Rearranging the deck chairs in downtown St. Louis

Ballpark Village, we’re told,  is on the rise…again. Well, maybe. But the latest incarnation calls for financial-services powerhouse Stifel-Nicolaus to be the primary tenant [and major broker for the deal itself], with some restaurants and bars thrown in for token economic diversity. There’s nothing creative or culturally stimulating about the plan. It’s just another ho-hum, run-of-the-mill, sweetheart deal that adds little or no value to a tract of land perfectly situated for high visibility and new urban energy. The recent announcement also notes that residential buildings “could” come later, as may…wait for it…a parking garage.

The net effect for downtown St Louis  is akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic: what’s the point? Stifel’s move probably makes financial sense for  its executives and board members, and it will create some construction jobs, but it also yields another empty office building unlikely to be refilled any time soon. And, if I’ve got this right, Stifel and the Cardinals may also be getting more tax credits in the deal [did I hear $57 million?],compounding the already-damaging, tax-revenue deprivation plan exacted by the St. Louis Cardinals for Busch Stadium III and the “promise” to build Ballpark Village. The Stifel plan is  worse than zero sum for St. Louis: it is revenue and urban-planning negative.

Photo credit: STL Rising