Sunday Poll: What Day Do You Think The Michael Brown Grand Jury Will Announce Their Decision?

On Wednesday I said there would be no more weekly polls, which is true. However, that afternoon, I decided to try a poll that’s open for just 12 hours: 8am-8pm, each Sunday. Most likely you saw the news yesterday — no decision from the Grand Jury yet: A steady rain dampened …

Repurposing Gas Stations As Restaurants

The other day, while waiting at a red light, I noticed a business had opened in an old filling station at Eichelberger & S. Kingshighway. The ice cream shop is called The Filling Station. I haven’t patronized the business so I can’t speak to the food or service. However, I …

Successful Pedestrian Malls Kept Cross Streets Open

Pedestrian malls, the closing of a street to vehicles, is an area of great interest to me. Popular in the 1960s & 1970s, very few had long-term success in North America, most failed and have been reversed. St. Louis’ former 14th Street Pedestrian Mall was such a failure. In September …

Use Headlights During Low Visibility Conditions

Sunday I drove my husband to work so I could use our shared car for errands. As I was ready to return downtown from Ellisville (far West St. Louis County) I noticed the weather had suddenly gotten worse. What amazed me is how many people driving on Clarkson & I-64 …

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Sunday Poll: What Day Do You Think The Michael Brown Grand Jury Will Announce Their Decision?

November 23, 2014 Featured, Ferguson, Sunday Poll 1 Comment
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

On Wednesday I said there would be no more weekly polls, which is true. However, that afternoon, I decided to try a poll that’s open for just 12 hours: 8am-8pm, each Sunday.

Most likely you saw the news yesterday — no decision from the Grand Jury yet:

A steady rain dampened an already gloomy mood here Saturday afternoon as word spread that a grand jury looking into whether to indict police Officer Darren Wilson had yet to make a decision. (CNN)

The poll question for today is ‘What day do you think the Michael Brown Grand Jury will announce their decision?’  The poll options include today and every day though the end of the month. The answers will be in the same order for everyone — chronological. The poll closes in 12 hours — 8pm central.

The poll is located at the top of the right sidebar on the desktop layout, mobile users will need to switch to the desktop layout to see the poll in the sidebar.

— Steve Patterson

Repurposing Gas Stations As Restaurants

The other day, while waiting at a red light, I noticed a business had opened in an old filling station at Eichelberger & S. Kingshighway. The ice cream shop is called The Filling Station.

The Filling Station opened in 2013, click image to see entry on Yelp.
The Filling Station opened in 2013, click image to see entry on Yelp.

I haven’t patronized the business so I can’t speak to the food or service. However, I can say I love the building and its use as a restaurant. Before the light turned green I was thinking about the lunch my husband and I had in Kansas City, at a place I thought was a former gas station.

Joe's Kansas City, formerly Oklahoma Joe's, is among the most popular BBQ restaurants in Kansas City.
Joe’s Kansas City, formerly Oklahoma Joe’s, is among the most popular BBQ restaurants in Kansas City, thankfully we arrived before the line was out the door.
Inside the former service bays
Inside the former service bays
It was after we ate that I realized this was still a functional gas station!
It was after we ate that I realized this was still a functional gas station!

A hugely popular restaurant operating out of a current gas station? Here’s part of their story:

Later that year [1996], experience and commitment intersected with opportunity and serendipity at the corner of 47th Avenue and Mission Road in Kansas City, Kansas, where the owner of a little neighborhood gas station and convenience store, not far from the Stehneys’ house, closed the little fried chicken counter he had been operating inside the store. “It seemed like a pretty good place for a barbecue joint,” Jeff says. “Inside a gas station. Plus there was a liquor store next door, in the same building, which was kind of cool. But the main thing was that it was close to home. I knew we’d be putting in some long hours, and being close to home would be a really good thing. We put together a proposal, made an offer, and all of a sudden we were not only in the barbecue business, but also in the gas station business.” (Joe’s KC)

As a vegetarian I don’t visit BBQ places, but I’d read about their portobello sandwich: The Portobello Z-Man Sandwich $7.39 (smoked portobella, smoked provolone cheese, topped with two crispy onion rings, on a toasted Kaiser roll).

The operating gas station in KC doesn’t have the architectural charm of the older & smaller building in south St. Louis, but the idea is great. What a great way for someone wanting to get into the restaurant business — opening up inside an existing gas station. I’m curious how many gas stations we have in the region that have lunch counters inside. If you’ve got a great product, you could do well.

Have a great weekend, see you at 8am Sunday for a one day poll (8am-8pm).

