Pruitt-Igoe’s William Igoe Died 65 Years Ago; St. Louis Board of Aldermen Started New Session This Week

 

 Sixty five years ago today the person for whom the intended white section of failed Pruitt-Igoe public housing project was named died at age 73: William Leo Igoe (October 19, 1879 – April 20, 1953) was a United States Representative from Missouri. Igoe was born in St. Louis to Irish immigrants. He attended the public and parochial schools …

A Decade Since Developer Pyramid Construction Collapsed; Guidelines Needed for Development Incentives

 

 A decade ago I was about four hours from St. Louis, still in a rehab hospital after my February 1st stroke. I got a call from a friend, a former Pyramid Construction employee, telling me he heard the heavily-leveraged company was shutting down that day. I immediately called someone still employed at …

Deutsch Family Profiting From Public Right-of-Way…Again

 

 A couple of weeks from now will mark two years since my post titled: Deutsch Family Has Profited From Public Right-Of-Way For Nearly Two Decades. It was a more detailed follow up to an April 2009 post called Stealing a Sidewalk. From the 2016 post: In the late 1990s, Larry Deutsch was …

Sunday Poll: Should St. Louis End Development Incentives?

 

 Today’s poll is about the controversial topic of incentives to spur development. In December 2017 a report from Comptroller Darlene Green said, for the 2017 fiscal year that ended in June, tax abatements resulted in forgoing about $17 million dollars in revenue — St. Louis only receives about 19% of property …

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Pruitt-Igoe’s William Igoe Died 65 Years Ago; St. Louis Board of Aldermen Started New Session This Week

April 20, 2018 Board of Aldermen, Featured, History/Preservation Comments Off on Pruitt-Igoe’s William Igoe Died 65 Years Ago; St. Louis Board of Aldermen Started New Session This Week
 
St. Louis City Hall

Sixty five years ago today the person for whom the intended white section of failed Pruitt-Igoe public housing project was named died at age 73:

William Leo Igoe (October 19, 1879 – April 20, 1953) was a United States Representative from Missouri.

Igoe was born in St. Louis to Irish immigrants. He attended the public and parochial schools of St. Louis and graduated from the law school of Washington University in St. Louis in 1902. He was admitted to the bar in the same year and commenced the practice of law in St. Louis. He was a member of the municipal assembly of St. Louis from 1909 until March 3, 1913, when he resigned to enter the United States Congress.

Igoe was elected as a Democrat to the Sixty-third and to the three succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1913 – March 3, 1921). On April 6, 1917, he joined 49 other representatives in voting against declaring war on Germany. He declined to become a candidate for renomination in 1920. He resumed the practice of law and was an unsuccessful Democratic nominee for mayor of St. Louis in 1925. He was chairman of the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners 1933–1937. He died in St. Louis on April 20, 1953 and is buried in Calvary Cemetery. (Wikipedia)

You can see his photo on FindAGrave.

At the beginning of this week the St. Louis Board of Aldermen formerly ended their previous session and began a new session the following day. The 2017-2018 session ended on Monday, the 2018-2019 session began on Tuesday. No legislation was introduced — expect quite a bit a week from today when regular 10am Friday meetings resume. As I’ve done in the past, new Board Bills will be listed the day they’re introduced.

Since a new session is starting, this is a good opportunity to review the how a board bill becomes an ordinance:

Workflow
When it comes to passingBoard Bills, the Board of Aldermen agenda is broken down into four basic parts.

  1. First Reading of Board Bills/Referenceto Committee
  2. Second Reading of Board Bills
  3. Perfection of Board Bills
  4. Third Reading/Final Passage of Board Bills

Introduction of Board Bills
Each Friday, Bills are introduced (first read) during the Board of Aldermen meeting. The meetings are held at 10 A.M. in Room 230. The President then assigns each bill to one of 15 committees.

Committee Hearings
It is up to the chairman of each committee to schedule hearings to review any Bills that have been introduced and assigned.

During the committee hearing, an alderman will present a Bill to the committee members, discuss its merits and ask that it be sent to the full Board of Aldermen with a “do pass” recommendation. Sometimes, the committee will make changes to the Bill before sending it back to the floor. These changes are called Committee Substitutes or Amendments.

If a sponsor senses that a Bill lacks sufficient support, the sponsor may ask that it remain in committee while changes are drafted. Although rare, sometimes a Bill will remain in committee until the end of the session, at which time the Bill “dies.”

Second Reading
Once a bill has been passed out of committee, it is then ready for Second Reading at the next Board of Aldermen meeting.
There is no discussion of the bill during Second Reading – it’s simply read out loud.

Perfection
The following week, the bill appears on the Perfection Calendar. This is when the sponsor may stand up and explain to the full Board what the Bill is and ask for support. On controversial Bills, there is often a long and lively debate. This is also the time to make any final changes to the Bill (Floor Substitute).

