Milestones, collaboration, and activation have been the themes of the most recent progress from the three-pilot urban Main Street programs in St. Louis. – Dutchtown Main Streets, Laclede’s Landing Main Street, and Delmar Main Street. Missouri Main Street Connection began the St. Louis Main Streets pilot program in late 2019 as a partnership with the St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC).
Dutchtown Main Streets, a district south of the city center, began transitioning a business owners’ group into a Main Street program in late 2019 by educating the board of directors on Main Street principles, creating implementation-oriented committees, and learning how to measure the impact of projects and new businesses in the district. Over the past three-to-six months the Main Street program has been focused on understanding and interpreting demographic and market information while identifying vacant properties in the district that are ready for development or need to be rehabilitated before development can take place. The district is working with the Coro Fellowship Program to help establish tools for collecting economic data, reporting that data, and inventorying vacant properties. The Coro Fellowship Program develops emerging leaders to work and lead across different sectors by equipping them with knowledge, skills, and networks to accelerate positive change.
Laclede’s Landing Main Street began their Main Street program in 2021 with the goal of transitioning from what was once a night club focused district into a neighborhood district. They are utilizing their newly established transformation strategies of activating the riverfront and developing neighborhood goods and services to capitalize and continue on the work and planning that has already been completed by stakeholders, the city, and other entities. The development of more vacant upper story housing is one way they are planning to achieve their transformation strategies while building upon work that had already been taking place. There are developers already working with Laclede’s Landing Main Street on housing projects within the district which will bring more residents to what they call the “oasis of the city” tucked between the Martin Luther King and the Eads Bridges. Related to the riverfront activation, district stakeholders and the city have prioritized the riverfront as seen in previous plans that have been developed by the city and conversations with MMSC and other organizations in the past. It is an asset that has not been capitalized on which provides opportunities for activation and additional retail while also serving as the living room for the neighborhood and visitors. Working with the district Main Street program, conceptual documents are being developed for the riverfront including space for activation and retail as well as additional housing development. The plans are still in the works but will follow the ideas of previous plans with the idea of phased implementation to bring them to fruition. Stay tuned for more details in the months to come. (The photo below is from a previous conceptual plan developed to activate the riverfront.)
November marks the one-year anniversary of Delmar Main Street’s program. November of 2021 was the kick-off stakeholder input meetings at St. Louis ArtWorks. Delmar Main Street did a repeat of that event for their anniversary giving an update on the past year to include the organizational accomplishments of forming a board of directors and Main Street committees. They also shared the committee work thus far, the impact of events they hosted, and the grants they have received for various projects—including the Creative Space Activation Grant, provided by MMSC, which will be used for the Delmar Main Street’s Transit Wall Transformation Project. The group also gave time for stakeholders to provide feedback on certain proposed projects and events for the next year. Delmar’s transformation strategies were developed with the valuable input from that first stakeholder input session in 2021 – creating people-centered places and promoting entrepreneurship and equitable development. Demographic and market information supports these strategies which focus on activating the boulevard with small businesses run by small business owners from the neighborhood while promoting ownership and equity development for those entrepreneurs.
2023 will bring further development and services including the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a partner with Missouri Main Street Connection to bring entrepreneurial services and training to the St. Louis Main Streets program. With economic development at the core of Main Street, this work will help build and develop small business owners, and provide access to capital and wealth-building tools to assist them in their entrepreneurial journey. Stay tuned.