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Predictions for St. Louis in 2006

December 30, 2005 Books 11 Comments

Over on the Urban St. Louis discussion forums there has been a thread discussing predictions for 2006, I posted mine a couple of weeks back but I’ve given it a little more thought.

I thought my 2006 predictions might be a good way to end up the year on Urban Review – St. Louis:

  • A gallon of regular gas will exceed $3.00, not due to a natural disaster or terrorism. Republicans and Democrats will argue over the best way to maintain our wasteful habits. Locally our sprawl and mass transit shortcomings will damage the local economy but the same will be true for most of the U.S.
  • The public will balk at the final design & costs for the riverfront plan, stalling the project.
  • Areas we may not expect like the Gateway Mall, St. Louis Centre, 22nd Street Interchange Alterations and the former Pruitt-Igoe site will begin having serious attention.
  • Easy guess but I do think the Ballpark Village and Bottle District will move forward in some form. I predict I’ll have a review of the proposed Bottle District in a January issue of the West End Word…
  • The measure to make it harder to recall aldermen will fail by a wide margin, two more aldermen will be recalled. The remaining Aldermen will continue with the status quo known as “aldermanic courtesy” rather than recognize the city would be better served by legislators that view the city as a whole rather than 28 odd-shaped fiefdoms. Candidates file to challenge more than half the incumbent aldermen in the even numbered wards as the filing period opens in late 2006.
  • St. Louis County residents will love the new MetroLink extension and they’ll forget about most of the delays and cost overruns (but not all). Efforts will begin to ask voters in the City and County to pony up for the next extension which will include North city and West County.
  • So am I off base? What are your predictions for the St. Louis region in 2006?

    – Steve


    Currently there are "11 comments" on this Article:

    1. rick says:


      Chouteau’s Landing redevelopment plans connect with the Chouteau’s Pond idea to create a St. Louis version of the San Antonio Riverwalk. A downtown water feature, secured by a lock and dam at the Mississippi River, will result accellerating development on the south side of Hwy 40.

      Thinking of the south side of downtown, has anyone noticed the wall collapse on the south side of that historic Catholic hospital north of Chouteau in the Lafayette Square neighborhood?

      The building is for sale, but it’s starting to fall down.

    2. Dustin says:

      Rick, that wall has been deteriorating for years. I just drove by this morning (like every morning) and didn’t notice any more recent collapse. My understanding is that building (The old St. Mary’s — I believe) has recently been purchased and is about to start renovations. I think an out of town outfit is the developer. A little grocery store just opened on the Chouteau side in that later one-story addition. It doesn’t look like the kind of place most LS residents will frequent but it is nice that the folks at Clinton Peabody and the former Darst Webbe will have more choices beyond the junk food at the BP (formerly Amoco).

    3. Brian says:

      2006 will definitely be the year that our region falls back in love with MetroLink. But where to build next and how to fund it will be the major hurdles.

      A short line of four new stations, going from Clayton basically up I-170 and out Page to Westport, appears the most cost-effective and could still serve reverse commuters, as well as finally get MetroLink to I-270 for new park’n’ride patrons.

      But as Steve points out– politically, leaders seem to be pushing the longer route (dozen-plus stations) from Westport to Downtown via North City. If this northwest line is truly what regional leaders desire, let’s hope they’re also willing to obtain tangible commitments from developers and businesses for substantial infill and redevelopment within this fairly vacant corridor.

      Any extension and all the existing lines, including the very near-future Cross County should have targeted development near stations to maximize their potential. But the politically supported North City to West County option desperately needs this critical element to maximize its potential. Otherwise, we risk somewhat just shifting folks from buses to trains.

      [REPLY – Perhaps I should say “extensions” in the plural sense. Yes, politically getting to Westport via North city seems to be preferred but I like the idea of an extension in the county from Clayton. That leaves the North City route to serve the needs not of rushing people through the area but to actually serve the needs of the area. This, in my mind, is not a light rail system with limited stops but a modern fixed rail mixed traffic streetcar.

      North city needs something to kick start major investment and repopulation. I see a streetcar loop as being the most sustainable investment we as a city could make in rebuilding a big section of our city. I’d better stop before I end up doing a whole post here in the comments section… – SLP]

    4. scott says:

      Steve, good list of predictions. I like #3 the best. “Areas we may not expect….”. Since I know you went to the Gateway Mall charette, I am intrigued that you predict something may brewing for that area.

    5. I have spent a good deal of time researching the hospital that Rick mentions, St. Mary’s Infirmary. See slightly dated images of the that back wall, inside and out, here: http://www.eco-absence.org/stl/inf/

      Indeed, the south wall has had serious spalling for years. Last I heard, the sale of the hospital is still pending, and the sellers are still entertaining other offers. I’ve been carefully hopeful that the building will survive. Beside impressive brickwork and an important history, the hospital has dramatic interior spaces and awesome views of the skyline. Here’s to hoping it gets sold in 2006!

      On to other predictions:

      – Interest in historic district designation for large parts of neighborhoods will grow. The first major historic district west of Kingshighway may be listed next year.

      – The Clemens House will sell, but the new owners won’t have a plan for it.

      – Hyde Park’s demolition rate will continue to be high — but a Ward 3 recall will go forward and be successful.

      – No one will build a lid over the depressed section of I-70 downtown. (See the cost of the riverfront project.)

      – More new housing will be proposed for Laclede’s Landing and the north riverfront.

