One of the most successful local developments of the decade is the transformation of Downtown St. Louis as 91 commercial buildings are reborn as loft apartments.
Now, that rejuvenation has drawn national recognition. At the White House on Wednesday, first lady Laura Bush presented two St. Louis developers with the Preserve America Presidential Award for Private Preservation. The 2007 Preserve America Presidential Award recipients were chosen through a national competition administered by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in cooperation with the Executive Office of the President and in partnership with the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Craig Heller of LoftWorks LLC and John Steffen of The Pyramid Companies shared the award with the History Channel . . .
For decades, great swaths of downtown seemed doomed to abandonment as businesses opted for more modern buildings in the suburbs. Now, a vibrant neighborhood of loft-dwellers is springing up, retail stores and restaurants are open and downtown no longer empties out at 6 p.m.
Credit also goes to historic preservation tax credits provided by the state, Mayor Francis Slay’s deputy mayor for development Barbara Geisman and to Kate Shea, director of the city’s cultural resources office, who sent in the nominations for the award . . .
For the renaissance of downtown to reach full bloom, we need more developers like Mr. Steffen and Mr. Heller, who could see the potential in beautiful old buildings that time passed by and were willing to take a risk.