Friday Live Chat

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live chat

It’s back, the Friday Live Chat. You know what to do – just use the comments section below. We’re open from 2-3pm today:

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  • BlightedGuest

    Just tuned in to this about urban blight in St. Louis and the NGA. Maybe we should consider giving away land for government projects in more blighted areas. Benefits could be construction jobs, government jobs, internships, retail, etc.

    http://www.marketplace.org/2017/01/13/wealth-poverty/can-spy-agency-fight-urban-blight-st-louis

    • Alex Ihnen

      I think the city would be happy to give away land, and pay people to take it. It’s been done over and over again.

  • Tim E

    Any thoughts out there that Historical tax credits might be a legitimate target politically in the statehouse. Big talk about state deficits. With GOP across the board I see some serious pullback on tax credits put on the plate of possible legislative action.

  • guest

    Any rumblings on potential development of the Kindred Hospital parking lot on the southwest corner of Euclid and Lindell?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Have only heard that its lease isn’t up and nothing’s imminent. You can bet they get a lot of calls.

  • There were been a couple of research reports covered last week in the press that say prediction of gentrification is related to areas where crime has gone down. This seems to imply there is pent-up demand for city housing, but only in areas where crime is low or going down.

    Could the region target a neighborhood ripe for redevelopment and flood that area with enough crime reduction measures for a couple of years to start a cycle of lower crime, higher home values, which leads to even lower crime etc. to reverse the cycle? We need a demonstration zone. Once it is a success, pick a new one and do it again.

    I see no reason why neighborhoods, such as the homes near, say, the Fox and Symphony Hall, wouldn’t take off in popularity and home value, if not for fear of crime. Or North of Delmar in CWE? Crime keeps these places from being walkable. And there are plenty of other similar neighborhoods that should be great, save for crime histories.

    • Adam

      I think one issue is that—given St. Louis’ limited resources and the scale of the problem—targeting one neighborhood implies a deficit of measures in another neighborhood. Crime/poverty just seems to move around. As one neighborhood gentrifies another falls. It may be that there’s a reservoir of potential residents in St. Louis county just waiting for an opportunity to move into a safe city neighborhood, but I suspect we’d need an influx of population before such a strategy would work. Or maybe not. Chicken/egg.

    • Alex Ihnen

      A lot interesting thoughts here. On one hand, this has been what’s happened with supplemental patrols paid for by various business districts.

      However, I think it’s really interesting to consider issues of perception, as quite a few north and south side neighborhoods enjoy relatively low crime (perception and reality) and yet housing markets are quite weak. Then, the central corridor isn’t the lowest crime area of the city – not even by perception, I don’t think. Yet that is where all the growth is happening.

  • STLrainbow

    Anything exciting on the bike/pedestrian front for 2017?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Yes. I’m hopeful we’ll see a bike share announcement and big progress on the Trailnet plan for real bike infrastructure.

  • guest

    Do you see St. Louis as an innovation city? How so? In what ways?

    • Alex Ihnen

      I don’t. I think some things are changing that – Arch Grants, T-Rex (and others – sorry for not naming them all), but the money remains small and our large businesses remain traditional. That can change, but it takes a generation, and probably some luck. And STL isn’t immune to the larger national and global economies.

      There have been strides to be sure, but I don’t think we’ve leap frogged other competitor cities in the past decade. One example: Cortex. It’s a great development – don’t get me wrong, but I wouldn’t consider it to be part of an “innovation city”. I consider it more to be an urban office park for innovative outposts of traditional companies. That’s OK, and again, it’s a good development for STL, but it doesn’t make STL innovative beyond other places.

      • Alex Ihnen

        There are endless lists out there, but if you’re looking for innovative cities, here’s one measure: http://www.innovation-cities.com/innovation-cities-index-2015-top-100-cities/9612

        Many of the top lists STL has appeared on concern growth in a field where we’ve started from very small numbers, so it’s relatively easy to grow at 100% or something.

        But again, some real change is happening. Let’s hope it continues!

        • guest

          These lists are silly IMO. It is hard for me to believe Kansas City, Richmond, and Tampa make an innovation list over St. Louis. WashU is a world class biomedical research institution and St. Louis is big plant science hub.

