New Hopes In Old Orchard
The Old Orchard Advisory Commission explores ways to revamp the shopping district's image in 2011.
According to David Sanders, president of Pacific Place retirement community, the real goal in mind goes beyond beautification. The underlying focus is sales, and attracting people to Old Orchard.
“There needs to be something at the local level in the district that says, ‘If we want to get people here, we have to take some proactive actions,’” he said.
Old Orchard has hosted several events in the past to encourage local business support.
“It all started out the last two years with trying to get people into The Orchard District, and the concert series was the first big splash,” said Charles M. Downs III, owner of Cyrano’s Café. “And now, you’ve got the farmers market to help.”
Downs believes that the Farmers Market was a successful jumping point for the ongoing development of the Old Orchard Business District.
"The way the community came together for the farmers market was the most significant step forward in our business district,” he said. “People really came out and supported and participated. That’s what we need to keep doing.”
In addition to improving the Farmers Market this year, the Advisory Commission also hopes to focus on improvements for Gazebo Park.
“The park is a good place to start,” Sanders said. “It’s our signature, and it is already attracting other activity.”
Members agreed that the Gazebo Park summer concert series remains a fundamental attraction for the Old Orchard area.
“I think Gazebo Park is a gem of an asset for Old Orchard,” Sanders said. “It’s a really nice public common space that very few shopping districts have, certainly here in Saint Louis.”
According to Commerce Bank vice president Claire Winkler, the Old Orchard Merchants Association has struggled in the past to implement long-term projects that will propel Old Orchard to the next level.
Winkler believes that landscaping improvements will make the most advantageous impact for the least amount of money.
“When I’m going into a business district, and I see flowers on the light post, I want to stop” she said. “Because if it looks that nice on the street, it’s going to draw me in to explore what else is offered.”
The advisory commission hopes that uniformed decorative elements will add an extra level of charm to the Old Orchard streetscape.
“I think there would be some financial advantages if there was a kit of parts we could agree on with some of this paraphernalia, whether it’s baskets or flower boxes or trash cans or benches,” Sanders said. “They could be bought in bulk together, and could be somewhat stockpiled and interchangeable within the community.”
While financial details surrounding the landscaping process are still being discussed, the Advisory Commission stands in agreement that aesthetic improvement is a consistent objective of primary concern.
“If you have an attractive front, I think it really helps drive in those customers,” Winkler said.