2 min read
Posted on 03.24.15
  • 2 min read
  • Posted on 03.24.15
  • Filed under
  • Downtown
  • public safety
  • Partnership
  • development
  • Arcade
  • Arch
  • Opera House
  • Citygarden
  • Old Post Office
  • Central Branch

Downtown matters. It has to. It is the city's largest tax revenue producer. It is home to our region's two biggest icons, the Arch and the St. Louis Cardinals. It is what most people across the country know about the region.

Downtown has come a long way in the last decade. Since I became mayor, nearly $5 billion has been invested downtown. Hundreds of long vacant buildings have found new life, new uses, and new residents. A grocery store and a movie theater serve a loft population of young people and empty nesters. The Peabody Opera House, Citygarden, the Old Post Office, and the Central Branch sparkle. Cranes and scaffolding surround the beautiful Arcade Building. The public-private City/Arch/River project is already changing visitors' relationship to Downtown, the national monument, and the waterway on which our early prosperity was based. Baseball season approaches, promising to draw millions more people to Downtown's streets.

But, as the buildings that are not yet finished or full and the hours that the sidewalks are not crowded prove, we have more work to do before we can declare that Downtown is "complete" and is the job producer that we need it to be.

I was approached recently by a group of Downtown business leaders who worried that the downtown Central Business District was no longer the region's priority - and that there seemed to be fewer projects to start when the 25 or so developments currently under way are completed.

Well, Downtown may or may not be the region's priority, but it is the City's. And mine.

We agreed that Downtown STL, Inc., will organize and oversee two working groups: one on safety and one on development. I have assigned senior staffers to both groups.  I will see the results of their work in the coming months. I expect the two reports to make a convincing case to Downtown's agnostics that greater regional investment in Downtown will benefit everyone.