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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – A new study examines the regional impact that Downtown St. Louis has on the rest of the region. Among the key findings are that its economic impact is greater than its size. Boosters for the area argue that the success of Downtown is critical to the prosperity of the region. The area has been undergoing some troubling trends.

Downtown St. Louis has been getting some bad press during the pandemic. Shootings, assaults, and reckless driving have become more common. There has also been a major drop in the number of people who work thee. Mayor Tishaura Jones announced a downtown crime initiative last year to help with the issues. More police are also patrolling the streets.

Greater St. Louis Inc. says that an investment in public safety and infrastructure investment would help with these issues. Their plan would install additional security cameras in the area linked to the city’s real-time crime center. Upgrades to street lighting and traffic-calming measures would also help save the neighborhood.

“The data in the report makes clear that Downtown is critical to the economic success of the City and the region. Continued investment Downtown is not only important, but necessary to the health of the entire St. Louis metro. Failing to strengthen the Downtown neighborhood through enhancements to public safety infrastructure will resonate throughout the region,” states the conclusion of the study from Greater St. Louis Inc.

More people are moving to Downtown and the Central West End.

“As St. Louis is the economic engine of the state, Downtown is the economic engine of the City and the region. Downtown is already the metro’s major employment hub, where nearly 60,000 workers from the City and metro come to work each day. It has a growing residential population and is the front door of our region for millions of sports fans, convention-goers, and tourists each year,” states GSL CEO Jason Hall.

They argue that downtown generates around four times the amount it receives for services. Plus, it generates 20 percent of the city’s general revenue fund, contains 27% of citywide employment, and is home to a steadily growing residential population.

Key findings from the “Downtown St. Louis Fiscal Impact Analysis”

Key Findings:

In spring 2022, Greater St. Louis, Inc. engaged local firm Development Strategies to analyze the economic impact of Downtown and Downtown West (“Downtown”) on the City of St. Louis. You can read the full study here.

  • Tax Revenue: In total, Downtown contributes an estimated $102 million in tax revenue annually, or nearly 20% of the city’s general fund revenue.
  • City Expenditures: In total, the city expends $26 million in general fund expenditures annually Downtown, or approximately 8% of total citywide expenditures.
  • Employment: There are approximately 57,000 workers Downtown, representing 27% of citywide employment. However, since 2010, Downtown employment decreased by 24%.
  • Wages: Based on distribution of employment by sector and average wages by sector, on average, Downtown contributes $4.1 billion annually, or 32% of citywide wages.
  • Sector Concentration: Thirty-four percent of private sector jobs citywide are located Downtown. Seventy percent of jobs in the high-wage and high-growth potential sector of professional, scientific, and technology services are located Downtown.
  • Residents: Downtown has approximately 10,000 residents, representing just over 3% of citywide population. Downtown population growth has been strong over the last decade, adding 2,300 new residents since 2010 for an increase of more than 30%. This stands in contrast to the 3% decline in citywide population and the 2% increase in regional population during the same period.
  • Housing Development: 1,700 new multi-family housing units were added Downtown since 2010, a 24% increase.
  • Assessed Value: Despite having a very large share of tax-exempt properties, Downtown contains 19% of total citywide assessed value in just under 4% of total citywide land area.
  • Real Estate: Average vacancy rates of just over 9% for multifamily (consistent with citywide average); 14% for office space (higher than citywide average); and 8% for retail (higher than citywide average).
  • Hospitality Center: Downtown contains 78% of the citywide hotel room supply with 7,500 rooms, 570 of which have been added since 2010.
  • The report clarifies the relative positioning and trajectory of Downtown in terms of population, employment, and real estate trends and quantifies Downtown’s relative contribution to the citywide general fund and its share of citywide general fund expenditures.

The study primarily uses data from 2019 (the last year for which some included data is available), with some insights on more recent developments. Data sources include Esri, U.S. Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and CoStar, as well as City of St. Louis tax revenues and expenditures from the Consolidated Annual Financial Reports and assessor data.