And Then Some: nextSTL News Roundup

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percent change number of college graduates aged 25-34, 2000-12

Where Young College Graduates Are Choosing to Live – New York Times
Surely it’s a generational thing to applaud one generation, ignore another, and deride yet another. And so it goes that Millennials are criticized for being entitled, for taking their children to restaurants, and demanding city services. What most of the vacuous self-affirming click bait commentary lacks is any real information. Recently, the New York Times illustrated the percent change in the number of college graduates aged 25 to 34, from 2000 to 2012. St. Louis fared well with an increase of 26%. It’s just one metric, but St. Louis sits between Pittsburgh and New York. Cleveland and Detroit, two cities St. Louis finds itself lumped with on some measures, check in at 1% and -10% respectively. Earlier this year, we wrote “Millennials are Saving St. Louis” and showed it. Something has changed in St. Louis.

A Planet of Suburbs – The Economist
The suburbs are far from an American phenomenon. From The Economist, “The shift in population from countryside to cities across the world is often called the “great urbanisation”. It is a misleading term… Suburbs are curious places, neither here nor there. They have been around since ancient Rome (which gave the world the word), but it was not until the 19th and 20th centuries that first the train and then the bus and car brought them truly into their own—the first places in human history where many people lived but far fewer worked.” Want more? There’s now a 1,072-page encyclopedia on the subject, Paradise Planned: The Garden Suburb and the Modern City.

St. Louis gentrification map by Todd Swanstrom
No One’s Very Good at Correctly Identifying Gentrification – City Lab
“Gentrification” is an over used and under-understood term. The biggest issue for a place like St. Louis may be that the New York Time’s definition of gentrification doesn’t apply to St. Louis. Or rather, the type (and pace) and scope of change in housing and retail development is several orders of magnitude different. From An exploration of the importance of the strategy used to identify gentrification: “Urban scholars have described the importance of gentrification in major cities across the USA since the 1970s. While there is consensus that gentrification shaped social and physical aspects of neighbourhoods, scholars have yet to agree on how gentrified neighbourhoods should be identified.” For more on gentrification and St. Louis check out: Gentrification May Not Mean What You Think It Means in a City Like St. Louis. Also worth a read: Why Some Places Gentrify More Than Others and Lost in Place: Why the persistence and spread of concentrated poverty—not gentrification—is our biggest urban challenge (PDF).

homicide comparison - STL, PGH, CIN, CLE
Homicide in St. Louis
As of today, the homicide count in the City of St. Louis is 149, unofficially. At this number, the city will experience its second highest homicide rate in the past two decades. Long too high, and stubbornly resisting the decline seen by many American cities, the concentration of killings in the city deserves an open discussion. Debating the number of police officers in the city and how to pay for them, doesn’t count. As we have written, when homicide decreases, we’re told it’s due to smart policing and tactical success. When it goes up? Oh, that’s something no police department or politician can control – we’re told. But something’s different in St. Louis. With social and economic measures very similar to Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh, St. Louis has a 2014 homicide rate up to 50% higher. Perhaps geography has made the city a hub for drug trafficking, perhaps…who knows. From nextSTL, Homicide and Index Crime Totals and Rates 1943-2012, and Understanding St. Louis: Homicides 2005-2012.