      – The Ninth Street Garage will open no earlier than May 15, long after all of the first tenants in the Old Post Office move in. These tenants will find other places to park without causing any problems. When the garage opens, it almost always will be half-empty for its first six months of operation.

      – Blairmont/VHS/McEagle will announce its intentions for its 244 near northside properties. The plans will be rather unimpressive.

      – The city will lure a big-box trendy grocery store to the near southside, which will spark serious interest in the city from big-box retailers.

      – The two buildings most likely to fall: the Nord St. Louis Turnverein and the Murphy Building in East St. Louis.

    6. josh says:


      Last year First Night was an exciting free event with more people in one place in St. Louis than I had seen in years. It was like being in the middle of Times Square. Everything was free with a few exceptions like the Fox or the private party at the Bistro. But we were able to take in a variety of shows and have a wonderful time until the fireworks.

      This year as I walked up to the gates on Grand and Lindell I was suprised at the massive decrease in people from last year. Me an my friends guess at why this could be… maybe we came later last year? No… that couldn’t be.

      Our questions were answered when we walked into the Woolworth building during this “Free Event”. A lady stood at the door holding up a sign that looked like a “Will work for food” piece of cardboard on a stick until she stopped us from walking in and told us “you have to have a Button!” and pointed to a “First Night” button stuck to her sign.

      “Where do we get a button?” We asked. “They’re $5 over there”

      Now, it’s true, $5 is nothing compared to most of the festivities occuring around town but First Night was built up as an exciting free event. Last year everything was free, so the expectation was that this was free. On the First Night web sight amidst the flashy icons around the screen they have a button with the first night logo that says “You need a button.” No one would click on that link if they had been to First Night last year, they just wanted to know what time the show was.

      I predict that 2006 will be the last year for First Night because of this sneaky tactic unless they push out some seriously good advertising. There were literally 1/4 of the people as there were last year… and the numbers kept shrinking throughout the night. This was a real example of a massive “bait and switch” plan. They could’ve had vendors on the street and taken a comission from their sales. Art, food, crafts, jewelry, posters, anything. Grand Center is “The art district” and there was really no art to be found. The museums were closed. And this year if you wanted to eat anything you were forced to buy a button and go in somewhere because there was no food on the streets.

      So my prediction for 2006 is that the brilliant minds at Grand Center just dealt the final blow to First Night and unfortunately, unless some serious action is taken, the once bustling streets of Grand Center’s “First Night” will fall silent on New Years Eve just like every other day of the year.

    7. publiceye says:

      Small point. Grand Center bills itself as an “arts” district, not an “art” district.

      The Grand Center fireworks, which we watched from our roof, were lovely. We also saw fireworks downtown-ish and from several locations on the east side.

      I haven’t been to a First Night since the icy one on Washington Ave. Are you sure there weren’t admission buttons last year, too?

    8. Nik says:

      What about Metrolink extension into South County? I was at the meeting at Holiday Inn recently, and at least the early sessioned garnered no more than 20 people. The few that talked did the typical “its a waste of money” spiel.

      Personally, I don’ think metrolink has any greater chance of going west than it does south (voters will reject it). That may change after the west county folks have to put up with Hwy 40 construction for several years. I still think the best idea (and the one MODOT won’t even consider) is to put Metrolink down the center of the highway.

    9. amanda says:

      As long as I’ve known about First Night in St. Louis, the event has always had some free stuff out in the streets/selected venues and other things that require an admission.
      Though I’ve participated as a venue owner in the past, last weekend was the first time I’ve gone as a reveler…it seemed to me from the inside venues I went to (including one that was so full we were turned away) that there were plenty of folks everywhere, but when the inside events are happening, it makes it hard to get a sense of the total attendance at any one time. The finale (breakdancers/DJ on mainstage and fireworks at midnight), along with the indoor venues I attended, were all packed.

    10. Brian says:

      Nik, if MetroLink were along 40 west of Clayton, where would you walk to from stations along 40?

      Granted, there is employment along the 40 corridor in health care, office parks, and retail, but none of it at a walkable density supportive of light-rail transit. And a line of only park’n’ride stations does not make for successful ridership.

      Similarly, South County also lacks density, but has higher transit preferences, due mostly to less income and lower vehicle ownership than West County. In other words, Plaza Frontenac patrons aren’t likely to walk very far from a MetroLink station. Still, South County doesn’t look to be that strong on ridership either.

      Of course, the City beats out both South and West County in transit preferences, but the County more so pays Metro’s bills, leading to a spatial mismatch of riders (City) and tax base (County).

      Ultimately, voters will have to judge whether a modern transit system that retains and attracts young people to our region, revitalizes established communities, and attracts denser economic development is worth a small tax. But if a station won’t be within a five-minute drive of your subdivision, you can certainly join others in playing the could-have, would-have, should-have blame-game of excuses.

    11. SIG says:


      > voters will have to judge whether a
      > modern transit system that retains and
      > attracts young people to our region,
      > revitalizes established communities,
      > and attracts denser economic development
      > is worth a small tax

      HAHAHAHA. Yea, right. Most voters now have an excuse, given Metro’s poor record on the current extension, to go back to their personal automobile and their ways that ensconce them within their private bubbles.

      “I enjoy my 1hr drive into work and back each day… gives me time to wind up and wind down”… that’s not going to go away just because the world is getting polluted….

      I don’t think Metro will push anything but a fare increase and the new extension from Forest Park to Shrewsbury in 2006. No, any further expansions will wait till 2007.


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