In handing out the award, the non-profit urban planning group lauded the University City street's revitalization in the past few decades and called the Boulevard, ''a vibrant place with a character all its own.''
Not surprisingly, officials at city hall were ecstatic about receiving the honor.
''It was a marketing person's dream,'' says Monica McFee, the city's public relations director. ''You can't pay for advertising like that.''
What University City officials could pay for were banners laying claim to their title. McFee says that the city purchased three signs to hang in conjunction with the Loop In Motion festival in October 2007. One was hung in front of city hall and another spanned Delmar at Westgate Avenue. McFee says U-City wanted the third to be displayed somewhere in the east end of the Loop.
Since the border between the municipality and the City of St. Louis is Skinker Boulevard, they had to find another organization willing to display the banner. Eventually they sold one of the posters to the East Loop Business Association, who hung the sign in front of a vacant lot near Rosedale Avenue.
While the first two signs came down shortly after the Loop festival, the third has remained. The lot where it hangs has gradually accumulated enough litter, rainwater, and shoddy fencing to rival Ballpark Village. Not exactly the best representation of what the Planning Association described as the Loop's ''prosperity and vitality.''
''It is kind of a paradox. It's one of the greatest streets and here's a vacant lot, but it's an emerging, healing lot,'' says Neal Shapiro a member of the East Loop Business Association.
Shapiro adds that the group hopes to break ground as soon as possible on a building that will have 14, 000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. ''Eventually it's going to be nice.''
As for the litter and fencing, Shapiro says, ''We haven't done our spring clean-up yet over there. The sign I think people had messed with it. I sent some people over there to straighten it up. It looks OK to me. Last time I looked at it it looked fine.''
As for the questionable location of the banner, McFee, the University City spokeswoman had this to say: ''Since we don't own that property I would not have an opinion. The material we used was meant to last two or three days and we got two or three months out of it. You say that one in the East Loop is still up? I guess They've gotten a pretty good shelf life out of theirs.''
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