It takes a majority of the aldermen present to vote in favor of perfecting a bill and move to Final Passage. (All votes at the Board require a majority of the aldermen present except on Final Passage, which requires a total of 15 “yes” votes regardless of how many aldermen are present at the meeting. Bills regarding the sale of City-owned land require 20 “yes” votes.)

Third Reading/Final Passage
One week after Perfection, the Bill will appear on Third Reading/Final Passage. No more changes can be made to a Bill at this point. Each alderman can either vote “yes” or “no.” It takes 15 “yes” votes to finally pass a Bill and send it to the Mayor’s desk.

There is a procedure by which a Bill can move more quickly through the process. After Second Reading or after Perfection an alderman may ask to suspend the rules and have the bill moved to the next section on the agenda during the same meeting. 

Timeline
First Reading = 1st week.
Passed out of committee and Second Reading = 2nd week
Perfection (suspend the rules and obtain Third Reading/Final Passage) = 3rd week
The quickest a Bill can go from First Reading to Final Passage is three weeks at a minimum.  It is not unusual, however, for the process to take longer.  It could be several weeks before the Bill gets a committee hearing, which would slow down the process.

The sponsor may ask that a Bill be held in committee while changes are drafted, which will also slow down the process. 

The best thing to do is to follow the weekly agenda. If the Bill you’re looking for does not appear on Second Reading, Perfection or Third Reading, then you know the sponsor must be holding it in committee for some reason or the Bill is still waiting for a hearing.

The above is from the About Board Bills page. In the meantime you can review votes on bills from last session here.  For example you can see who defeated a bill to create a buffer zone at abortion providers.

— Steve Patterson

 

A Decade Since Developer Pyramid Construction Collapsed; Guidelines Needed for Development Incentives

April 18, 2018 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on A Decade Since Developer Pyramid Construction Collapsed; Guidelines Needed for Development Incentives
 
The Hotel Jefferson at Jefferson & Locust is about the only unfinished Pyramid project

A decade ago I was about four hours from St. Louis, still in a rehab hospital after my February 1st stroke. I got a call from a friend, a former Pyramid Construction employee, telling me he heard the heavily-leveraged company was shutting down that day. I immediately called someone still employed at Pyramid, but my call wasn’t returned.  I ran the story Rumor: Pyramid Ceasing Operations based on my source.

Many people lost their jobs that day, some found out about their employer closing here.  While unfortunate, I was just the messenger. Current & formers employees close to the matter felt is was important to get the word out as it was happening — hence the call to me.

From 2010:

For much of this decade, Steffen’s Pyramid Construction Inc. led the way in loft construction and other residential and commercial projects in downtown St. Louis. But overwhelming debts crushed the company, which went out of business in 2008. (Steffen indicted on bank fraud charge)

On a related note, Sunday’s non-scientific poll was about development incentives.

Q: Agree or disagree: The City of St. Louis should end all development incentives (tax increment financing, tax abatement, etc)

  1. Strongly agree 1 [2.63%]
  2. Agree 1 [2.63%]
  3. Somewhat agree 4 [10.53%]
  4. Neither agree or disagree 1 [2.63%]
  5. Somewhat disagree 4 [10.53%]
  6. Disagree 6 [15.79%]
  7. Strongly disagree 21 [55.26%]
  8. Unsure/No Answer 0 [0%]

Wisely a large majority disagreed. Incentives are necessary to produce desired results where the market hasn’t or can’t made the numbers work. What needs to stop is incentives being used in hot areas for high-end projects — the type market conditions would support. That said, incentives where the project is very urban with ground-level retail, underground parking, etc  can make sense.

It appears last year’s efforts to create guidelines failed.

— Steve Patterson

Deutsch Family Profiting From Public Right-of-Way…Again

April 16, 2018 Downtown, Featured, Parking, Walkability Comments Off on Deutsch Family Profiting From Public Right-of-Way…Again
 

A couple of weeks from now will mark two years since my post titled: Deutsch Family Has Profited From Public Right-Of-Way For Nearly Two Decades. It was a more detailed follow up to an April 2009 post called Stealing a Sidewalk.

From the 2016 post:

In the late 1990s, Larry Deutsch was finally allowed to raze the historic 4-story building at 1101 Locust St. that housed Miss Hullings Cafeteria for decades. After the demolition crew left, new sidewalks were poured and the lot was covered in asphalt for surface parking. That’s when the line dividing private from public property was moved more than 3 feet. Legally the lot is 121 feet x 102 feet 6 inches. But by narrowing the public sidewalk, they made their lot 124.33′ x 105.83′ — a gain of 6%! This is roughly 750 square feet of public space that has been used privately for years.

