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Thursday, May 11, 2006

USA Today Touts St. Louis

More say, 'Meet me in St. Louis' as city shows signs of renewal - Charisse Jones (USA Today, May 10)

USA Today came to town, and didn't quite get everything right -- although it's good to get good press from a paper read at airports, motels and chain restaurants everywhere.

Here are a few problematic sentences:

"The old post office, for years a relic surrounded by other vacant buildings, has been refurbished, its space fully rented."

This project is the worst representative of downtown renovation. The OPO is fully rented by government agencies and institutions invited (or cajoled) into taking space. The only entrepreneurial tenants are the Pasta House Pronto and the St. Louis Business Journal, and those both have ties to the developers of the project. Yawn!

"Lambert-St. Louis International Airport unveiled a $1 billion expansion April 13."

This is evidence of renaissance? All I have read about the expansion so far has been bad news: cost overruns, limited efficiency, lack of use of new runways and so forth. Plus, the airport is far away fom the city and has little to do with the quality of life for St. Louisans -- although I guess it's a bellwether for USA Today readers.

"McCree Town, a violent southside neighborhood that was filled with dilapidated housing, has been rechristened Botanical Heights, and people are lining up to buy new homes."

Not only did the paper get the McRee Town name wrong, it readily accepted force-fed facts to paint a rosy picture.

"After losing some corporate headquarters in recent years, the city hopes the presence of local institutions such as Washington University will help nurture new industries."

Huh? Perhaps the reporter skim-read a packet from CORTEX.


Anonymous said...

Good points! Another fact is nearly every tenant in the OPO reloated from another downtown building, a zero sum gain.

Anonymous said...

I like this one: "Last month, a $365 million baseball stadium for the St. Louis Cardinals opened downtown, perhaps the most conspicuous sign of a comeback that one former critic has called one of the nation's strongest."

Did they not know this stadium is a replacement for the original Busch Stadium which used to occupy space that is now the new outfield. It is difficult to see how the new stadium, which actually holds fewer fans, is the most conspicuous sign of a comeback. It's not like the infrastructure was anywhere else they could have put the stadium.

Maybe there's some good info later in the article, but I quit reading when they quoted Tom Reeves. This is the guy who could not recall the details of the Downtown Now plan when he was under oath. St. Louis should thank Pulaski Bank for taking him off our hands.

Anonymous said...

Let's all take a deep breath, and repeat after me...s-l-o-w-l-y...

"The Cards would have left the city, and a big hole in downtown...the Cards would have left the city and a big hole in downtown...the Cards would have left the city and a big hole in downtown".

Oh, and with Ballpark Village, the total project is close to a billion dollar investment.

Thanks Mayor Slay, Barb Geisman, Tom Reeves, and the whole downtown development team!

You guys are accomplishing more on your watch than has been seen in fifty years!

And look at all the great national press we're getting!

Congratulations are in order!

Huzzah! Huzzah!!

Anonymous said...

regarding what you said about:

"Thanks Mayor Slay, Barb Geisman, Tom Reeves, and the whole downtown development team!

You guys are accomplishing more on your watch than has been seen in fifty years!"

HA! you mean just having the chutzpah to take credit for stuff that either would have happened anyway that they had nothing to do with, or that happened (in some cases) in spite of them. typical worthless politicians.....and since you are not identifying youself "anonymous" I assume you are problably one of the mayor's hacks.

Anonymous said...

Seriously to say that everything positive that has happened in the last five years would have happened anyway or has happened in spite of the mayor is just rediculous and is really being narrow minded. If you don't like the mayor you don't like the mayor but that doesn't invalidate the positive things he's done. Does he deserve all the credit for the good? No. Does he deserve some of the credit? I'd say yes.

And as far as the new airport runway it was built on time and on budget and was considered a model for these types of capital projects. Now whether it is needed anymore that's another question.

Michael, Claire, I love your blog but sometimes people need to realize things aren't 100% black or 100% white. Most things are somewhere in between

Eric said...

This reminds me of a fairly recent article I read online that some newspaper from (I think?) Texas, which made it sound as if the new stadium was almost singlehandedly responsible for the revitalization. (Google's turning up nothing right now)

Anonymous said...

Just sick and tired of Slay and his little cadre of leg breakers taking credit for any and everything positive in the city. If anything, he represents the old school "urban renewal" mentality of the 50s more than anything else...to him, old buildings are just old buildings. It's just his dumb luck that, contrary to his mentality, he happens to be in office at a time when innovative risk takers are taking chances to renew the city, and being rewarded by a receptive market...right place at the right time. He has already clearly demonstrated that he will bust the kneecaps of any urban innovator (Craig Heller, anybody?)that dares to suggest that they have a better idea than he does. I stand by my original statement.

Anonymous said...

I'm not trying to portray Slay as a prince. I'm just saying that there were a lot of other mayors in office before him that had a declining city on their hands. I'd say more of the credit goes to the Missouri Historic Tax credit law that wqas passed in 98, but to say that some of the deals around town Park East, Merchandise Mart, Convention Hotel, etc would have happened without mayoral support is just wrong. And it goes both ways. Slay's support could have saved the Century Building or the Ambassador Building, but he failed there, he failed big time. I just think there's no merit in saying anything good that has happened in the city during Slay's tenure has just been "dumb luck" on his part.

Anonymous said...

The Ambassador Building was demolished in 1996.

Anonymous said...

I told my boss that McRee Town has been renamed Botanical Heights and she laughed.

Admittedly, I'm not keeping track of many real estate deals in McRee Town, but I have a hard time believing anyone is lining up for houses there, apart from perhaps rehabbers looking for really cheap deals. There's still a general impression in Saint Louis County that the entire city is one big, crime-ridden slum. If the sports venues weren't downtown, there'd be a lot more people in the County, I think, who would go years without crossing city limits.

Also, Botanical Heights is in the backyard of several large industrial buildings which doesn't exactly make it hot property. Last time I biked through there, it smelled like those weird cakes people attach to the undersides of toilet seats (I suspect the Willert complex).

Anonymous said...

well frippy, you and your boss would be dead wrong. People did line up and the houses were sold.

Anonymous said...

Frippy, your boss is an idiot and quite un-informed, as you also appear to be on this development.

I know several middle class families (with kids) that either live there or can't wait to have their house built in that neighborhood. It has changed dramatically, whether you like the architecture or not (which I don't).

Anonymous said...

My boss laughed at the name change only, because the name change seemed rather euphemistic -- Botanical Heights clearly sells better than the negative associations one may traditionally have about McRee Town. Nothing was said about anyone buying or developing there and nobody laughed at the reality of real estate sales or development there. Only news of the initial name change.

I guess it worked, though.

Uninformed I may be, and I admitted as much, but I find name-calling on this blog to be quite unnecessary.

My issues with redeveloping neighborhoods are less to do with architecture and more to do with the continued availability of affordable housing with the benefits that come when a neighborhood is improved. Not everyone living in a low-income, high-crime area contributes to the decay or enjoys it.

Joe said...

The OPO space is stunning and magnificent, no doubt about it.

Had lunch Monday at the PHPronto! location. Was not impressed. Food cold, overpriced for what it was, not clear whether to bus own table or not.

I'd give it another chance if I thought it would be a better experience; but I'm skeptical.

Any chance of getting the Post Office to move back in? I believe it moved to 4th Street prior to renovations; but the cool old P.O. boxes remain, presumably unused.