Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Downtown Housing Boom


I've worked in downtown St. Louis for 33 years (the horror! the horror!). When I started out as a baby lawyer in 1974 there was still a certain vibrancy. It was the hub of the metropolitan area. There was a lot of street level retail. The finest mens clothier, the top-of-the-line bridal shop, famous restaurants, private clubs whose memberships were coveted, and the liquor store that sold Dom Perignon lined Locust, Olive, Pine, Chestnut and Market Streets. The years passed. Highway development and suburban sprawl bled the City of St. Louis, particularly downtown, to near death. Tumbleweed might have blown down Broadway. Not much was left but lawyers, accountants, politicians, and those that feed off them. And sports venues. The only reason many people came downtown was to see a baseball game.

Everything changes. In the last several years, scores of beautiful, vacant office and commercial buildings have been converted into lofts, condos and apartments. Twenty five years ago, downtown had hardly any population. Now there are thousands of new residents firing a revival, spinning off hip restaurants and clubs, shops and, for the first time in decades, a grocery store (which is about to move across the street and double in size)!

I'm glad I didn't move our practice to the boring 'burbs. It's exciting downtown again. I like cities. Life happens there.

9 comments:

Olivier said...

je suis d'accord avec toi, rien de plus agreable qu'un centre ville vivant. (ce qui manque à Evry, le dimanche tout est fermé, le soir aussi, alors direction Paris).


I agree with you, nothing more pleasant than a centre town living. (what misses in Evry, Sunday all is closed, the evening also, then Paris direction).

Jilly said...

Great collage and good to know that life has returned to your downtown area. That's always so sad when it dies and so good when it's reinvigorated again.

inspired said...

;o]

soosha_q said...

I do love the new life in the downtown area, but I could never live there. I doubt I'd ever be able to afford one of those fancy lofts, but the main reason is that I do love the city, just not too much of it. The 'burb is fine with me. Half way between the liveliness of the city and the relaxation of the country. I can go play in the caves at the City Museum whenever I want and when I need to chill I can go find a quiet place on the outskirts to stargaze.

HAve you ever been to the City Grocery store?

Strangetastes said...

Soosh - City Grocers is two blocks from my office - go there all the time.

I'm not sure I'd like to live downtown myself, or at least not just yet. A lot of the rehabbed buildings are in areas that still look kind of bleak. City Grocers is a great addition, but it's not a full-service supermarket. Since St. Louis Centre and its Walgreens closed down, there is no pharmacy downtown. A new shopping center with a Walgreens and Schnucks is about to be built at Tucker and Lafayette, across from the old city hospital (which has also been rehabbed into residences). It's not walking distance from the core of downtown. There would need to be more neighborhood services to attract a softy like me. It will probably come in time.

Bob

Fabrizio - ikol22 said...

Yessss life happens daily rich of news in cities !!! --- Totally agree.

Ming_the_Merciless said...

I'm glad the downtown area of cities are getting a resurgence. I remember a dilapidated downtown Monroe, Louisiana.

That said, I can't believe the prices. A downtown loft beginning at $136,000!?!?!?! OMG, it is ALMOST enough to make me wanna move there.

Ming_the_Merciless said...

Bob - You should invest in a loft now before it becomes hoity-toity and overpriced. :-)

Wendy said...

Your description of change over time in downtown St Louis, describes Wichita's downtown history, too. Although, I do see hints of restoration, as it gets some long overdue attention. The streetscape of statues have added some "life" that will last throughout the years. Sounds kind of funny, but the statues are so lifelike, and enjoyable. And, they entice real people to come downtown and walk amongst them. I noticed tonight there is a BIG building going up that has a sign of "Lofts for rent" on it. It will be exciting to watch as the old downtowns come back to life. I think ours lacked enough parking to accommodate all the shoppers. So, malls in outlying areas with big parking lots were built and the downtown shops relocated. Sorry to ramble on - but I enjoyed reading your post.