Businesses are leaving the City of St. Louis, particularly downtown St. Louis. This trend has been ongoing for several years, but it has accelerated since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are a number of factors contributing to this trend, including:
- The rise of remote work: The pandemic has led many businesses to embrace remote work, which has made it less attractive for companies to maintain large office spaces in downtown areas.
- The high cost of office space: Rents in downtown St. Louis are among the highest in the country, making it difficult for businesses to afford the space they need.
- Crime: The city of St. Louis has a high crime rate, which can make it less appealing for businesses to locate their headquarters or offices in downtown.
As a result of these factors, there has been a significant increase in office vacancies downtown St. Louis. In 2022, the vacancy rate in the central business district (CBD) reached 18%, up from 17.7% the previous year. This is the highest vacancy rate in the CBD since 2010.
The trend of businesses leaving downtown St. Louis is not limited to large corporations. Small businesses are also being affected. A recent survey by the Downtown St. Louis Partnership found that 30% of downtown small businesses are considering leaving the area.
The city of St. Louis is taking steps to address the issue of businesses leaving downtown. The city has created a new Office of Downtown Development, and it is working to attract new businesses to the area. The city is also investing in infrastructure improvements, such as streetscape improvements and public safety initiatives.
However, it is unclear whether these efforts will be enough to stem the tide of businesses leaving downtown St. Louis. The city faces a number of challenges, including the high cost of living, the perception that the city is not safe, and the lack of affordable housing.
Only time will tell whether downtown St. Louis can regain its footing as a vibrant business district. However, the city’s current economic trajectory is cause for concern.