Ferguson Was Designed to Decline

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We’re excited to bring Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns to St. Louis Oct 7-9. We’d love to see you there. Please help spread the word. Event details Made possible by support from ISSUES Magazine at Washington University in St. Louis, Better Together STL, Citizens for Modern Transit, and the Urban Land Institute St. Louis.

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This article first appeared on Chuck’s Strong Towns website and is re-posted here with his permission.


Strong Towns Podcast – Designed to Decline

We can’t over-simplify the dynamics of all that has happened in Ferguson, but it’s obvious that our platform for building places is creating dynamics primed for social upheaval. The auto-oriented development pattern is a huge financial experiment with massive social, cultural and political ramifications. It is time to start building strong towns.

 

I don’t have cable and so I’m not in touch with the news cycle that many of you that watch cable news experience. I feel my life is better for it, although there are times when I do sense I’m missing some of the soul and substance of an issue getting my news primarily from print sources (and those, primarily of foreign origin). The ongoing matter in Ferguson is one of those instances. Add in the racial complexity – of which I am, by my own admission, lacking in intimate understanding – and I feel at an even greater disadvantage. I’m going to tread where I feel on solid ground, knowing others have more to contribute on this subject but hoping I can offer some relevant thoughts that you have not heard in other places.

I’ve spent some time on Google looking at the area where the shooting took place and the QuikTrip that was the flashpoint for events that followed. While this is a fairly ubiquitous pattern of development here in the United States, there are some important things to note. What I see with Ferguson is a suburb deep into the decline phase of the Suburban Ponzi Scheme. The housing styles suggest predominantly 1950s and 1960s development. We’re past the first cycle of new (low debt and low taxes), through the second cycle of stagnation (holding on with debt and slowly increasing taxes) and now into predictable decline. There isn’t the community wealth to fix all this stuff — and there never was — so it is all slowly falling apart.

Decline isn’t a result of poverty. The converse is actually true: poverty is the result of decline. Once you understand that decline is baked into the process of building auto-oriented places, the poverty aspect of it becomes fairly predictable. The streets, the sidewalks, the houses and even the appliances were all built in the same time window. They all are going to go bad at roughly the same time. Because there is a delay of decades between when things are new and when they need to be fixed, maintaining stuff is not part of the initial financial equation. Cities are unprepared to fix things — the tax base just isn’t there — and so, to keep it all going, they try to get more easy growth while they take on lots of debt.

In 2013, Ferguson paid nearly $800,000 just in interest on its debt. By comparison, the city budgeted $25,000 for sidewalk repairs, $60,000 for replacing police handguns and $125,000 for updating their police cars. And, like I pointed out last week, Ferguson does what all other cities do and counts their infrastructure and other long-term obligations as assets, not only ignoring the future costs but actually pretending that the more infrastructure they build with borrowed money, the wealthier they become.

Ferguson isn’t all decline, however. They have the now infamous QuikTrip and all the other stroad development types that thrive on places in decline. Multiple car lots – some abandoned – strips malls, drive through restaurants, a Dollar Store and then you have a quarter million dollars of infrastructure supporting these storage sheds. This is an investment that employs nobody, creates little value and doesn’t even use the sewer/water/sidewalk that has been built there at enormous public cost.

One of the saddest buildings is the Ferguson Market and Liquor Store. Look at it. Understand that there is something close to $300,000 in public infrastructure adjacent to that site. That’s a huge public investment and an enormous ongoing commitment that the taxpayers of this community must shoulder. What do they get for it? There is all this waste of asphalt for a drive-through ATM. Then look at the fence on the right side, as if it is so offensive that one would seek to walk from the market to the McDonald’s. And speaking of walking, that $25,000 being spent on sidewalks is obviously not being spent here. How about $50 for a shade tree?

When places like this hit the decline phase – which they inevitably do – they become absolutely despotic. This type of development doesn’t create wealth; it destroys it. The illusion of prosperity that it had early on fades away and we are left with places that can’t be maintained and a concentration of impoverished people poorly suited to live with such isolation.

Once we reach that stage, what opportunities does our development approach provide? The Ferguson planning documents are full of talk of infill and using tax subsidies to attract development. We can see what infill looks like. Here is a photo of the approximate location where Michael Brown was shot. Note the infill housing on each side. Our zoning codes dictate clusters of housing that are at one price point. Single family residential. Multi-family residential. M-2. M-3. etc….