This week on nextSTL

Half Million Dollar Custom Home by UIC Coming to The Grove

Forest Park Southeast Endorses Mix of Contemporary, Historic Infill

Chesterfield Tries to Pee in the Tax Pool

Four Builders Seek Approval for Infill in Forest Park Southeast Neighborhood

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  • matimal

    To be fair, Cincinnati has added significant numbers of police on the beat in the last year. Still, I think it is the geographic patterns of race and class that set St. Louis apart from the others. There just isn’t anything like the intensity and scale of concentration of poor blacks in north St. Louis in the other cities you mention, or in many American cities for that matter. The base of operations that St. Louis’ north side provides for criminals is important. That’s why I’ve argued that the shift of this social dynamic into north county actually helps St. Louis city. It is a way of dividing and conquering crime. As it is, vast expanses of north St. Louis offer a refuge from civil authority that prevent the police from doing much more than preventing the spread of crime into other areas. Criminals are no different from legitimate business people in that they need bases of operations, networking, social display, and competition. You need to deprive them of their largely unchallenged base of operations in north city to make a meaningful reduction in crime, even in the central corridor or in south city.
    I’ve often described Cincinnati as St. Louis without it’s northern half. If you look at the stats for central and southern St. Louis separately, you’ll see similar crime rates to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, or Cleveland, I think.

    • Guest

      Today, we again have national coverage of St. Louis as another shooting has happened in Berkeley with a white police officer shooting an armed 18-year old teen. This sort of news does not help St. Louis to attract people to live and work here. I’m sure people who are desperate for jobs will come to St. Louis if they have no other options elsewhere. I understand that people need jobs and that is what brings them here to St. Louis. However, if most people have options, they will most likely not want to come here. Insiders may not see this but outsiders see St. Louis as a “dangerous city”, whether the reality matches the perception or not. We have a bad reputation and this reputation is what repels people to move here.

      Shaw riot in St. Louis city is in reference to the Vonderitt Myers Jr. shooting in the Shaw neighborhood that happened in South City and that led to people taking to the streets and busting up cop cars and causing mayhem with some stores. Here’s video of it.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9dJm-NDUkI

      • Alex Ihnen

        More or less, the “facts” are here and no one really disagrees. Your perspective is what people disagree with. However, what happened in Shaw wasn’t a riot – no matter what someone labeled a YouTube video. For thousands of people each year St. Louis isn’t a city of last resort, or where people are forced to go when they have no options. Once again, we’ll all have to wait and see what happens in the coming years, but any certainty of the impact of the facts, as they are, is more based on one’s pessimism and negativity than reality. There are simply way too many counterfactual examples to go on and on about how STL’s demise is imminent.

        • matimal

          I’d go even further in rejecting the narrative of a ‘failed St. Louis.’ These things are happening BECAUSE St. Louis is changing for the better. It is BECAUSE investment is coming to the center that poor blacks are being pushed and pulled to black working/middle-class areas in North County. And it is BECAUSE poor blacks are increasing in number in North County that these conflicts are occurring. Ferguson is a sign of CHANGE in St. Louis, not continuity. St. Louis may not handle this change with the greatest finesse, but it is changing. St. Louis IS reorganizing in ways that will make it more competitive and that is why Ferguson happened.

        • Guest

          The population count will be a telling sign–whether it be enrollment numbers in area universities or resident numbers in the city/county. We shall see in 2020 census. I’m putting my money on a further decrease in population which would stay in line with the trend line. Please google search “population St. Louis” to obtain factual information about population count. What does it look like? I’ll remain positive and hopeful that STL does not face a demise but the trend line shows a slow death for a city. Truth be told.

          • Adam

            “Please google search “population St. Louis” to obtain factual information about population count.”

            Google the population trend? Brilliant! I’m sure Alex never thought to do that. Anyway, the trend line is nearly flat. If the loss continues according to the trend, it will be quite small. Meanwhile, median household income in the city continues to grow.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Population loss for the city (I’d argue that population loss in the 1M resident County is perhaps more problematic for the future) has been decreasing. Many cities are “rebounding” without population increase, and this may be what we’re seeing in STL City. The population loses were still big in the last decade, but since 1980, decreases have decreased from -27%, -12%, -12%, -8%. Places like Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and others have seen similar decreases. Perhaps all these places are in dire straights and dying, but one wouldn’t get that perspective from most people who live in those cities.

          • matimal

            comparisons of municipal population are very problematic. They are just too different. That is why MSAs were created. St. Louis’ MSA is growing.

