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More Opinion in Current Issues of The West End Word and The Healthy Planet

November 4, 2005 Books 1 Comment

If you find yourself seeking more of my commentary then look to your local news stand. I have articles in the November issue of The Healthy Planet and this weeks issue of the West End Word.

– Steve


Downtown Now! Looking A Bit Dated

Today my research took me to the Downtown Now! website. I’ve been there numerous times but this time I approached it with a more critical eye. Here is their welcome message:

Downtown Now! is a partnership of public and private sector representatives dedicated to the revitalization of downtown St. Louis. Our four main areas of focus are Washington Avenue, the Old Post Office, the Gateway Mall, and Laclede’s Landing.

So who are the public and private representatives that make up this organization? When you go to the “partners” page you get the list. Don’t look for any active residents or local small business owners. This is a top-down big business & government group — the least likely to actually revitalize downtown.

First we’ve got representatives from other civic boosting groups; Regional Commerce and Growth Association (RCGA), St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission (SLCVC), Downtown St. Louis Partnership and St. Louis 2004. I would have linked to St. Louis 2004 but it seems their website is no longer up and running. Businesses are Bank of America, SBC and the former May Company. The rest is comprised of elected or appointed officials from the City of St. Louis.

Prominent on their main page is a logo for Celebrate 2004 along with the text “What’s Happening in 2004?” Uh, last time I check it is October of 2005 and rapidly approaching 2006. Clicking on the link just gives me an access denied message. That isn’t going to do a good job revitalizing downtown.

But really the group is charged with developing an action plan:

Downtown Now! is a public/private partnership created in 1997 to develop a five-to-seven year action plan for revitalizing Downtown St. Louis, Missouri. The City of St. Louis officially adopted the Downtown Development Action Plan in December of 1999. The Action Plan comprises $1.5 billion in public/ private investment and identifies four focus areas for revitalization.

So eight years have passed since Downtown Now! was created. But the Secretary of State’s website indicates the organization was created on November 1st of 1999, not 1997. Okay, so in a couple of weeks six years will have passed for this “five-to-seven year” mission. Are they in wrap-up mode? It doesn’t appear so. The organization is a “perpetual” non-profit per the state.

The “action plan” was adopted by the city in December of 1999 and thankfully much has happened since then. These last six years have been quite exciting to watch. Say you are a developer from another city and you hear about all the good things happening in St. Louis. You find Downtown Now!’s website and look through the action plan. As a six year old document you look for something more current. Then you see the “progress map” to show what has been done and what is under construction. This is certainly a great way to communicate where we are in completing the overall plan. One problem. The progress map hasn’t been updated since May 2001 — well over four years ago! Certainly downtown has progressed in the last four and a half years. Shouldn’t the revitalization organization communicate this progress?

The question that comes to mind for me is how many public-private non-profits do we need operating downtown? Consider this from the Downtown St. Louis Partnership website:

The Downtown St. Louis Partnership is a not-for-profit organization representing its members in pursuit of a healthy and vital downtown area. In that role, it also serves as the manager of the Community Improvement District that provides funding to implement services that make downtown clean, safe and inviting.

And before anyone says that the Downtown St. Louis Partnership is not a public-private organization just remember that the City of St. Louis, a public government, is a member.

A non-profit working to improve downtown is a good idea but I personally think it would be more effective coming from a more grass roots level. We certainly don’t need both the Downtown Now! and the Downtown St. Louis Partnership.

– Steve


New St. Louis Scooter Blog Started

October 1, 2005 Books, Scooters 5 Comments

My growing interest in scooters as a means of efficient motorized transportation has prompted me to start a new site, stlscooter.com.

From this new site you can see links to local yahoo groups, dealers and other information. I’ve got posts on various scooters and detail on the environmental issues between some scooters.

A group of scooterists are getting together today (Saturday, October 1st) meeting at Francis Park and riding over to the Classic Motorcycle Museum. Use the link above for more details.

Also, be sure to pick up a copy of the October issue of The Healthy Planet. My ‘City Scene’ column includes some info on the green aspect of scooters and street cars.

– Steve


RFT Names Urban Review – St. Louis “Best Civic-Minded Blog”

September 28, 2005 Books 9 Comments

Thank you! The editors of the Riverfront Times have named Urban Review – St. Louis the “Best Civic-Minded Blog:”

Steve Patterson bills his Urban Review-St. Louis as “an urbanist’s critique on the City of St. Louis and the St. Louis region.” Yeah, everybody’s a critic, but Patterson’s got cred. He was a design-build designer who became a city real estate agent; he knows the built environment, he knows the neighborhoods. While the rest of us bitch about what developers and regulatory boards do, he actually attends the meetings, contributes his thoughts and opinions. And he always puts his mouth and money together: He ran for alderman of the 25th Ward, and he’s a passionate cyclist (use the blog’s search engine to piece together The Bike Rack Rants) who became a certified bike-safety instructor. Patterson goes everywhere, investigates everything and imparts important information clearly. He’s a pragmatic optimist pushing for St. Louis even when it pushes itself into the ground. We care more when we know more, and Urban Review-St. Louis has our back.

November will mark the one year anniversary since I started blogging. I’ve really enjoyed going to meetings, meeting readers and sharing my thoughts on the built environment. The rise in the number of blogs on the city and architecture is inspiring. More and more people are talking about what makes a city a great place to live and that is a good thing!

The “Best Of” issue is on news stands and can be seen online here.

– Steve


Gov. Blunt & St. Louis Business Journal Expand Downtown

September 16, 2005 Books 3 Comments

From today’s St. Louis Business Journal:

“The State of Missouri approved a total of more than $3 million in state tax credits for three downtown St. Louis redevelopment projects, said Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt Friday.”

The article goes on to explain the three “downtown” locations: the Bee Hat Building at 1021 Washington Ave., Ely-Walker Building at 1520 Washington Ave., and the South Side National Bank at 3611 South Grand Blvd.

It seems our boy wonder Governor and the St. Louis Business Journal have managed to expand the boundaries of downtown St. Louis to include the South Side National Bank located at Grand & Gravois – nearly five miles from the other two buildings on the list.

Click here for the full story.

– Steve