Loop chairman steps down

| News Editor
Joe EdwardsCourtesy of Loop Special Business District

Joe Edwards

Jessica BuelerCourtesy of Loop Special Business District

Jessica Bueler

The man behind the Delmar Loop revitalization is stepping down from his job as chairman of the board of the Loop Special Business District.

Joe Edwards, the owner of Blueberry Hill, the Pin-Up Bowl, the Tivoli Theatre, the Pageant and the Moonrise Hotel publicly announced his resignation last week.

Jessica Bueler, owner of HSB Tobacconist, officially replaced him at the board’s monthly meeting Tuesday.

As Edwards steps down, Bueler hopes to carry on his legacy. She plans to increase the Loop’s use of social media. The board is already revamping the Loop’s website and encouraging businesses to branch out to Facebook and YouTube.

“It’s such an inexpensive way to directly communicate with people who want to know what’s going on,” Bueler said.

Edwards decided to step down to focus his efforts on bringing a trolley to connect the Loop to the Forest Park MetroLink stops sometime in 2012. He will remain on the board.

After opening Blueberry Hill in 1972, Edwards led the revitalization effort that transformed the Loop from a spot to avoid into a hotspot for students and locals.

Washington University students are known for patronizing the Loop more than the rest of neighboring St. Louis.

“I live on Wash. Ave., so I go there pretty frequently—at least a couple times a week,” senior Caroline Fehr said. “That’s a lot more than I go to other places in St. Louis because I can walk there.”

The Delmar Loop was named one of 10 “Great Streets” by the American Planning Association in 2007.

Bueler hopes to continue improving the street, aiming to extend the Loop past its current bounds.

“What a lot of people don’t know is that the Loop actually goes to DeBaliviere. A couple years ago, they thought it stopped at Skinker [Boulevard], and then Joe [Edwards] went ahead and developed the Moonrise Hotel,” Bueler said. “My goal is to help develop the Loop down farther, because in the initial charter, it actually goes from the Lion Gate in University City all the way to DeBaliviere Avenue. One of the things I’m focusing on is to help create more opportunities for businesses moving eastward down Delmar.”

The board is working with the University’s Office of Government and Community Relations to realize this vision by devising a strategy for the future Loop development.

“Wash. U. is currently underwriting the study for the Loop to help figure out what businesses we need,” Bueler said. “Sixteen or 17 people planned proposals, and we’ve narrowed it down to three. We’re in the process of narrowing it down from those three.”

The board is also looking into lengthening next year’s Ice Carnival to two days and involving the entire street with the celebration.

They are also designing bike racks that fall under the Great Rivers Greenway District—an initiative to improve St. Louis through ecologically friendly projects.

The racks will be site specific; the plan is for one to sit in front of Blick Art Materials that will look like an art palette, and for others to emulate coffee mugs and stars from the Walk of Fame.

The Loop is also beginning to plan the Explore the Loop day for the University’s next incoming class.

“I think everything is going to run the same as it always has. Joe is a great mentor to me; we work hand in hand on everything,” Bueler said. “Really, I can only aspire to be as great a leader as he is.”