          • Adam

            Oh, I agree completely. The slowing of the loss rate is what I was getting at in my initial response to “Guest”, i.e. the flattening of the trend line. Even if the city loses a little more at the next census, it’s hardly the end of the world. Based on Guest’s comment history though, he/she seems to be obsessed with—almost hopeful for—the city’s demise.

          • Guest

            It is not flat, Adam–do not mislead people. The population in 1970 was just above 600,000 for STL. The 2013 population estimate is 318,000. The population has nearly halved between 1970 and 2013. There has been significant population loss. Even in recent years, it continues to decline. Why do you think the city has 20,000 vacant lots/properties?

            I was born and raised here, born at Old St. Anthony’s hospital, k-12 schooling, worked downtown, worked within the communities of Tower Grove, Dutchtown, metro East, north city, north county, etc. I am definitely from around here . . . I would say.

            Do not attempt to discredit voices based on perception of local (from here) or non-local (not from around here). It is bias and discrimination. Base your arguments on facts, logic, and common sense. You can deduce that if the population trend has been decreasing, at a decreasing rate, then the outcome is that the population continues to decline, which it has. Population continues to decline in STL–this is the truth that people need to know. Go look at US Census data for yourself.

            There’s a large baby boomer population in the region and they will eventually die. St. Louis region has a large number and proportion of them relative to other cities. It is an older region. STL city is old–250th birthday. You should take it seriously that people (long-term St. Louisans) are expressing interest in leaving the area (whether St. Peters, the city of St. Louis, or STL county) because it can be a sign of things to come. Both the city and county will have to plan for it. Think of the vicious cycle. Bad things beget more bad things. Better to take a poll and assess how many people are leaving for planning purposes. Take into account the death rate too.

            As the city vamps up the new construction of luxury apartments (9,000 I believe) and rehabbing old homes (resurrecting from the dead), be aware of the housing crash that is predicted to come in 2020 and last well into 2030 as baby boomers put up their homes for sale. What looks good now (more housing options because of more luxury apartments, lofts, townhouse, million dollar homes in low-income areas, whatever), may not be a good thing later when population decreases significantly due to the baby boomers dying off. There will be a glut of housing on the market and there won’t be enough people moving in to buy them. STL will become a high poverty region as many older folks won’t be able to cash out on their homes. Cities won’t be able to collect property taxes and school districts will suffer for it. City services will cost more.

            Nationally, “By Nelson’s calculation, 20.1 million senior households will be trying to sell their homes between 2015 and 2030. As many as 7.4 million of them won’t find a willing buyer – a number, as we outline in the magazine’s Chartist feature, that could send us towards the next housing crash.”

            “My suspicion,” Nelson says, “is that many hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of those households in the 2020s to 2030 and beyond will simply give up the house and walk away.”

            Arthur C. Nelson is a well-respected economist whose expertise is on housing and demography and the original estimate that he gave were later revised with a grimmer (more bad) forecast. So be careful about putting down roots in the STL region because it will probably be hit hard. I would not recommend anyone to buy housing here. Better to put down roots in a city that has a better jobs future. The worst case scenario is people trapped in the STL region in semi-ghetto neighborhoods who can’t sell.

            Sources:
            http://www.citylab.com/housing/2013/11/what-will-happen-grandmas-house-when-no-one-wants-buy-it/7669/

            http://www.citylab.com/housing/2013/03/aging-baby-boomers-and-next-housing-crisis/4863/

          • Alex Ihnen

            If the concern is Baby Boomers, St. Louis will be OK, relative to the rest of the US. It’s a challenge here, but a much more significant challenge in popular retirement communities (common sense) across Florida and the southeast, Phoenix, Vegas and the southwest, and so on. Boomers are also a much higher percentage of population in smaller towns and across the northeast and some other northern states. STL is also well sited for the longer term as it won’t be as affected by climate change, rising sea levels, or drought. Point is that there are many numbers and factors to consider and I don’t think any city is doomed – and certainly not St. Louis.

