Joe Edwards (St. Louis)

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Joe Edwards

Joe Edwards is a businessman, developer, and civic leader who helped revitalize the Delmar Loop area, which connects St. Louis and University City, Missouri. Dubbed “The Duke of Delmar” by St. Louis Magazine,[1] he opened his first business in The Loop in the 1970s, and has since led various efforts that helped transform the Delmar Loop into one of the most vibrant restaurant, shopping, and arts-and-entertainment districts in the country. In 2007, the American Planning Association named The Loop "One of the 10 Great Streets in America.[2]

In 1972, Edwards opened Blueberry Hill restaurant and music club, sparking a decades-long revitalization of the street. Rock legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Chuck Berry, an old friend of Edwards', performs monthly in Blueberry Hill's Duck Room.[3]

Edwards has since renovated numerous historic buildings in The Loop and around St. Louis and encouraged one-of-a-kind specialty shops, restaurants, and cultural institutions to make The Loop their home.[4] His own ventures include the restored 1924 Tivoli Theatre movie theater (1995), The Pageant concert nightclub (2000), Pin-Up Bowl martini lounge and bowling alley (2003), Flamingo Bowl bowling alley and lounge on Washington Avenue in downtown St. Louis (2007), and the boutique Moonrise Hotel (2009).[5] On October 10, 2014, Edwards opened the 24-hour Peacock Loop Diner.[6]

The Pin-Up Bowl, one of Edwards' two bowling alley lounges
Patio seating at Blueberry Hill
The Moonrise Hotel
The Pageant Music Venue
Chuck Berry's star in the St. Louis Walk of Fame

In 1988, Edwards founded the non-profit St. Louis Walk of Fame to honor great St. Louisans and their contributions to American culture. As of 2013, more than 140 inductees are described in brass stars and informative bronze plaques set into the Loop's sidewalks.[7] In 2013, he came out with an updated St. Louis Walk of Fame book;[8] the non-profit donates a copy to every St. Louis metro area junior high and high school library.[9]

In the 2000s, Edwards began leading an effort to bring a fixed-track vintage trolley system to The Loop, linking it to Metrolink and Forest Park attractions. In 2010, the Delmar Loop Trolley project received a $24.9 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration.[10]

In 2003, Edwards received the prestigious St. Louis Award.[11] Between 2004 and 2006, Edwards received an honorary doctorate of laws from Washington University in St. Louis[12] an honorary doctorate of fine arts from Saint Louis University in 2005,[13] and an honorary doctorate of humanitarian letters from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.[14]

In 2013, Edwards received Washington University's Gerry and Bob Virgil Ethic of Service Award.[15] On September 12, 2013, Edwards received the lifetime achievement award from the Landmarks Association of St. Louis for his work in historic preservation and community revitalization.[16]

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