Let's Play STL Contemplates an Indoor Fun Center in Downtown St. Louis

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A 16,000-square-foot space downtown could become an indoor recreation center — with everything from foosball to ping pong to bocce to batting cages, as well as a good place to sit down with a cup of coffee.

That's the vision of Dr. Sonny Saggar, an emergency room physician and entrepreneur. Seven years ago, he opened Downtown Urgent Care at 916 Olive. Now he's got big plans for another building downtown — the first floor of the Elder Shirt Lofts at 711 N. 13th Street, just a few blocks from the City Museum.

Saggar bought the first floor space "four or five years ago — foolishly," he says. At the time, he thought he might open a museum for medical devices. But when he realized that wouldn't work, he was left the space and has been dreaming of what to do with it ever since.

"I've got a mortgage," he confesses. "It's like owning a second home and never using it. But I don't want to do just anything with it." Because it's the ground-floor of a residential building, he says, a bar or nightclub is out. "You don't want boozing, or pounding music until 3 a.m.," he says. But a club — a members' only space offering indoor activities? That seems to make some sense.

Saggar has been chatting with downtown loft dwellers about his plans on NextDoor, and tonight he's ready to take the first step toward making the dream a reality. At a special brainstorming session on-site from 4 to 7 p.m., he's inviting the neighbors (whether they live or work downtown) to drop by and help discuss ideas. Chris Sommers of Pi is donating free pizza to keep the attendees fueled up.

Anyone who wants to come is welcome, though Saggar asks that people sign up ahead of time so it doesn't become a pizza-eating free-for-all. You can do that at the concept's new website, www.letsplaystl.com

The one thing he's not open to is the idea of Nautilus machines or weights. "I don't want a gym," he says. "This isn't a place for sweat. This is for hanging out, having fun and getting to know each other."

A native of Great Britain who currently lives in Wildwood, "I love St. Louis," he says. "Something I feel very strongly about is making it a better place to live and work."

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com


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