          • matimal

            Where does your certainty about the future come from? Have you used it to speculate in commodities? It must have been nice to be able to predict the financial collapse.

          • Adam

            I didn’t say it was flat. I said “nearly flat”. And I’m referring to the rate of change of the loss–-that’s what “flat” means–not the total loss over time. Sorry, but it actually is “nearly flat”, and if the LOSS RATE continues to decline as it has been (i.e. the “trend”), we’ll only lose something like 400 people.

          • Adam

            “Do not attempt to discredit voices based on perception of local (from here) or non-local (not from around here). It is bias and discrimination. Base your arguments on facts, logic, and common sense. You can deduce that if the population trend has been decreasing, at a decreasing rate, then the outcome is that the population continues to decline, which it has. Population continues to decline in STL–this is the truth that people need to know. Go look at US Census data for yourself.”

            Talk about misleading… I never claimed that the population would not decline. If you actually bothered to read my comment, you’d see that I said the loss (meaning at the next census) would be SMALL if the trend continues as it has been. That’s how the math works. Perhaps read a little more carefully before accusing people of “misleading” and “attempting to discredit”.

            In any case, I’ve read your end-of-the-world speculations before. I don’t buy ’em. Sorry.

  • Guest

    National news coverage of the Ferguson riot and/or Shaw riot put St. Louis in a negative light, emphasizing the racial divide, the economic inequities, and high crime. This may have the effect of driving current residents out of St. Louis–people who have full knowledge and familiarity of St. Louis and decide on their own that they would rather live elsewhere. I’m hearing talk of older folks moving to Florida or out of the county. Same with recent college graduates who want to live in a more diverse and progressive city. We can only gauge this by the population count and moving data. Keep an eye on the obituaries, specifically the number of announcements. That could be an indicator of the die off rate of residents. I’m hearing people talk about how many people drop like flies in a short period of time, say 6 months. It should be interesting to see if there is a Ferguson effect in decreasing population across generations (young and old) in the city and the suburbs.

    • Alex Ihnen

      There’s so much conjecture here. Lots of fear and speculation. We may know more about any affect when the 2020 Census is published in 2021. I’d bet a whole lot against there being any discernible trend. The County, I think, will lose population, but this isn’t a Ferguson issue, it will be a 20+ year trend at that point. It’s not that Ferguson and other violence doesn’t matter at all, but cities and regions rise and fall on larger macro economic factors much more than single events.

      • Guest

        It is very logical to think that the Ferguson riot or Shaw riot can have an effect on decreasing population simply from what we know about Cincinnati and Watts after their riots. This is not fear or speculation. It is based on what we know about places that have undergone racial riots. Single events in history can change things around. Look at how Ferguson riot is now a national movement with protests in many cities. Look at how quickly it has grown. Now, St. Louis (city and county) is in the national spotlight. Aside from economics, it is logical to think that outsiders would not want to live in St. Louis because of what they have seen and heard of the Ferguson riot/Shaw riot.

        Just listening to chatter in the community, I’m finding that native St. Louisans and those returning back to St. Louis do not like St. Louis and are looking to move out. A poll should be done to see how many people are wanting to move out of the city/county post-Ferguson/Shaw riots.

        I talked to a guy last night, Joe, who was speaking to a co-worker who moved back to St. Louis from having lived abroad for many years. Co-worker has a job in St. Louis but says that he can’t stand it here and that he wants to move out. A month or so ago, Joe expressed interest in moving to Florida. Joe has lived in North County, South City, and now St. Peters and is looking for a job in Florida. You can learn a lot from just talking to random people within the community.

