Here’s a novel idea; build and rehab houses just outside of your main business district so people who work downtown can walk to work.
The area around Kansas City’s cathedral is a combination of original Italianate houses combined with housing that looks like it was built in the 1990’s or slightly earlier.
Regardless of its date of construction, the in-fill fits in well with the surrounding historic architecture and supports a thriving neighborhood.
St. Louis could learn about the idea of having healthy neighborhoods surrounding its downtown; currently St. Louis is surrounded by interstates, vacant lots and undesirable housing projects. When was the last time you walked to downtown St. Louis from your house? Never? It’s not like that in every American city.
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Quality Hill is nice. It's a great example of quality in-fill development and neighborhood revitalization. But, I think you exaggerate the situation around Downtown St. Louis. We have the many historic buildings in Downtown St. Louis that have been rehabbed for loft condos or apartments, and in which many folks who work in Downtown St. Louis (or elsewhere) live. And, as far as other neighborhoods near Downtown St. Louis, we have Columbus Square (north of Downtown), LaSalle Park, and Soulard. Not to mention the newer housing along Tucker south of Chouteau. Could the situation be improved? Sure. But you make it sound like no neighborhoods exist in or near Downtown St. Louis. They do.
When I lived in Lafayette Square I walked downtown from home regularly.