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Revitalizing St. Louis: Proposed Projects to Improve Downtown

Jan 21, 2008
In the past decade St. Louis has been restoring and rebuilding much of the metro area and its surroundings. It has been a mix of building new structures and restoring historical buildings and architecture. Despite the trend that city populations are migrating out of cities and into suburb areas, the city is still investing heavily to keep its core. Recent data has shown the metropolitan area is growing.

Washington Avenue Project

Downtown Washington Avenue is an example of such resurgence of life. This is an area that, seeing it ten years ago, would seem as if it would never heal. At that time, crime was so bad that many residents had to lock their doors, even during the daytime. Now the district has cleaned up considerably and made St. Louis apartments more attractive to move into.

A decade ago, driving through the avenue you would see empty shells of old 20s style industrial red brick buildings decaying. Urban blight, as it's called, was spreading.

Starting in 1999, city planners made the turn around and started the Downtown Development Action Plan. They envisioned St. Louis apartments in the Washington Avenue area as the new "loft" district, as well as. And instead of renovating the turn-of-the-century industrial structures, new downtown lofts were crafted from the existing buildings. Historic tax credits were used to help fund the project so 19th and early 20th century building facades stay intact.

St. Louis Centre Redux

A remnant of an old 80s-style revitalization idea of bringing shopping down to downtown, the St. Louis Centre shopping mall failed like many other cities who believed that suburbanites would make the trip downtown to shop. Covering a few downtown city blocks, the mall, at the time, was the biggest enclosed shopping center in the U.S. Four stories of shopping space were built with high hopes, but eventually it was reduced to using only 50 percent of its space -- an impending implosion was immanent unless action was taken.

Starting in 2006 construction on this bloated space had begun. There will be mixed retail and condo space. More downtown St. Louis apartments and condo space will be available for a thriving business workers and new citizens, which will cut commute and traffic. The whole project covers what is historically known as the Mercantile Exchange district, which is six blocks worth of space.

The construction is still in the works and the builders are expecting some move-ins by the end of 2008. The downtown St. Louis Centre and Washington are only a few of the large new growth initiatives done by the city. The Mercantile Exchange, with the Centre, is only a piece of the big picture, which is to tie every project downtown together and foster more activity downtown.
About the Author
Art Gib writes for Philip H. Barron Realty (http://www.barronrealty.com) who finds and funds St. Louis apartments. Barron Realty renovates and restores vintage St. Louis apartment buildings for tenants, synergizing the current revitalization trend.
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