Does St. Louis need to hit rock bottom?

A catch-all forum for urban discussion. If it doesn't fit elsewhere, post here.
From a previously hijacked thread (of my own doing).

The question is - in order to move forward, build population, and recover from the disastrous half century that St. Louis had starting in the 1960s, does St. Louis need to bottom out before trying to recover?

The discussion began around the anticipated new BPV residential tower. Not singling any individual out out, but some folks were on board with the thinking:
[O]nce the average Joe sees the new Ballpark Village tower going up, they'll start to get a new image of Downtown
I challenged the assertion:
The assertion is that millions of TV viewers are going to have their perceptions of the city colored more by construction of a residential and office building .....and that will somehow translate to real-world significance. ... Come on; you simply can't be serious.
Now I appreciate the optimism in this forum - it's one of the few places that you can get a dose of it. But as both a city and county dweller, and a downtown worker for 20ish years, I've been disappointed so many times in the progress of the City that I've become jaded. As I quoted on that thread:
I've seen more "hopefully this will be the spark that..." and "maybe project X will ignite momentum in.." or "Hopefully Z will give the critical mass that...." go unfulfilled so many times this forum that I know better than to get excited by them.
The city was briefly buoyed in the early 2000s by some downtown projects, early in the Slay administration. I feel his last three terms, and especially the last two, were basically idle. Opportunities were squandered. Some of it was due to larger financial collapse, but other cities have not fared as badly during that time.

So my assertion is that the St. Louis has never hit that rock bottom. As a result, we've never had an opportunity to take true stock of our problems and priorities and rebuild. A real think-differently leader has not emerged. We're stuck.

Some random data points that I think support this claim:
  • Crime is up and casting a dark shadow on both perception and reality. The police department has been without leadership or new ideas for over a decade. The downtown CID just fired employees in order to pay the police to patrol (why?). The City claims lack of personnel despite having a high officer-to-citizen ratio.
  • The budget is in dire straits. Pension obligations are going to break the finances.
  • Racism is still a major issue, at least in part resulting in the election of the most lackluster mayor we've seen in a long time.
  • The transit system is collapsing under crime and infighting. I've never seen ridership so low.
  • Taxes are maxed out in the City. There is nothing left to tap. Sales taxes are well into double digits.
  • Infrastructure is crumbling. None of the promises of decades past - enhanced signals, better streets, wifi - have panned out.
  • Downtown retail is basically nonexistant. Where are the services befitting a community of 15,000? No full time pharmacy. Nowhere for visitors to shop.The promise of Culinaria was to be a huge driver of development around OPO but even that's almost entirely empty.
  • Very few if any projects are getting built in the City without huge subsidy and no end to that is in site. How many decades of lavish tax credits, TIF, CID, TDD have to be granted before that 'critical mass' is reached and a project is viable in the market without subsidy? The city is pouring millions into a GAS STATION for f***s sake.
  • Corruption is still rampant. We don't have Chicago-scale corruption, but at least with a political machine things can get done.
  • For a small city, St. Louis is hugely top heavy and bureaucratic. City hall is a dystopian mess.
  • Poverty is unmanageable, particularly in the north half of the city, period.
  • Hugely expensive mega projects have been entirely disappointing (Ballpark Village), if they happened at all (Bottle Distrinct, stadiums). Others have gone over budget and have been incompetently executed (CityArchRiver). The city has been chasing dreams of others. That thinking shows no signs of slowing.
  • The holy grail push for regionalism is running up against both imagined fears and practical ones. The plan proposed so far is full of promises but would result in more expenditures without any guarantee of savings. Any such effort is likely to fail until the City gets its house in order...which isn't coming soon.
  • (see above) The new mayor seems rudderless, utterly lackluster, and all but silent on the huge challenges she faces.
There are isolated 'bright spots,' as there always will be, but I argue there's nothing transformative on the horizon. Everyone one of the above issues eats away at the fabric of the city and prevents the painful-but-necessary crash that needs to happen. I think rather than ripping off the band-aid, the City has been desperately trying to stave off death by a thousand cuts.

So what is your opinion? Can the city move forward without first collapsing under its own weight first?
time to move!
What do you mean hit rock bottom? Like declare bankruptcy and burn everything to the ground? Yes the bad news or lack of progress can bring one's spirit down but you have to have some perspective. Overall at a city level we are at the whim of state and national policies. We don't have the resources to bring everyone out of poverty and into being responsible citizens nor do we have the resources to lock up all criminals. Even if we had more resources, these issues are national and can't just be solved here.