        Keep in mind that your experience of St. Louis may be vastly different from the experience of others. Pick any 2 random people from St. Louis and ask them what they think about STL and you can come across 2 vastly different perspectives. How you feel and think about STL can be starkly very from how others feel and think about STL. Many people express interest in leaving St. Louis for a variety of reasons: poor job opportunities, poor social opportunities, racism, poverty, crime, and lack of diversity, disgust of the city or county, whatever . . . etc. I actually think that some long-term St. Louisans may be leaving STL because they don’t find it a good place to be anymore. We will see it in the population numbers over time. The bottom line: if people do not want to be here, they will find a way to leave.

        • moorlander

          I think you’re describing a microscopic percentage of the metro StL population that will actually move. The national protests have proven to me that many other cities are struggling with the same issues we are here.

        • moorlander

          I think you’re describing a microscopic percentage of the metro StL population that will actually move. The national protests have proven to me that many other cities are struggling with the same issues we are here.

        • Steve Kluth

          Wanting to leave and leaving are two different things. It’s fairly easy to move when one is young and unattached, and even relatively easy when retired. In between, it’s much more difficult. You either need a job that will move you or have a support system in place where you move until you can get on your feet. Those with families will find it more difficult. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it isn’t as easy as moving from St Louis County to St Charles County.

          Cities rarely have a self-sustaining population due to a combination of social and economic factors. They are reliant on the surrounding smaller towns and rural population to grow. If you grow up in Park Hills or Hayti, and go to school at Mizzou or SEMO, you probably aren’t going to find many job opportunities in your home town. You’ll more likely get a job in STL or KC (or Cape or Jeff City), either directly out of college or because you have a friend who lives there who will allow you to crash for a while. Then once you’ve started your career you’re in that part of the cycle where it becomes harder to move.

          If there are jobs, people will come. That’s why there are a bunch of oil workers moving to western North Dakota. It’s not that people want to live there. It’s where those jobs are.

          • matimal

            What’s a “self-sustaining population?” I have no idea what that means.

          • Steve Kluth

            Self-sustaining means births >= deaths when immigration and emigration are not a factor. Cities grow when births + immigration > deaths + emigration.

          • matimal

            Immigration and emigration are ALWAYS factors in an immigrant nation. St. Louis has to be understood in its larger context.

        • TGE

          To start with, I am not aware of any “Shaw Riot.” There have been protests, to be sure, and the night of the grand jury decision, business windows were busted out on S. Grand, but as someone who lives less than a mile from where Vonderrit Myers was shot, I feel comfortable saying that there was no such event as a “Shaw Riot.”

          From the way you are writing your post, I think it’s safe to assume you are familiar neither with Shaw nor Ferguson.

          The City of St. Louis has been sh*t on for 70-80 years, and yet there it remains, with many people passionate about it with a missionary zeal.

          Much of the spotlight on St. Louis has been negative, but I do think it’s too early to forecast any definite population trends. I do agree with Alex that the County will most likely continue to lose population, but these are trends that are in some sense causing the kind of situation that happened in Ferguson and not vice verse.

          You also have to remember that “the City” is not a monolith. Some parts of the City are continuing to decay – northern neighborhoods in particular and some on parts of the south side – Gravois Park, etc.

          But other areas of the City are benefiting from great locations and strong fundamentals such as good highway access, great housing stock, proximity to anchor institutions – think of the Grove, Botantical Heights, Tower Grove East, Benton Park, etc.

        • matimal

          The area where Cincinnati’s riots occurred have been transformed into a professional class residential, commercial, and nightlife district. It continues to expand and rates of crime are a sixth of what they were a decade ago. You don’t “know” what you are talking about.

        • imran

          OMG. Take a deep breath. Like u say, there are many who will disagree with one’s viewpoint and that’s okay. Stop trying to spread negativity about the City. Let individuals come to their own conclusions.
          And this ‘I hate where I live’ phenomenon is not unique to St. Louis. I have friends in Cleveland, Jacksonville and Memphis who have whined for years…..yet they never moved.
          Parting shot: if I were living in St Peters my viewpoint would understandably be pessimistic.

