Tuesday, October 09, 2018

The Deals Keep Getting Better

  Round 2:   Bringing Soccer to Downtown

So what I learned in 2017 is that St. Louisan's don't like the idea of giving public assistance to multimillionaires.   After all, we're still paying on the last deal and already lost the team.   The investment didn't seem wise.

Of course dreamers like me saw it as a piece in the downtown St. Louis puzzle.   A building block.   I was in favor, but still was wanting our leadership to put more pressure on those that stood to gain the most.   

The last plan, estimated at costing $305 million, was asking for 60 million in public assistance;  nearly 20%.  I was reminded of a line from Roger Dawson's, Secrets of Power Negotiating, when he asserts, "You'll have to do better than that."  I've often felt that conflict of emotions with investment in downtown.   Hopes that any public assistance would be a net positive for the city seems like a fair perspective.  

Apparently that's just what is happening.  

Fast forward to 2018.   I'm thrilled to read that the people I was thinking about all along arrive at Matthew Dickey Boys Club and announce that they have joined the party.   While public financing will still be a part of the deal, according to 6th Ward Alderman Christine Ingrassia, its “the model of what a public-private partnership should look like.”   

For anyone spending close to $400 million, I'd say they have a right to ask for concessions on entertainment taxes.   In this case, the City would become the stadium owner (a plus) and so the team and its owners would pay a lease, and not be required to pay property taxes.   If everything comes to fruition, the deal seems to make economic sense for everyone.   The Taylor family of Enterprise and Kavanaugh family of World Wide Technology appear to be viewing the deal more as philanthropic than as an investment that needs to make them money. 

So if everything looks favorable, the only catch is 
Downtown St. Louis soccer stadium
that we'd have to win the bid with the MLS for one of the remaining two teams;  competing against Las Vegas, Detroit, San Diego and Phoenix.   In looking at U.S. media market rankings, St. Louis ranks behind Phoenix and Detroit in terms of media markets, but Detroits media market size is based upon proximity to Toronto, which already has a team.   So feasibly, we should fit in as a top contender.   We currently rank as the 21st largest media market, ahead of Portland, Salt Lake City, Columbus, and Kansas City that currently have teams, and Nashville and Cincinati which have been awarded franchises.  

So if we're not too late and things fall into place, folks in Downtown West would have a short walk to catch MLS soccer in St. Louis by 2022!

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Big Step for Downtown


   👍🏻 👍🏻

Downtown continues to move forward, as another major upgrade is announced today, pending county council and board of aldermen approval.  

In talking about the Ram's departure, most downtown residents didn't feel like we were really loosing anything.  Some of the Explore St. Louis staff seemed to think we really had a net gain, loosing blackout dates at the stadium and  allowing more room for conventions.  Unfortunately that didn't translate.

The current plan seems to address a lot of the complaints I've heard over the years about the convention center, particularly the unsightly exterior facade along 9th Street and Cole.   Many convention centers are like that though.  Aside from the plans to boost the convention economy, which is definately important, the benefits to downtown residents are worth celebrating too.   Having improved streetscapes, removing unsightly surface parking and generating more activity on the north side of downtown is long overdue.  

The picture above seems to be the new view from the Dorsa Penthouses, which like Banker's Lofts, will have a definate improved view.   

St. Louis is an awesome convention city!   Located in the middle of the country, easy and affordable access, plenty of hotels and an improved downtown with a continuous stream of development needs to work hard to compete against other midwestern cities like Indianapolis and Memphis that have recently completed upgrades to their convention centers.   

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Coming Soon!

Good news for the Downtown West neighborhood as one of the long time holdouts to development is the subject of new development plans.   Tire Mart doesn't have the height to attract the first round developers like the many high rises, but it does appear to have 'good bones', and a nice classic look.

The key, in this Realtor opinion, is to build it as a mixed use structure, and to make sure that a successful, sustainable business or civic organization operates on the first floor.   Great examples are all around, but some bad ones are too.   The build it and they will come philosophy generated a lot of vacant or underutilized space downtown. 

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Choteau Greenway - Events Tomorrow and Saturday!!!

The first time I heard about re-building Choteau's Pond was during the real estate boom in 2005.  My expectations were low.   Being a St. Louisan born well after 1850,  I hadn't heard of its predecessor and its tragic demise. I had heard of many grandiose plans for development that didn't take off, and this sounded too good to be true.

The fact that the area had been converted into a somewhat obsolete, underutilized rail yard as well as Cupples Station area, Union Station and the Sheraton City Center Hotel (Edison Condominiums) --the whole pond couldn't be restored, but anything designed to beautify the city and energize its residents was attractive.  Many people I spoke to loved the idea of reworking an attractive recreational area into what seemed to be a blighted scar on the downtown landscape.  Beyond that, the dream of having a network of bike paths crisscrossing the St. Louis area would be an attraction that would be transformative.

Fast forward to 2016 - despite my skepticism,  I've stayed interested and read up on any progress on the subject on GreatRiversGreenway.org .  Studies by the National Association of Realtors showed ‘trail availability’ outranked 16 other options including golf courses, security, sports fields, parks, and access to shopping or business centers.  They help build and sustain economic activity as well as increase property values of nearby homes as well as other .   The ultimate goal of the Choteau Greenway seems to be connecting Forest Park to Wash U Medical School, Cortex and Downtown, but that would be eclipsed by the master plan of making more connections on the Centennial Greenway Trail to extend from Forest Park to the Delmar Loop to Creve Coeur Park then on to St. Charles.   
Choteau Greenway Benefits

Currently there is a survey on the Gateway Rivers Greenway site to solicit public input about various aspects of trail development and an international design competition in the works.  The four remaining teams are set to have two public meetings in January and public participation is crucial.  The more people that are 'in the know,' the better.  Downtown residents are especially encouraged to show up for Meet the Designers Night or Community Day.   When I talk to loft owners ready to sell,  anything benefiting property values is always welcome news.

Overall, the excitement for this type of project in St. Louis is building.   Cities have been realizing that catering to the health and recreational needs of its residents is imperative if they want to continue to attract businesses and new residents.  Predictions about the 2018 Housing market nationwide predict that the single greatest demographic will be millenials looking for starter homes for the next several years, and citing their attraction to urban core areas with attractive, walkable areas.   These nationwide trends will appear to benefit areas like St. Louis due to a more affordable area, lower taxes and available urban housing.