Sunday, June 27, 2010

What's Next Depends on YOU!

Tonight there was an update to the downtown partnership site adding a new feature, the "Friends of Downtown" Joining quickly, I'm looking forward to getting my access codes to the member login page etc. and may describe some of the benefits for a future post. In looking over the site, the information that I was most interested was the "Downtown Next: The 2020 Vision for Downtown St Louis" What made this most attractive, aside from the catchy name, was that the plan it replaced was so wildly successful. Downtowwn NOW, a different quasi government entity created by Former Mayor Clarence Harmon was the author. At the time, I wasn't hopeful. I remember thinking that we'd get a few new signs downtown and maybe a new catchy ad campaign. The phenomenal period of growth and redevelopment that took place between 1999 and 2009 was totally unexpected. I remember viewing the plan and some of the Downtown Partnerships propaganda about the results through the years and being impressed with how things were coming together and thinking, "what's next?"

Aparently I wasn't alone.

Developing a new plan was something discussed at some of the outreach committees through the Partnership for Downtown St Louis. The reports are attached below. My feeling on the reports are that they really need to be discussed more. Looking at the credits they gave on the back, I didn't feel that there were enough people participating, that they weren't the right people, and that there was enough time and energy incorporated. Guessing that the Partnership was just trying to get the very large ball rolling, the challenge still exists to get people talking about the report and encourage the type of participation that the report is calling for.

Seeing the void where the skybridge once stood was a good start and all the construction that recently started is a welcome addition. The part of the reports that seem most urgent probably wont rely on the decisions of some deep pocket developer, but rest on the shoulders of our elected officials. Creating more effective transportation and seperating more bicycle traffic seem like a huge part of the equasion that I can easily see get swept under the rug by the powers that be.

Take a look at the reports. Call your alderman and shoot a message to the Mayor, Lewis Reed and our representatives on the State and Federal Level.

The best deal about the report is that, by comparison, the 'heavy lifting' is already done. Downtown has been revived, home owners live there and we have a great start on the commercial development needed. At this point we just need to tie the whole package together, and that will need more planning and vision along with the interest of the people downtown and throughout the region. Executive Summary

Full Report

Friday, June 11, 2010

Catching Up on Downtown

The past month has been an exciting time in the history of downtown development.

Most exciting was the funding of the three projects at the end of last month; the Laurel, St Louis Centre, and the Park Pacific. There were so many valid reasons for the delays, but having these few projects resurrected is particularly valuable. Interestingly, when the real estate market started to slide and the economy tanked, it seemed as if real estate was the front and center cause of it all...then banking took the center stage. While the pieces were being sorted out, the biggest problem locally was the construction trades. It seems that the industry of new construction was severely bloated back in 2006 and that the difficulty in finding a "happy medium" is falling mostly on the many unemployed construction workers. So seeing financing go through and some of these people get back to work is a sight to see and hopefully a sign of new things to come as we continue to wait for Ballpark Village and other notable projects that could complete the transformation of our downtown.

The project below always seemed such a small part of downtown's transformation, but it started to become the symbol for the times as we were repeatedly promised its removal. I was at my boys school picnic when this was being celebrated. Thanks to technology and everybody wanting to capture this on video, I have my choice of perspectives. What's really cool is that its done and we don't have to hear people whine about it still being there.

This blog was on a bit of a hiatus due to some technical changes with the blogs host,which was a drag, since aside from all the new developments, turned 5 in May. Back in 2005, there didn't seem to be any sources of information on downtown that shined a light on the positive changes going on. Now there are many. Even having many, there still could be more. The shift in how the commercial news media portrays their stories for more drama and intrigue seems to paint downtown in a negative light more than other neighborhoods. There are also lots places where the negatives are primarily focused upon, that's good too. My only problem with the way things were in 2005 was that by only having the negative features of a community to see, some might get the idea that downtown St Louis isn't a great place to live.

So besides seeing the most popular eyesore in Downtown St Louis coming down, we can see the wheels of progress continuing to move forward DESPITE a global
recession. As the economy continues to pick up, we hope to see the downtown continue to prosper even more quickly than it is now.

Good luck to everyone participating in the Race for the Cure on Saturday!