Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"This city is on a roll!"

"Howard" commented yesterday that "this city is on a roll". While Centene prepares to spend hundreds of millions at Ballpark Village, Howard is getting a new dumpster for his alley. Today, the expanded St. Louis Centre "Mercantile Exchange" redevelopment is announced, adding another $600,000,000 downtown investment to the city's progress.

Ten years ago, no one would have imagined the things happening today in St. Louis. Downtown development has far outpaced the goals set in the Downtown Now plan. Taken together, the revitalization of the city is reaching astronomical proportions. Major out of town developers are adding muscle to the growth.

The turnaround has been nothing less than phenomenal. Projects are jumping off the drawing board and being brought to life. These are exciting times to be a St. Louisan. How far will the rebound go?

Even with all the growth taking place in St. Louis, as a region, we are still very affordable. Compared to the high-growth markets of the Sunbelt States, we are still a bargain. The housing crunch that is hitting hard in other parts of the country is relatively mild in St. Louis. We are one of the few markets actually recording price increases. Could it be that tough times in other regions will continue pushing growth in St. Louis for years to come? Why not? Growth is a magnet for more growth.

We met a young couple last weekend newly relocated to St. Louis from the San Francisco Bay Area. In California, they were paying $1,200 per month for a 750 square foot apartment. Housing costs in their San Francisco suburb averaged over $700,000. They accepted a relocation offer to St. Louis, where the husband manages an upscale retail operation. Sales per square foot at the St. Louis location are on par or higher than the California store where the man worked.

The couple purchased an Art Deco brick home in the City's Lindenwood neighborhood. Their house payment is less than what they were paying in rent in California. Meanwhile, the same home in California would have been priced around $1,000,000. They could never have dreamed of owning such a home on the west coast.

Is it possible that the national economy, and outrageous housing prices in the traditionally hot growth areas of the country will work to the long term advantage of St. Louis? Could it be that our well kept secret of a high quality of life at an affordable price is starting to get out?

How far might we go in our renaissance, and how should we keep building our momentum? Maybe we shouldn't change a thing. Right now, like Howard says, this city is on a roll!


Anonymous said...

This city is on a roll indeed. It is rolling along with its plan to exclude members of the near north side neighborhoods from plans that affect their future. It is rolling along with the idea that all these new buyers need a place to shop,laugh and play golf over what are existing neighborhoods. It is rolling fast and hard to support the raping of of these same neighborhoods of services like grocery stores,libraries,post offices,community centers. Streets so close to downtown that creepy little hands have stirred the pot to keep the wheels rolling since the 70's(Team Four anyone?). Ask anyone on the Near Northside and they will tell you that the wheels have been locked for years. Try to purchase some land that is owned by LRA and see how easy it is to get the wheels moving. The property is being held for future dev. and has been that way since the 90's. I'm sure those who aren't affected by the recent events in NStL are basking in the glow of all the excitment of living in the City. But remember "There is no darkside it's all dark." -Pink Floyd Darkside of the Moon. Your ward could be next if it is close enough to wherever the new hot spot is.

Anonymous said...

In response to "anonymous" above. So, the redevelopment of the 14th street mall and "Crown Center" is apparently bad since this doesn't include your particular north-side neighborhood? I also suppose that the plan for north-south side Metrolink line must somehow exclude all of near-north city?

I understand you're frustrated that the north side of the city receives less development than the south and downtown. Unfortunately it's economics, and economically it doesn't make sense to build on the northside - yet. If you allow downtown to continue it's momentum, no doubt the northside will become much more feasible for redevelopment. Until then, work with your alderman and get involved with a plan for your neighborhood - it will do a lot more for you than complaining on this blog.

I agree the city is on a roll, but keep in mind, the influx of growth is still small compared to other developing cities. If we just play musical chairs, we're not helping ourselves out. It's attracting outside employers and keeping expanding employers that will benefit our region most.