I'd say the city has improved and is improving significantly along the central corridor and south.
flipz wrote:
Tue Jul 11, 2017 11:42 am
What do you mean hit rock bottom? Like declare bankruptcy [MAYBE] and burn everything to the ground [OF COURSE NOT]? Yes the bad news or lack of progress can bring one's spirit down but you have to have some perspective. Overall at a city level we are at the whim of state and national policies. We don't have the resources to bring everyone out of poverty and into being responsible citizens nor do we have the resources to lock up all criminals. Even if we had more resources, these issues are national and can't just be solved here.

I'd say the city has improved and is improving significantly along the central corridor and south.
The question about what constitutes rock bottom is a good one, though. Most people would say that Detroit bottomed out. Was bankruptcy the result or the cause? I don't know.

To me the City seems like one step forward, two back. Many of the steps forward in the central corridor have been the result of funneling endless public resources to that area despite having no resources to begin with.
Arkills took a particularly close look at the city's central corridor — Downtown, Midtown, the Central West End, Lafayette Square, Skinker-DeBaliviere and other neighborhoods between Delmar and Chouteau along the I-64 corridor. Those neighborhoods have been gifted with $219 million in tax abatements and $338 million in tax increment financing from 2000 to 2014. link
I don't believe the south has improved much at all. Maybe compared to 30 years ago? But certain large swaths like Dutchtown are precarious. These are not stable neighborhoods.

I agree that many of the circumstances are at the state or national level, but St. Louis didn't seem to pick up as much traction as similar-sized cities in the early 2000s, and is deteriorating more rapidly than other cities now.
I get the sense that it was looking better but hit a sharp U-turn around 5 years ago with various events amplifying the problem. Also the problems created a backlash that to some degree is the reason why the current occupants of the Govenor's Mansion and White House are.

Also I will note this seems to be situation that is also starting to grip more and more cities as well. So it could be as much about trends occurring on a national scale that is in part to blame. It could be this winds up on a national scale cause a return of the large scale white flight for another generation or two.
There is a lot here, so I won't respond to every point you make, but I do want to make a few comments about this (and other threads like it):

First, let address the hysteria
  • Yes, St. Louis City has many issues that impact its success - however you define that. Yet, these issues are similar to many other cities across the Midwest, while potentially being unique in their strength.
  • Metro ridership: yes, it is falling, likely due to perceptions of safety or lack thereof. However, again, let's compare to ridership in similar cities which according to an article in the BD from June, are also experiencing a decline. However a decline does not equal a "catastrophe"
  • I cannot comment on allegations of corruption, but can say that characterizing corruption as "rampant" is a stretch. As is the case for any government, waste is the price of doing business. Are there efficiencies that could be implement, of course. Is our city government overflowing with corrupt government employees, I don't know.
  • The mayor. Can we give her a break?!?! She's been in office for what, four months? What do you all expect her to do? Yes,
    she does not have the presence or persona of other candidates for the position, but let's not conflate her demeanor with her desire to impact change. I mean, I gave Trump more of the benefit than many people in the city gave Lyda (ok, that's not true,
    but I wanted to). Yes, she should be held accountable to some outcomes, like anyone in any job is. However, we would also give an employee or manager of ours more than a few months before characterizing him/her as "rudderless". Engage more.
  • The city is too heavy with politicians and bureaucrats. That is why I'm excited for the cut in the number of aldermen, an example of efficiency. While there is certainly more to do, take another perspective
  • Only isolated bright spots? I imagine that is because you and others who subscribe to your view of the city don't care to see them. Drive around and look at the amazing leaps forward in Cortex, Botanical Heights, and The Grove.
Now, let's address the real issues:
  • Financial disparities/poverty, oftentimes along racial lines. This is our biggest issue. If we (along with the rest of the country)
    could identify opportunities to provide poor black families with more opportunities and remove barriers for them to pursue success, that would be the biggest win possible.
  • Sales taxes are certainly and issue, with a current rate of 8.679% and at least two proposals to raise it (police and zoo) over the next year or so likely
  • Similarly, the budget. While I am no financial expert, I cannot understand why we cannot address our budget shortfalls.
    This is, it appears, the reason behind this thread in the first place. However, I'm not sure we have to declare bankruptcy (a la Detroit) in order to address these issues - at least I would hope not.
Many of us who post or are daily readers do so because we so badly want the city to succeed. We want it to overcome it's issues. Some of do this by being overly optimistic (me on some days, when I take family members and other travelers on a tour of CWE, Forest Park, Cortex, South Grand, etc.), emphasizing the good more than the bad. Others tend to concentrate a lot more on the negative (this thread, me about two weeks ago when I heard gunshots from my house in Shaw as I was rocking my five month old to sleep in a house my wife and I purchased only six months ago). I would argue that people like us and forums like this should certainly voice concern about issues, as there are many. But I'm not sure what good it does to be so pessimistic (unless this is a clickbait-like post, in which, you win, I fell for it).

