Downtown Belleville on the Rise

Discuss new retail, dining, business and residential projects in Southwestern Illinois, including East St. Louis, Belleville, O'Fallon and Edwardsville.
Downtown Belleville is on the upswing
Tim Bryant St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Traffic flows under the new canopy of trendy lights spread over East Main Street, where bars and restaurants open to broad, patio-like sidewalks.

The activity adds vitality to a downtown that for decades relied on law firms and other businesses tied to banks and St. Clair County government offices that ring Public Square.

Recently, owners of some downtown storefronts have converted upper floors to apartments and even overnight lodging favored by international visitors to the St. Louis area. In addition, about seven new shops, two bars and four restaurants have opened in the last two years, said Darrell Coons, director of the Belleville Main Street Association.

“Gradually, everything down here is getting better,” he said.

Downtown Belleville property owners said their area blends aspects of Main Street in St. Charles, Cherokee Street in St. Louis and the Delmar Loop. The $50,000 canopy of small lights that crisscross over a section of East Main mimics those over part of Washington Avenue in downtown St. Louis.

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I was over there last night and decided to take a drive down Main St. I hadn't been that way in a LONG time. I was VERY impressed. Obviously, being a Monday night, you wouldn't expect much life. There was a decent amount of traffic and all of the bars and restaurants were crowded. I think it is awesome. I wish we had TONS of streets like this Downtown and other places. Obviously, we do, but it would be great it Downtown STL had more streets like this. I love the fountain and roundabout. The lights were awesome. It has a very South St. Louis feel to it with the brick buildings and what-not.

What is the story with increased crime concerns in that area? I did not see much if any decay, nor did I see any rough areas. Obviously, I didn't see the surrounding areas or dig deeper, but I've heard some rumblings from long-time Belleville residents, that they worry about crime increasing in the area.
I remember in the 80's it was so boring to go to downtown Belleville. It was nothing but antique stores, random craft stores, and the 2 movie theaters - the Lincoln and the Ritz. It was an old lady's paradise.

Despite the loss of the Ritz, it has completely transformed for the better.
Just ate dinner at one of the taverns, sat outside on the patio under the lights they have over the street. It was a really nice vibe and atmosphere... and there were a lot more people out walking at 8:30 than I expected.