— Steve Patterson

Successful Pedestrian Malls Kept Cross Streets Open

Pedestrian malls, the closing of a street to vehicles, is an area of great interest to me. Popular in the 1960s & 1970s, very few had long-term success in North America, most failed and have been reversed. St. Louis’ former 14th Street Pedestrian Mall was such a failure.

In September I got to visit two of the successes, both in Colorado: Denver’s 16th Street Mall and Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall.  After visiting these two I’ve identified some key differences that I believe contributed to the success of these two while others failed. The main difference is both of these allow the cross streets to continue through uninterrupted. Most pedestrian mall projects screwed up the street grid in two directions, the closed mall street and all the intersecting streets. Depending on the length of the pedestrian mall this could mean 1-8 cross streets got redirected. In doing so a large area and many streets were cut off from regular traffic.

St. Louis’ 14th Street Pedestrian Mall — 1977

  • Length: 2 blocks
  • Status: removed
  • Map (was 14th from St. Louis Ave to Warren St)
Looking south on 14th, Spring 1991
Looking south on 14th, Spring 1991
Looking West on Montgomery St, Spring 1991
Looking West on the one cross street, Montgomery St, Spring 1991

St. Louis’ pedestrian mall was only 13 years old when I first saw it in the Fall of 1990. Long-time residents I talked to said the mall failed very early on, long before I saw it 13 years later.

Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall — 1977

  • Length: 4 blocks
  • Status: active
  • Map
Boulder's Pearl Street Mall
Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall is for pedestrians only
Broadway is only highway 7, one of three streets that continue through the four block mall.
Broadway is only highway 7, one of three streets that continue through the four block mall.
The same intersection
The same intersection as viewed from our rental car
We ate dinner at a popular restaurant on Pearl St, but it was one block West of the mall.
We ate dinner at a popular restaurant on Pearl St, but it was one block West of the mall.

Many small town pedestrian malls were built by malling the main highway that ran through the downtown business district and creating opposite one way streets on either side so highway traffic could continue. Boulder, however, allowed their highway to continue with only a traffic signal like you’d see if Pearl St was still open to cars. They too did the one-way couplet thing on parallel streets, but it and the mall are perpendicular to the main highway through town.

Denver’s 16th Street Mall — 1982

  • Length: 13 blocks
  • Status: active
  • Map
Denver's 16th Street Mall
Denver’s 16th Street Mall with mall-only buses, in the center in this block
At this point the bus lanes are divided, leaving a center pedestrian area
At this point the bus lanes are divided, leaving a center pedestrian area
The buses were every few minutes and were non-polluting
The buses were every few minutes and were non-polluting

Denver was late to get a pedestrian mall, few were built in the 1980s. Perhaps their delay paid off, enabling them to see mistakes made by other cities. Chicago also had a transit mall, but it was for many bus lines. The diesel fumes meant their mall wasn’t a pedestrian paradise. Whereas Denver runs free shuttles to get people up and down the 13 block length, with several points where you can connect to local bus or light rail lines.

It appears Denver, unlike St. Louis, has kept its street grid in tact — with the exception of 16h Street. St. Louis has made it a habit of closing streets, disrupting the grid.

Conclusion

Another successful pedestrian mall is Church Street Marketplace in Burlington VT (map).  Like Boulder & Denver, the cross streets continue uninterrupted. I need to return to my grad school data to see if any of the failed/removed pedestrian malls allowed cross streets to cut through the mall, I don’t recall any.

This is not to say that the many failed pedestrian malls might have succeeded had they kept cross streets open, or a that a remaining mall could be enlivened by opening the cross streets. Both might be the case, I just can’t come to that conclusion — yet.

Still, St. Louis serves as an example of ongoing struggles when the street grid has been repeatedly compromised.

— Steve Patterson

Weekly Polls To Become Sunday Polls

November 19, 2014 Sunday Poll 5 Comments

Revised 11/19/14 @ 1pm:

Starting this Sunday I’ll try a poll that will start at 8am and end 12 hours later, discussing the results the following Wednesday.

Original post below:

In February 2009 I introduced the weekly poll on this blog. It’s been a great 5+ year run but every poll the last few weeks has been overrun by a flood of new visitors voting, I’m tired of seeing them flip the natural results to match their agenda. I can’t think of a way to prevent this other than cease doing the weekly poll altogether. Here are the results from last week and this week (1 day):

Q: Should Missouri have a law like Oregon’s ‘Death with Dignity Act’?

