Time For St. Louis To Decide What The Area Around A Future MLS Stadium Should Look Like, How It Should Function

 

 On Wednesday a long expected, though still unconfirmed, report indicated St. Louis will be the next city to get a Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion team. Major League Soccer will award an expansion franchise to St. Louis, a source close to the prospective ownership group has confirmed to ESPN. The …

Readers Primarily Grocery Shop At Large Supermarkets

 

 The recent non-scientific Sunday Poll was to see where readers get their groceries. No surprise, large supermarkets was the top answer. Here are the results: Q: What are the three types of places where you get most of your food? Purchased in store or delivered. Full-service large supermarket (Dierbergs, Schnucks, Whole …

A Modern Addition To A Historic 1859 Structure

 

 The library building at the Missouri Botanical Gardens is one of the original structures from when Henry Shaw opened his private gardens to the public in 1859 — 160 years ago.   It’s a small structure, as the gardens expanded it simply outgrew it. It was rarely opened after being …

Sunday Poll: Where Do You Get Your Food?

 

 It was ten years ago today that Schucks Markets opened their smaller urban format store, called Culinaria, in downtown St  Louis. From August 11, 2009: Culinaria – A Schnucks Market opened this morning at 315 North 9th Street. The store features a 21,000-square-foot main floor and a 6,000-square-foot mezzanine.  (Riverfront …

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Time For St. Louis To Decide What The Area Around A Future MLS Stadium Should Look Like, How It Should Function

August 16, 2019 Accessibility, Downtown, Featured, Planning & Design, Walkability Comments Off on Time For St. Louis To Decide What The Area Around A Future MLS Stadium Should Look Like, How It Should Function
 

On Wednesday a long expected, though still unconfirmed, report indicated St. Louis will be the next city to get a Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion team.

Major League Soccer will award an expansion franchise to St. Louis, a source close to the prospective ownership group has confirmed to ESPN. The deal is expected to be announced as soon as next Tuesday.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch was first to report that St. Louis will be MLS’s 28th team.

The ownership group, MLS4TheLou, declined to directly comment on the reports, issuing the following statement: “Major League Soccer is responsible for the timing of any announcements around League expansion, but we remain confident St. Louis has made a strong case for a team.”

MLS didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.” (ESPN)

Now that it looks likely the team and new stadium will happen we can delve more seriously into the design of the stadium and, more importantly, the surrounding blocks.

My map of the area from 2016

Nearly four months ago we got our first look at the proposed stadium, here’s how I ended my post then:

Here’s what I think about the site, both north & south of Market Street:

  • The stadium & new buildings should take advantage of the existing hole for basement or underground parking.
  • Market Street between 20th & 21st is a deteriorating bridge, it should be removed. Under it can be filled in with foam so a new road/sidewalks can be built at grade.
  • Market Street should be redesigned to be friendly to pedestrians. This means narrowing the road (fewer, narrower lanes) and more crossing points. Right now there’s a crosswalk at 20th and at Jefferson –this is nearly a half a mile without a crossing.
  • Hopefully the changes at Union Station, including the upcoming Farris Wheel along 20th Street, will mean easier access under the train shed between the Union Station MetroLink platform on the East side of 18th to the new MLS stadium.
  • Metro will need to rethink downtown circulation with a revised Union Station, a MLS stadium, and hopefully active surroundings.
  • Pine & Chestnut have been a one-way couplet for decades. Once the on/off ramps to/from I-64 are gone both streets should be returned to two-way traffic. The revised Soldiers Memorial, however, has only one eastbound lane on Chestnut between 13th-14th.  Chestnut has our only protected bike lane.

I’ll probably think of more issues, hopefully the site planning being done now will address at least some of these.

My views haven’t changed, but I do have some additional thoughts now that we’re getting close. Most are questions, in no particular order:

  • We still need to see a proposed site plan. What is the current ownership of the current land?  How much city & state property will exist beyond the stadium boundaries? Is the stadium site too small? Too large?
  • Because not everything will get built by the date of the first match, we need to think long-term. What might this large vacant hole look like in 10-15-20 years? What do we as a community want it to look like?
  • I think minority businesses should get work from infrastructure improvements, stadium, and new construction adjacent to the stadium. Big investments are being made, every part of the community should benefit.
  • We need to plan an area larger than the stadium — I-64 on the South (since it’s a hard boundary), the West side of Jefferson (since the city is looking at Jefferson changes to accommodate the coming NGA West headquarters further North, to the North I’d say at least include Locust. To the East Union  Station is a hard boundary but there are development opportunities surrounding the historic train station (16th, perhaps 14th).
  • Housing should be included within the larger area described above. This should be at all price points from low-income to high-end. It should include purchase & rental.
  • Hopefully we can agree that new low-density uses like gas stations & stand-alone fast food restaurants would be inappropriate.
  • Pedestrian circulation needs to be considered as much, or more, than vehicular circulation. We’re going to have lots of visitors coming into town for future MLS matches, they need to be able to fly into St. Louis, take MetroLink to Union Station, easily walk to their hotel, walk from their hotel to the stadium, patronizing local businesses along the way. Will pedestrians be able to freely walk from 18th to 20th through the Union Station train shed, or will they be forced to go up to Market Street?
  • New infrastructure (water, sewer, electric, etc) needs to be planned for future development. Initial surface parking lots should be development sites in the future. For example, we shouldn’t need to move a water line just five years later.
  • Unlike Ballpark Village, the surroundings shouldn’t all be owned by the team ownership. It shouldn’t even be just one entity. A different company might work each direction from the stadium. The community plan, hopefully with form-based zoning, will ensure they all work to create what we want this area to become over time.
  • How can we make the area active on days without a match? One option might be having one street where restaurants are concentrated on both sides. Or maybe just at all corners?
  • How do we create a good West terminus to The Gateway Mall? Currently there’s a little bit of the linear park west of 20th Street.  Do we end at 20th? End at a new 21st?  At a new 22nd?
  • Will there be a place for match-day events? A side street that gets closed? A plaza adjacent to the stadium? The west end of The Gateway Mall?
  • Though this area is part of the Downtown West neighborhood, the stadium area needs a good name. This will help identify this district.

