College-age residents lend an energy to cities — and smart cities figure out ways to engage college students. In our case, a revitalized downtown; an inventory of affordable lofts and apartments; new bike trails and lanes; mixed entertainment/residential projects by savvy developers like the Gills, Joe Edwards, and Bob Cassilly; confident leadership by local educators; and pitch-perfect outreach efforts to young people by cultural institutions like the Saint Louis Symphony all help.
And we are starting to see the results, as more and more of our local universities recognize that there’s a market for education downtown. Students like downtown’s energy and 24/7 environment; people of all ages already in the workforce are always looking to improve their skills or branch out into new areas of learning--a downtown campus close to 90,000 workers makes learning convenient. Colleges and universities are betting that their students are pretty interested in the richer experience of learning in the heart of a city, rather than in more bucolic spaces.
Saint Louis University, Harris Stowe University, Washington University, and Webster University (now in great new space in the landmark Old Post Office Building) have had major presences in the City for many years. Missouri Baptist University recently built space for its students in a downtown charter school.
Now, other universities are joining them. Administrators at the University of Missouri-St. Louis have announced plans to create classrooms and offer courses at a campus facility in the City of St. Louis. Earlier this week, I visited with President James Evans at Lindenwood University’s new downtown building. As I was leaving Lindenwood, I noticed a little activity on Patricia Stevens College’s planned new Washington Avenue building. And there are more to come, of course.
Education is an important facet of downtown’s eclectic mixed-use environment. I am pleased to welcome these new educators to the City of St. Louis and to downtown.