Even if the initial price point is high, the cycle of decline brings it down over time. The buildings are auto-oriented – parking minimums force that logical adaptation – and so they present a rather despotic front to people not in a car. There are no eyes on the street, the buildings all orient towards the parking lot. And nobody even cared enough when this was built to plant some shade trees next to the sidewalk so people could walk in a modest amount of comfort.

Are we surprised that two men would be walking in the street here? If they were going to be on the sidewalk, they would need to march single file.

Earlier this year I wrote about Dunkin’ Donuts and their franchise model. You need a net worth of a half a million dollars to start a Dunkin’ Donuts. How many people in Ferguson have that kind of wealth? The median household income in Ferguson is 21% less than the state average. The median house is worth 32% less. How would the average Ferguson resident, living in a community programmed for decline, build enough wealth to start a doughnut shop?

The reality is that they can’t. So they don’t. So the business subsidies and the millions of dollars of public investment in infrastructure go to the typical cast of characters. A full 22% of Ferguson’s employed males and 21% of employed females work in retail or food service. Those are low wage jobs where, like the Dunkin’ Donuts, the profits rarely stay in the community. Where is the wealth to take that abandoned strip mall, convert one of the bays to a donut shop and make a go of it? It’s not there. What little wealth there is being sucked out of the community.

Let’s pretend that there was some wealth. Let’s say we have someone in Ferguson – and I’m sure there would be lots of candidates – with some real entrepreneurial zeal. They want to start a business in one of those abandoned buildings. How many zoning regulations, public hearings, parking requirements, building inspections and general red tape would they need to go through to make that happen? How does that impact the cost of entry? We establish all these things on the way up, insist they are part of the way we will keep order during the stagnation and then stubbornly refuse to challenge our assumptions on the way down. Of course, the city seems eager to help, if you are in the right place and will be paying sales tax. (Note: they at least appear to allow food trucks to some extent.)

This stroad nation we have built is also not well equipped for the transportation needs once a place goes into decline. Despite being relatively poor in comparison to state averages, 86% of employed people in Ferguson drove to work in a car by themselves, an incredibly expensive ante to be in the workforce. Only 3% used public transit while 9% carpooled. That leaves less than 2% able to use the most affordable option available: biking and walking.

If you live in Ferguson, you are essentially forced to drive for your employment and your daily needs. That is the way the city was designed. There was no thought given to the notion that people there might not always be prosperous, that they might desire to – or have an urgent need to – get around without an automobile. When you look through the city’s planning documents, you see that walking/biking infrastructure still primarily means recreation, not transportation, despite the obvious desperate need for options.

Unfortunately, nothing I’ve brought up here is really unique to Ferguson. All of our auto-oriented places are somewhere on the predictable trajectory of growth, stagnation and decline. Racial elements aside, I think we are going to see rioting in a lot of places as this stuff unwinds. The most insightful thing I’ve read on this subject over the past couple of weeks was Kareen Abdul-Jabbar’s column in Time magazine.

This fist-shaking of everyone’s racial agenda distracts America from the larger issue that the targets of police overreaction are based less on skin color and more on an even worse Ebola-level affliction: being poor. Of course, to many in America, being a person of color is synonymous with being poor, and being poor is synonymous with being a criminal. Ironically, this misperception is true even among the poor.

And that’s how the status quo wants it.

We’re entering a really dangerous phase of this Suburban Experiment. While we once believed that the path to prosperity was the “American Dream”, a house in the suburbs and an ownership society (FDR saw this as a social equity issue as did GWB), it is now evident that this approach creates poverty. It not only creates it, it locks it into place in a self-reinforcing cycle. Like I’ve said before, how we respond to this is the social challenge of this generation.

So far, I’m more worried than anything else. I joined the Army on my 17th birthday and spent the summer between my junior and senior year of high school at basic training. Despite the total exhaustion, there were two nights I just couldn’t sleep: the night after bayonet training and the night after our first day shooting the M-16 at pop up targets, which were silhouettes of people. Just contemplating, even at a very detached level, the notion that I might be asked to take a human life was a very sobering notion for a 17 year old. Simulating the act was eye-opening. Fortunately I was never faced with the moment where I had to do the real thing. I don’t know how I would have reacted.

