Tag Archives: St. Louis City Living

What Makes a Great City?

St Louis CityEarly in my real estate career, one of my mentors told me an analogy. “Neighborhoods are like mutual funds and individual homes are like stocks,” he explained further, “values rise and fall independently but they all have an effect on the overall quality of the neighborhood.” By the same reasoning, the overall value of the City of St Louis can be based on the quality of the individual neighborhoods.

One thing that’s interesting about the urban renaissance in St Louis is when people are looking to relocate to St Louis City from the surrounding area, its amazing how little they know about the options they have. Working with buyer’s Downtown and in the Central West End, there are some folks that start by looking at the chic urban condo or loft. In the process of looking, we talk and start to uncover that they really aren’t wanting the “community lifestyle” of a condominium project, but still want a walkable, urban experience. That’s when the fun begins! Putting on the tour guide hat and helping people learn about what neighborhoods are out there and what sort of feel they want. It was the lack of knowledge about city neighborhoods that was really what inspired the creation of this blog.

One time, a St Louis County resident that grew up in Dutchtown was with me in the car. I asked them, “what do you think about Compton Heights?” They replied that they hadn’t ever seen the neighborhood. Having grown up exactly 2 miles away, and living in St Louis their whole life, I was both suprised and frustrated. We took a drive through the neighborhoood and they were amazed by the stunning mansions and beatifully winding streets. They weren’t looking to buy a mansion, but now they know that they exist in South City.

Last week I was showing homes in the Skinker-DeBallievere neighborhood when I passed Greg Freeman Park. I was glad to see a park named in his honor in his neighborhood. I was reminded of a truly motivating speech he had given about the need for city residents to identify and embrace the diverse groups of neighborhoods in Saint Louis City. At the time, most city residents couldn’t readily identify more than a few specific neighborhoods. Rather than St Louis neighborhoods, overall regions, “Southside”, Northside” were used. Since that presentation, public knowledge of the different neighborhoods and their gentrification have increased. Still a lack of understanding exists.

Lately, in selling St Louis City Real Estate, we cross neighborhood lines, and do our best to explain where we are and what makes that neighborhood special. We’ve also been working with many folks that work hard within their own neighborhoods to make things better every day. Our goal in the next year is to work to highlight these city neighborhoods and the activity going on to rebuild them and make them more livable for all St Louisans. That is the point of our ongoing series ‘City Neighborhoods 101.’

Look for more information coming soon!

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Background Negativity

St. Louis rocksMy first goal in life, like any self-respecting St. Louisan, was to get out of town.  Born with a negative opinion of my hometown, I failed at my first and only goal just long enough to find out I was wrong. 

 Living in St. Louis, it seemed that life would obviously be so much better elsewhere.  I remember the first time I met someone relocating here from Florida.  What was nuts was that the WANTED to be here.  They started citing positives about St. Louis like we were a large URBAN FOREST and had great affordable homes, etc.  One time I met a flamboyant fashion designer from New York City that had been relocated here.  He hated St. Louis.  His attitude seemed to typify so many of the local residents that have, as Mayor Slay describes it, a “Geographical Inferiority Complex.”

  One of the big problems with St. Louis was that it was a seemingly endless collection of suburbia.   We had a city, of course.  Escape from New York was filmed there;  a fantastic reflection of how most suburbanites felt about St. Louis.  It was OK to go into the city if you worked there, or were going to a Cardinals game or being charged with a federal crime .   Oh sure, there was also the Fox Theater, Lacledes Landing, Forest Park, [includes the (free and renowned)Saint Louis Zoo, The Art Museum, the History Museum, the Science Center, and the Muny Opera].  We had the Cards, Blues and the Rams too.  And who can forget the Gateway Arch?    Still, the city was to be avoided if possible.  

College years was when my rebelious spirit got the best of me.  I took the metrolink for free into the Central West End, went out to the late night clubs along Washington Avenue, Soulard and Benton Park,  hung out in Forest Park, and really started to like the city.  Only in small doses though.   

 I ended up working in the city. 

 Worse yet, I was required to travel around the city regularly.  A thought came to mind; “this place isn’t so bad!”

city-stickerGetting into some of the neighborhoods, I saw a sense of community unknown to me as a life-long suburbanite.  I heard about farmer’s markets, and festivals.  Friends started to move to the city.  I saw some of the ill-fated “inner ring” suburbs turn around too.  Places that were considered rough towns began the process of gentrification and rehabilitation.  

 What I saw was the beginning of a shift in our culture.  Places all over the country had begun to turn around their “inner city” urban areas and it began to happen in St. Louis.  

Today St. Louis continues to move forward in revitalizing itself and more and more people are making the choice to support it by relocating to one of its great neigbhorhoods. There is still more work to do and hopefully future posts will point out ways to get involved in the ongoing transformation.

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City Living: St. Louis Style

Welcome to City Living:  St. Louis Style! 

This is a blog about St. Louis City.  Its history, its present;  Life in St. Louis, its ups and downs.  Back in 2005, I started a blog Lofts in the Lou (http://www.LoftsintheLou.com).  Downtown St. Louis is an awesome area and we are huge fans of the loft district and its recent boom.  As a real estate professional and blogger though, often the stuff that comes up in life doesn’t always pertain to downtown.  I’m not sure what plan is there, other than continuing to post to Lofts in the Lou and seeing where this new blog goes. 

Working in real estate, it’s my business to find out what people want in a home and an area and help them find that.  I work with clients throughout the area, but often find myself in the city.  “Why?!?” “What are you going to do with your KIDS?!?” Those were questions posed to me by other Realtors when I told them I was moving to the city.  Sometimes there is an anti-urban message in areas surrounding St. Louis City.

What brings many to the city is affordability.  Home buyer’s can get so much more space for the money in the city in many cases.  The city is more cosmopolitan and energetic.  City homes have character and many older features that are rarely found in suburbia.  The City has a greater concentration of amenities and activites. Museums, Parks, Theater, Sport & Concerts Venues; all within a few minutes drive and surrounded by great restaurants.  The City embraced urbanism before it was the “new thing”. 

St. Louis skylineOnce a client said  about his wife, “well, there’s a Wal-Mart and a two Grocery Stores, she’ll never have to go more than a few miles away.”  If big box retailers and chain restaurants really get you going, then maybe city living won’t impress you.  As a realtor, I always set my values aside. 

Of course, the city does have problems.   What city doesn’t?  Most likely these will come up in St. Louis City Living.

Thanks for visiting St. Louis City Living!  Come back Soon!

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