Wednesday, November 24, 2010

City Savvy

Alternative source of general revenue?

From an amenity and destination standpoint, the City of St. Louis could be considered a "target rich environment". Lots of people from throughout the region and the entire midwest visit St. Louis for a variety of reasons.

They come here for our restaurants, the interesting neighborhoods, the museums, the schools, to view historic architecture, visit world class hospitals, attend sporting events, enjoy our wonderful parks, neighborhood festivals, and parades.

Year after year, they come by the millions. Tomorrow, tens of thousands will line up on the streets of downtown for the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. Those visitors support local businesses but they also place a demand on local services in a city starved for general revenue.

How to capture some of that traffic in a way to bolster a flagging city budget? What about creating a program for the savvy city visitor? Those visitors know they get the best of our region's arts and entertainment when they visit St. Louis.

Why not invite them to become "patrons" of the City St. Louis? With modern technology, such a system is possible. Patrons would simply affix a bar code on their vehicles.

The city could then install scanners at the many entry points to St. Louis. Once a month, an electronic transer could be made from the checking accounts of city patrons to the City of St. Louis Collector of Revenue. Only those people actually visiting the city would pay a fee. Those never entering St. Louis would not be assessed any access charges.

Of course, such a program would need to be completely voluntary. It would, however, provide one alternative to the city's earnings tax. If you're a non-city resident, would you support such a program?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Vacant Properties Awareness

The image above is from a recent street slip edition of What's Up Magazine. What's Up Magazine is a project of Jay Swoboda that builds awareness and creates income opportunties for the homeless of St. Louis. The street slip edition above delves into the arena of vacant properties and describes the recent "Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference" held in Cleveland, Ohio. For related info, please visit: community

There's no doubt that St. Louis has a vacant properties problem. It's not a new problem. It's been with us since at least the 1970s. Today, the population of St. Louis is roughly 41% of its 1950s peak of approximately 850,000. Back then the city was a network of neighborhoods from north to south, all served by street cars and lots of neighborhood retail.

When those 500,000 or so residents moved away, they left behind empty buildings and a growing base of decay. They took with them a lot of spending power. Some areas were hit much harder than others. Today, you can see those areas in abandoned buildings, poorly maintained buildings, and lots of vacant land. What to do now?

There are lots of ideas. What makes sense for St. Louis? This is an important issue for St. Louis to address, and if done right, could be a source of great economic and community development. Thanks to Jay and others for raising the profile of the issue.

Dog friendly St. Louis

Most dogs need more exercise than they get. Today in my in-box there was an announcement of a new pet service geared toward offering a tailor made exercise routine for your dog. It's run by a young entrepreneur here in St. Louis. Please take note and share the information with people who might need such a service:


Young Entrepreneur is the First to Bring Dog Running to Saint Louis: Pet Services Company, Go Dogs St. Louis, to Offer Dog Running

SAINT LOUIS, Mo – (Nov. 16, 2010) - Recently established pet services company, Go Dogs St. Louis, is the first company in the St. Louis area to offer dog running. Young entrepreneur, Natalie Provost, knew she wanted to start a business in the pet industry and while there are multiple pet service companies in the greater St. Louis area offering daily dog walks and visits, some dogs need more exercise. Natalie recognized a need for the area that fit with her athletic background and love for dogs.

Go Dogs St. Louis is based on the premise that dogs need exercise, and certain breeds need significantly more exercise than their owners have the time or capacity to provide. Running provides dogs with dynamic and mentally stimulating exercise and offers multiple health and behavioral benefits. Adequate amounts of regular, essential exercise increases a canine companion’s quality of life and allows pet parents to enjoy a healthier pet as well as positive behavior in the home. Regular exercise is especially important for energetic, hyperactive and overweight dogs.

“Our goal is to enhance the quality of dog’s life with fun and regular essential exercise,” says Go Dogs St. Louis founder and principal, Natalie Provost. In addition to dog running, Go Dogs St. Louis also offers a variety of pet services, including dog walking, puppy program, pet taxi and pet sitting.

Not all dogs are candidates for running, which is why Go Dogs St. Louis evaluates each dog prior to beginning any endurance program and may recommend an alternative endurance routine, such as brisk or leisurely walking. “The goal is not to log miles, but rather to improve and maintain each dog’s health and general well being through fun and stimulating exercise,” says Natalie Provost.

For more information please visit

Natalie Provost
Phone: (314) 452-3545

Thanks, Natalie, for sending out the press release.

Note from the moderator: Please check out the website. It has lots of practical information about providing a good home and healthy lifestyle for your dog(s).

Monday, November 15, 2010

Creating multiple levels of momentum

The City + Arch + River Foundation has set October 2015 for the deadline to complete improvements to the Arch. That's an aggressive timeline for a $300,000,000 project. It's good to have a goal date because it gets everyone working together on a clear objective. Setting the goal gets momentum moving towards the date.

Teams in the Arch design competition described longer range efforts to improve downtown and the Arch beyond the 2015 deadline. One of those is highway removal. Why not set another deadline to remove the downtown lanes of I-70 separating the riverfront and Arch grounds from downtown? Having multiple deadlines creates multiple levels of momentum.

What about setting October 2020 for the goal date to replace the highway with a new boulevard? That leaves five years for building the boulevard after completion of the new I-70 bridge over the Mississippi. More people working on combined efforts, all with common interests and shared values - a better connected, more vibrant downtown, riverfront, and Arch grounds - creates mulitple levels of momentum.

The Arch design program is in its final stages. Design teams and community leaders are looking at construction plans and cost estimates. They are also finalizing crucial connections between downtown and the riverfront neighborhoods of Laclede's Landing, the Arch, and Chouteau's Landing. One option is to build a lid over the depressed lanes. MVVA, the winning team of the Arch design competition, proposed a lid over the depressed lanes, but also left north and south bound lanes of Memorial Drive passing through the lid.

In the image above, City to River suggests how a program of building the lid, removing the highway lanes, and having Memorial Drive pass underneath the lid can all be combined in a downtown/riverfront connectivity strategy. As the drawing indicates, it is possible to build a lid over the depressed lanes designed to have the boulevard ultimately separated from it by passing through an 1-2 block underpass made available through the vacation of the depressed interstate lanes.

Click on the image for a more detailed view - highlighted areas show new commercial frontage created for expansion of existing buildings and new development sites. Much better views of these connections are available through the City to River link above. It's possible to imagine how drivers could access new underground Arch parking through this same lid underpass. In this manner, the underpass and lid become a primary new entry point for drivers visiting the Arch and downtown.

Creating a phased development plan for downtown and the riverfront with multiple goals on parallel tracks builds momentum for all projects and keeps things building towards greater outcomes.