Friday, August 14, 2009

A "CAN DO!" Town

downtown st louis developmentSomething evident in St. Louis is our "Geographical Inferiority Complex" when it comes to development. Some say it's well earned. Others say its overstated.

Last week while traveling down Market Street towards the Gateway Arch and passed CityGarden. I was telling my sister, visiting from Albequerque, about how cool our newest downtown destination was. Her experience living in New York City, Phoenix and Albequerque prompted a comment about how controversial that type of project can be. That got me thinking. Here was a project that was being planned and completed over several years and not only was it not controversial, it didn't really seem to have much fanfare, positive or negative, until it was done (LoftsintheLou post from 10/2007).

What's better is that the talk of the town now is sprucing up the rest of downtown to keep up with those fantastic two blocks. The contrast between CityGarden and the surrounding blocks is blatant. Just today the St Louis Beacon published a good story about the movement underway to continue what was started or re-started with CityGarden. While any time development is proposed or discussed, one can't get their hopes up too much; not just St. Louis, but anywhere.

The good news is that the forward momentum of our little rennaisance continues to move forward in Downtown St. Louis. The enjoyment of our city will continue to grow and prosper. To all the doubters, "It Can Be Done!"

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Culinaria Opens Tuesday

Looking at the week, the long awaited opening of the "new Schnucks" is a welcome milestone for downtown. Having a full sized grocer downtown will be great for the area and a long awaited convenience.

Growing up in suburban St. Louis, there was no grocer in my neighborhood. In fact, we drove over 2 miles to buy food. No one seemed worried about our inability to buy food.

For some reason not having a grocery store downtown was a lightning rod for controversy; even after City Grocers and several small markets opened, the controversy continued. It seems that the subject is appealing to the suburbanite base in our community. They like it. Aparently so does the Post Dispatch.

Today's article is titled such that a Tuesday's opening of Culinaria would test whether Downtown St Louis is "truly back".

This line of thinking is pervasive in "outsider's" downtown. Once while walking th e streets with a loft buyer downtown, they asked me if downtown was struggling because one restaurant had closed. Around that time, I posted on the subject and how business closings elsewhere didn't seem to cause the same negative bias. Today I was working in Suburban West County, and was not at all suprised to see many stores closing. My buyer's didn't ask why West County was faltering.

As a lifelong St. Louisan, I continue to be impressed with the growth and direction of the downtown neighborhoods. The popular negativity surrounding this positive phenomenon is a disappointing reflection on the negativity that our community has for positive change and our primary print news publications never ending inability to grasp the fantastic energy still helping downtown move forward.

Of course, when praising the progress downtown becomes the fashion, the Post, if its still in business, will be there to take some credit.

In the mean time, I hope to make it to the Grand Opening Tuesday. While I do applaud Schnucks for opening downtown, I would have been more impressed had they been willing to open up in the Century Building. It would have made a better grocery store than the lower levels of a garage. Of course, they are in the business of "We Make It Easy" and selling food--not renovating historic structures.

When its all said and done, I'm really curious to see what percentage of downtown residents stop driving to the grocery store.