My fear is the rush to get a new stadium built mistakes with long-term consequences will be made. We’ve got one chance to do this right.

— Steve Patterson

Readers Primarily Grocery Shop At Large Supermarkets

August 14, 2019 Featured, Retail Comments Off on Readers Primarily Grocery Shop At Large Supermarkets
 

The recent non-scientific Sunday Poll was to see where readers get their groceries. No surprise, large supermarkets was the top answer.

Local supermarket chain Dierbergs, 12599 Olive. 2015 photo

Here are the results:

Q: What are the three types of places where you get most of your food? Purchased in store or delivered.

  1. Full-service large supermarket (Dierbergs, Schnucks, Whole Foods): 21 [29.58%]
  2. Discount Grocery Chain (ALDI, Ruler, etc): 11 [15.49%]
  3. Medium Grocery (Culinaria, Straub’s, Trader Joe’s, Fields Foods, Lucky’s, Fresh Thyme, etc.): 10 [14.08%]
  4. Big Box (Target, Walmart, etc): 9 [12.68%]
  5. Warehouse (Costco, Sam’s): 7 [9.86%]
  6. Farmers’ market (Soulard, Tower Grove, etc): 6 [8.45%]
  7. TIE: 2 [2.82%]
    1. Mail order (Amazon, meal kits, etc)
    2. N/A – I eat out
  8. TIE: : 1 [1.41%]
    1. Convenience store (7-11, QT, etc)
    2. Local/small grocer (Local Harvest Grocery , Vincents, etc.
    3. Other: Grow it
  9. TIE: 0 [0%]
    1. Drug Store (CVS, Walgreens)
    2. Food Pantry
    3. Food Co-op
    4. International grocer (Jay’s, etc)

What’s interesting to me is the rise of ALDI. Last week I noted the new ALDI at Gravois Plaza, replacing the South Grand location, was my new favorite grocery store in the city.

Aldi has more than 1,800 stores in 35 states and is focused on growing in the Midwest, the Mid-Atlantic, Florida and California. It’s on track to become America’s third largest supermarket chain behind Walmart and Kroger, with 2,500 stores by the end of 2022. Its close competitor Lidl, another German grocer with a similar low-cost business model, is racing to grow in the United States, too. (CNN)

I’ve been hearing about the other German grocery chain mention above, Lidl. In 2017 they planned to open their first 100 stores in America, starting on the East coast.  But they had problems and didn’t reach their goal.  It may be some time before they reach St. Louis, if at all.

Schnucks family members cutting the ribbon at Culinaria on August 11, 2009

The grocery business operates on very slim profit margins and competition in most of the region is fierce. Other parts of St. Louis are food deserts.

“There’s a cultural aspect to food,” said Tosha Phonix, food justice organizer for the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. “People don’t know how to cook.”

Studies back up those claims. One, from 2015, found putting government-subsidized grocery stores in low-access neighborhoods did little to change people’s diets. Another, from the National Bureau for Economic Research, found education and income levels were much more indicative of people’s food behaviors than proximity to a supermarket.

Community-led solutions and education are key to making people healthier, Phonix said.

“The grocery stores aren’t coming back,” she said. Alternative models of stores, such as farmers markets and co-ops, can assure investment stays within a neighborhood, she said.

“If you own what is in your community, no one can say, ‘Hey, I don’t want to be here’ and move out. It will be the community’s. The community will benefit from it, and it will go back into the communities.” (St. Louis Public Radio)

It’ll be interesting to watch as change continues in the grocery space over the coming years.

— Steve Patterson

A Modern Addition To A Historic 1859 Structure

August 12, 2019 Accessibility, Featured, History/Preservation Comments Off on A Modern Addition To A Historic 1859 Structure
 

The library building at the Missouri Botanical Gardens is one of the original structures from when Henry Shaw opened his private gardens to the public in 1859 — 160 years ago.   It’s a small structure, as the gardens expanded it simply outgrew it. It was rarely opened after being closed.

