St. Louis University is seeking input from students, faculty, staff and neighbors in naming the city's newest multi-use district. This district being the area of the Midtown Neighborhood bound by South Grand Boulevard, Laclede Avenue, Vandeventer Avenue and Chouteau Avenue.
Look at that map, it's a pretty desolate area with little road access, no residential and a lot of railroad tracks. It's a sparse environment, I rode and photographed the area in August, 2017 if you want to get a taste for what the current look and feel of the area.
Here's a little information from SLU on the project and the names you can vote for (or write in your own).
There are four names you can choose from, or do a write-in.
Option 1: Prospect Yards
At the turn of the 20th century, the area west of Grand was known as the “Prospect Industrial District” and was home to many businesses and an extensive rail yard.
Option 2: The 1818
Eighteen rail lines used to run under the Grand bridge, connecting St. Louis to the nation. In addition, 1818 is Saint Louis University’s founding year.
Option 3: The Circuit
This name hearkens back to the area’s rail yard history and acknowledges the prominence of power lines there today.
Option 4:The GRID
Short for the “Grand Rail Innovation District,” this acronym represents the area’s location, historic rail lines and bright future.
The Grid is a bit ironic in that the street/city grid is nearly non-existent and in some parts has been wiped out by SLU in recent years, especially in the area around Compton and Park.
Again, the area under consideration for the name/branding is a tough part of town, so any improvements from the status quo would be a plus. The term "mixed-use" may come as a shock to folks who've been following SLU's development patterns in this part of town. It's pretty sparse and there's plenty of room for cynicism. The proof is right in front of your eyes.
But any organization can change and improve and decide to be part of the city as opposed to be apart from the city. And, I hope that the folks in charge of this redevelopment corporation understand good urban design and that people who live around here don't want suburban design to creep in and rob the city of it's soul.
Per SLU, the project is being overseen by the St. Louis Midtown Redevelopment Corporation, a Chapter 353 redevelopment corporation that encourages and supports quality new development in the area surrounding Saint Louis University and SSM Health’s facilities in Midtown St. Louis.
They have a snazzy logo with a nod to the structures on the Grand bridge.
If you pay attention to development in Forest Park Southeast, you may recognize Brooks Goedeker from Park Central Development, community development organization from Washington University. You can't deny that Forest Park Southeast is looking great these days, so there is hope for this part of town as well.
The lengthly document outlining the redevelopment plan speaks to the overall mission:
Here's an aerial image from the report that shows just how much land clearance and demolition has occurred over the years.
Let's hope that the infill, activity and good urban planning we are seeing in Forest Park Southeast make their way into this part of the city. We need it.
And, the idea of connecting the main campus and medical campus of SLU is exciting. The connections can and should be so much better. And the less fences and grassy moats separating the campus from the city, the better.
So there is room for skepticism, but I'm hoping this new group can prove themselves and get to work rebuilding a part of the city that needs to be plugged back in and connected once again.
Here's to a bright future for the Midtown, Gate District and Tiffany Neighborhoods.