Real estate nightmare in downtown St. Louis.

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The Railway Exchange Building was the heart of downtown St. Louis for a century. Every day, locals crowded into the sprawling, ornate 21-story office building to go to work, shop at the department store that filled its lower floors or dine on the famous French onion soup at its restaurant.
Today, the building sits empty, with many of its windows boarded up. A fire broke out last year, which authorities suspect was the work of copper thieves. Police and firefighters send in occasional raids to search for missing people or to roust squatters. A search dog died during one of the raids last year when it fell through an open window.
“It’s a very dangerous place,” said Dennis Jenkerson, the St. Louis Fire Department chief.
It anchors a neighborhood with deserted sidewalks sprinkled with broken glass and tiny pieces of copper pipes left behind by scavengers. Signs suggest visitors should “park in well-lit areas.” Nearby, the city’s largest office building—the 44-story AT&T Tower, now empty—recently sold for around $3.5 million.

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