On another note, when we think about our city, let's try to understand it in context. What are our common struggles with sister cities? Where are we completely different, and where are we similar, with maybe some differences in the breadth of the issue. It can be easy for us to think that the city is an utter and complete cesspool (especially when many in the metro area think that already). I would challenge many of us to read articles and posts about others cities like ours before deciding to abandon our city (unless you go to Denver, Portland, or Austin, where there apparently are never any problems). I say this not to make us feel better about our issues (although, it can help when you know others are struggling through similar issues), but also because it may help us understand more and even identify ways to address these issues. I often wonder why there isn't a "Mayors of the Rustbelt" meeting or symposium at least 1-2x a year as the issues we face are very similar.
bprop, can you remind me where you live? what you describe just isn't the reality of much of the city that I know.. I've said it before and I'll say it again, it is a highly diverse city with many bright spots and many troubles to overcome. But even while recognizing our difficulties, I definitely would not want to trade our present situation with say the 1970s, where we lost more than a quarter of our population and had awful crime, lousy finances and questionable leadership.

The failure to acknowledge our present mass of small-scale projects and investments in many of our neighborhoods, with people moving back to the city and growing confidence by many in our schools and neighborhoods, is unfortunate. We need to be smarter moving ahead as a city, but I think we can build upon our strengths as opposed to seeking to reach some kind of rock bottom.
bprop wrote:
Tue Jul 11, 2017 11:54 am
flipz wrote:
Tue Jul 11, 2017 11:42 am
What do you mean hit rock bottom? Like declare bankruptcy [MAYBE] and burn everything to the ground [OF COURSE NOT]? Yes the bad news or lack of progress can bring one's spirit down but you have to have some perspective. Overall at a city level we are at the whim of state and national policies. We don't have the resources to bring everyone out of poverty and into being responsible citizens nor do we have the resources to lock up all criminals. Even if we had more resources, these issues are national and can't just be solved here.

I'd say the city has improved and is improving significantly along the central corridor and south.
The question about what constitutes rock bottom is a good one, though. Most people would say that Detroit bottomed out. Was bankruptcy the result or the cause? I don't know.

To me the City seems like one step forward, two back. Many of the steps forward in the central corridor have been the result of funneling endless public resources to that area despite having no resources to begin with.
Arkills took a particularly close look at the city's central corridor — Downtown, Midtown, the Central West End, Lafayette Square, Skinker-DeBaliviere and other neighborhoods between Delmar and Chouteau along the I-64 corridor. Those neighborhoods have been gifted with $219 million in tax abatements and $338 million in tax increment financing from 2000 to 2014. link
I don't believe the south has improved much at all. Maybe compared to 30 years ago? But certain large swaths like Dutchtown are precarious. These are not stable neighborhoods.

