Near North Riverfront

June 2, 2013

The New Mississippi River Bridge is coming along quickly, and will soon raise the visibility of the Near North Riverfront neighborhood, and its main drag North Broadway.

Mound Street Bridge, Mississippi River, Cass Avenue Bridge

New Mississippi River Bridge from Broadway and Mound

This section of Broadway has a fairly intact built environment and is home to many businesses.  Admittedly it’s in pretty bad shape, but the potential here is humongous.

Near North Riverfront North Broadway Revitalization

Warehouses on North Broadway

Although the thoroughfare is major and many of its buildings are large, the street still has a human scale.  One of my favorite parts of coming here on the weekends is the large number of people out on their motorcycles (presumably many of them are in the area for Shady Jacks).

Motorcycle Tricks Wheelie

North Broadway is already a pretty cool place

Because this area is about to see a lot more traffic, developers will be tempted to build truck stops and drive-thrus with giant billboards and signs to advertise them.  Competitions for who can build the biggest and newest gas stations (or chain drug stores, etc.) have destroyed enough of our great intersections and commercial strips.

Highway Advertising, Urban Blight

Downtown St. Louis Interstate 70 Billboard

I hope the city is working to ensure that development around the new bridge will help knit together the neighborhoods north of downtown, rather than create more barriers in the form of auto-centric development.  670 Million dollars is a big investment that St. Louis needs to take advantage of.

One comment

  1. Yes the vicinity has great potential after suffering from decades of the migration of the populous and the neglect. The comeback will be a challenge. As with any other rebirth of urban neighborhoods several factors may dictate just how successful efforts are. Old North St Louis is a prime example. Contractors of the gluttonous sort dumped thousands into deteriorated hulls that now sit empty. What draw is there when you risk endangerment getting back to your car? Universities with astronomical tuitions bought up entire blocks of “urban prairies” building enormous campus related libraries and dorms. The trendy entertainment district of Washington Avenue, which has faltered up and down for years, has yet to prove the succulent revenue and consistent appeal of Delmar’s Loop.
    Of course location, location, is- and always will be- a prominent factor, Yet ever wavering social appetites often disprove demographic projections.
    Bigger isn’t always better. Cavernous 3, 4, 5 story warehouses nearby, left for multibillion dollar real estate brokers, isn’t mere assumption. Let alone the cost of refurbishing.
    Sharply contrasting results are illustrated in two of the city’s redevelopment scenarios. Both Cherokee Street and Bevo Mill, outside of their heavily inundated migration of immigrant entrepreneurs, cast very limited enlightenment and engagement beyond a closed social circle. All good and well, for that is precisely what this country was built on. Perhaps the esthetics of gainful profits being cast aside for meager existence and personal gratification. Kudos to all.
    At the other end of the spectrum is Tower Grove East with it’s highly successful comericalation. Any revitalization can be like a roman candle, in particular entertainment districts. Colorful and exciting venues that surge, only to fizzle in a cloud of time altered frenzy. Someday I podder’s may reminisce, remembering the Atomic Café and all the fun. I remember many a nights over indulging on Laclede’s Landing and the smoke filled south side dives. {which, by the way, had way more character.}
    So it is with this seemingly maliciously slanted posting that some thoughts are expressed from a former city resident of 40 years But with a bit more apprehension as one is scouring sites within the city limits for a proposed cultural museum depicting Americana from the war effort years of the mid-to-late 40’s through the 70’s, emphasizing St Louis venues and social tributaries that catered to the common working stiff.
    Although out of the city corridor, the former Crestwood Plaza “Arts Space” initiative was a total shocker, in that mega buck developers graciously made an earnest effort to promote very low level business ventures, fueled by passionate desire. But not enough money. Wish I’d been privy to that missed opportunity.
    In the mean time, the quest continues for myself, and may the valiant efforts of any urban reconstruction take hold and prosper. Now- to click my heels and repeat…”there’s no place like home…there’s no place like home….”

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