A new innovation center has opened at the Cortex innovation district.

Located in the $55 million 4220 building on Duncan Avenue, the new center, called Innovation Hall, includes free drop-in workspace, event and meeting space, and a restaurant called The Chocolate Pig.

Venture Cafe St. Louis, the nonprofit that hosts networking and other events, is managing Innovation Hall. 23 City Blocks Hospitality Group, which owns The Caramel Room at Bissinger’s, Handcrafted by Bissinger’s, Lumen Private Event Space and 23 City Blocks Catering, is operating The Chocolate Pig.

Innovation Hall and The Chocolate Pig last week held grand opening ceremonies. The development, including the innovation space and restaurant, cost about $10 million, Cortex Innovation Community President and CEO Dennis Lower said.

Lower said Cortex is leasing the 15,000-square-foot space from Wexford Science & Technology LLC, which developed the 182,000-square-foot, five-story 4220 building, and is subleasing space to Venture Cafe St. Louis and 23 Blocks Hospitality Group.

Modeled from a concept in Boston, a key component of Innovation Hall is its so-called Civic Lounge that includes free drop-in work space.

“It’s targeted toward early stage entrepreneurs, but it’s also available to creatives and the rest of the community to have a landing pad to work while they’re still try to get their business or project off the ground,” said Tyler Mathews, executive director of Venture Cafe.

The space also includes reserved meeting rooms and an event space that can hold up to 300 people. Venture Cafe plans for the space to serve as a programming hub.

Mathews said there currently aren’t many reasons for individuals to visit Cortex unless they have an office there or are attending a meeting in the district. He said he believes Innovation Hall helps change that.

The opening of Innovation Hall is the latest project included in the building boom at Cortex. The innovation district had 90,000 square feet of positive absorption during the third quarter, according to Cushman & Wakefield research.

Source: St. Louis Business Journal by Nathan Rubbelke  |  November 12, 2018