By. Chris Stritzel
Over the past week, Downtown Saint Louis has seen a ton of development news come out of it. The most prominent being Ballpark Village Phase 2 and the Cupples 10 Building. But, over the course of the year so far, we have seen a load of development of projects dumped on to the Downtown area. Whether they are Historic Rehabs or new Construction ideas, a lot has been announced or in planning. But the question has begun to emerge, Why all of a sudden is Downtown coming back? The answer can be found in our neighboring City, Kansas City.
Kansas City was once a desolate land with very few developments in their Downtown being announced or built at any given time. That was until they hit a spark which started a fire. A fire in ideas and building that is. That spark is a combination of 2 factors. The main one is the Power and Light District. A Cordish Companies development that is larger than Ballpark Village and is full of shops and other attractions. This along with the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts led to the explosion in ideas and constriction which is building up their Downtown and Changing their skyline rapidly. These 2 projects renewed momentum in their Downtown and initiated their Downtown Renaissance worth now close to $3 Billion.
Back home, here in Saint Louis, we are approaching the Spark that will light the fire. Downtown currently has a redevelopment boom going on. The spark that was discovered and went up in flames is the Rehab and reopening of the Arcade Building. This initiated the rebirth of Downtown in a way and has lead to developers purchasing abandoned buildings and submitting their visions for the buildings. That is all taking place North of Chestnut Street. But what about South of there. A Spark has been discovered, and this time it comes in the form of 2 projects currently under construction. The CityArchRiver project and the Kiener Plaza Renovations. I know for some it is odd to believe that these 2 are the spark, but they are.
These 2 projects are the spark in a way because The Park over the Highway connects Downtown to the Arch Grounds and Kiener plaza opens up the Downtown Saint louis Gateway Mall into a living room for the region. These 2 things are great for commerce and tourism which is what is going to launch the next Building Boom in Downtown. The biggest point here is the impending fire ready to be set when the Spark is uncovered. 2 Dueling projects could initiate this. These are Ballpark Village Phase 2 and Cupples 10. These 2 projects once they get under way could lite that fire which will transform Downtown South into a hub of new projects and cranes that will build up the area.
Not only could it build up Downtown South but it will also build up the parking lots and vacant lots South of Interstate 64. This development would rake in Chouteaus landing as well and would become one mega redevelopment zone. Upon the fire being lit, well over $4 Billion in projects could come roaring in to the area around the stadium which would then expand in to areas around those developments and so on. The map below shows the Spark (Yellow), The Rehabs and Preservation (Green) the fire starter and other new projects that come with the fire (Blue)
So this means that finally, projects like Chouteau's lake and others can finally become a reality with this fire. And with this comes the continual building of Downtown Saint Louis into the Hub of the region again and the hub of the Eastern Side of Missouri.
Now is the time for Saint Louis to begin rolling development wise and for developers to begin to realize that Saint Louis is ready for new things and that they are the ones who can deliver it. Because I believe the time is ripe for a new Saint Louis.