Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Arcade Building: Round 3

For Downtown St Louis, few buildings could have as much impact on our city as the Arcade Building at 8th and Olive.   

The project made the news again yesterday with the SLDC being presented with a plan from out of state Dominium Development.

Sharing a block with the Paul Brown Lofts, this high rise has a fantastic arcade running through the building from Olive to Pine.  A well thought out and managed commercial development could really compliment the area and  surrounding downtown buildings such as the Syndicate and the Old Post Office.   
The added residential and retail density would be a welcome addition to the area. 

The project described the first 3 floors as commercial / retail, artist lofts in the middle, and the remainder of the building being high end residential rental homes.

Last weekend, I was in Omaha Nebraska.  Between events we were able to get out and check out their downtown area.  We asked around and heard that Howard Street was the place to be, so we headed that way.  What they were talking about was the part of downtown Omaha known as the Old Market District. Even though it seemed more like Soulard Market than our downtown, it seemed like a very successful implementation of concentrated urban retail and restaurants in a downtown area.

Another St Louisan commented about it being great to have that in St Louis.  Knowing that we have so much more to offer in our own downtown, we talked about it.  Our friend, being less familiar with urban St Louis, was an example of what many St Louisans don't know about downtown St Louis. 

Old Market did have some advantages. It was a concentration of destination restaurants & shops, many with protection from the elements,  with stylish lofts and plenty of parking.  They also had a nice advantage in that there wasn't nearly the competition in the surrounding areas like we have in St Louis.  This place was a catch all.  

Our downtown retail districts are spread out, can be isolated, and also compete with Soulard, Lafayette Square, Grand Center, Central West End, South Grand and more urban centers in the burbs. (Kirkwood, Maplewood, etc.).  An "anchor destination" like one created inside the Arcade Building could serve as a great starting point for shoppers looking for a better shopping experience than what we have now.