It is with that background that I find myself beyond horrified at police officers – not even soldiers but public safety officers – in full camouflage gear pointing their weapons at American citizens. I even saw photos of a sniper. A sniper! Snipers are used to take down targets with stealth – terrifying – and we’re deploying them during social unrest. My mind is just blown. I don’t think we – as sober citizens – can overreact to this reckless display of force. You never point a weapon at a person unless you are prepared to kill them. Is that what we’ve come to?

We’d better hope not. We’ve bought ourselves some time with our extraordinary monetary policy – given the baby boomers a chance to sell their suburban homes and get some of their retirement savings back – but I don’t see us being able to keep this thing propped up a whole lot longer. Maybe we can – I’ve been surprised thus far, after all – but I suspect that more and more places will hit the decline phase of this experiment in the coming years and not get the bailout they are hoping for. The money just isn’t there.

A lot of cities are going to need a Strong Towns approach when that happens. While I’m not trying to over-simplify the dynamics of all that has happened in Ferguson, it’s obvious that our platform for building places is creating dynamics primed for social upheaval. Our auto-oriented development pattern is a huge financial experiment with massive social, cultural and political ramifications. It is time to start building strong towns.

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  • PhilS

    I highly recommend this well researched article on how government officials, community “leaders”, developers, realtors, and bankers all have, and continue to, actively work to keep our community segregated.

    The Making of Ferguson: Public Policies at the Root of its Troubles by Richard Rothstein

    http://www.epi.org/publication/making-ferguson/

  • Danielson

    I bet in 50-60 years, St. Charles County will be in decline for the same reasons.

  • Danielson

    I bet in 50-60 years, St. Charles County will be in decline for the same reasons.

  • Mathew Chandler

    There are two Curbside talks,Oct 7th at UMSL/Oct. 8th at Wash U, I believe. Will he be giving essentially the same speech both days, or would it be worth it to attend both? Is there a fee for the Curbside talks?

  • Mark K

    This is one of those pieces that a friend may forward you with a subject line “you wont believe the stupidity of this article” thats all that needs to be said on that….next.

    • matimal

      What’s stupid about it?

      • Alex Ihnen

        If someone tries to take this article as “This is Why Ferguson Happened” or something like that, I suppose it may seem stupid. This article is something different though. I think having “Ferguson” in it at all causes people to bring a lot of ideas, thoughts, sometimes biases to reading it. IMO – if this were “Ballwin was designed to decline”, there wouldn’t be much of a reaction.

  • STLEnginerd

    Seems like twisting events and siting incomplete facts to support a particular world view. Maybe the author hasn’t said it but it seems implied that if Ferguson had be properly designed that it would not have declined. This is far from certain. The article says designed to decline but much of the conditions referenced are the state of infrustructure that is primarily for boosting opportunities in a poorer population (transit, sidewalks etc.) If anything ‘Ferguson was NOT Designed to Decline’, and that is the huge hole in the safety net felt by the current population.

    Maybe the clock is ticking on Ferguson but its not fair to say that lack of urban design is the cause of the decline. Though it is a huge factor IMHO on whether it is a built enviroment worth attempting to save…

  • John R

    The great Toby Weiss has a must-read on West Florrisant development patterns over the course of 8 miles from City to deep suburb: http://www.beltstl.com/2014/09/a-white-flight-tour-up-west-florissant-ave-to-ferguson-and-north-st-louis-county/
    West Flo is the story of our times…. EWG had already been looking at if for Great Streets treatment and Metro planners at light rail but it is time for action to begin.
    I also can’t wrap my head around the fact that Emerson is just a half-mile down the street from the protest zone… just another example of our region’s out-of-touch corporate leadership.

    • brianstl

      What does Emerson’s location say about our out of touch corporate leadership? They moved there over 70 years ago to be right next to the railroad. They have decided to make even a bigger investment in the community post Mike Brown incident.

      • John R

        Sure….for the area’s youth like Michael Brown, Emerson was a mile away and a world away. The Fortune 500 company is part of a county club corporate culture that dominates our region and isn’t urbanism- friendly. While it will make its frontage of West Flo look aesthetically pleasing, it hasn’t done anything to help out up the street, let alone meet the real needs of people living in places like the Canfield neighborhood. I’m also a bit bitter still about CEO Farr’s outrageous remarks about not hiring any more US workers if Obama Care, etc. were to pass. Hopefully he regrets saying that and is a bit more humble these days…. hopefully Emerson will truly step up in helping our region meet pressing needs.

