Soulard Optimism

The holidays are a time where we have family coming in from places like Champaign-Urbana, Houston and rural Texas. I’m always thinking of places to take them.

Tonight we are going to take some of them to the Budweiser Brewery Lights in Soulard. I have to admit I’m kind of excited. I don’t think I’ve been to the brewery since In-Bev bought this former, but still lasting, American treasure.

This place impresses people. I’ve taken work colleagues from Brussels, Bogota and Tokyo here and I actually think it makes a better impression of the real St. Louis than the Arch.

The main reason being, it’s an opportunity to show them Soulard and the Cherokee Street Neighborhoods of Marine Villa, Benton Park West and Gravois Park.

Anyhow, I was thinking about Soulard today realizing it’s been awhile since I’ve hung out there.

Here are three developments that keep me hopeful for Soulard.

The first is the mixed-use building on Russell between Menard and 9th Streets which was a long vacant lot. This stretch of property has been an incongruous look along Russell; the earliest photo I can find is from 1958 which revealed it has been a long non-complete street wall for at least 60 years. This mixed use project, currently under-construction made our 2017 list of development favorites due it’s urban correction and mixed use nature, bringing retail and apartments.

I love that hippy house on the hill to the right of this shot.

I love that hippy house on the hill to the right of this shot.

The second is the Victor Iron Works apartment building. This project, bringing >120 apartments to an abandoned industrial site, is a much improved look from Broadway in the shadow of ABI. This project too was on our 2017 Development Favorites list and is nearing completion. Seeing more people walking around this part of the neighborhood will only add to the positivity that folks will experience visiting one of our biggest tourist attractions just down the street. Mmmm, and that smell of toasty grain and Natch Light.

The third being the handsome building renovation at Broadway and Allen.

Just look at those two conjoined mini-mansion twins complete with white picket fence just west of this project…this is what makes Soulard great in my opinion.

Soulard is a neighborhood that impresses folks from other places. I remember taking my Texas cousins to Venice Cafe years ago on a whim (I know Benton Park…but I’m generalizing here). Henry Townsend was on the keys and Bennie Smith was playing guitar maybe four feet from each other.

The room was filled with St. Louis Blues and the Texans took to dancing and feeling like they were somewhere special. It was one of those moments, where I just felt like, here’s my real gift to you guys…not able to be wrapped and placed under the tree.

St. Louis has soul in spades.

Soulard is filling in holes and finding new life for buildings and sites long-abandoned.

But man, does this neighborhood need more street trees and less golf carts. Still love this part of town even though I don’t want to live there.