ST. CHARLES, Mo. (KMOV.com) - After a bike ride on Sunday, a group gathered outside Take a Hike, an outdoor shop on North Second Street in the Historic Frenchtown neighborhood of St. Charles.
“There’s a lot of good energy,” said store owner Joseph Russell about the neighborhood.
He’s excited to hear the city has big plans to build on that energy and bring on a new future for the historic district.
“It’s the best kept secret in St. Charles,” proclaimed Mayor Dan Borgmeyer.
The mayor campaigned on a plan to revitalize the district just north of Historic Main Street.
“This end of town has been neglected, or overlooked for 30 years or more,” said Borgmeyer.
East West Gateway is currently conducting a Great Streets study on the area of Frenchtown which involves North Second Street from Adams Street to Highway 370 and includes the sprawling American Car and Foundry property.
The vision for the project is to craft a community vision for Frenchtown, which is distinct from Main Street. One of the goals is to connect the different parts of St. Charles while providing a variety of experiences.
“We’re not cannibalizing Main Street, we’re not cannibalizing Streets of St. Charles, this is Frenchtown, an edgy, artsy kind of hip district,” explained Borgmeyer.
Borgmeyer likened it to the Grove neighborhood in St. Louis City. Russell says he’d love to see their own version of something like the Delmar Loop.
“There’s a lot to do on Main Street. Streets of St. Charles is a little higher end, this is just for everybody, a little art, a place to get a tattoo, place where you can listen to live music, that would be huge,” he explained.
Russell says he has provided feedback to the Great Streets project in hopes it helps catapult the city’s vision for the neighborhood.
“We have huge sidewalks, utilize those better, maybe utilize 45-degree parking which will slow down traffic,” said Russell.
Both the city and East West Gateway want to bring more walkability to the area. One way to do that is the plan to connect Main Street to North Second by extending Main Street through the American Car and Foundry property.
Right now the property consists of some offices, old warehouses, but Borgmeyer sees a lot of potential. A climbing gym is planning to open soon and the mayor says apartments are also in the works. The goal he says, is to bring in millennials to the city.
“My children moved to Kirkwood because it was cool, we’re trying to make Frenchtown cool,” said the mayor.
There will be another planning meeting hosted by East West Gateway in April for residents to give feedback on the study. It will be completed in June, which is when a better idea on the cost of proposed infrastructure changes will be clearer. Mayor Borgmeyer hopes many of the changes will take shape over the next few years.
Read more on the Frenchtown Great Streets Project here.