      • Guest

        It is very logical to think that the Ferguson riot or Shaw riot can have an effect on decreasing population simply from what we know about Cincinnati and Watts after their riots. This is not fear or speculation. It is based on what we know about places that have undergone racial riots. Single events in history can change things around. Look at how Ferguson riot is now a national movement with protests in many cities. Look at how quickly it has grown. Now, St. Louis (city and county) is in the national spotlight. Aside from economics, it is logical to think that outsiders would not want to live in St. Louis because of what they have seen and heard of the Ferguson riot/Shaw riot.

        Just listening to chatter in the community, I’m finding that native St. Louisans and those returning back to St. Louis do not like St. Louis and are looking to move out. A poll should be done to see how many people are wanting to move out of the city/county post-Ferguson/Shaw riots.

        I talked to a guy last night, Joe, who was speaking to a co-worker who moved back to St. Louis from having lived abroad for many years. Co-worker has a job in St. Louis but says that he can’t stand it here and that he wants to move out. A month or so ago, Joe expressed interest in moving to Florida. Joe has lived in North County, South City, and now St. Peters and is looking for a job in Florida. You can learn a lot from just talking to random people within the community.

        Keep in mind that your experience of St. Louis may be vastly different from the experience of others. Pick any 2 random people from St. Louis and ask them what they think about STL and you can come across 2 vastly different perspectives. How you feel and think about STL can be starkly very from how others feel and think about STL. Many people express interest in leaving St. Louis for a variety of reasons: poor job opportunities, poor social opportunities, racism, poverty, crime, and lack of diversity, disgust of the city or county, whatever . . . etc. I actually think that some long-term St. Louisans may be leaving STL because they don’t find it a good place to be anymore. We will see it in the population numbers over time. The bottom line: if people do not want to be here, they will find a way to leave.

  • Brian

    If there is one thing I wish the Millennials could do would be to solve the murder problem in St. Louis. We Baby Boomers have been completely flummoxed by the high murder rate. To be sure, much of my generation ignored it. Those that lived in the suburbs dealt with it by avoiding the city at all cost, and blaming those of us in the city for being too lazy, too corrupt, too black, too immoral, and too stupid to stop the flow of blood in the streets.

    I will admit that my generation was handed a shite sandwich by the generations before us (the so-called Greatest and Silent generations), who fought integration hammer and tongs, and, realizing the tide of history was turning against them, fled the city to raise their Boomer children in racially, economically, and socially segregated suburbs. But we Boomers did little to address the world we inherited: we said murder and poverty were the problems of the Ville, then became Northside problems, then St. Louis’ problems, and are now Inner Ring problems. Most of my generation chased after the ideal of success as was defined by our parents, ignoring things that did not directly impact or benefit us, and refused to see the connection between our (in)action and the plight of others. Ironically, many of us are now facing the issues of a lack of economic self-determination, political ineffectiveness, and an uncertain future that the dispossessed have always faced. (Karma is a bitch.)

    My generation’s time as problem-solver is drawing to a close. We will continue to wield a great deal of power (or as much perception of power as the Masters of the Universe allow us), and as a group will be likely to reject anything that messes with the retirement lifestyle that we “earned”. It will be up to succeeding generations to figure out how to eradicate the poverty, violence and racism that bedevils our city. Boomers can be part of the solution, but we are bereft of ideas and are focused on banking coals for the winter of our lives. The ideas, energy and leadership will need to come from X-er’s Y-er’s and Millennials. The best the Boomers can do is to say, “We tried A, B and C, and none of them worked”. I, and other urban boomers, are not withdrawing from the field, we are just looking for you to lead us. You can ignore us, chastise us, or repudiate us, but for god’s sake, figure out how to reclaim the urban core as a place of enlightenment, opportunity, and nurture.

  • jae

    Regarding the last item, I wonder how the lead abatement programs here compare to those in cities with a declining homicide rate. If lead pollution is/has been worse, that might be a piece of the puzzle (eg http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/lead-crime-link-gasoline).