Thursday, April 22, 2010

Welcome to St. Louis Energized!

I officially became a St. Louisan in April 2006—admittedly, with a fair degree of hesitation. Although we are Midwesterners, my wife and I had just spent the prior four years in San Francisco, where we were extremely happy living and working in the city. I had a fun (no, really!) job as a real estate attorney at a law firm in the Financial District, and we spent our free time exploring a vibrant new city and the spectacular natural beauty of Northern California. Needless to say, it was an incredible place to spend a small part of our lives, and it was very difficult to leave.

Ultimately, we decided (correctly) to return to the Midwest to raise our children closer to our families. There was a period of adjustment as with any move to a new city, but I soon grew very fond of our new home (we live in University City). Four years later, I consider myself to be a full-fledged St. Louisan, and could not imagine ever leaving.

In my opinion, St. Louis (and here, I am talking about both the City proper and the greater metropolitan area) is one of the great American cities. There are many things to love about this town—the neighborhoods, the urban parks, the food, the architecture, the sports, the culture, and mostly, the people. Although I have spent most of my adult life in Missouri, I also have lived in several states on both coasts, and in various urban and rural settings, and I am incredibly grateful that St. Louis is where I have ended up to put down long-term roots.

One thing that never ceases to surprise me, however, is the extent to which many of the region's residents seem to fail to appreciate—or even downright disparage—the City itself. Of course, the City of St. Louis, as with most urban cores, has many challenges that are very real and very serious. Problems relating to poverty, education, housing, transportation, crime, and homelessness cannot be ignored or discounted in analyzing the present or future state of our community.

At the same time, a lot of exciting things are happening in the City. There are clearly many passionate people working hard to revitalize the City, increase density, and tackle various socioeconomic issues that affect our City and its residents. Numerous positive developments have occurred in recent years, and on balance, I see a lot of reasons to be hopeful about the years ahead.

In Spring 2010, I decided to launch St. Louis Energized as a way to contribute to the positive side of the discussion on the rejuvenation of the City of St. Louis. The site will explore issues relating to the ongoing revitalization of the City (particularly downtown), both in terms of specific development efforts as well as general urban infill issues. In particular, I intend to discuss topics relating to historic preservation and related conservation issues, primarily from a market-based (rather than regulatory) perspective.

Although I am a real estate attorney, this site is really intended to be a layman's view of these issues. I am not an expert in urban planning, green construction, or architecture. I am not a life-long native of St. Louis, and do not pretend to have a comprehensive understanding of the complex issues facing the City—although I am doing my best to learn as much, and as quickly, as possible. My intent is simply to help communicate a positive vision for the future of the City in the upcoming decades, ultimately with the hope that it inspires at least a few people to get involved in making St. Louis an even more remarkable place than it already is.

I hope you enjoy the site!


  1. Welcome to the blogosphere. I'll add you to my site. I look forward to your observations.

  2. It's great to hear another voice in the chorus of those trying to revitalize the city's image of itself. This is an amazing place, and we need more folks like you who think so. I'm looking forward to reading more about what you have to say.

  3. Excellent work. Welcome welcome. I will be following.

  4. Great web site. Will keep following.

  5. Ben,
    I enjoyed your site. Thanks for taking such an active, proactive role in a city you only recently adopted. As someone who has spent almost my entire life living here, it was refreshing to hear your opinions of St. Louis. Thanks for the positive view! I'll definitely follow your site.
    Tom Niemeier AIA
    Space, LLC.