By. Chris Stritzel
As Detroit's very impressive building boom continues to bring big innovations, St. Louis is struggling to keep up with all of the Cities nationwide experiencing unprecedented growth. But one thing in particular that we all need to know about here in St. Louis is the fact that we can learn a lot from Detroit in terms of how developers work there. It all begins with renewed interest in the City from those developers.
As seen in the Picture above, Developer Dan Gilbert, owner of Bedrock Detroit, has proposed a 734 foot tall, 52 Floor Colossus on Woodward Avenue. This development will sit on the former site of the Hudson's Department Store. But the interesting thing is his interest in changing the way Downtown Detroit is. His vision for renewing Detroit is beginning to capture national attention (clearly here), and give Detroit a new face for everyone who lives in the United States the World and Neighbor Windsor Canada.
The tower named "Hudsons" for now will become the tallest building in Detroit beating GM's Renaissance Center by a mere 7 feet. This is all part of Dan's plan to revitalize this section of Woodward into a Minature version of Chicago's Michigan Avenue. His mind has also brought Nike and Under Armour to Woodward across the street from where this major development is expected to go (which could bring an Apple Store, Uni Qlo and others that are not in Detroit).
The Picture below shows the hopeful traffic and look when this building is finished with all the businesses and The Detroit Streetcar. This photo is supposed to depict what Woodward will be like in 2020.
But what does this growth teach us? It is a complicated explanation but one that makes sense when it is all put together.
- Developers like Dan, have a renewed interest in Downtowns and Urban Areas. These kind of developments become common place when cities let developers loose to tackle cities on their own. In St. Louis we don't do this to often but we are slowly opening our doors to that idea. But before developers can open new buildings that can be possibly Skyline changing, they have to tackle the Abandoned Building Issue.
- St. Louis has a surplus of Abandoned, Historic Buildings including a soon to be vacant 45 Floor Office Tower. In Detroit, Devlopers have taken advantage of the abandoned buildings by converting them to new uses like Residential, Hotels and Office Space. This has made Detroit have not as large of a surplus as is causing them to reach the demand to build new things like The District Detroit or "Hudsons". If developers are let loose in St. Louis, abandoned buildings must be tackled first to increase demand of new construction and amenities that are not offered by the Converted buildings. But this leads to a issue, what about available space?
- Detroits Downtown like ours has several vacant lots that are prime real estate. In Detroit, developers have realized the potential of these lots and are embracing them by proposing buildings that are filling in the gaps and making their Downtown look more full. In St. Louis, if developers embrace the lots as well, our Downtown will become more full and will be more prone to welcoming new companies to the area.
When you mix those 3 points together, you get eager developers that want to help preserve history by restoring buildings that will attract people. Thus, developers will have a renewed interest in building in our Downtown Again. But what are City lacks in someways are visionaries like Dan Gilbert. The ones we do have are ambitious but do not always deliver in the ways they promise, I know there are other Dan Gilberts out there who are wanting to make a impact on the City and let their names be known, but they are afraid to present their ideas. This fear has to stop.
A quote from developer Sarimsakci states that "St. Louis is a Untapped Market". This I firmly believes. He believes and is planning a 50 Floor Riverfront Tower for St. Louis with the hope of Hudson Development And Alterra Development gets their minds in high gear. He believes that if a large scale project is done it will send St. Louis into high gear. The way I see it, he will be St. Louis' Dan Gilbert if his Riverfront Tower comes to fruitition, which it shoud soon.
So with all of these points, St, Louis and Detroit have parallels so far from a downfall in as a Urban Cneter to a renaissance of sorts with ambitious developers wanting to leave their mark on the Cities they represent. Now we wait to see if any of these points and instructions are fulfilled in anyway over the remainder of 2017, and if they are, be expecting 2018 to be a year of extreme change for the City of St. Louis as a whole. More on Dan Gilbert to hopefully come soon.