  1. No 201 [71.28%]
  2. Yes 75 [26.6%]
  3. Maybe 4 [1.42%]
  4. Unsure/no opinion 2 [0.71%]

Q: Do you plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day?

  1. Yes, online & in a store 100 [67.11%]
  2. No 42 [28.19%]
  3. I have to work 2 [1.34%]
  4. Maybe 2 [1.34%]
  5. Undecided 2 [1.34%]
  6. Yes, in a store 1 [0.67%]
  7. Yes, online 0 [0%]

The outcome of both are very different than those who voted in the first 8 hours. I might do a poll within a post, with it ending after 8-10 hours.

For the record I think Missouri needs a ‘Death with Dignity’ act to allow those who are terminally ill to end their lives before suffering. I also don’t think we should be out shopping in stores, if you do please be especially kind to those having to work on Thanksgiving.

I’ll now be posting 5 days a week, Monday-Friday. Maybe an occasional post on a Saturday or Sunday.

— Steve Patterson

Use Headlights During Low Visibility Conditions

November 18, 2014 Featured, Transportation 4 Comments

Sunday I drove my husband to work so I could use our shared car for errands. As I was ready to return downtown from Ellisville (far West St. Louis County) I noticed the weather had suddenly gotten worse.

Poor weather on Sunday 11/16/2014
Poor weather on Sunday 11/16/2014

What amazed me is how many people driving on Clarkson & I-64 weren’t using their headlights, they must think headlights are only to help them see the road ahead.  In low/reduced visibility conditions headlights help other drivers see your vehicle. Our car, like most newer cars, has daytime running lights, but headlights are more effective. Turning on headlights also turns on taillights, increasing visibility from behind.

On August 28, 2004 a law went into effect dealing with with the use of headlights at specific times, which motorists need to be reminded of during this time of year.

The definition in RSMo 307.020 dealing with when headlights are required was amended and new requirements were added to read:  “When lighted lamps are required” means at any time from a half-hour after sunset to a half-hour before sunrise and at any other time when there is not sufficient light to render clearly discernible persons and vehicles on the highway at a distance of five hundred feet ahead.  Lighted lamps shall also be required any time the weather conditions require usage of the motor vehicle’s windshield wipers to operate the vehicle in a careful and prudent manner as defined in section 304.012, RSMo.   The provisions of this section shall be interpreted to require lighted lamps during periods of fog even if usage of the windshield wipers is not necessary to operate the vehicle in a careful and prudent manner. (Missouri Highway Patrol)

Illinois and other states have similar laws requiring headlight use. This time of year car windows & mirrors aren’t always clear: snow & ice on the outside or frost/fog on the inside of other vehicles reduce the chances those drivers will so you.

Remember, your lights help others see your vehicle.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis’ IKEA Will Be Just Like Kansas City’s IKEA

November 17, 2014 Big Box, Featured, Retail, Travel 2 Comments

My husband and I recently visited the newly opened IKEA in the Kansas City area.

IKEA Merriam
IKEA Merriam KS

I’d researched the location prior to our trip, more on that later. As we entered the top level it hit me — it’s just like the 2nd Chicago-area IKEA (Bolingbrook, IL). I emailed IKEA spokesman Joseph Roth while we were shopping:

Steve Patterson: “It looked like it was the Bolingbrook location over parking. I’m guessing the St. Louis location now under construction will be similar?”

Joseph Roth: “Correct. Essentially, there is mostly just one version of the store; but where the size of the site is smaller, we elevate the store above parking — as we did in Merriam, KS and are doing in St. Louis.”

Thus, by visiting the IKEA in Merriam KS we got a preview of the St. Louis location that will open in the Fall of 2015. Before we look at the store let’s look at the site — similarities and differences with the St. Louis site.

The demolition of a vacant shopping center that will become the future home of the area’s first Ikea store is set for Wednesday in Merriam.

The 60,000-square-foot building, which was initially planned for a Circuit City electronics store, will be razed and replaced by an Ikea home furnishing store that will be about six times as large. (Kansas City Star)

Razing an old shopping center for a new retail project isn’t a big deal, but a new, never occupied, shopping center was leveled!

In 2004, the city approved a plan by DDR Corp. (then called Developers Diversified Realty) to erect a fancy new “urban village.” Up went the strip mall. Then down went the U.S. economy. At the time of its completion, Merriam Village had signed only one tenant: Circuit City. But the electronics retailer collapsed into bankruptcy before it could occupy its brand-new store, leaving only “CIRCUIT CI” on the mall’s otherwise blank marquee, a ghost visible to highway drivers long after the deal fell apart. (Pitch)

You can see photos of the strip shopping center here.