I agree that many of the circumstances are at the state or national level, but St. Louis didn't seem to pick up as much traction as similar-sized cities in the early 2000s, and is deteriorating more rapidly than other cities now.
Where have you heard this? Detroit is WAY worse than St. Louis. St. Louis City has way more stable neighborhoods than Detroit and it's not even close. The problem in St. Louis is it's rather compact size and the fact that we do not have the support of our primary suburban county, something that Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh do. Honestly, I think at this point St. Louis needs a total restructuring that includes the county. Until St. Louis City and County merge into some kind of regional government, the city (and many poor areas of the county) just simply will not have the resources to fix the major problems it has with poverty, crime, infrastructure, services, bureaucracy etc. People that are dismissive about our archaic form of government and how it greatly holds us back, are really dismissive about the future of the entire St. Louis region and our likely blinded by racism, classism, provincialism, and any other "ism" you can think of (stupidism?). My thoughts are that if St. Louis doesn't get some kind of major regional government reform in the next decade or so, you might as well turn off the lights. It's not 1904 anymore and there are at least a dozen young, growing, progressive cities that bright and talented people can choose from and have a better quality of life than St. Louis. That is why the region is not growing and that is why it will continue to decline in stature in the future, unless BIG structural changes are made. My thoughts are that local leadership will continue to give the idea of cooperation lip service, within a few years the Rex Sinquefield funded legislature will blow the whole thing up, institute a unigov, sell the airport, and eliminate the earnings tax to spite the region. In the end it will probably be the best thing the legislature could do for us.
goat314 wrote:
Tue Jul 11, 2017 12:22 pm
Where have you heard this? Detroit is WAY worse than St. Louis.
I don't think Detroit is in better shape than St. Louis, just that it reached a lower low before beginning any semblance of return.
goat314 wrote:
Tue Jul 11, 2017 12:22 pm
The problem in St. Louis is it's rather compact size and the fact that we do not have the support of our primary suburban county, something that Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh do. Honestly, I think at this point St. Louis needs a total restructuring that includes the county. Until St. Louis City and County merge into some kind of regional government, the city (and many poor areas of the county) just simply will not have the resources to fix the major problems it has with poverty, crime, infrastructure, services, bureaucracy etc. People that are dismissive about our archaic form of government and how it greatly holds us back, are really dismissive about the future of the entire St. Louis region and our likely blinded by racism, classism, provincialism, and any other "ism" you can think of (stupidism?). My thoughts are that if St. Louis doesn't get some kind of major regional government reform in the next decade or so, you might as well turn off the lights. It's not 1904 anymore and there are at least a dozen young, growing, progressive cities that bright and talented people can choose from and have a better quality of life than St. Louis. That is why the region is not growing and that is why it will continue to decline in stature in the future, unless BIG structural changes are made. My thoughts are that local leadership will continue to give the idea of cooperation lip service, within a few years the Rex Sinquefield funded legislature will blow the whole thing up, institute a unigov, sell the airport, and eliminate the earnings tax to spite the region. In the end it will probably be the best thing the legislature could do for us.
Excellent synopsis.
robbie wrote: There is a lot here, so I won't respond to every point you make, but I do want to make a few comments about this (and other threads like it):

First, let address the hysteria...
Great post, robbie,
It's a very good post, sums up a lot of what is going wrong and/or could be improved here.

The main issue that St. Louis has is the urban core (the city of St. Louis) experienced massive wealth loss over that last half century. Population loss too, massively so, but what matters to city finances and coffers is the wealth that was lost. Small businesses and economically productive people left en masse for the county, or other cities/regions entirely. This has devastated the city's ability to combat crime, put out good schooling, and generally provide effective services.

You're not going to recover your tax base with notoriously high crime, ridiculously high taxes, and bad schools. Try all the other programs you want, try gleaming mass transit, gleaming sports stadiums, TIF's till the cows come home, doesn't matter. The crime, taxes, and schools troika has been, is, and will be the most important thing keeping wealth out.

That's why, IMO, St. Louis will not be able to recover on it's own. It cannot solve these problems on it's own, it has proven it time and again. Seriously, guys, we've tried. We tried civic engagement. Most of the population in the city doesn't want to be civically engaged. Hard truth. Even if they were, the corruption and nepotism is too blatant, bold, an entrenched. We tried mass transit, we tried welfare, we tried improving the schools.

When nothing works, you have to change your approach, or you are simply wasting your time. IMO the only way for the entire region to stop being a "maintaining population at best" area and start growing again is to wipe the local governmental slate clean. Have the state step in, dissolve St. Louis City and St. Louis county. All political entities within both are dissolved, all politicians lose their jobs. Contracts are voided, debt is repaid if it can be, and if not, bankruptcy is declared. The region is then re-formed in a unitary structure, directly overseen by the state.

Taxes and barriers to small businesses will need to be drastically lowered. I mean DRASTICALLY. Police will need to be unified and under totally new management. If that happens, you will see businesses start to locate themselves in the urban core once again, as it is totally natural for them to do. You will see families start locating themselves in the urban core, once again, like it is natural for them to do. And if that happens, the negative press will stop, and the real assets this city has can shine through and we can well and truly grow once again.

