University City officials and Loop business leaders have begun discussing ways to promote and improve the prominent stretch of Delmar in the city, in addition to city staff assisting in financial matters in the area.
On Sept. 23, the City Council of University City held a joint study session with the Loop Special Business District Board (the Loop Board). The Loop Special Business District (LSBD) operates in the western section of the Loop that is in U. City. The eastern part of the Loop, in St. Louis City, has a Community Improvement District (CID).
A major topic of discussion was how to increase interest the Loop. In response to a question by City Manager Greg Rose, about what the expectations for the Loop Board are, city Councilman Paulette Carr responded.
“We all want to see the Loop succeed, and the LSBD helps make that happen. I’d like to see a buzz come about because of events that are fun; St. Louis likes a party,” she said. “There can be events that reintroduce people to the Loop and make it a destination. There also needs to be a comprehensive plan made and updated.”
Members of both boards agreed that some steps — such as establishing comprehensive and marketing plans — would be beneficial. They also agreed on the concept of events, with the possibility of approximately four major events a year, as well as a number of smaller ones. Details, such as the final number of events, marketing and funding options will need to be discussed further.
The members liked the idea of keeping the popular yearly Loop Ice Festival and possibly adding a Taste of the Loop event.
The two boards also agreed on the eventuality of a full-time executive director for the LSBD. The east Loop currently has an executive director who sometimes assists the LSBD in the western part of the Loop. They also cited the need to address perceived issues of safety in the area.
“Some of the optics are unfounded and the perception that it is unsafe is hard for some people to part with,” said city Councilman Jeff Hales.
Joe Edwards, chairman of the Loop Board, and owner of several businesses in the Loop, described the area as “one of the safest streets in the Midwest.”
During the meeting, the two boards also addressed concerns that the city council had about the Loop Board’s finances.
“We (city staff) have been working with the bookkeeper for the LSBD over the past few months to reconcile the financial records that are required for auditing purposes,” said Rose. “This process revealed weaknesses with some of the record keeping inasmuch that in some instances, we as yet have been unable to locate backup materials, such as invoices for certain expenditures.”
Rose said that to correct the situation, the city council and Mayor decided to provide assistance to the LSBD with financial recording and reporting. Rose said that the city’s Economic Development Director, Libby Tucker, who is the liaison to the Loop Board, will work with that board, as well as City Attorney John Mulligan and acting Finance Director Keith Cole, on the transition. Tucker will also work with the Loop Board on compiling annual reports, strategic plans and other plans.