Aerial of Merriam Village.
Aerial of Merriam Village from Apple Maps, click to view a current aerial in Google Maps.

You can’t get much more suburban than this site! Still, the area is served by public transit. The area has good sidewalks and the Merriam Village shopping center did a good job of connecting to the public sidewalk out front. Employees are far more likely than customers to arrive via public transit.

Pedestrians on the public sidewalk have a straight shot to the front door.
Pedestrians on the public sidewalk have a straight shot to the front door.
The site is so compact they built structured parking to the south of the building
The site is so compact they built structured parking to the south of the building
The north side of IKEA as seen from the new QT down the hill.
The north side of IKEA as seen from the new QT down the hill. The retaining walls from the razed shopping center were…retained
Looking toward the south
Looking toward the south
Looking toward the north
Looking toward the north

The St. Louis location, despite being closer to downtown, isn’t as tight. We’ll have lots more surface parking, here’s the site plan for St. Louis:

Proposed site plan for the IKEA, I marked the area to the east to indicate the proposed retail development. Click image to view larger.
Proposed site plan for the IKEA, click image to view larger version.

The Kansas City IKEA is the 7th IKEA location I’ve shopped at over the last 24+ years but I realize many of you may not have been in one.  My 15+ times visiting IKEA have always been while traveling, several times I’ve packed my car to the headliner. It’ll be nice having a store so close where I can just get a little something, I can easily go back to get more.

The top level is the showroom, with model rooms set up to show you ideas for using their products. After you make your way through this floor you’ll find the main restaurant. Down one level you’ll find the products.

Let’s start by parking under the store.

The garage under the store isn't special, though brighter than under the Target at Hampton & Chippewa
The garage under the store isn’t special, though brighter than under the Target at Hampton & Chippewa
Looking toward the entry
Looking toward the entry
Losding areas are outside and in the covered garage. Unlike other IKEA stores, you can wheel carts to your car.
Losding areas are outside and in the covered garage. Unlike other IKEA stores, you can wheel carts to your car.
Conveyor belt helps you get down from the checkout to the parking level
Conveyor belt helps you get down from the checkout to the parking level
Once at the main level you are directed up to the showroom level
Once at the main level you are directed up to the showroom level via the escalator or elevator
The start of the showroom level
The start of the showroom level
Besides living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, etc., they also are big in everything you need for a new kitchen.
Besides living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, etc., they also are big in everything you need for a new kitchen.
The large restaurant is cafeteria style
The large restaurant is cafeteria style
On the lower level is where you'll find the products to fill your  bag or cart.
On the lower level is where you’ll find the products to fill your bag or cart.
Bed & bath linens
Bed & bath linens
Lighting ia one of my favorite sections, many are now LED.
Lighting ia one of my favorite sections, many are now LED.
Then you'll find the warehouse area where you'll find the flat-packed furniture you saw displayed in the showroom above.
Then you’ll find the warehouse area where you’ll find the flat-packed furniture you saw displayed in the showroom above.
Seasonal merchandise is displayed near the checkout lines...and expect lines on weekends. Their bistro is just past the checkout
Seasonal merchandise is displayed near the checkout lines…and expect lines on weekends. Their bistro is just past the checkout

In the past I’ve told people to plan at least 4 hours to visit an IKEA the first time, but it’ll be different having a store so close. It’ll be easy to visit often a year from now. If you want a preview of the coming St. Louis IKEA just visit the suburban Kansas City IKEA.

— Steve Patterson

Poll: Do You Plan To Shop On Thanksgiving Day?

November 16, 2014 Featured, Retail, Sunday Poll 6 Comments
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

Some retailers have announced they’ll be open Thanksgiving Day, while others proclaim they’ll be closed.

Kmart, J.C. Penney, Toys R Us and Walmart are all opening their doors on Thanksgiving this year, but that doesn’t mean everyone is asking workers to report for Black Friday duty a day early.

At least 13 large retailers have decided to remain closed on Thanksgiving. In various statements, the companies have cited the questionable benefits of opening on Thursday and the importance of preserving the holiday for employees and customers alike. (Huffington Post)

I’m curious if readers will be out shopping, at home shopping online, or not shopping at all. The poll is in the right sidebar (desktop layout).

— Steve Patterson

 

New Parking Meters On Display

November 14, 2014 Featured, Parking 5 Comments

If you haven’t seen the new parking meters that are coming you can stop by the St Louis Traffic Violation Bureau at 229 N 7th St.

