October 2, 2007

Delmar Loop Designated One of 10 Great Streets in America

UNIVERSITY CITY AND ST. LOUIS, MO — The American Planning Association (APA) announced today that the Delmar Loop in University City and St. Louis, MO has been designated as one of 10 Great Streets for 2007 through APA's Great Places in America program. APA Great Places exemplify exceptional character and highlight the role planners and planning play in creating communities of lasting value.

"We are honored that the Delmar Loop has been singled out for this important recognition," said University City Mayor Joe Adams. "The revitalization that has occurred along this street is a model of success for us. The growth that started here continues to grow and expand. It is an honor to be sharing this recognition with the other Great Streets in America."

I am excited that the Delmar Loop has been recognized as one of the top great streets in America," added St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay. "I want to thank Joe Edwards for his vision and leadership, as he has been the driving force in the Delmar Loop for the past 30 years."

APA selected the Delmar Loop as one of 10 Great Streets in America because of the sustained efforts of local business, government and the community to achieve successful physical and economic revitalization.

APA Great Places offer better choices for where and how people work and live. They are enjoyable, safe, and desirable. They are places where people want to be — not only to visit, but to live and work everyday. America's truly great neighborhoods are defined by many criteria, including architectural features, accessibility, functionality, and community involvement. Through Great Places in America APA recognizes the unique and authentic attributes of essential building blocks of great communities — streets, neighborhoods, and public spaces.

"We're excited to select the Delmar Loop as one of this year's Great Streets," said APA Executive Director Paul Farmer, FAICP. "This street shows all of the benefits and value that occur when citizens, business owners and city leaders work together to create an area that is unique and has a strong sense of place," he said.

The street, established in 1891 after the state legislature empowered St. Louis to establish boulevards by ordinance, derives its name from the turnaround that once enabled streetcars to return to the city. Today the Delmar Loop is the economic backbone of the area, which attracts both tourists and local residents who frequent the boulevard's galleries, restaurants, specialty shops, and nightclubs.

Initial attractions to the area were the Delmar Race Track and the Delmar Garden Amusement Park. After University City incorporated in 1906, shops, offices, and apartments replaced the entertainment venues. By the 1930s, The Loop was a thriving retail area. Its well planned streets and variety of land uses made the area especially attractive to pedestrians.

The arrival of suburban shopping malls in the 1950s took its toll on The Loop. As the area began to decline, a revitalization plan channeled nearly $8 million into the area allowing University City to demolish substandard buildings and offer low-interest loans for renovation projects. The city widened sidewalks and narrowed streets to slow traffic and create space for outdoor cafes.

In the 1960s the city reserved all streetfront building space for retail, restaurants, shops, and galleries. This led to more than 140 boutiques, eateries, and entertainment venues along the boulevard.

Despite the zoning change and streetscape improvements, the area remained partially deserted until the 1970s when young entrepreneurs organized local business owners and helped create a special taxing district to raise money for streetscape enhancements including dusk-to-dawn lighting in alleys, flower planters, and unique, eye-catching holiday decorations and store awnings.

In 2006 voters approved an additional one-quarter of one percent retail sales tax, portions of which are earmarked for street improvements and a proposed trolley that would shuttle passengers between the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park and Delmar Boulevard and bring the area full circle.

The nine other APA Great Streets for 2007 are Bull Street, Savannah, Georgia; Canyon Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Main Street, Northampton, Massachusetts; Monument Avenue, Richmond, Virginia; North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois; Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, Florida; 125th Street, Harlem, New York City; South Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah; and St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Contacts

Lehman Walker, City of University Planning Department, 314-505-8500; lwalker@ucitymo.org
Joe Edwards, President of Delmar Loop Special Business District, 314-727-4444, x10
Denny Johnson, APA, 202-349-1006; djohnson@planning.org