  • brianstl

    Ferguson was not part of the part of the Suburban Ponzi Scheme nor was it an auto oriented development. Ferguson came about much like Kirkwood and Webster as a result of the railroad. Ferguson, also, had industry and the jobs that go along with it long before the road building boom.

    Why not exercise some editorial judgement before posting this piece or at least inform the author of the actual history of the community before posting it. The posted result is worthless.

    • Alex Ihnen

      You’re right and the author is right. Old Town Ferguson, or historic Ferguson is just as you described. However, much of Ferguson today is very traditional suburban development. This is especially true of the eastern part of the town that has been the site of protests etc. Much of the development pattern in Ferguson is unsustainable. This, of course, is true of a lot of St. Louis City as well. The suburbanization of urban areas is another target of Chuck’s “Strong Towns” approach. This article works if we understand what the author is and is not saying. IMO – the problem many have with this article and others (at times) posted here is that they’re not all-inclusive or sometimes lack complete context. It is what it is. No article is attempting to express the totality of any issue. These aren’t treatises or dissertations – they’re particular views of issues or events. We must be willing as readers to form our own context at times and accept the limitations of what’s being expressed.

      • brianstl

        I appreciate your reply. We might not agree in this instance, but that’s fine.

  • Guest

    As a resident of Ferguson I feel I must inject a few facts that Mr. Bose missed on his Google visit. Firstly, the area of Ferguson he “visited” is right on the line of the city of Dellwood, which is indeed the type of suburb he describes. Ferguson was a city long before St. Louis grew to swallow it. Yes, there are suburban developments from the 50’s and 60’s, but Ferguson has many large old homes built at the turn of the century and up until before typical suburban tract housing of 1950’s and later.
    There have been many improvements in Ferguson in the last 10 or 15 years, many new businesses and urban oriented buildings built. Too bad Mr. Bose didn’t poke around Ferguson a little more in his Googling. Several homes on my street alone have been nicely rehabbed by new owners or sold to residents (as opposed to income from rental). Ferguson was/is a very pleasant place. The racial mix as far as residents really wasn’t/isn’t much of an issue. The media made it an issue. As for the police department, I was quite shocked and ashamed at their behavior in the Michael Brown incident.
    I’m white, many of my neighbors are black, some Hispanic and some Asian. We all get along fine. I and my neighbors would hate to lose this.
    I’m a big supporter of the city of St. Louis, proud of it’s amazing architectural legacy, rich civic and cultural offerings that many “in” cities lack. I realize, like Alex says, that if St. Louis is nothing, it’s suburbs are suburbs of nothing. I understand that the urban lifestyle has been on the rise for some time now (I actually saw this in the 80’s). Yet, suburban communities are still a vital asset, although less and less so than in the auto-oriented past.
    And matimal and Michael C. who anticipate the falling of the suburbs, is that any different sentiment that the county has done for decades to the city? Isn’t it time the city gets back to being city (THE central place of business, commercial and dense residential… and where “the action is”) and suburbs back to lesser quiet bedroom communities for the (hopefully) fewer who prefer that? Any working city really needs both, but the handwriting is on the wall…the roles have changed and the city is on the rise…and if it fails, we will all lose.

    • matimal
      • Guest

        Really? I’m sorry, I don’t agree that it shows me everything I need to know about metro St. Louis. It would be interesting to see such a map 30 years ago of the city. If I had seen such a map 30 years ago, should I have trusted that that was all I need to know about the city?

        We can’t get anywhere by posting negative information and using that information to support our personal views in order to achieve our goals. Sure, we do need to be honest, but all of us who care and are able need to honestly strive to work to make the city work…as well as the suburbs. But these areas need to function as they were originally built…not in the post war era of auto dependency. Suburbia has become a beast that trashes what was desirable the previous generation in order to profit, and America bought it hook line and sinker, resulting in ever farther reaching blandness and wastefulness of exurbia. I’m glad people are waking up.

        • matimal

          How was my comment “negative information”?

        • matimal

          Why are you sorry?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Thanks for the comment. Richard didn’t author the article – it’s a repost from Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns. He’s begins by stating his limited knowledge of the area and sticks with examining the area of Ferguson where the bulk of protests have taken place. Your comments are very welcome, but I also hope we understand this article in context.

