Saturday June 6th I had a chance to drop by the Partnership of Downtown St. Louis’ bi-annual housing tour. It was a beautiful day that began at their newly renovated event space, the Old Post Office Plaza. They had a band playing outside, which in my opinion, added great ambiance to the area.
Showing up 3 hours after the tour’s start might explain some of it, but I was saddened to feel that there were fewer people taking part in the tour than in years past. You don’t have to tell me that the economy is in a recession, but I was shocked to see the difference in turnout. While the market isn’t friendly for everyone in this climate; first time home buyers have one heck of an incentive given the $8,000 credit. Not to mention the market downtown is still flush with entry level housing along with prices that are somewhat depressed and low housing rates.
All this left me thinking about how to maintain downtown’s great progress and prevent it from stalling out. While the downtown tour may not have been as flush with visitors; it potentially pointed a few people in the direction of relocating downtown. I think its important to remind people of the “power of one”, the impact that one thing, person, or place can have on an environment. One more grocer downtown is a big deal, one place to be able to seek medical care is crucial, one more restaurant and/or bar is exciting, and one more person to regularly patronize these businesses can be the difference between their success or closure.
I have often heard people say that they want our city to feel busier, like New York, Chicago and San Francisco. While city life is not for everyone, people need to remember that the next step to improving downtown comes from their effort. The easiest way to fill the streets of downtown, is by figuring out your role and taking action. Turning around a city takes time and although we would like to see it happen tomorrow; the reality is that it won’t. The question is, “do you want to go where the action is?” or “do you want to be a part of helping the real action begin?”
Don’t forget the progress we made and the things that are in process. Last year alone the downtown population increased by 6%, and it now has great ammenities both new and coming soon including an Urgent Care, an animal hospital, Schnucks (August 2009), and the City Garden (July 2009).
Many years ago we began to reverse the trend of downtown to include new shops, clean streets and vibrant residents. Now is a time when we must figure out how to keep the ball rolling. What can your contribution to our city be? How can Metropolis help you make a difference? I believe that the little issues are something we can easily impact, yet they will make a big difference in continuing to propel our city forward.
I’m energized after writing this and hopefully you’re still reading.
If I can hold your attention for 30 more seconds I implore you to tell me what’s on your mind. What is something about your neighborhood or about downtown that you wish you could change? Let’s see if we can work together to fix it.