Sterman and his critical colleagues, who at the time included the principal real estate developers and owners of the Washington Avenue loft and entertainment district, saw an opportunity. Citizens for a Greater Downtown St. Louis was launched that summer and began urging landowners to reject the district’s renewal petition.
They have also started to circulate their own petition. Their new neighborhood, they promised, would intelligently tackle crime by cracking down on troublemaker clubs and problematic properties. It would also do more to support businesses and attract new ones, and follow through on plans to make the city center more accessible on foot and by bike.
District officials first took up the challenge. They told the Post-Dispatch they had met with Sterman, but disputed his complaints and said it was unrealistic to expect the district to solve all of the downtown problems on a relatively small budget.
Then, this spring, the district issued a letter led by Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III warning that the downtown area was in danger of losing the district. DeWitt urged landowners to reject the opposition’s proposal. The district launched another appeal in July, noting that its plan would cost homeowners less than Sterman’s.
“We believe the CID strategy is the strongest proposition for improving downtown St. Louis,” the letter read.
McCrary, the district executive director, said the downtown area would suffer if the district died.