      What Chuck is saying is that our suburban design patterns are economically unsustainable. This is true of parts of Ferguson and much of North County. Some places, and parts of places are better positioned to be sustainable – such as the older parts of Ferguson, as you state.

    • rgbose

      I didn’t write this, Charles Marohn of Strong Towns did. He’ll be in town next week. I hope you will attend one of his talks. As you noted, he’s focusing on the W Florissant area in this piece. I know there’s more to the story of Ferguson as a whole including many positive stories. His main point is built environments like W Florissant are doomed because there isn’t enough economic activity to pay for the infrastructure that serves it, create enough jobs and keep more wealth circulating in the community. You’re right to point out the other parts of Ferguson which are pre-WWII and built in a traditional pattern. Some of our surburbs still have that pattern, and I think are stronger for it.

      • Guest

        My sincere apologies, Mr. Bose!

        Oh, I agree with what he says about W Florissant in terms of how it exists in terms of what’s there now and how it translates in practicality today…but to say it was somehow intentionally built to fail is, in my opinion, a rather silly idea.

        Or am I misunderstanding something?

        • rgbose

          In the podcast linked above (about 12:45 minutes into it) he says “This in a sense by design, not intentional design, but but it’s a byproduct of the way these places are built.”

          Here’s a video about Huntington, WV which outlines a lot of Strong Towns themes. http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2014/1/13/huntington-calling.html

    • Ryann

      The Michael Brown incident should have stayed local news, I’m not sure if it became national before or after the riots and looting, but (some) of the residents of Ferguson, didn’t do anything to help the reputation of Saint Louis and what do they hope to achieve by getting all of this attention and destroying their OWN city? I don’t understand why they think that his death was because of racism, he robbed a convenience store (caught on tape) and yet people say he was this upstanding citizen and he was going to college but I don’t see how going to college makes you a saint there are a lot of bad people in college too.

  • matimal

    Too true….and the faster it falls, the faster St. Louis city rises. As north county’s property values decline relative to other areas if becomes more accessible to poorer and poorer people from north St. Louis. As they move northward, to get away from the centers of crime, poverty, and disorder, they tragically and ironically bring that crime and poverty with them. The center of dysfunction is moving northward in St. Louis and away from central corridor areas already. The political division in metro St. Louis were originally meant to isolate poor blacks in St. Louis city, they will increasingly isolate them in north County and make room for professional class people, services, and businesses in the central corridor. This will be the dynamic of St. Louis in the decades ahead.

    • Michael C.

      I completely agree Matimal. The Central Corridor is booming and development plans are now moving north of Delmar. The Delmar divide is getting hazier and will continue to disappear.

      • Andy

        The Delmar divide may disappear but all that means is that the poverty will be pushed farther North and West into North County. All we are doing is shifting the problem to another part of the region. I am happy to see the city continue to stabilize and improve. But, at the same time I am concerned that we are seeing the same capital flight that occurred with White Flight just in a different part of the region.

        I would really like to see a way for us to create mixed-income communities that support the needs of their residents. I do not know the way to accomplish this as it is a problem that occurs all over the world.

        • matimal

          Yes, that is how St. Louis will rebuild. Grand utopian visions of mixed-income communities will not work and will only demoralize those who put their faith in them. St. Louis will ironically rebuild through the same dynamics that brought it down….suburbanization. In this case, it will be the suburbanization of poor black people.

          • brianstl

            Doesn’t NYC have a ton of mixed income housing/communities because of the 80/20 program?

          • matimal

            Less and less…

          • francis king

            Ferguson, along with much of north county has large areas of
            single family houses which predominently serve middle-income
            people,black aand white,nd large apartment complexes for
            moderate income people,black and white. As to changing the
            sububan pattern which has developed over the past fifty
            years, I would be curiois to know how you would do that.
            Do you knock down tens of thousands of single family homes
            like the old style urban renewal? Do you impose a grid sysyem
            taking parts of everone’s yard? Exactly what do you do?

          • matimal

            They’re going to increasingly serve working-class and then poor blacks in the future. That’s my point.

          • matimal

            Densification is the answer, but the low property values, and the fact that their declining more in north county than anywhere in the metro, means that no one could justify investing in higher density market-rate development there. That’s the articles point, that there is nothing supporting increased property values or investment so it won’t happen and people will simply ‘extract’ value from properties. It would only make sense to hold property there if it’s paid off and you can rent it out.

