In 2004, we started working downtown by listing a really cool loft at the Knickerbocker Lofts.
At that point, the downtown neighborhood was a doormat. There seemingly was an editorial slant that people living downtown were arrogant and whiny; called "loft dwellers" they were presented negatively. Problems in other areas had neighborhood feedback and referred to residents, concerned citizens, or home owners.
Other than the media bias, the Downtown and Downtown West neighborhoods seemed were the dumping grounds for the area. Visitors to the neighborhood would urinate on buildings and drop trash and think it was ok. Even worse, Downtown St Louis seemed to be the solution to all other areas vagrancy problems. It wasn't uncommon to see police cars from outside the city dropping off "new downtown residents" to shelters around the neighborhood.
Our listing at the Knickerbocker gave us a front row seat for some of the problems downtown; especially that of homelessness.
In those days, Lucas Park was the scene of most problems with the homeless. Being homeless itself isn't what bothered the residents downtown, but public urination, public intoxication, public bathing in park fountains, pan-handling, drug dealing, sleeping on park benches, loitering and illegal feeding stations were problems that wear on people. Downtown residents were looking for a change. That's where the media bias came in. Any effort to address the problems associated with the homeless created a classic battle between the "haves" and the "have nots", both in the press, with City Government and with the Police. City government was even more complicated in that the Downtown Neighborhood has three different Alderman and the neighborhood was seemingly on the 'outskirts' of all three wards. Lastly, population was a problem. Downtown wasn't very populous (about 3500 folks), so it was easy for various entities to view any problem as minor since it didn't involve many people. Thankfully, things have changed since 2004.
Homelessness and its side effects are still downtown. The voice of the downtown residents and business owners have been heard by the city and downtown continues to improve.
Now the Downtown Population is around 14,000, and the voice of the downtown residents continues to be important.
Tomorrow night there is a meeting where the voice of downtown residents will be particularly useful.
Downtown Hall Meeting
Christ Church Cathedral 1210 Locust Street
According to the flyer, there will be a brief presentation followed by a town hall discussion.
Without downtown residents at meetings like this, the meetings can be largely dominated by folks with their heart in the right place, but with little realistic perspective on what the homeless problems are and worse off, no concern for the well being of Downtown St. Louis neighborhood.
So for those of you who care about the continued improvement of the downtown area and the increase in downtown real estate values, plan on being there. Especially if you are willing to participate in the discussion. What we don't need is a one sided discussion without the voice of the downtown residents.