Late last week, Joe Edwards announced that he’s stepping down as the Chairman of the Loop Special Business District after 30 years leading the board. He stopped by St. Louis on the Air today to chat about his decision and what’s next for the six-block district along Delmar that’s been designated “One of the 10 Great Streets in America” by the American Planning Association.
Edwards called it “healthy to have a new face taking over that position. ” That new face belongs to Jessica Bueler, a small business owner in The Loop, who’s been serving as vice chair. But the change in leadership doesn’t mean Joe Edwards will be stepping away from the project he began in the 1970’s, at least not yet.
“I’m still on the Board of the Directors. I still attend all the meetings. I’m still chairing all the subcommittees that I’d been chairing. Ultimately it will free me up to do something new in a couple of years, but for now, I’m focusing on the Loop Trolley Project and the Chuck Berry Statue Project.”
Edwards says groundbreaking on the $40 million Loop Trolley Project will likely occur by the end of the year and that trolley cars could be spotted between Forest Park and Delmar as soon as late 2012. The project got a boost last year when it received $25 million in federal money, but Edwards says they’re still looking to raise at least $5 million.
He’s confident that the funds will fall into place because the project has enjoyed such widespread support. “Hopefully,” Edwards mused, “it can be a prototype for other areas in St. Louis. Ultimately, I’d love to see it go through Forest Park and out to the Botanical Garden and down to Euclid for BJC and the Central West End, down to Grand Center. It really has such potential. ”
Stay tuned for more news about the Loop Trolley. Edwards expects news about the results of an environmental assessment by early April, though there could be some initial feedback from the Federal Transit Administration as early as next week.