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What Washington Avenue is missing…

November 20, 2004 Featured 2 Comments

The emerging loft district along Washington Avenue, as well as the blocks between Olive & Washington between say 8th & Tucker, are becoming increasingly diverse. I don’t mean diversity of population but of activities. The more activity the more interest – a very “good thing” as Martha would say if she werenÂ’t in jailÂ…

The blocks West of Tucker received a major streetscape makeover in the last few years that included widening the sidewalks, new curbs, paving, lighting and signage. A few bike racks are sprinkled along the streets. It looks picture perfect but something is still missing – people.

To be fair, many of the loft buildings are just now finishing while others are just now starting. Once these buildings are full lots more residents will call the area home. In the age-old saying, which comes first the chicken or egg question, it is clear the residents come before much of the other amenities.

If we look to the Delmar Loop to the West we see wonderful activity after 5pm and on most weekends. I was there at lunch Friday and it wasnÂ’t that spectacular. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon on weekdays is even less exciting. I ended up back on the Loop for dinner with friends (@ Saleem’s) and the sidewalks were full of people. At night and on the weekends the loop is without question the most vibrant street in the region. A close second is Euclid at Maryland as well as Euclid @ McPherson.

The trick to getting more people to Washington Avenue has less to do with paving and more to do with diversity of uses. In the Loop I know I can get a quick slice of pizza for $3 or an impressive entrée at a nice restaurant for $20 – and everything in between. However, on Washington Avenue I am more limited to the high-end meal. But suppose I want that high-priced dinner but I want cash to have drinks before and after – where is the ATM machine? I wouldn’t know where to walk to get cash.

Besides a walk-up ATM or two, here is an imcomplete list of businesses I’d either like to see in the loft districts (in no particular order):
• Pizza by the slice joint
• Late night fast food places (not drive thru types either)
• Tattoo & body piercing studio(s)
• Newsstand & Bookstore
• Street vendors selling coffee & hot dogs (including veggie dogs)
• Florist
• Public bulletin boards
• Kitchen gadget store
• 24-hour coffee house
• Cell phone store
• Good diner serving breakfast
• Smoothie shop
• Produce stand
• Furniture stores where you can buy a futon or a $600 sofa.
• Small Branch US Post Office
• Greating cards, gag gifts
• Bike Shop
• Sporting Goods/Outdoor store
• Vespa retailer
• Apple Computer Store (even the new mini concept store would be OK)
• Urban Outfitters
• Ben & Jerry’s (or similar)

If you are Apple’s Steve Jobs please open an Apple store in the City of St. Louis. If you are considering opening a business think about the list above and give some serious thought to the loft districts downtown.

If you’ve got ideas for other needed businesses/services in the loft districts use the comments below to share.


Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Michael says:

    Since around 1995 I have been wondering why downtown has yet to acquire a 24-hour diner. I admit that I was a bit naive nine years ago, but in the last three years this query has seemed very reasonable. Not all of us want to come downtown to get trashed or pick folks up. I’d love to hang around late on weekends munching crepes and having conversations over endless flows of coffee.

    Come to think of it, one has to go pretty far from downtown to get a 24-hour sit-down diner (no offense, Eat-Rite). South City Diner is only 24-hours on Friday and Saturday–a rather lame move considering how vibrant its neighborhood is and considering that its closing time is otherwise a rather early 9:30 p.m.!

    Majestic at Laclede and Euclid also closes rather early — 10:00 p.m. — every night.

    The nearest 24 hour places in the city from downtown are Uncle Bills on Kingshighway and various Steak and Shakes. That’s an intolerably large distance.

    At least there’s Maurizio’s, but it’s not 24 hours and I’m not consistently craving pizza late at night.

    One thing that I have noticed during my current stay in Chicago is that Chicago’s Loop doesn’t do any better for all-night diners. The nearest one to the Loop is west of I-90/94, close but not great. A lot of Loop-area diners close _after lunch_! Yet there are plentiful 24-hour places at regular intervals through the rest of Chicago.

  2. Hans Gerwitz says:

    I think this post deserves revisiting, two years later. The progress has been staggering!

    [REPLY The progress has been great but from my list only three seem to be done, a florist, a smoothie place and ice cream (Gelato). Much is missing and that may be due to the high rents commanded in the renovated buildings. – SLP]


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