ULI St. Louis Young Leaders Group, Submission to Construction Forum
By Andrew Bradley, Herman Kittle & former ULI St. Louis Young Leaders Group Chair and Alex Kuehling, Rosenblum Goldenhersch, ULI St. Louis Young Leaders Chair
Too often, desperate cities are stymied by competition and a rush to copy current trends. St. Louis – like other secondary and tertiary metro areas – has the capacity to overturn received urban development wisdom by anticipating future demand and leap-frogging to new ways of thinking. This capacity, when combined with our low real estate costs, can be leveraged to foster innovation and used to help our neighborhoods, businesses, and community thrive.
To do this, however, St. Louis has to address its historical challenges head-on and solve the issue of fragmentation and racial inequity once and for all.
In our fragmented landscape, St. Louis operates inefficiently as a conglomeration of small towns, rather than acting and thinking like one large city. While many are familiar with the City-County divide, countless other fractions exist within the County, further complicating development, draining scarce resources in small communities, and limiting sustainable growth.
The greater metropolitan area yearns for consolidation, not only for broader societal reasons, but also for the purpose of simplifying zoning, coordinating financial incentives, providing efficient transit opportunities, and embracing policies that promote responsible land use.
Additionally, racial inequity continues to limit our region’s ability to compete on a national stage for talent, business recruitment, and economic growth. According to a recent report by the University of Missouri – St. Louis, our regional economy could see an estimated $14 billion increase if income were equitably distributed across racial lines.
To see lasting success, to begin to heal and grow together as a region, we need to come together to figure out how to rectify the structures that perpetuate these inequities and turn our practices into inclusive and diverse operations. With this goal, this mindset, the question of ‘What will we build tomorrow?’ becomes a more challenging, richer, and more enjoyable question to answer.