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Atlanta’s Edgewood Development Offers Inspiration for Saint Louis

September 27, 2005 Loughborough Commons, Planning & Design 5 Comments

Much of my time is spent ranting about “missed opportunities” at local developments such as Loughborough Commons. Responses are often along the lines of well we don’t like it either but we have to compete with the suburbs. We have such a void of good design in the St. Louis area our expectations are so low. Architects and planners in this town need to have some balls and show clients what is possible rather than continuing with the same crap.

But new big box developments need not be the drab single-use wastes of land that litter the St. Louis region. If you combine creative developers and architects with higher land cost in municipalities that actually demand urbanity you get something along the lines of Atlanta’s new Edgewood shopping district.


It is hard to tell from this site plan but a lot is happening on this 37 acre site. The developer’s promotional literature does a good job of summarizing the mix:

“This distinctive project will allow for anchor tenants and small box tenants as well as local retailers and restaurants, featuring a variety of architecture to suit the diverse tenant mix and compliment the area’s unique history. The center’s proposed ‘Main Street’ element with its blend of local boutiques, friendly eateries and exciting national retailers is sure to become a thriving hub of neighborhood activity for families and singles alike. Additionally, an existing historic building will be converted to residential lofts and this conversion will be the cornerstone that blends new to old thus making the entire project a true live-shop-play community.”

This is exactly how big box developments like Lowe’s and Target can be integrated into neighborhoods. The smaller buildings provide opportunities for local retailers with offices or living units above. Shared parking encourages walking from store to store creating an energy that most sprawling developments lack. I’m not fond of Atlanta but I may have to schedule a visit soon to see it first hand. The development opened this summer. To see some photos of the project under construction and of the surrounding homes click here.

UPDATE 9/27/05 @ 10AM – See more images of the Edgewood Retail District and an analysis of the design from a New Urbanist perspective here.

Like Desco’s Loughborough Commons this development is in the middle of existing housing and is adjacent to a rail line serving commuters (MetroLink will stop at the Loughborough Commons site in the future). Both have a Lowe’s and a major grocery store. The similarities end there.

Other recent developments in the region, like THF’s Wal-Mart & Lowe’s project in Maplewood, is a conventional drab single use project. Just imagine how different that area would feel had they gone in the same direction as Atlanta’s project.

Locally our developers, architects, planners, and city officials are selling us short. We deserve no less than such a vibrant mixed-use development.


Currently there are "5 comments" on this Article:

  1. Brian says:

    The Southside MetroLink extension was initially conceived in 2000 as having a park’n’ride station at the site of what has become Loughborough Commons. Now under study again in 2005-2006, the Southside alignment and its stations will be more refined, including assessment of changed development constraints like the new Loughborough Commons.

    Unless THF Realty is willing to share parking (the station could be along I-55, far from Lowe’s and Schnuck’s front doors), an alternative station site may need to be found. And since Carondelet Park is off-limits, yet station visibility from I-55 and park’n’ride parking are desired for ridership, Loughborough Commons threw a curve-ball into siting South City’s southern most MetroLink station.

  2. publiceye says:

    Just out of curiousity, what does THF Realty have to do with the project?

    [REPLY – I had some incomplete sentences in my last paragraph which I have cleaned up. I mentioned THF due to their development on Hanley. – SLP]

  3. NPJ says:

    Did anyone get a chance to hear what Mayor Slay had to say last night at the Holly Hills Improvement Association General Meeting? Apparently he was scheduled to discuss the latest plans with Loughborough Commons. I did not get a chance to go and was wondering if anyone knew anything. There is no mention on mayorslay.com. Thanks.


  4. scott says:

    I lived near this development. WHile I welcomed the shops, I think the development is flawed — almost fatally — in many ways.

    1) Pedestrian access within it is downright dangerous. cars zip all around and to walk from, say, Target to Barnes and Noble, one has to traverse a literal ocean of parking lots.

    2) They widened the street with turn lanes, despite promises that they would not widen the streets.

    3) Bicycle access is horrible.

    4) The “transit” you refer to stops nowhere near the development — the line simply skips right by.

    I could go on. I don’t mean to be overly negative — I think they tried harder than most, but I’d visit this place before holding it out as what you wish for.

    [REPLY Thanks for your input. I don’t doubt any of your claims and I do intend to visit ASAP. However, I can tell just from the design and images that in spite of the flaws it is a vast improvement over what we get. – SLP]

  5. Carol says:

    Live in Atlanta near the development–the traffic congestion there is horrible and it is by no means pedestrian friendly. Totally agree with the above poster.


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