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Mayor touts new construction, businesses, residents in St. Louis

CITY HALL – Mayor Lyda Krewson summoned reporters to a news conference on Friday to hear her recite her list of the good things going on in St. Louis.

In a presentation lasting about 20 minutes, she mentioned such positive signs as more than $1 billion in new building permits, the National Geospacial-Intelligence Agency and a low unemployment rate.

In her talk and in followup answers to questions by reporters, she spoke about what KMOX reporter Kevin Killeen called “the elephant in the room” – another year with a high murder count. But she spent most of her time puffing St. Louis and what she said was the overlooked story of what’s been going on while she’s been mayor.

“Most of the 2019 recaps that I see are quite focused on some of the negative stories of the past year. I think that’s natural,” Krewson acknowledged even as she noted the other things going on in the city.

But Krewson said she had been seeing a change as she traveled around the city.

“I see the tremendous amount of progress that is going on in our neighborhoods. You can see cranes in the sky, particularly downtown,” Krewson said at the news conference, held in her office.

“But in every neighborhood, you see construction dumpsters on the curb,” she said. “And to me, that means that those folks who are perhaps getting a new roof or putting in a new kitchen or just doing a remodel have confidence in our city and our neighborhoods. That’s happening literally in every neighborhood of our city.”

Last year, the city issued more than $1.2 billion in building permits, Krewson said. She also mentioned that a large number of minority and women-owned businesses had done projects.

In the last year, a diverse group of young people came to St. Louis, as did companies to hire them, Krewson said.

Those companies include Square, which is renovating the former Post-Dispatch building at 900 N. Tucker Blvd.; the TREX Innovation Center coworking space at 911 Washington Ave.; and the Cortex Innovation Community. A diverse group of businesses will form around the NGA, Krewson said. That project broke ground two days before Thanksgiving at the corner of Jefferson and Cass avenues. 

The mayor also noted that the city accounted for 10 percent of the state’s gross domestic product, while having about five percent of the population. 

A new convention center project is coming, as is the construction of a new Major League Soccer stadium.

Krewson said the city’s new trash task force had installed about 200 cameras and had issued more than 400 citations for illegal dumping. STL Youth Jobs, which focuses on providing new jobs for at-risk youths ages 16 to 23, had contact last year with more than 1,000 youths and placed more than 800 in summer jobs. 

St. Louis also has found its way onto positive lists, including one by Forbes that called the city one of the top tourist destinations in the country, Krewson said.

“I think that that’s encouragement for tourists not only outside, but also for people in [the city] to have a staycation or a weekend trip to drive in and be able to enjoy the Wheel, the new aquarium, visit the Arch,” she said.

Jim Merkel

southsidemerkel@gmail.com Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit www.jimmerkelthewriter.com.

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