Negative Changes In The Last Ten Years

A week from today is the 10th anniversary of this blog. All month long I’ve looked back over the last decade, a week ago I posted about Some Positive Changes In The Last Ten Years. So today I want to share negative changes from each calendar year I’ve published this blog: …

Blank Renard Paper Warehouse Now Less-Blank Urban Chestnut Brewing Company

Renard Paper was building their massive blank walled warehouse on Manchester Ave in 1990, right when I moved to St. Louis. It was awful, but many saw it as progress. It was an investment, they weren’t leaving the city. Fast forward to May 2011, the ribbon cutting for the new …

November 4th 2014 Ballot

The 2014 midterm election is just two weeks away. Depending upon where you live, the ballot varies. Everyone has US Representatives and State Representatives. Missouri voters, of course, have constitutional amendments. Most have the retention of judges. For this post I looked at the sample ballot for all raves in …

Chouteau Park Just Getting Started

Chouteau Park is the newest city park, created by ordinance in 2008, as compensation for the future loss of Hudlin Park to BJC. The fate of Hudlin Park was a hot issue in the Spring of 2006. This new 2.8 acre park is intended to replace the 12 acre Hudlin …

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Blank Renard Paper Warehouse Now Less-Blank Urban Chestnut Brewing Company

Renard Paper was building their massive blank walled warehouse on Manchester Ave in 1990, right when I moved to St. Louis. It was awful, but many saw it as progress. It was an investment, they weren’t leaving the city.

Fast forward to May 2011, the ribbon cutting for the new Manchester Ave streetscape in the section known as The Grove. Renaud Paper’s boss, Dave Renard was among the speakers talking about the vibrant area even though his own warehouse, built 21 years earlier, was a huge drag on the vibrancy at the west end of The Grove.

Mayor Slay cut the ribbon on May 19, 2011. Grove Community Improvement District board member, Dave Renard, is on the right
Mayor Slay cut the ribbon on May 19, 2011. Grove Community Improvement District board member, Dave Renard, is on the right
As a long time business owner, Dave Renard was one of the speakers. The ribbon cutting couldn't be held next to his business because the long blank wall wasn't the vibrant message being portrayed this day.
As a long time business owner, Dave Renard was one of the speakers. The ribbon cutting couldn’t be held next to his business because the long blank wall wasn’t the vibrant message being portrayed this day.
Mayor Slay & Dave Renard before the speeches & ribbon cutting
Mayor Slay & Dave Renard before the speeches & ribbon cutting

That was May 19th, less than four months later came this news:

HP Products Corporation of Indianapolis, IN has announced that they have completed the acquisition of Renard Paper Company of St. Louis, Missouri.

A done deal not even four months after talking about the future…

It wasn’t long before Renard Paper, now a division of HP Products, was located out in Earth City. Their large building with a long blank wall fronting Manchester Ave was now for sale. One argument is they were in the city paying earnings taxes for 21+ years longer than had they sold out in 1990. True enough. What we can’t possibly know is where would that end of The Grove be had Renard Paper not razed buildings to build their warehouse? Who knows, that section might be the most vibrant part. The street might have come back to life years, decades, earlier? Or the area might’ve declined further and be worse than ever to this day?

Again, it’s impossible to know.

After sitting vacant for nearly two years a new buyer was found that could use the warehouse space, but they also wanted to correct the main design problem: the long blank wall.

 Urban Chestnut’s renovation of the Renard Paper warehouse will include a bottling line, staff offices, retail space, a kitchen and bar area, and seating for about 150 people. Windows will look out on to Manchester Avenue, and the bar will face the brewhouse. (Post-Dispatch)

The silver lining is by leaving such a warehouse Urban Chestnut was able to greatly expand their capacity. They also knew design facing Manchester Ave was important, the building’s exterior had to be altered. I couldn’t find my before pictures but you can see some Google Streetview screen captures here.  I suppose Urban Chestnut did the best they could.

