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Problems in St. Louis’ Downtown Revitalization.

2008 April 21
by Phil Miller


A couple of weeks ago, Skip had a post on the lack of development beyond the left-field wall at St. Louis’ Busch stadium. The vacant field, seen clearly in this picture and in this image from Google maps, was to become a ballpark village. But that plan has at least been temporarily scuttled by Centene’s plans not to relocate to new office space there.

A recent St. Louis Post-Dispatch article notes how difficult it has been for new development projects to get up and running in downtown St. Louis, even with a brand new stadium. The author notes a kind of multiplier effect: when one project fails, several other unconnected projects may also fail.

Business owners usually revel in vanquishing their competition. But when Steve Roberts wears his hat as a downtown St. Louis developer, he roots for competitors.

Indeed, Roberts, a principal in St. Louis-based Roberts Brothers Properties, is concerned about the broader impact of projects stalling or dying.

If the adage that success breeds success, then the reverse could be true: Failure is contagious.

“When you have projects or developers failing it raises suspicions in the minds of potential investors, retailers and even residents,” Roberts said. “I don’t think one particular project can take down the whole downtown renovation effort, but if you have multiple ones for different reasons, it hurts those of us who have been sowing our fields for many years.”

Frequent readers of TSE know that we here generally (generally?) do not support public funding for stadiums. Although the a-priori studies claim stadiums are magnets for development and economic activity, the ex-post studies tell a much different story.

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