Its iconic Gateway Arch honors the 19th-century explorations of Lewis and Clark and America’s westward expansion, and today is a beacon for the region’s 21st-century innovations in technology and sustainability.
If you haven’t been to St. Louis lately, the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference in February 2017 will give you a fresh look at what’s new. See first-hand why Popular Mechanics called St. Louis the #1 Startup City in America.
A new generation of entrepreneurs, scientists and investors have emerged making the “Gateway to the West” one of the country’s burgeoning technology and innovation hubs as the region booms with high-tech, innovation centers and more than 1,000 start-ups – a third of those in biotech.
The St. Louis metropolitan area is the 19th largest in the U.S. with a population of nearly 3 million, stretched across 15 counties in Missouri and Illinois.
One of the most bike-friendly communities in the nation, St. Louis’ Cycling Initiative, honored by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, promotes safe, convenient bicycle access throughout the city. St. Louis has approximately 90 miles of bike lanes, routes and trails within city limits, a third of its arterial streets have designated bike lanes, and a 1,400 square-foot bike station in the downtown helps link bicycling commuters to transit. When completed, the Gateway Bike Plan will provide residents with more than 1,000 miles of bike lanes, shared-use lanes and other bike facilities throughout the St. Louis region.
Its commitment to Complete Streets design also requires transportation improvements to encourage walking, bicycling and transit use.
St. Louis’ overarching Sustainability Plan, which include a greenhouse gas emissions inventory for local government and community-scale sectors, provide a strategic framework for a more socially, economically and environmentally sustainable future.
Its award-winning Sustainable Neighborhood Initiative was launched in 2013, and is accompanied by a how-to Sustainability Toolkit and mini-grants for creating innovative sustainability projects in the neighborhood. Meanwhile, the Sustainable Land Lab tests ideas that reframe vacant land as an opportunity to rebuild neighborhoods into resilient, vital communities.
St. Louis requires all new municipal buildings to meet energy-efficiency and green-building standards. With its Habitat for Humanity developments, St. Louis has one of the highest levels of LEED Platinum homes in the country and also ranks among the highest for rehabilitating historic buildings.
Through its Urban Vitality and Ecology Initiative, St. Louis has embraced the greenspace of its parks, trees, trails and other natural areas to provide important community gathering spaces and shape neighborhood character. Along with the social benefits, connecting people to urban nature also fosters economic resilience, higher property values and environmental savings (such as millions of City dollars in avoided stormwater costs).
At the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, conserving water resources and safeguarding water quality has always been an integral part of the social fabric of St. Louis, long before climate-change impacts attracted concerted government action. Today, the city aggressively promotes innovative low-impact development practices, from permeable and pervious pavement to rain gardens and green roofs, and is putting more than $4 billion into water-quality and treatment improvements.
Like many communities, St. Louis is a city of neighborhoods – more than 75, some stable and thriving, others on the rebound and striving for renewal. Its broad palette of architectural styles reveals itself from the oldest red-brick homes in the Carondelet to the Victorian homes of Lafayette Square and the graceful landmarks of the Central West End.
The cultural diversity is showcased around town and across the region – in the arts-and-music scenes in Forest Park, Grand Center and the Loop, African American heritage in the Ville, historic Cherokee Antique Row, a bustling downtown center filled with beautiful residential lofts, innovative business properties and exciting nightlife, trendy Maplewood, the small-town charm of Kimmswick, and suburban Kirkwood.
From the $380 million transformation of the grounds surrounding the iconic Gateway Arch to an ever-expanding list of appealing destinations throughout the region, St. Louis has great restaurants, lively entertainment and cultural attractions – and model smart-growth projects – that will add excitement and ambience to the largest smart-growth and sustainability conference in the nation.
Experience St. Louis’ historic architecture and walkable neighborhoods, and swing by its world-class museums, gardens and concert halls. For sustainability and innovation inspiration, visit a business incubator T-REX or Cambridge Innovation Center. Experience a Certified Living Building Challenge property, a net-positive energy building, or a LEED-Platinum Habitat for Humanity home. Get around town on the Metro light rail – free for conference attendees.