Downtown is Economic Development

by Joe Reagan | May 27, 2015

I wrote in my last post that Downtown is our brand.  It is the basis for our St. Louis stories and is home to our iconic Gateway Arch.  But it is more than that.  Downtown sets the pace for regional development – from our major league sports teams and their major league facilities, to new loft, condo and apartment developments to stunning architecture with plentiful examples of adaptive reuse. 

One hundred and twenty-three historic buildings have been renovated in Downtown St. Louis, more than anywhere else in the country. Renovated old buildings are unique and interesting. They are part of our region’s cultural history.  Some of them are breathtakingly beautiful. The writer Jane Jacobs even thought they helped with creativity. “New ideas require old buildings,” she famously said.  On the other hand, visitors judge us when they drive past historic, but vacant and decaying structures such as the Jefferson Arms Building or the Railway Exchange Building right across the street from my office.

Many or our leading corporations call downtown home.  I’ve been thrilled to see recent investments by world-class corporations in their Downtown headquarters, including Stifel Financial Corp, Laclede Group, and Wells Fargo Advisors. 

Downtown is an economic center – literally – as home to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and its new Inside the Economy Museum. It is our region’s largest business district, the place with the highest average salary in the region, and the neighborhood that generates the most tax revenue for the City of St. Louis.

Downtown is also the center of our convention and hospitality industry. The Convention and Visitors Commission estimates the CVC and Downtown convention center are responsible for 50,000 jobs in our region and generate more than $150-million per year in state and local tax revenues.

Of course, Downtown St. Louis is also a place for fun!  I’ve slid down the 10-story slide, have you? 

We agree with Mayor Slay that downtown St. Louis is a priority for regional development.  As we re-think Downtown, we encourage “downtown advocates” to be clear about what’s really needed to create a vibrant environment, to embrace and include citizens throughout the St. Louis bi-state region in helping shape that vision, and to be bold on asking the entire region to make it happen. 

Might as well get started!  What is your vision of a vibrant Downtown?