        • Ashley Diaz

          I live in a building that currently accepts Section 8 housing vouchers for a certain (relatively high) number of units within the building. This is about as close to a mixed-income community as market forces allow. Gentrification is a pity but it is a reality. Disabling market forces that allow for financial growth to stop gentrification in our communities will surely doom the region as a whole. Steady income-integration, such as allowing Section 8 mixed housing communities, may be the most clear option.

        • Mathew Chandler

          Maybe the City and developers should focus on implementing strategies for a wide varity of housing choices. Choices of all sizes and types of housing options, single family, multi family both large and small. Instead of infill with large single family homes. This can help ease gentrification and disperse people of low income and allow them to be able to afford a place in neighborhoods instead of being constricted to areas without high rent/prop value.

          • Alex Ihnen

            True. This is happening, but it’s tough to quantify. The North Sarah project is one that comes to mind. Renaissance Place (also a McCormack Baron Salazar project) too. RISE is doing quite a bit of rehab work…Habitat has done smaller infill projects and a number of schools have been converted to senior/low-income housing.

          • Mathew Chandler

            Great to hear of these projects, and hope for more in the future.

    • moe

      We, the St. Louis region is only as strong as our weakest suburb. You’re attitude of screw them. move them out is what is wrong and why we as a region do not move forward and instead cut each other’s throats by offering TIFFs and other garbage. St. Louis and NO other city built itself up by only having ‘professional class people, services, and businesses’.

      • Alex Ihnen

        I think the point is that the sooner we recognized unsustainable development and change that pattern the better.

        • matimal

          The problem is that there is no “we” as the Ferguson events made clear. St. Louis will change because the forces of growth and choice will gain power and the forces of stagnation and powerful social control will lose power. That can only happen if the powers of growth and choice have somewhere in St. Louis to show what they can do and for people to choose to join them for their own individual gain.

          • moe

            And yet St. Charles just approved changing a good part of New Town to allow standard suburban subdivision.

          • matimal

            What’s your point? That St. Charles is losing its vision as well?

          • matimal

            I’m not talking about St. Charles, I’m talking about St. Louis’ central corridor. The forces of growth and choice are in St. Louis city, U City, and Clayton, not in St. Charles. St. Charles is the opposite. It offers social control and stagnation. You have much to learn about how metro St. Louis works.

          • Alex Ihnen

            matimal – you often make good points here and add to the conversation, thank you. But, can you please tone down the “you have much to learn” stuff? Let’s learn from one another without making it personal.

          • moe

            I know very well how St. Louis works. Probably more than you. CHOICE. Go ahead and ignore St. Charles….people have been doing it for a decade as it willfully takes jobs and people then people like you sit back and wonder what the hell happened. There are reasons people move out to St. Charles. I personally hate what that area has become, but only idiots ignore it and the reasons why it is successful. LEARN the reasons people and business move there, then you won’t have to rely on “forcing” cities and people to do anything.

          • matimal

            Where are the highest paying jobs in metro St. Louis? What parts of metro St. Louis have experienced the greatest increases in population or property values in recent years? The answer is not St. Charles. The best jobs and businesses AREN’T moving to St. Charles. Ask yourself why?

          • Alex Ihnen

            “I know very well how St. Louis works. Probably more than you.” Please stop this kind of rhetoric.

          • matimal

            When you write “Forcing” I have no idea what you are talking about. Who is forcing anyone to do anything?

      • matimal

        You couldn’t be more wrong. You can see America’s poorest areas from America’s richest areas. On a clear day you can look right into Chicago’s desperately poor south side from the Loop’s gleam towers. You can do the same from the Empire State Building in NYC looking into poor areas of New Jersey, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. Oakland, California’s intensely poor black population can see the gleaming towers of San Francisco, a great global technology center.

        St. Louis isn’t in a parallel universe to these places. It’s center will have to succeed on the same terms as other urban centers, even if on a much more modest scale.

        • moe

          And this is bull. All those gleaming towers are just fluff. If you think they built themselves, I have swamp land to sell you. They were built by hard labor and they are staffed and cleaned by hard labor. The very people that cannot afford to live in those ‘gleaming towers’. Got news for you…..not everyone gets to be in the 1% no matter how hard you try. You’re just proposing a different form of the Projects where all the poor are shoved into an area where we don’t have to deal with them, don’t have to look at them.

          • matimal

            You’re attacking the messenger, Moe.