsoring this year's speed networking program and supporting several other programs. Connie's enthusiasm for CREW is contagious and she is already recruiting other new members to our committee.”

Another member says, “Connie is a highly active member of our Program Committee. 2019 was her first year on the committee and she started coordinating an event right away. She then moved onto to working with two others, which included hosting the remarkably successful Speed Networking! Her energy, commitment and contributions are felt throughout the organization and I look forward to what she can do in the future!”

“Connie is a tremendous new member! She has gone above and beyond in supporting the programs committee, planning several programs, soliciting sponsors, engaging her own firm to support events and has even stepped up to commit to being the next co-chair! Her enthusiasm for CREW and her efforts behind the scenes are the model for CREW-St. Louis.”

She has been in the CRE industry for more than a decade. Connie serves as a Workplace Consultant for Working Spaces, providing innovative office furniture related products and services to corporate, government, healthcare and hospitality clients in the Midwest and national branch locations.

Connie Kroenung

CREW Impact Award: Molly Studer, JEMA

Recognizes an outstanding member who embraces the goals and mission of CREW.

Molly is honored for her ability to move the organization’s goals and mission forward. She serves as the chapter's Membership Chair.

"Molly is a networking superstar who is constantly promoting the benefits of CREW,” a nominator says. “Numerous new members in 2019 and into 2020 have joined after a discussion with Molly! She is regularly thinking about how to improve the member experience and willing to reach out to anyone remotely curious about the organization. Molly's passion to connect the dots has made an Impact in her short CREW career and is certain to have a lasting Impact as she continues on in her CREW career.”
Another member adds, “Molly changed jobs but never skipped a beat in vetting all the membership applications, running the committee and showing up for numerous Coffees with CREW. I believe her involvement in hosting the coffees translated into several new applications each month. She is informative, approachable and welcoming and she really works hard! I believe that she epitomizes what a CREW member should be, and she has made a wonderful positive ‘impact’ on CREW-St. Louis!”

More than 75 members have joined the chapter under her leadership of the Membership Committee. 

Molly joined JEMA in August 2019 as Director of Client Development. With nearly two decades of experience in the industry, she brought a wealth of knowledge regarding real estate management, development and procurement to JEMA. She builds new partnerships, strengthens existing partnerships and develops new opportunities for the design firm specializing in architecture, planning and interior design.

Molly Studer

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. 

Pfizer Project 1                                                              Pfizer Project 2 
Photographs by Sam Fentress and courtesy of Lamar Johnson Collaborative‚Äč

Angie Earlywine                                                               Jen Nevil

Kelly Pimmel                                                                   Susan Woodland
Career Advancement for Women: Lynn Goessling, Armstrong Teasdale

Lauds a member who consistently exemplifies CREW’s commitment to elevating the status of women in commercial real estate. The member works tirelessly to support women in advancing their careers.

CREW-St. Louis members recognize Lynn for her constant efforts to support and advance the careers of women in commercial real estate. She has been a fierce advocate for elevating the status of women in commercial real estate since joining the industry in 1992.

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 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. Some 60 members have participated in the program. She continues to support this valuable program by serving as 2020 Chair of the Mentor Committee.

Lynn is a partner with Armstrong Teasdale in the firm’s Financial and Real Estate Services practice group. She brings more than two decades of experience in commercial real estate and business law. She represents a diverse range of clients, from developers and landowners to privately held businesses and public companies. She is active in all sectors of the commercial real estate industry, including multifamily housing, office, retail and restaurants, hospitality, health care and life sciences, senior care and rehabilitation facilities, and industrial development.

Lynn Goessling