Thousands of smart people are moving to the City of St. Louis. In fact, over the past 10 years, the city experienced the largest percentage increase in college-educated 25-34-year-olds moving to with three miles of the central business district of any city in the nation. Nearly 2,700 people in St. Louis fit that description, an increase of 87% over the past decade. It's a narrative that adds nuance to the exodus of more than 29,000 residents, including nearly 20,000 children, during the same time period.
Where are these people moving? Within three miles of the St. Louis CBD are 11 of the 14 (of 79 total) city neighborhoods that saw population growth from 2000-2010. These include Downtown, Downtown West, Soulard, Old North St. Louis, Lafayette Square, Midtown and others, some of the metro area's most historic, livable neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are clearly a draw. There is however, a very, very simple explanation for the increase: Missouri State Historic Tax Credits.
If you want to read more about Historic Tax Credits and their value to the St. Louis region, start reading at the excellent St. Louis Energized blog. The credits made possible the renovation and conversion of dozens of large warehouses into residential lofts. In fact, the downtown St. Louis (Downtown and Downtown West neighborhoods) population increased by 4,631 from 2000 to 2010. It's not a stretch to say that loft-dwellers are more often than not young and educated.
HTC's have breathed new live into St. Louis, but are now under attack. With the incredible pace of redevelopment in the past 10 years there are no longer dozens of vacant buildings waiting to be converted, but a couple big opportunities remain and would only be feasible with the use of HTCs. St. Louis will have to hope that the momentum created by the program can in some measure sustain itself. The next decade will tell us if the central city remains a magnet for the young and educated.