Saturday, May 22, 2010

"The Coolest Thing I Have Ever Seen in My Whole Life"

Moment of Impact
So declared my five year-old son at the end of yesterday's demolition ceremonies that kicked off the plan to redevelop the St. Louis Centre mall into ground-floor retail and upper-level parking, and the Dillard's building into the "Laurel" project that will house an Embassy Suites, apartments, and additional street-level retail.  I think a bit of exaggeration was going on, but perhaps I could have saved some money on that Disney trip last summer--next time we'll just hit a nearby construction site!

I agree that the pedestrian bridge was an ugly barrier and that its removal will help beautify Washington Avenue and, later, Locust Street (removal of that skybridge is scheduled for later this year).  Hopefully it will be, at least symbolically, the "turning point" intended by city leaders in the ongoing rejuvenation of downtown (although the proposed use of the St. Louis Centre will continue to be a subject of much debate).  Beyond that, I can't say that the removal of the skybridge has as much emotional meaning for me as it clearly does for many people--I simply haven't been in St. Louis long enough.  I wasn't around for the controversial decision to clear the site for a large indoor mall, or to see the project's painful failure.

I am, however, greatly interested in the future of downtown, and in that respect, I thought the most exciting aspect of yesterday's events was simply the large crowd of St. Louisans that gathered for what was clearly an important (even emotional) moment for many.  It is always exciting to see how many people care about the city, and it is that spirit that needs to be cultivated and expanded.  Here are a few pictures and a video of the festivities.

Your Friendly Downtown Guide and Downtown Clean Team,
part of the St. Louis Downtown Community Improvement District

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