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The Suburbanization of St. Louis Isn’t Helping St. Louis

10:55 AM EDT on April 26, 2012

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In a way, this story is about one property in St. Louis. But in a deeper sense, this story is much bigger than one block, bigger even than the city of St. Louis.

After decades of losing population to suburban areas, the attitude among many urban leaders was "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." St. Louis and other cities around the country endeavored to make themselves more like their suburban cousins.

Except now times are changing. Many urban areas have an appeal that is stronger than the places they once aspired to be like.

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But old habits die hard, reports Steve Patterson at UrbanReviewSTL. St. Louis is back to its old ways, this time on Delmar Boulevard, he reports:

For decades St. Louis’ “leadership” has thought that anything new — any investment — was better than no investment at all. What they continue to fail to understand is disconnected buildings set back behind parking doesn’t create anyplace special. Furthermore with old storefronts up to the sidewalk and new buildings set back, the look and feel isn’t pleasant. It’s not a contiguous wall of buildings or or consistent setback common in suburbia.

For decades now we’ve chipped away at the urban form then wondered why we also had population loss, increased pollution and disinvestment. We still would have experienced population loss based on the trend to the suburbs but trying to remake the city to be like the suburbs didn’t work to stop the loss and now it’s preventing the rejuvenation of many areas, such as along Delmar Blvd.

When I saw this building being built in 2006 I was appalled that it was set back from Delmar. This is the offices of 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis located at 4631 Delmar. None of this will encourage investment and improvement of the area, it’ll likely accelerate disinvestment and abandonment.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Systemic Failure points out shortcomings, even outright errors, in an influential study that claimed high speed rail has a surprisingly high carbon footprint. Car Free Baltimore sings the praises of small streets. And M-Bike.org catalogs the deluge of media coverage on Detroit's growing bike scene.

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