The east end, near Newstead, remains original and life sucking
The east end, near Newstead, remains original and life sucking
The street facade on the east end of the 1990 warehouse was opened up
The street facade on the east end of the 1990 warehouse was opened up
Outdoor space where the blank wall was opened up to the street/sidewalk below
Outdoor space where the blank wall was opened up to the street/sidewalk below
The industrial aesthetic of the interior is well done.
The industrial aesthetic of the interior is well done. I visited around 2pm on Wednesday October 8th, I want to return with my husband when the place is busier

The lesson here is most newer buildings cost so much to construct the reality is it’s unlikely they’ll be razed to may way for something better in 20 years, so if you get it wrong now you’re mostly stuck with it long after the company sells out and leaves town. Short-term gain can be a long-term net negative. Urban Chestnut has basically neutralized this 1990 warehouse.

Every new building must be designed with enough long-term vision to think beyond 20 years, when the owners retire and cash out.

— Steve Patterson

Readers Not Keen On Aventura Apartments

Overall readers in the poll last week indicated are general disliking of the new Aventura Apartments in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood, just south of I-64.

Here are the results:

Q: The Aventura apartments south of BJC/Cortex are… (pick up to two answers)

  1. architecturally out of place 63 [36.84%]
  2. not ideal, but could’ve been worse 27 [15.79%]
  3. better than the old gasometer 20 [11.7%]
  4. not my taste, but right for others 19 [11.11%]
  5. attractive to their target audience 17 [9.94%]
  6. TIE
    1. quality housing with needed density 11 [6.43%]
    2. Other: 11 [6.43%]
      1. yuk! total let down in otherwise awesome neighborhood
      2. ugly suburban crap. will be trashed in
      3. doesn’t interact with the street
      4. Cheap and suburban. Horrible design and little effort from the developers.
      5. Could not have been much worse
      6. good density, poor quality. what will they look like in 30 years?
      7. Crappy Suburan type desig
      8. Predictable design, but it works OK.
      9. Sad ongoing trend of what our beautiful city is morphing into
      10. The density is appropriate, the design is not
      11. whatever
  7. unsure/no opinion 3 [1.75%]

All 11 of the other comments are correct! My main issue isn’t so much the aesthetics, but the building’s lack of relationship to the public sidewalks and each other. It’s isolationist, a gated enclave.

This is the photo of the Aventura apartments used on the poll post
This is the photo of the Aventura apartments used on the poll post was the most positive image possible from the public sidewalk
The east side faces Chouteau Park (right) but isn't oriented to it
The east side faces Chouteau Park (right), but isn’t oriented to it

This project won’t age well, the plastic shutters that can’t cover the windows will fall off, the surrounding sidewalks will remain lifeless and therefore unsafe. This project sucks the life out of the area. Hopefully I’ll live long enough to see it razed and replaced with an appropriate development(s).

— Steve Patterson

November 4th 2014 Ballot

October 21, 2014 Featured, Politics/Policy 4 Comments
Former offices of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners
Vintage photo of the former offices of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners

The 2014 midterm election is just two weeks away. Depending upon where you live, the ballot varies. Everyone has US Representatives and State Representatives. Missouri voters, of course, have constitutional amendments. Most have the retention of judges.

For this post I looked at the sample ballot for all raves in St. Louis:

