Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ballpark Village or Grand Opportunity

by Megan Beebe

We’ve all heard about that area by the Cardinals stadium, you know the one deemed “Ballpark Village,” the place that’s going to change all our lives. But after years of ups and downs shouldn’t we finally decide what to put there? Clearly the original idea has taken some beatings, so maybe we ought to think of something else, something even more useful that will put St. Louis back on the map.

Ballpark Village is a great idea. The thought of glittering restaurants and shops, complete with scenic lofts on top sounds perfect. And to builders and real estate agents it’s simply mouthwatering. But maybe not now; not during a recession when no one is willing to take risks. So what can we do instead? Lots of things! It’s the land of opportunity!

To be innovative is to be green these days. So why not be the first to build vertical farms? A vertical farm is just that: an indoor greenhouse that can be built on several levels, towering 30 stories into the sky. This new idea created by Dickson Despommier, an environmental professor, would eventually lead to new employment opportunities, fewer abandoned lots, cleaner air and much more. And if its aesthetic s you’re worried about, don’t be. Because the buildings need to let sunlight in, they will be just as shiny and brilliant as we had hoped the original BPV would have been. Plus, Japan has already successfully integrated farms into their urban cities, so let’s jump on the bandwagon and start a new craze in the US!

Or we could take sustainable living to the extreme. The site could be turned into self-sustainable restaurants. Sort of strange for something in the center of downtown, but several other cities have already had a go at it, and it works. Sustainable restaurants grown their own food and try to rely on nothing but what is around them. Of course, sometimes they’ll bring in food from other local farms, but mostly they support themselves. It’s hard to do but it’s something we’ll be seeing more of.

On the other hand, maybe we should take a look at the local universities. Are there any that seem to be overflowing? Why not build a center at the proposed Ballpark Village site where students can flock to during the day. Downtown university buildings are great for cities. They bring in loads of students who are bound to provide lots of business. They’re going to want food, entertainment and space. Perfect!

If nothing else, why can’t we at least make it a little less desolate for the time being? The softball field is a definite step up from the tiring brown dirt. And it’s nice enough to have a brand new parking lot, but when you look to the side and find an empty space, it leaves you wondering what could have been. In the words of Tim Gunn, make it work St. Louis!

About the author -

Megan Beebe is a recent graduate and has recently accepted the position of webmaster for Hermann London Real Estate. Megan researches all about St. Louis restaurants, communities and services and writes about them. Thanks to Megan for submitting her article.

Interested in writing a guest post for STL Rising? Submissions welcome. Please contact the moderator at rbonasch@sbcglobal.net.


STLgasm said...

Ballpark Village is a civic embarrassment, and the fact that this empty promise isn't reported on an in-depth and continual basis reveals the epic failure of our local media.

Don't get me wrong, I think the concept of Ballpark Village is cheesy, contrived and overdone. When I visit another city, I stay away from tourist traps. The stagnancy of the project just might just be a blessing in disguise.

Let's hope something more organic and authentic is ultimately built, rather than an artificial theme districts.

samizdat said...

Well, the ideal of vertical farms is a good one. However, the cost of the produce sold from one of these ventures would be so prohibitively expensive in most major American cities that it would be nearly unsellable to all but the most well-off.