I went to my first Cardinals game of 2008 last night. It was a little chilly for baseball, but it was great to see the team pull out a victory and move to 10-4 (who’s laughing now ESPN?). Though the sports fan in me kept most of my attention on the game, I couldn’t help but occasionally take my eyes off the action to look at the crater known as “Pujol’s Pond” beyond center field. There should be cranes, construction trailers and a half-finished development project on the site by now. But as any St. Louisian or regular reader of this blog knows, progress on Ballpark Village has been at a virtual stand still for two years. Why can’t St. Louis ever seem to be able to climb out of the hole we have dug for ourselves? Literally in this case. It’s really quite depressing.
I took these thoughts with me as I left the stadium. I usually take 7th Street, south out of the stadium to go back to my car. On this night, however, I was sitting in right field so I took Broadway as my southern route. This took me past the developing area known as Chouteau’s Landing. Suddenly I didn’t feel quite the same frustration over Ballpark Village. Walking by BB’s and Broadway Oyster Bar, I decided to take a east detour to 4th Street to take a glance at the future site of the bar to be known as Bushwoods. It hasn’t opened yet and the surrounding buildings could use some work, but this visit got me returning to the theme I touched on a couple weeks back in my commentary on Centene backing out of Ballpark Village: this is the real Ballpark Village.
Just check out the Chouteau’s Landing website run by the project’s developer, Chivvis. There is a real plan here. A real future of residential, recreational and business development. Not only that, but the project is being tackled at a speed more feasible in the current real estate market. The Village can’t get off the ground because its an all or nothing type of project. The Landing, on the other hand, can afford to rehab buildings one at a time. At the current rate, this project will be completed before Ballpark Village.
I have said this before, but I plan on doing a major spotlight of this area in the near future, as weather and time allows. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled on the area. The next time you head Downtown for a game, take a detour and give the area a look. It takes a little vision, but the signs are there that something great is underway.