ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – High-profile crimes and the opening of Ballpark Village have impacted the businesses on Washington Avenue.
Murders by the City Museum and a downtown McDonalds, along with a violent teenage knockout game last fall, have hurt the businesses along Washington Avenue.
Police in the city say they are working closely with businesses, residents and private security to monitor crime in the area. Authorities say they have employed undercover units and additional security to the area.
Now, a new approach to stopping crime is coming to downtown. Cameras with the ability to read license plates - with the hope of quickly identifying stolen vehicles that enter the Downtown and Downtown West neighborhoods. Five cameras will be installed by March, a $70,000 investment for the city. City leaders hope to have thirty in downtown in the next two years.
"We will always make sure our entertainment district has more safety, more security and more rules that people have to follow," said Missy Kelley, COO of Downtown STL Inc
Those with Downtown STL Inc. say downtown is a destination because of new attractions, including Ballpark Village, Union Station and new bars closer to Busch Stadium, which are making Washington Avenue less of a destination.
Another problem with the area is that the newness has worn off, Kelley added.
“The people that came down when it opened and really brought the energy to Washington Avenue are in their 40s,” Kelley said. “They’re having kids, they are not necessarily the crowd that’s coming down here, so Washington Avenue is really challenged with being relevant to the new group of people who are coming down.”
Three new restaurants will be opening along Washington Avenue with the hopes of revitalizing the area. The chef of Niche and Pastaria plans to open an Italian restaurant called Porano Pasta and Gelato in the area. According to Downtown STL Inc., a restaurant featuring Mediteranian cuisine will also open on Washington Avenue.
“Wash Ave has an opportunity to look at the Millennials, and make sure that they are relevant,” said Kelley. “It’s an opportunity to reassess the concepts they have. Make sure that the food and the drink specials and bands and things they do to get people to come are relevant to that set.”
When Mayor Slay took office in 2001, there were 150 vacant buildings in the area of Washington Avenue. In 2015, there are only 23 vacant buildings along the roadway.
In the fourteen years since Slay became mayor, the area has undergone a $17 million overhaul.