Since Shaw’s death in 1889, the building has served many functions—from research lab to offices to restaurant. Since its closing in 1982, it’s only open on special occasions, such as Shaw’s birthday celebration each July 24.  (Missouri Botanical Garden)

I was fortunate enough to get to see the interior on a rare opening on July 10, 2011.  This meant leaving my wheelchair as the bottom of the steps and using the handrails to walk up the steps. It was worth the effort.

The Museum Building: Commissioned by Henry Shaw in 1858, this neoclassical building was designed by George I. Barnett and modeled after a building at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, England. Originally, this building served as a small natural history museum, and housed the library.
Interior in June 2011

They planned a restoration project and addition to make the building accessible. Adding onto a significant historic building, especially one designed by a noted architect, is very tricky. Most people, I think, probably assume it’s best to use the same materials & style  — to try to blend in. That’s the opposite of what is recommended!

Instead you want to use modern materials from current times. It’s best to not do irreversible damage where adding on.

This view shows the original on the left with the 2018 addition on the right. A glass connector attaches addition to the historic. South facade.

I’ll let the architects behind the project explain the addition:

The 2,150 square foot addition is designed with a contemporary use of stone, distinguishing it from the existing building and reflecting current building technologies and materiality.  A glass volume creates a formal entry on the north façade while the south façade is comprised of a modern limestone finish.  The limestone masses define transparent entries both on the north and south facades.  As a whole, the addition is simple, yet unique; providing much-needed access and facilities in a building that subtly complements the original historic structure. (Christner)

As you approach the historic main entrance from the North you’re directed toward the left.

You see this sign first.
You turn and see the addition, the garage on the left is old — but not historic.
Approaching the entrance you can see through to the South entrance. This view shows an upper floor of glass walls.
Looking back North from inside the upper level — the glass box is where the stairs come up. The elevator is behind me.
No matter how you get up one level, this is what you see. A little bit of the outside wall is now inside. A former window becomes the opening into the main historic space.
This is looking North, toward the original main entrance doors.
This is the view looking South. The new addition is accessed at the back left, just past the bookcase. The upper level mezzanine is not open to the public.
In the back (south) room a vaulted ceiling had been hidden for decades by a dropped plaster celling.
Built-in shutters on the sides of the windows in the back space.
Back at the South side you can see how stone on the addition conceals the elevator.

The addition not only provides access to the historic spaces, it also provides much-needed restrooms & drinking fountains on the East side of the garden. It opened last year, but it was only recently I got to see & experience it.

I’m so glad so many parents use baby strollers in public, it’s an added incentive to makes spaces accessible to everyone. Kudos to everyone involved with this project.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Where Do You Get Your Food?

August 11, 2019 Featured, Retail, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Where Do You Get Your Food?
 
Please vote below

It was ten years ago today that Schucks Markets opened their smaller urban format store, called Culinaria, in downtown St  Louis.

From August 11, 2009:

Culinaria – A Schnucks Market opened this morning at 315 North 9th Street. The store features a 21,000-square-foot main floor and a 6,000-square-foot mezzanine.  (Riverfront Times)

This was much smaller than their newer stores, from May 2018:

A Schnucks spokesman said the chain’s stores average over 60,000 square feet, but their size varies according to location, age and the customer base — ranging from the Culinaria location to stores exceeding 130,000 square feet. “We have several stores that are ‘smaller’ formats, some because of space limitations such as Culinaria (an urban format with limited space) and others because they were built many years ago when the typical supermarket was much smaller,” he said. (Supermarket News)

Culinaria has changed a lot over the last decade, primarily the product mix is much better than it was when it first opened. For a while I’ve been able to buy various King Arthur flours, recently they added Chinese hot mustard.

However, today’s non-scientific poll isn’t directly about Culinaria…at least not directly. Today’s poll is about where your food, primarily groceries, come from. Whether you go to a particular store, or have groceries delivered from there, it counts the same.  This is more about the types of stores where you shop, the answers are randomized.

Today’s poll closes at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

Michael O.D. Brown May 20, 1996 – August 9, 2014

August 9, 2019 Featured, Ferguson, History/Preservation Comments Off on Michael O.D. Brown May 20, 1996 – August 9, 2014
 

Five years ago the world learned where Ferguson Missouri was located because a young black man was unnecessarily killed by a white police officer. We’ve seen it happen over and over since.

Days later roses in the center of Canfield Drive ended at the spot where Brown’s body was left for four hours the afternoon Saturday August 9th, 2014
A section of the Canfield Drive sidewalk was replaced, along with a plaque. August 2016 photo.
9/7/16

The Urban League built a new facility on the site of the nearby burned out QT, there also included a plaque. August 2017 photos below.

ADA-compliant accessible route from public sidewalk to Urban League building set back behind parking.
Bench along route, before building
Plaque beneath bench

I have thoughts on proposed development in Ferguson & Dellwood, but I’ll share about those another day. Today I pause and think about Michael Brown and the too-long list of others who were unarmed but died in the hands of police. Hopefully in my lifetime I’ll witness the end of such discrimination.

— Steve Patterson

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