Meters
The new multi-space & single space meters are in the lobby

You can also use these at Laclede & Euclid, they accept coins & credit cards. If you have a smartphone (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry) you can also download a free app here or use the web app here. Note that a small convenience fee will apply if using the app.

— Steve Patterson

Last Blumeyer High Rise Tower Coming Down

Now that residents of the last tower at the former Blumeyer public housing project have been relocated, see New Phases of North Sarah Apartments, Buildings on Vandeventer, the balding is being razed.

The last Blumeyer tower being razed
The last Blumeyer tower being razed, demolition started on October 23rd
bbb
3501 Franklin in March 2012
Blumeyer Elderly Apartments, January 2007
Most of the Blumeyer towers were razed years ago, photo from January 2007

A 2011 article says the site will become “green space.”  I doubt it’ll be quality park space, just a green-ish rectangle.

— Steve Patterson

Voter ID Laws Supress Voters

A majority of those who voted in the poll last week foolishly think voter ID laws are about preventing fraud. The real motivation is to keep those who typically vote Democratic from voting:

A disabled woman in Travis County was turned away from voting because she couldn’t afford to pay her parking tickets. An IHOP dishwasher from Mercedes can’t afford the cost of getting a new birth certificate, which he would need to obtain the special photo ID card required for voting. A student at a historgically black college in Marshall, who registered some of her fellow students to vote, won’t be able to cast a ballot herself because her driver’s license isn’t from Texas and the state wouldn’t accept her student identification card. (Ginsburg Was Right: Texas’ Extreme Voter ID Law Is Stopping People From Voting)

A couple more examples from Wisconsin, via the ACLU:

Ruthelle Frank is a resident of Brokaw, Wisconsin, where she has served on the Village Board since 1996. She was born at her home in Brokaw in 1927. She is an eligible voter registered to vote in Wisconsin. She has no accepted form of photo ID under the photo ID law and lacks a certified copy of her birth certificate, which she needs to prove citizenship to the Wisconsin DMV. Though she has never had a birth certificate in her possession, the state Register of Deeds has a record of her birth and can produce a certified copy of her birth certificate, but at a cost. The record on file, however, has an incorrect spelling of her maiden name: Wedepohl, and is consequently an unacceptable form of identification. The process to correct the birth certificate is lengthy and costly, with some reports suggesting it might require $200 or more. She has voted in every election since 1948 and intends to vote in Wisconsin again next year.

 

Eddie Lee Holloway Jr.’s birth certificate says Eddie Junior Holloway and as a result he is no longer able to vote in the state of Wisconsin. DMV employees tell him that his birth certificate is an unacceptable form of ID because the name on it reads “Eddie Junior Holloway,” due to a decades-old clerical error. It doesn’t matter to the DMV that his father’s name — “Eddie Lee Holloway” — is printed on his birth certificate, and that Eddie has a Social Security Card and an expired Illinois photo ID both bearing the name “Eddie L Holloway Jr”. Eddie says, “I never miss voting” and has rarely missed a chance to cast a ballot since he was 18. He worked in Illinois for years as a cook at the airport and Claire’s Family Restaurant, and he cooked in nursing homes too. Years of heavy lifting and hard work left him severely disabled, unemployed, and homeless — in that order. He now lives with his mother in Milwaukee but cannot secure the disability benefits and medical attention he so badly needs due to a lack of photo ID.

You might think it’s no big deal if a handful of people are inconvenienced or turned away to cut down on the massive fraud that takes place. The reality is the reverse, thousands are turned away because of a few cases of fraud:

Election fraud happens. But ID laws are not aimed at the fraud you’ll actually hear about. Most current ID laws (Wisconsin is a rare exception) aren’t designed to stop fraud with absentee ballots (indeed, laws requiring ID at the polls push more people into the absentee system, where there are plenty of real dangers). Or vote buying. Or coercion. Or fake registration forms. Or voting from the wrong address. Or ballot box stuffing by officials in on the scam. In the 243-page document that Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel filed on Monday with evidence of allegedly illegal votes in the Mississippi Republican primary, there were no allegations of the kind of fraud that ID can stop. (A comprehensive investigation of voter impersonation finds 31 credible incidents out of one billion ballots cast)

Also see Jim Crow Returns: Millions of minority voters threatened by electoral purge.

Here are the embarrassing poll results:

Q:  Photo ID Voter Laws…

1) Prevent voter fraud 132 [67.69%]
2) Disenfranchise voters 54 [27.69%]
3) Make no difference 7 [3.59%]
4) Unsure/no opinion 2 [1.03%]

 — Steve Patterson

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