Forget the Trolley: Significant Development Coming to the East Loop Anyway

The Post-Dispatch has a quick summary of brewing development in the East Loop. Most of the news is known: tenants are being sought for vacant lot east of Big Shark Bicycles, the Moonrise and the Washington University rehab of the building on the northeast corner of Skinker and Delmar are stabilizing factors and are attracting interest in new development, and any new development is likely a couple years away. No real news there.

However, the two new (to me) pieces are: while the vacant lot is likely to see a 28,000 square foot development, the owners are open to at least a portion being residential. Also, OCL Lighting, the rather lengthy, largely dead space immediately east of the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) and across the street from the vacant lot will be redeveloped. OCL will move to a new location near Westport Plaza and the owners “are contemplating a grocery for that site.” Now THAT would be news for the Loop.

Of course I would take the notion with more than a grain of salt. The location is simply not amenable to a grocery as parking options are limited and I think we can all agree that a grocery needs a certain amount of parking. The vacant lot on the north side of Delmar would seem a better option as the possibility of providing parking to the north of a new development exists.

So development in the Loop marches onward to the east. And exactly WHY do we need a trolley? If the commercial strip is as vibrant as it is now and is quickly pushing to the east there remains no more than a mile of infill opportunity and I don’t believe that a $55M trolley is the correct method to induce the last bit of development. Do you?