  • State Auditor — three candidates, the incumbent will likely win.
  • U.S. District Rep 1 —  three candidates. I like that the Republican challenger to Lacy Clay supports ending the War on Drugs and favors marriage equality, he also advocates eliminating the federal income tax, replacing it with a national sales tax — reason enough to not support his candidacy.
  • State Senate Dist 4 — two candidates, the incumbent will likely win.
  • State Rep, twelve districts: 66, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 91, 93
    • Three are uncontested: 76, 77, 84
    • No way would I vote to add to the Republican majority in Jefferson City!
  • St. Louis Collector of Revenue — one candidate
  • St. Louis License Collector — two candidates
  • St. Louis Recorder of Deeds  — three candidates
    • The most interesting local race!
    • The Democrat, Sharon Quigley Carpenter,  resigned amid nepotism charges in July, but won the Democratic primary in August
    • Young Republican Erik Shelquist is seeking to become the first Republican elected to citywide office in decades.
    • And Independent Jennifer Florida, the former 15th ward Alderman, appointed when Carpenter resigned.
    • The real race is between Carpenter & Florida. Will voters go with the Democratic nominee even though she’d been in office for decades and  resigned in disgrace?
  • Retain two Missouri Supreme Court judges
  • Retain two Missouri Court of Appeals judges (Eastern District)
  • Retain seven Circuit Court judges (22nd)
  • Missouri Constitutional Amendment 3 — teacher evaluation
    • From the ballot language “Significant potential costs may be incurred by the state and/or the districts if new/additional evaluation instruments must be developed to satisfy the proposal’s performance evaluation requirements.”
    • This isn’t about improving the quality of education, it’s a union busting measure. The Kirkwood School Board voted to oppose this amendment, please vote no.
  • Missouri Constitutional Amendment 6 — early voting… sorta
  • Missouri Constitutional Amendment 10 — budget power
    • The GOP Missouri Legislature doesn’t like the checks & balances from the Governor’s office, when it’s a Democrat in office.
    • “We believe this amendment could reduce the flexibility to make changes to balance the budget and make the process more difficult. We believe this amendment could potentially weaken the state’s strong governmental framework to make midyear budget adjustments, which in our view, could potentially lower the rating to a level in line with our indicative rating under our state scoring methodology.” — Standard & Poor’s
    • “Vote no on Amendment 10. It’s not conservative. It is short-sighted. It’s bad for business. It’s bad for Missouri.”Post-Dispatch editorial
  • St. Louis Charter Amendment — Veterans’ Preference, would give honorable discharged veterans hiring preference for civil service jobs

See the Post-Dispatch Voter’s Guide for races where you live.

— Steve Patterson

 

Chouteau Park Just Getting Started

October 20, 2014 Environment, Featured, Parks 3 Comments

Chouteau Park is the newest city park, created by ordinance in 2008, as compensation for the future loss of Hudlin Park to BJC. The fate of Hudlin Park was a hot issue in the Spring of 2006. This new 2.8 acre park is intended to replace the 12 acre Hudlin Park.

Chouteau Park is just largely a graded empty lot right now, awaiting funds to become a fully realized park space. The design was done by H3 studios in 2009.

Revised renderings from the H3 2009 design include a shaded promenade, adventure playground, spray fountain and park cafe.

Update January 1, 2014: the classic St. Louis park sign has been added and trees are being planted. (St. Louis w/design & revised design)

As you might expect, parks don’t happen overnight. Every park in the city was once newly created and not looking like much. Citygarden, opened in 2009, is a rare exception because it was privately funded. Construction on Chouteau Park began in the fall of 2011.

Corner of Chouteau & Newstead Avenues
Corner of Chouteau & Newstead Avenues
Gap in the sidewalk along Newstead & Chouteau may be because of the future park cafe on the corner.
Gap in the sidewalk along Newstead & Chouteau may be because of the future park cafe on the corner.
The colorful mounds will be great for kids once not surrounded by standing water & mud
The colorful mounds will be great for kids once not surrounded by standing water & mud. No telling what will end up inside he orange one
The largest encourages climbing
The largest encourages climbing
View from the top of the hill at the east end
View from the top of the hill at the east end

One sidewalk going up the hill just ended, I’m not sure of the future intent. A number of sewer inlets handle water runoff, hopefully in the future this water can be captured and refined onsite.

It’ll be fun to see this new park develop and mature over the years.

— Steve Patterson

 

Poll: Will The St. Louis Rams Opt Out Of Dome Lease?

Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

The last regular season game for the St. Louis Rams is December 28th, at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. With a 1-4 record I don’t think we can expect to see the Rams in the post-season. At the end of this season the Rams need to decide if they’re going to opt out of the last 10 years of a 30 year lease at the Edward Jones Dome. They can opt out because the quasi-government entity that owns the Dome was unable to meet the contractual obligation to keep the facility within the top 25% of all NFL stadiums. If the Rams opt out of the last 10 years they’ll switch to a year to year lease.

The negotiating climate changes rapidly. I personally had positive feelings when they drafted Michael Sam. When they released him, understandably so, my feelings cooled immediately. With players in trouble for domestic & child abuse, this year hasn’t been the best for the NFL’s image.

The poll question this week asks what you think the Rams will do. Not what you’d like them to — what will they do? The phrasing is:

“At the end of the current NFL season the St. Louis Rams have the right to opt out of the last 10 years of their lease at the Edward Jones Dome. What’ll they do?”

The poll is in the right sidebar, mobile users will need to switch to the desktop layout to see the sidebar.

— Steve Patterson

Some Positive Changes In The Last Ten Years

October 17, 2014 Featured, STL Region No Comments

In the last decade of blogging I’ve posted about the positive change that’s taken place in our region, it was fun looking back at the headlines of thousands of posts.

For today I’ve selected a positive post from each calendar year of this blog:

Here’s one example, the former St. Louis Centre mall:

Looking east along Washington Ave from 7th, February 2006
Looking east along Washington Ave from 7th, February 2006. Demolition of the oppressive St. Louis Centre bridge began in May 2010.
Same view yesterday
Same view yesterday, not only was the bridge over Washington Ave removed but so was the portion of St. Louis Centre that was over the sidewalk. St. Louis Centre opened in 1985.

Lots more great things happened in the city & region. Next Friday I’ll list some of the bad things from this same period.

— Steve Patterson

Central West End (CWE) MetroLink Station Poorly Connected To Taylor Ave

Our busiest MetroLink light rail station is the Central West End (CWE) station, but it’s also one of the worst when it comes to connecting to a public street. If you head up the stairs/elevator at the west end of the platform you’ll get to a plaza where Euclid Ave used to be, now part of the Washington University Medical School/BJC campus that’s decimated the street grid. Head east and the grid remains mostly intact, but getting to it isn’t easy.

Looking east toward Taylor from the CWE MetroLink platform
Looking east toward Taylor from the CWE MetroLink platform
Looking east down the service driveway toward Taylor
Looking east down the service driveway toward Taylor

The connection is narrow & winding, designed to get MetroBus rides to/from light rail. It isn’t designed for pedestrians to reach Taylor Ave. Why might someone want to go to Taylor Ave?  For one, various hospital related buildings are within a few blocks. The CWE is to the north, but one can use the former Euclid Ave to connect with Euclid Ave. To the south, however, is the Forest Park Southeast (FPSE neighborhood) and The Grove, accessed via Taylor Ave.

Expensive investments in mass transit infrastructure, such as light rail, needs to be designed to maximize use and thus, return on investment. If you didn’t see the train occasionally or the crossing gates, you’d never know a station as been just off Taylor Ave for more than two decades.

— Steve Patterson

Readers Not Interested In The Recorder Of Deeds Office

October 15, 2014 Politics/Policy 2 Comments

Few people were interested in the poll last week, boring policy stuff, I suppose. Still we must be engaged in mundane policy issues, not everything is a hot-button issue. A bill before the Board of Aldermen would ask voters if the Recorder of Deeds office should be appointed, rather than elected. Here are the poll results:

The Recorder of Deeds office should…

  1. …change to an appointed position 30 [54.55%]
  2. …continue as citywide elected position 14 [25.45%]
  3. Unsure/no opinion 11 [20%]

I think this is reactionary given the scandals uncovered this summer in the office of Sharon Carpenter, herself originally appointed decades ago. It does appear throughout the country the Register/Recorder is an elected position. Changing the position to be appointed ny the mayor also potentially invites corruption. I like the legal recording of property deeds being removed from the mayor’s office — not this mayor, any mayor.