Seriously, wipe the slate clean.
My god the chicken littles are out in force.... where do you people even live? Do you get out?
goat314 wrote:
Tue Jul 11, 2017 12:22 pm
My thoughts are that if St. Louis doesn't get some kind of major regional government reform in the next decade or so, you might as well turn off the lights. It's not 1904 anymore and there are at least a dozen young, growing, progressive cities that bright and talented people can choose from and have a better quality of life than St. Louis. That is why the region is not growing and that is why it will continue to decline in stature in the future, unless BIG structural changes are made. My thoughts are that local leadership will continue to give the idea of cooperation lip service, within a few years the Rex Sinquefield funded legislature will blow the whole thing up, institute a unigov, sell the airport, and eliminate the earnings tax to spite the region. In the end it will probably be the best thing the legislature could do for us.
This is exactly why I chose to use the concept of bottoming out. Something dramatic has to happen in order to change course. Incremental change - the kind tried for about twenty years now - has failed to move the City forward as a whole.

I've made no secret of my distaste for Better Together and SInquefield. But I do know that even the most basic reunion of City and County will need to be perceived as a fair transaction if it's going to be accepted by regional voters. Otherwise it will be somehow shoved down our collective throat in its current form. And right now the City's debt obligations, crime, and dysfunction means unification is not perceived as fair. Stenger's administration gets no pass in this department, by the way.

I actually don't know what bottoming out would look like or what it would mean in practice, which is partially why I asked the question. But incremental change has brought us to this point of endless subsidy and reliance on feather-in-the-cap mega projects. Systemic failure at the City level sometimes seem to overshadow the positive change being achieved at the neighborhood level. Those positive changes are succeeding despite - not because of - City departments and institutions.

BTW I don't mean to pick on Lyda, who seems like a very nice person. But the sum of he concrete ideas to create change (since the campaign, not just since April), best I can tell, is "we'll find more money somewhere and then spend it." The publicity over the statue, however overblown, was emblematic of why many people feel she's not paying attention. She just seems like a continuation of the cautious, incremental, too-little-too-late Slay administration.
Great thread!

I've been a city resident for about 8 years, first in Shaw, then downtown, now the "deep south" of Boulevard Heights. Here's what I've noticed:
  1. City Hall is dominated by legacy political families more intent on maintaining their status within a failing system than in reforming that system, which would threaten their place in it. This is starting to change, and might be helped with the reduction to 14 wards (if that actually happens), but that's still several years away
  2. Parallel to City Hall is a coterie of developers, other vested business interests, and their attorneys who rely on City Hall to push their agenda, with varying degrees of indifference towards the rest of the City
  3. the combination of 1 &2 above puts City Hall in a kind of policy straight-jacket, where the only things we even consider are more tax subsidies for #2, which means that, in order to make up for lost property tax revenue, we must increase other taxes (lately sales taxes) to fund basic services
  4. which leads to some great tourist attractions, a decent central business corridor, and a few great residential neighborhoods (like Shaw, St. Louis Hills, and my own BH), which are
  5. surrounded by more marginal neighborhoods (like Holly Hills and Carondelet), that are
  6. constantly under threat from nearby crime-ridden areas, like Dutchtown on the southside, and almost the entirety of North City, which we (or rather City Hall) has allowed to disintegrate
This has been the status quo for as long as I've lived here and, so far as I can tell, for at least the last 30 years or so. Change must come from within, i.e. by replacing the existing power structure with fresh faces and new ideas, or it will come from without, i.e. King Rex and his minions in Jeff City blow it up. Having interned with Rex's "think tank," I can tell you that we (or at least I and I'm guessing the rest of you on this thread), do not want what they have to offer. Aside from that, we're not going to get any assistance from the State of MO any time soon, and I wouldn't count on the Feds either.

