ULI Study Suggests Fading Star of “Gateway Cities” Opens Door for STL

By on December 7, 2018

by Tom Finan, Executive Director, Construction Forum STL

Despite concerns about a lack of population growth, Midwestern regions like St. Louis may benefit from the increasing priciness of the nation’s major urban regions and tech hubs when it comes to the key to the future — attracting young talent. 

Networking at ULI event at Innovation Hall in the Cortex

That was the message that Andy Warren of consultant PwC US delivered at the annual Urban Land Institute St. Louis presentation of the national report  Emerging Trends in Real Estate. Warren has been co-author of the report, which summarizes a national survey of 2,400 developers and other industry influencers. (Click here to download a PDF of all speakers’ PowerPoint decks.)

Warren noted that while the St. Louis region has experienced an out-migration of population due, among other factors, to retirement and death of Boomers, the region’s low cost of doing business and low cost of living is an attractor to young entrepreneurs and professionals. 

Warren said there is a question of the legitimacy of concerns that the current growth cycle is near an end. He noted that worldwide there are healthy economies that have sustained growth periods that have lasted decades.  He noted, however that GDP growth is expected to slow going forward. 

Immigrants hold hope for regions hoping to grow population, Warren said —  equation which he observed has been made problematic by recent public policy. 

Symbolic Importance

ULI Chair Chip Crawford, principal at Bates/Forum prefaced the program with comments related to the positive motion that the St. Louis region is experiencing. He cited the symbolic importance of ULI holding its meeting in the newly-completed Innovation Hall in the Cortex. 

This Year’s Emerging Trends report once again placed Dallas/Fort Worth at the top of 79 regions ranked for overall real estate prospects. Tampa/St. Petersburg nudged into the top ten for the first time. Warren said that while St. Louis ranked 46th, the differences in rankings this year were numerically very tight. 

A panel of St. Louis region presenters offered a perspective that the St. Louis region is recognizing the need to rally around its urban center and  include social/racial equity in the formula for development. 

About Tom Finan