Limiting service to 3-4 terms is another way to deal with corruption that comes from 3 decades in office.

— Steve Patterson

Some Thoughts On The November 4th Midterm General Election

Get your sticker on November 4th
Get your sticker on November 4th

The television commercials before the August primaries were constant; especially Steve Stenger vs Charlie Dooley and Bruce Rauner attacking Pat Quinn, rather than his primary opponents. I’d hoped for a little relief between the primary and the general election, three weeks from today. It seems like right after the primary ended the election commercials continued, except for St. Louis County Executive, those only picked up again recently.

Illinois

Both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on behalf of Enyart and Bost. And one of the worst-kept secrets in national politics is that when those committees get involved in a contest, the messaging becomes largely indistinguishable from other hotly contested races throughout the country. (St. Louis Public Radio)

It’s clear from both sides that Bost is a Tea Party conservative, the type that shut down the federal government a year ago:

In a truly misguided display of chutzpah, some members of the Tea Party are congratulating themselves over a supposed “historic victory” in the government shutdown debacle. Yet the shutdown gang led by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas extracted no concessions and instead hurt the GOP’s nationwide reputation and shaved GDP growth. (Forbes)

Bost wouldn’t change Congress at all, he’d have no impact on spending other than adding to it by refusing to extend the debt limit. Vote Enyart!

Republican Bruce Rauner falsely claims in a TV ad that Illinois leads the Midwest in “job losses” under Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. In fact, Illinois has experienced job growth — albeit small — since Quinn took office. (FactCheck.org)

Rauner’s big push is taxes — cuts for billionaires like himself. You think Illinois has fiscal problems now, it’d be far worse if Rauner got his way:

Once again we are testing the question: Can tax cuts pay for themselves? The answer– yet again– is a resounding no.

We’ve tried this experiment time and again. And tax cut proponents such as economist Art Laffer continue to insist they can turn fiscal dross to gold: Cut taxes deeply enough and the resultant boom in economic activity will boost revenues. Magic. Painless. Everything a politician would ever want.

Except this is fiscal snake oil. Over the past few years, Brownback and the Kansas legislature have gone all-in on this theory. The good news: They have left little room for ambiguity (though Brownback and his defenders are scrambling to find some, given the dismal results of their ambitious experiment). (Forbes)

Bruce Rauner reminds me of embattled Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.

Kansas suffered by far the largest decline in overall year-over-year receipts — a fall of 21.9 percent. The U.S. average drop was only 1.7 percent.

The institute said Kansas’ decline was “mostly attributable to legislated tax changes.” The state had a stunning 42.9 percent reduction in individual income tax revenue in the April-June period compared with a year earlier. The national decline was just 7.1 percent. (Kansas City Star)

Please don’t vote for Rauner!

St. Louis County

The August 9th shooting of Michael Brown, just four days after the primary, is affecting the general election for St. Louis County Executive:

The schism among St. Louis County Democrats split wide open Wednesday with the endorsement of the Republican nominee for county executive — Rick Stream — by a coalition of black officials angered over what they characterized as “years and years of disrespect” by party leaders. (Post-Dispatch)

For those unfamiliar, Democratic nominee Steve Stenger is close with Prosecutor Robert McCullough, whom many think should’ve recused himself in the Michael Brown/Darren Wilson case.

I personally don’t care for Stenger or Stream. The race includes Libertarian Theo (Ted) Brown, Sr and Constitution party candidate Joe Passanise.

Missouri voters also have to decide on some constitutional amendments, I’ll post on those before the election.

— Steve Patterson

10th ANNIVERSARY MONTH! OCT 31, 2004 — OCT 31, 2014

The end of October 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of UrbanReviewSTL.com -- same ownership, same URL!

If you've enjoyed UrbanReviewSTL.com over the last decade please consider making a one-time $10 donation.





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