"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!