As to solutions, I would start with a moratorium on new tax incentives for business development and also on sales tax increases. I would flip the property tax on its head and assess land at much higher rates than improvements (i.e. move closer to a Georgist Land Value Tax). I would look at the resources we have in abundance, such as land (LRA properties) and unemployed, low-skilled labor, and try to put those two things together--for example training programs in building trades and urban agriculture--to enable local development without relying on outside funding. Longer-term, we need to look at adopting a local currency and otherwise moving towards self-sufficiency, particularly energy and food production. Industrial factory employment by Megacorp isn't coming back, not everyone can design apps, and eventually the food/beverage/recreation service industry will be saturated, so we need alternative employment for non-college educated laborers.
I'd say the City bottomed out a long time ago; like in the 1970s. Back then places like Lafayette Square and DeBaliviere Place were empty shells. Literally. Grand mansions in the CWE could be had for the back taxes. Downtown had so many large, empty buildings that they filmed Escape From New York there in 1981. The City was losing tens of thousands in population every year. Murders numbered well over 200 per year (309 in 1970). Race relations were so bad they weren't even talked about.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. I was here in the '70s, and believe me, St. Louis is much better off today than it was then.
^ thank you, thank you, thank you; a little perspective and reality was sorely needed. As I mentioned above the city lost over 25% of its population in the 70's; I wasn't here then but it doesn't take a whole lot of imagination to understand things were a whole lot worse then on a wide range of fronts. we could try that again and see what "bottoming out" is like, but I don't think we'd like the result. .
^Perhaps to summarize and generalize what you just said, I think you could say the entire Central Corridor and Near South Side are generally doing better than any other time in the last 35+ years and hit rock bottom in the 70's or perhaps 80's. You certainly can't say they're on the decline or have been during that time. Almost hard to think of a neighborhood in that whole area that hasn't been on the rise in that time period. Maybe The Tiffany and/or Gate, but they seem more stagnant than cratering (aside from the rampant SLU demolitions) and might stabilize/rebound with some long deferred investment from SSM. Laclede's Landing might be the only real outlier as an example of clear decline in that area in the last 35-50 years. With a growing population and consistent significant investment throughout it seems the central corridor and near south side left "rock bottom" behind decades ago.

STLrainbow wrote:
Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:20 pm
^ thank you, thank you, thank you; a little perspective and reality was sorely needed. As I mentioned above the city lost over 25% of its population in the 70's; I wasn't here then but it doesn't take a whole lot of imagination to understand things were a whole lot worse then on a wide range of fronts. we could try that again and see what "bottoming out" is like, but I don't think we'd like the result. .
We lost about 10% from 2000-2010. We are at the top of population lost percentage wise with Detroit just right behind us. How far can the population drop before the tax base is stretched too thin? I wouldn't be surprised to see the state cap sales tax at a certain percentage in the near future which then really would put the city in trouble. I originally thought 2020 census the city's population would increase with all the development in the central corridor but people ignore north city so much (myself included) that I don't even think there is enough to offset that decline
Well, isn't it true that although the city's population may be experiencing slight declines, it is the result of losing less educated poor black residents in north city, and gaining affluent white/black/asian/etc residents with degrees elsewhere? That adds a lot to the tax base or it could. The main flaw in the city's finances is that property taxes are really low, and sales taxes are really high. That should be flipped so it isn't so regressive, and also so it reflects more accurately the value of real estate in the city's in-demand neighborhoods. As this demographic shift occurs, we're going to see a change in race demographics, and when white or nonblack residents are clearly making up the majority in the 2020 census, by making the city look more demographically like the region, it will improve how the city is viewed. The central corridor sure seems to be humming along, and a lot of the gaps between neighborhoods seem to be filling in with more affluent residents as well, which will eventually translate into good neighborhood schools in those neighborhoods as soon as the old blood that's been supporting their little private segregation academies cashes out. I believe the population is there to have actual diversity (not "diversity" in which the entire student bodoy is composed of poor black students) in the neighborhood schools in the central corridor, just needs to be made to happen as the neighborhoods solidify again. And it definitely seems like almost everything worth doing/attending/experiencing is happening in the city limits. You guys talk about silver bullets not being the answer, well - this process that is unfolding as one population (a population more reflective of the region as a whole) is that ethos in action. It won't happen overnight, but it's happening.
wabash wrote:
Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:33 pm
^Perhaps to summarize and generalize what you just said, I think you could say the entire Central Corridor and Near South Side are generally doing better than any other time in the last 35+ years and hit rock bottom in the 70's or perhaps 80's. You certainly can't say they're on the decline or have been during that time. Almost hard to think of a neighborhood in that whole area that hasn't been on the rise in that time period....
Not just near south city but a lot of nabes further deep have clearly improved since my time here (about the past 15 years in this apparent hell-hole) as well. Also, while not all south city n'hoods are your sexy pin-ups for hot nabes, the likes of Dutchtown and Bevo are still very much functional, working places that add to our city,,, it is the most ethnically/racially diverse part of our region and has a lot to offer. Strong density still, too. I wish we had parallel n'hoods like those in North City.
onecity wrote:
Tue Jul 11, 2017 9:20 pm
Well, isn't it true that although the city's population may be experiencing slight declines, it is the result of losing less educated poor black residents in north city, and gaining affluent white/black/asian/etc residents with degrees elsewhere? That adds a lot to the tax base or it could.
Is that a question or statement? Seems highly speculative. Do you see the south side becoming overall more affluent? Haven't most of the Bosnians moved out?
As this demographic shift occurs, we're going to see a change in race demographics, and when white or nonblack residents are clearly making up the majority in the 2020 census, by making the city look more demographically like the region, it will improve how the city is viewed.
This is kind of what I'm talking about. You're saying that a demographic shift is happening so rapidly that in three years perceptions are going to change? Just like that?
The central corridor sure seems to be humming along, and a lot of the gaps between neighborhoods seem to be filling in with more affluent residents as well, which will eventually translate into good neighborhood schools in those neighborhoods as soon as the old blood that's been supporting their little private segregation academies cashes out.
The central corridor is 'humming along' but apparently the market can't supporting a major project because as best I can tell, not a single one has been built without significant subsidy. I may be making too much of it, but in my mind a tipping point will happen when a large building or other neighborhood anchor is built without public financing. Any booming area humming along so well should be able to support such a development.
bprop wrote:
Wed Jul 12, 2017 5:22 am
onecity wrote:
Tue Jul 11, 2017 9:20 pm
The central corridor sure seems to be humming along, and a lot of the gaps between neighborhoods seem to be filling in with more affluent residents as well, which will eventually translate into good neighborhood schools in those neighborhoods as soon as the old blood that's been supporting their little private segregation academies cashes out.
The central corridor is 'humming along' but apparently the market can't supporting a major project because as best I can tell, not a single one has been built without significant subsidy. I may be making too much of it, but in my mind a tipping point will happen when a large building or other neighborhood anchor is built without public financing. Any booming area humming along so well should be able to support such a development.
I would somewhat argue we don't know if it can support a major project without subsidies or not. The city gives them out to anyone, without any push back, so even if they could be done without one, the developers would be dumb not to ask for some. I would imagine some of these would have been done without them, if they weren't just handed out to everyone.
Compare all of the neighborhoods surrounding Tower Grove Park (or even the actual Park for that matter) and compare them now against 20 years ago, when they actually did hit rock bottom. The change has been dramatic. Some houses are selling for over $500k and young families are moving in. Read the book "Tower Grove" by Mark Abbot. Not that long ago some of these beautiful old houses in Tower Grove Heights currently being sold to young families were operating as brothels.
Some super simple, select offerings on where the city is better/worse in my ~20 years of participating on this board. IMHO.

