Downtown Retail to be Given a Shot in the Arm

Residential development downtown received a major boost with the opening of Schnuck's Culinaria last year as the first supermarket downtown since 1997. While the development of that store resulted in the loss of a significant work of architecture, many hoped that the trade would lead to much more investment. Fortunately this has been the case. Cordish Development announced today its new plans for the Ballpark Village site. Ballpark Village, the site of Edward Durrell Stone's Busch Stadium one, was originally proposed to be a multi-story mixed use office development. Since those plans have fallen through it has sat as a muddy lot and as a combination parking lot and softball field.

Ballpark Village today. Photo by -kj.

While Ballpark Village has been a blight on a vibrant and urban scaled part of the city, the plans announced today by Cordish and the City of St. Louis to locate a Wal-Mart Superstore there hold promise for the similar revitalization of the rest of downtown. Wal-Mart has the ability to fill many needs of urban loft dwellers such as family size packages of macaroni, cheap yarn, and health insurance. When reached for comment Trent Miller, director of strategy for Wal-Mart, stated:
We here at Wal-Mart have long coveted a location in St. Louis City. At this point it is the largest city the United States without a Wal-Mart of Sam's Club. We're excited to partner with the city to bring cheap merchandise and lower prices to all. Furthermore, we think that, given our dependance on inexpensive Chinese labor, we will be a great contributor to the economic future of the City of St. Louis and will support you as pursue your China Hub project.

When reached for interview by the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, Barb Geisman, deputy mayor for development, discussed the infrastructure upgrades that had lured Wal-Mart.
This is another great example of a great corporation moving to a great location in the city of St. Louis. As everyone knows highways bring development. Some people say that St. Louis doesn't do anything new. Well this is the first time in the country where a freeway exit ramp will directly connect into a Wal-Mart parking lot. Of course we will have to demolish one or two of those Cupples Station warehouses to realign the 9th street exit, but it's been a year since the Brentwood interchange was reconfigured, and if there's anything this city needs, it's more big box stores directly connected to our highway infrastructure.

A unnamed analyst for the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association noted that the Wal-Mart plan was extremely popular in South County focus groups:
Frankly, if we're going to have a successful downtown we have to cater to South County. Residents of Arnold and Lemay are the best barometer of our regional success. They were smart enough to leave when things got bad and their return will mean the city is back. Currently these people are afraid to set foot in the city. By building them a Wal-Mart we can give them something comforting and by connecting it directly to 40 and 55 they don't actually have to drive through the city.

Proposed rendering of Ballpark Village Wal-Mart.

4 reactions:

Borooney said...

Wow is this really a good thing?

"Well this is the first time in the country where a freeway exit ramp will directly connect into a Wal-Mart parking lot."

That sounds horrible. Basically sounds like a black whole in the middle of the city, sucking more life out of the already dead lot.

Why don't some of those YOUNG, URBAN, ARCHITECTS / ACTIVISTS out there try and buy some of those abandoned buildings and start retrofitting them to create a downtown arts district. Kind of like the loft district in Kansas City or Yaletown in Vancouver.

Andrew J. Faulkner said...

I guess I made April Fools credible enough. Sorry to alarm you.

Maude said...

Thank goodness this is an April Fools Day joke!

STLgasm said...

I was really hoping for a drive-thru CVS.

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