The Missouri Main Street Connection’s (MMSC) St. Louis Main Streets team, along with consultants specializing in the Main Street ApproachTM, were on-site in Laclede’s Landing and Delmar on March 13th to present each district with Main Street Plans. Dutchtown Main Streets received similar services in October of 2021 as they were the first pilot district selected for the St. Louis Main Streets pilot program. These plans were created from the last 18-months of input, information gathering, design study, brand development, building and property development, and organizational guidance, all with stakeholders in each district and their surrounding neighborhoods.
Laclede’s Landing Main Street board members and stakeholders as well as St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC) and Greater St. Louis Inc. (GSL) representatives were present for the 90-minute presentation. Both SLDC and GSL are partners in the Main Street initiative in St. Louis and have listed Main Street as a goal and priority for their organizations in various reports allowing them to continue to partner with each St. Louis Main Streets program as they move into the implementation phase of their work. Partners like SLDC, GSL, and others will be vital to move the districts’ transformation strategies into reality.
The presentation in Laclede’s Landing focused on the historic buildings within the district that need to be redeveloped with a robust recruitment plan. This plan is focused on retail to service not only the newly established and emerging residential component but also the visitors of the nearby National Park, the Gateway Arch. The consultants recommended dividing the large first floor spaces into much smaller spaces for “right-sized” retail spaces. Many of today’s retailers do not need large spaces to thrive, especially those that would be attracted to open in Laclede’s Landing. Parking was also called out since the district is “land-locked” between two bridges, the interstate, and the river. A professional parking study was recommended to identify a strategy for development projects for the future. The last major component of the presentation was activating the riverfront. The Mississippi River is a huge asset that is under-utilized in the City of St. Louis. The consultants presented ideas on an elevated promenade for outdoor events, new micro-retail space, food truck area, and indoor event space. The plan also called for a floating boardwalk with an enclosed space for people to get out onto the river in duck boats or kayaks. A marina, townhomes, and riverfront restaurant were included. New and updated branding for the district and Main Street program were presented.
Delmar Main Street board, volunteers, and stakeholders as well as SLDC and GSL representatives participated in the evening presentation by the same team as Laclede’s Landing. This presentation focused on development of the historic buildings along Delmar Boulevard while also recommending incentives and tools for the revitalization of those structures. Sample proforma budgets were presented to help property owners understand rehabilitation and development costs. Creating or supporting local ownership was highlighted in the report along with economic empowerment principles and support. Demographics and business targets were shared as tools for entrepreneurs and property owners. It was identified that approximately $299 million was leaking out of the district by residents shopping outside of the district for goods. Some of the major leakage was from too few or lack of retailers in furniture, hardware, clothing, nursery/garden center, or grocery stores. Building renderings and site development ideas were shared in the report. The Main Street program was complimented on the implementation of their branding from a few months ago.
Now the hard work begins for these districts. Developing implementation action plans, funding, and other resources are on the agenda. As Main Street teaches, the board sets the priorities and identifies resources while the committees create the detailed plans for implementation. Partners and various stakeholders will be essential for success. Each district is diligently working to line up partners that align with each project or initiative. Not to mention that each district is working towards adding an executive director to help elevate the work of the local Main Street program.