This is today (July 2017) compared to the late 90s. I’m only picking topics in which I have intimate familiarity.

• Downtown - treading water at best. Today, more residential. Then, more workers and nightlife.

• Soulard - better. More residents, more rehabs, more new residential, more nightlife, more restaurants.

• CWE – better. More residents, more nightlife, more restaurants.

• Sports entertainment options – way worse. Sure, mock it if you want, but losing the NFL was detrimental for many folks

• Transpo – worse. Airport no longer a hub and metro ridership decreasing because of crime.

• Crime – worse, but honestly, it's unclear. To me, this is the most frustrating thing about our region.

I suspect that stats* would show that crime actually down (today vs. late 90s). But, today, crimes are much more easily publicized. Anecdotally, I can tell you that crime stats were higher in Soulard in the late 90s when I first moved in, but I felt safer. Today, stats show less crime, but I feel much less safe. I just didn’t know what crimes were happening in the late 90s, so perhaps it was literal ignorance.

Importantly, the way crimes are reported/publicized by the media just flat-out feeds the narrative that the city is a crime-ridden cesspool. Take KMOV’s Facebook page for example. It’s almost *all* crime stories. That’s purposeful, as those stories get the most clicks. Additionally, I know that local TV reporters are actively seeking local security-cam footage to show local crimes on the nightly news.

So, regionally, nationally, internationally, this is STL’s biggest claim to fame in 2017 – crime. Consider that. That’s our biggest issue. Perception is reality for people. So, it doesn’t matter if crime is increasing/decreasing.

*now, do you trust the crime stats? I get it, whole other ball of wax. not sure I trust them.