This allowed them to have 5 additional parking spaces. The current daily rate is often $10, but let’s say $5/day. With about 300 revenue days a year, that’s $7,500 in additional revenue per year. Over 18 years the total estimate is $135,000. Serious money made by taking from the public right-of-way.

After my May 2016 post they put orange cones in the parking spaces that were partially on public property.

The building represents the property line, not the concrete sidewalk.

On the East end of 1101 Locust St the same thing along 11th — they [placed cones along the actual property line
Each time I’d go past the cones would be out — not as good as pouring new concrete sidewalks at the actual property line. But the other day I noticed they were back to stealing public right-of-way for their profits!

The driver’s half of this car is parked on the public right-of-way
And along 11th half of this vehicle is parked on the public right-of-way.

Ownership hasn’t changed. As I said two years ago, the city needs to force the Deutsch family to pour new concrete sidewalks that extend all the way to the property lin. They also need to bring this surface lot up to current standards for surface lots — with physical barriers between sidewalk & parking so cars can’t park on or drive on public sidewalks.

I’ll be reminding 7th Ward Alderman Jack Coatar about this today.

 

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Sunday Poll: Should St. Louis End Development Incentives?

April 15, 2018 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should St. Louis End Development Incentives?
 
Please vote below

Today’s poll is about the controversial topic of incentives to spur development. In December 2017 a report from Comptroller Darlene Green said, for the 2017 fiscal year that ended in June, tax abatements resulted in forgoing about $17 million dollars in revenue — St. Louis only receives about 19% of property taxes.

St. Louis municipal operations, therefore, did not receive about $3.3 million in property taxes that property owners would have paid last fiscal year absent the incentives. The school district missed out on about $10.3 million. The remainder would have gone to other tax-supported entities, such as the Zoo-Museum District, the St. Louis Public Library and the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District.

For the city, the forgone revenue is a drop in the bucket of its $1 billion budget. And economic development officials argue that tax abatement can help revitalize distressed properties, potentially attracting new residents who also pay city sales taxes and earnings taxes to make up for the property tax break. (Post-Dispatch)

So here’s today’s poll question:

This poll will close automatically at 8pm tonight. Wednesday I’ll share my thoughts and the non-scienitific results.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Our First Visit to Mau Haus Cat Cafe & Lounge

April 13, 2018 Featured, Local Business, Retail, St. Louis County Comments Off on Our First Visit to Mau Haus Cat Cafe & Lounge
 

Last weekend David and I were going to be in Maplewood, so we decided to visit Mau Haus — a cat cafe & lounge. We have some food & beverage while spending an hour in a room with 18 cats and about 15 strangers. It was a wonderful time, we’re ready to go back. You’re probably asking yourself what a cat cafe is…

A cat cafe is a combination of all things good; cats, coffee, and a relaxing cafe environment. You can relax and pet cats, and it’s great socialization for them too! The cats are adoptable, which means if you fall in love, you can apply to take them home!

A cat cafe is perfect for cat lovers who need a feline fix. Whether you can’t have cats at home, or you’ve already got some and are looking for more, we’ve always got great cats here!

We partner with Stray Haven Rescue for all adoptable cats at the cafe. All cats are up to date on shots, spayed / neutered, and microchipped. Learn more about their mission and how you can get involved here. (Mau Haus contact page)

The space is a typical urban corner storefront. Because they don’t wan the cats to get out the old main entrance is now an emergency exit only. The side entry is the only public entry — and it’s wheelchair accessible. There are no cats in the ordering section or kitchen. After you’ve signed the waiver, ordered, and space is available you go through the double door vestibule into the main area.

Inside Mau Haus the cats can climb on many areas designed just for them
This is Loreli — one of two resident cats. Click image to see the adoptable cats and Loreli’s brother Taylor — he’s huge!
The bookcase wall lacks books but it does have steps and holes for the cats
While she were there one cat climbed way up top by the front window
David takung a pic of one cat that jumped up on our table.
Crates near the entrance had new adoptable cats getting acclimated ro other cats, humans, etc.

Mau Haus is located at 3101 Sutton Blvd in Maplewood.  Note that reservations are recommended:

Reservations to spend time in the cafe are highly encouraged. We do allow walk-ins, but it’s likely that you will have to wait for a spot to open up. There is a minimum spend or donation of $5 for all walk ins. A reservation ensures that there will be a spot waiting for you!

There is a $10 per person reservation fee that gets you an hour in the lounge. It helps us cover the cost of maintaining the cat lounge and caring for the cats. As a bonus, you will get a free beverage (per person) and 20% off any food or additional beverages purchased. (Man Haus reservations page)

Just being in this space with strangers and lots of friendly cats was very relaxing, we’re looking forward to going again. We told our neighbor down the hall when we saw them at the elevator. Her first question was “does it smell?” No, the entire place smells like any cafe and the place was just as clean.

— Steve Patterson

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