  • Zach Shaw

    Do you think 2017 poses to be as hot as 2016 in terms of development?

    • Alex Ihnen

      I don’t, but we’ll see. Seems the big vacant buildings downtown are spoken for…with just a couple exceptions. To be as hot as 2016, future phases of City Foundry, Cortex, SLU/SSM, etc. would need to be announced. Hard to imagine big new projects at BJC/Childrens and WUSTL as well. And Scottrade and MLS count as 2016, I suppose. But let’s hope!

      • STLrainbow

        Seems like 2017 may shape up to be the Year of Construction if what’s been announced really does gets going… if it can keep up with last year in terms of new announcements that would be really impressive.

  • Vacant&Abandoned

    Vacant city properties in 2016 is up to 7,184. If vacant and abandoned properties continue to grow, besides relying on MSD to demolish and install a few hundred rain gardens, what else can be done? Any organization hatching plans for something else? I wouldn’t mind 7,184 rain gardens, myself, though I find it a bit excessive.

    http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/msd-st-louis-near-agreement-to-demolish-hundreds-of-vacant/article_615e81e9-5747-595a-acf8-7a28cce80f90.html

    • Alex Ihnen

      There isn’t a plan. It’s honestly not something any city has the capacity to solve. However, access to historic tax credits has saved thousands of buildings in the city and its continued existence is absolutely crucial.

      Without a change in demand – the population of the city growing – there’s little that can be done. That said, with so many historic brick homes/buildings in danger, it would be amazing to see dedicated efforts at training tuckpointers, bricklayers, etc. Also, smart deconstruction and salvage, and an effort to keep salvaged materials in the city would be great. There are innovative programs out there – and again, so much is being saved – but the market is really pushing against saving more.

  • STLrainbow

    Thoughts on where we stand with the MLS stadium situation?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Sorta optimistic that the region will get a team. Don’t think I would have said that early in the week, but with SC STL saying it will continue to work toward a solution, and the belief that it’s now or never…it seems possible.

      As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I think it’s possible that state and city money will still be included. I haven’t heard any absolute on if a city TIF would go before voters. And perhaps the state can put money toward the site or some aspect of the project without it being “welfare for millionaires”. But who knows?

  • Can you explain Promise Zones? What it brings? What desired outcomes are?

    • Alex Ihnen

      I do prefer Yes or No questions, but I’ll make an exception…sort of.

      There’s a lot of good information online: https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/comm_planning/economicdevelopment/programs/pz/overview

      The Promise Zones are basically federally recognized areas in need of economic development. The idea is to focus resources and produce measurable outcomes. The most significant impact is access to more federal money and sometimes more freedom in how that money is spent.

      What do Promise Zones get? The bullet point version:

      An opportunity to engage five AmeriCorps VISTA members in the Promise Zone’s work
      A federal liaison assigned to help designees navigate federal programs
      Preferences for certain competitive federal grant programs and technical assistance from participating federal agencies
      Promise Zone tax incentives, if enacted by Congress

      • STLrainbow

        fwiw, I believe the embedded federal liaison already has completed their time here. Probably helped with NGA and Choice Neighborhood.

  • Bryce

    With all of this new development do you think we’ll see the population start to rise in 2017 or 2018 ?

    • Alex Ihnen

      I’d still bet against it, but it’s possible. More specifically, I’d bet that the city will lose population for the decade, but perhaps add residents in the next couple years. There aren’t reliable counts except for the Census. North and south city both continue to hemorrhage residents with very little development.

      • Frank Absher

        Alex: I believe it will depend on who gets elected mayor. There are several candidates whose mere presence as mayor would signal a continuation of population flight.

        • Adam

          I disagree. But I’d like to know which candidates you think would drive people away merely by taking office.

          • Alex Ihnen

            I think I agree that I disagree. I’d be interested in what policies, if any, someone thinks a mayor can enact to drive population growth.

          • Adam

            Especially with a weak mayoral office like St. Louis’.

      • STLrainbow

        My 2c about South City is that it’s very mixed and is very much neighborhood by neighborhood; while not as dramatic as the Central Corridor, there is more development in good chunks of South City than might meet the eye … as a whole it still may be losing people but my bet is that it’ll wind up much better in the 2020 Census than last decade, (where I think we saw about an 8% drop).