Locals express optimism and some concerns about Wash. U.’s rising influence on the Loop
The project is slated to begin construction in 2013 and will provide enough housing for 550 students. Built into the project are several storefronts, which would be directly on the Delmar Loop.
Some business owners have recently expressed concern about which establishments will go in those storefronts and wonder how the new retailers will fit with the current feel of the strip.
“What really takes away from the feel of the Loop is chain stores,” Vintage Vinyl employee Leon Reed said. “The more independent stores we have here, the better it is in order to stay in tune with the current vibe.”
But Reed said that as long as the retail space is used for shops that are similarly independent to their counterparts on the Loop, there should be no problem.
Joe Edwards, owner of many Loop establishments including Blueberry Hill and the Pageant, has high hopes for the new construction project.
Edwards similarly noted that the continuation of pedestrian sidewalks brought about by the construction will help to expand the Loop in a positive way.
A March 2 St. Louis Post-Dispatch staff editorial, however, cautioned its readers from overlooking the move as “a modest development project.”
“It’s worth noting that the University’s interests are not automatically identical with those of the people who would be affected by these plans,” the paper’s editorial board wrote. “The people and businesses of Parkview Gardens and the Loop—and Washington University—have worked long and hard to find ways to preserve and improve the area. Public officials must now work, not to take it on faith, to determine if they got it right.”
The University is taking opinions such as these into consideration while evaluating what to do with the retail space, according to Associate Vice Chancellor for Students and Dean of Students Justin Carroll.
Currently the University is working with City of St. Louis and University City officials to establish approval for the construction of these new buildings in the area.
“We are interested in retail tenants who will complement the current shops and entertainment vendors in the Loop,” Carroll said. “The University appreciates the eclectic nature of both the Loop and the retail store owners in the area. It will be working to attract retail tenants who will complement the existing merchants, and who also might add needed services to the Loop.”
The property currently consists of University-owned apartment buildings, a commercial building and a vacant lot.