This is an Archived Editorial|
Revitalizing Downtown St. Louis
(June 24, 1998) - If St. Louis really wants to look at the revitalization of its downtown, there are many things that could be considered. A downtown area needs the perception of openness. St. Louis is plaqued with narrow sidewalks and a closterphobic shopping environment. Sidewalk cafes are not the answer to save a town. The St. Louis Centre was doomed from its inception. Its concept (narrow corridors would force the shoppers into the stores) was invaled.
Does the city really believe that thousands of visitors and conventioneers come downtown to stay indoors? The only reason that someone would want to save St. Louis Centre is because it is connected to the Convention Center. First, disconnect the wall between the old Dillard's store and the St. Louis Center. Raze Dillard's and create an open outdoor sculpture park area paying tribute to the history of St. Louis. If the Center does remains open, the north end along Washington Avenue could be enclosed in glass, providing shoppers with a full view of the park.
We talk about saving the historical buildings, but nowhere in the city is there anything that represents the history of St. Louis. For example, Laclede's Landing is tied to its heritage by name only. The brick warehouses originally housed manufacturing and wholesale companies. The Old Post Office, which is a true historical gem in itself, has been abandoned. Built in the Second Empire style at a cost of over $6 million, it was one of the more expensive government buildings constructed in the 1880s. Likewise, the Arcade Building, which was St. Louis' first indoor mall, and the Paul Brown Building are on the short list.
The Syndicate Trust building, which housed Scruggs, Vandervoot and Barney, one of the most elegant department stores stands shuttered and ready to collapse on itself. Sadly, the only sign of life is the colorful artwork on the surrounding fence. This building could be considered for a hotel rennovation or even upscale apartments.
It is not the youth or occasional street parties that will lead St. Louis out of its present and future problems. It will take the vision of one or many people to see beyond what exists and look towards the future.
For example, the Cupples Station, which was origionally a cluster of common warehouses, is now scheduled for rennovation into a high end hotel with restaurants and office space.
The city should take a serious look at creating upscale residential loft offices in these historic downtown buildings. This endeavor would provide opportunities for young entrepreneurs to work and live. The newly energized environment could be the building blocks to stabalize the existing community and give rise to a truly revitalized downtown.- Editor, SLFP
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