ST. LOUIS – New pop-up shops with local vendors selling handmade items. Families enjoying dinner in new outdoor seating outside local restaurants. A major national retail chain opening their first store. These are the types of things Downtown residents, workers, and visitors will see as a result of new incentives Greater St. Louis, Inc. and the St. Louis Development Corporation have partnered on to attract retail businesses to Downtown St. Louis. 

“Downtown St. Louis sees over 15 million visitors a year. It has over 10,000 residents, a neighborhood population that increased 29% from 2010 to 2020. There are over $3.8 billion in development projects underway Downtown right now,” said Kurt Weigle, Chief Downtown Officer for Greater St. Louis, Inc. “Downtown St. Louis is a dynamic market, but it needs more retail activity. The incentives on which we are partnering with SLDC are designed to attract high-quality businesses of all sizes to the heart of the St. Louis metro.” 

The incentive package includes four separate components, all targeted to attracting new retail activity and increasing density and vibrancy at street level Downtown: 

  • Downtown Pop-Ups. Designed to activate pop-up retail shops in vacant storefronts. Offers up to $15,000 per storefront. 
  • Inside-Out Sidewalk Café Program. Will help Downtown restaurants build aesthetically pleasing outdoor seating or retail displays to encourage more activity at street level. Restaurants can receive up to $5,000 per storefront. 
  • Tenant Improvements. Assists new retail establishments with grants of up to $50,000 for interior and exterior tenant improvements, such as new flooring, lighting, windows, as well as historical restoration. 
  • Rent Guarantees. Supports property owners with a rent “backstop” to mitigate their risk and empower them to lease more space to retail establishments. 

“Downtown is the heart of the entire St. Louis region. Expanding access to high-quality retail options and supporting downtown businesses is vital to the long-term economic health of the city,” said SLDC’s President & CEO, Neal Richardson. “COVID had a detrimental impact on retail in downtown. The Downtown Retail Incentive Program is part of SLDC’s overall strategy to support businesses in areas of the city that may not directly benefit from the American Rescue Plan Act resources. These investments and activations will help make downtown St. Louis a more attractive neighborhood for residents, businesses, and visitors.”

GSL and SLDC have partnered to provide over $350,000 for the incentives, which are aligned with recommendations made in Design Downtown STL, the community-informed plan that was adopted as the official neighborhood plan for Downtown neighborhood by the City of St. Louis. 

A Valuable Tool for Revitalizing Downtown

With exciting attractions, over 10,000 residents, new activations, new residential developments and restaurants, a thriving entertainment and sports scene, Downtown St. Louis is experiencing significant momentum right now. Attracting new street-level retail to these already strong assets is the next step to strengthen Downtown as the vibrant, dynamic, walkable neighborhood at the heart of the St. Louis metro.

“Activating ground floor commercial spaces with retailers, restaurants, cafés, and lounges that activate the street and incorporate outdoor seating will improve the walkable feel of Downtown and drive public safety with more eyes and feet on the street,” said Alex Oliver, CEO of Oliver Properties. “Targeting businesses that will draw traffic that increases activity on the street and sidewalks will be a valuable tool to help fill vacant spaces, improve public safety, and paint a brighter future of our revitalizing Downtown.”

Learn More About the Incentives

Businesses and Downtown property owners that would like more information on the incentives or that want to participate should visit for program details.

Media Contact 

Tony Wyche, Greater St. Louis, Inc.