Great cities are not static places. They change. They grow. That's a point I made today at the Business Celebration Luncheon. The theme of the event was "St. Louis: Still Under Construction," but one of my favorite moments this year was "de-struction" of the Washington Avenue skybridge. Removing this tunnel is an apt symbol of some of the progress we've made throughout the City this year.
Despite the great recession (I am not going capitalize that), construction has begun on more than half a billion dollars in development downtown, and many more millions in developments in other City neighborhoods.
Taken together, Arlington Grove, the O'Fallon Recplex, Dick Gregory Place, the Tucker Viaduct, Peabody Opera House at Kiel, the Central Library Renovation, Greenstreet at Chouteau, and many others, demonstrated that our team can make progress even while our country's economy is in the doldrums.
We are positioning St. Louis to be first at the starting gate as businesses recover and grow, and as they look for a vibrant, sustainable urban environment in which to do so.
People throughout the country are noticing. St. Louis is a city that has not been crushed by the economic downturn.
The reinvigoration of the Arch Grounds is on the immediate horizon. In the past month, we have chosen one of the top design teams in the world to execute its vision, with the backing of the National Parks Service and civic leaders. The quality of this development and the national attention it is attracting changes things.
Also ahead: We are $25 million closer to opening up development opportunities along Delmar with the Loop Trolley. The plan for the North Riverfront and the resources we have put together for it promise a premier destination for regional industry. All of our major universities and medical centers plan expansions ' and new partnerships with local businesses.
In talking about these projects, I encounter less and less skepticism in my listeners. I attribute this difference to cumulative successes celebrated at today's Luncheon. Each of the honored businesses succeeded in a business environment unprecedented in the past 80 years. I congratulate them ' and I congratulate the City and development officials who helped them. The trust we developed is the foundation on which we can do even more work together.
I look forward to it.