Readers Opposed To Four Out Of Five Constitutional Amendments On Missouri’s August 5th Ballot

Tuesday August 5th Missouri voters will go to the polls for the primary election, which includes five proposed constitutional amendments. The poll last week included a question about each. The results below aren’t scientific and outstate voters frequently vote the opposite of voters from urbanized areas. CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 1  Proposed …

Lid Over Highway Takes Shape, Old Elevated Highway Needs To Be Replaced With At-Grade Boulevard

The long-desired “lid” over the depressed section of the highway is now taking shape. Once completed you’ll enter the museum on the opposite side, through an opening in the grass mound. See the drawing below: Orienting the museum toward the city is the correct thing to do, just as making …

40th Anniversary of ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’; Planning/Policy Insights

Today’s post isn’t about St. Louis, but it is about urban planning/policy as observed through popular culture. The movie “Gone in 60 Seconds” premiered 40 years ago today — July 28, 1974. The second half of the movie is a very long chase scene — the police today would never …

Poll: Should St. Louis Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages?

A couple of weeks ago you may have seen this story: St. Louis Health Department Director Pam Walker said Saturday night that she would attempt to ban horse-drawn carriages from city streets. Walker’s vow followed an incident in front of the City Museum downtown on Saturday night. Walker, who lives …

Recent Articles:

Readers Opposed To Four Out Of Five Constitutional Amendments On Missouri’s August 5th Ballot

The floor of the Missouri House of Representatives, 2011
The floor of the Missouri House of Representatives, 2011

Tuesday August 5th Missouri voters will go to the polls for the primary election, which includes five proposed constitutional amendments. The poll last week included a question about each. The results below aren’t scientific and outstate voters frequently vote the opposite of voters from urbanized areas.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 1  Proposed by the 97th General Assembly (First Regular Session) CCS No. 2 SS HCS HJR Nos. 11 & 7

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure that the right of Missouri citizens to engage in agricultural production and ranching practices shall not be infringed? The potential costs or savings to governmental entities are unknown, but likely limited unless the resolution leads to increased litigation costs and/or the loss of federal funding.

Results:

  1. No – Against the amendment 186 [71.81%]
  2. Yes – For the amendment 55 [21.24%]
  3. Undecided 15 [5.79%]
  4. N/A — not a Missouri resident or won’t be voting 3 [1.16%]

My thoughts:

  • “Amendment 1 is a concerted effort to shield factory farms and concentrated agricultural feeding operations from regulations to protect livestock, consumers and the environment.” — KC Star editorial 
  • See VoteNoOn1.com for reasons to vote against 1
  • Please vote NO!

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 5 Proposed by the 97th General Assembly (Second Regular Session) SCS SJR No. 36

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to include a declaration that the right to keep and bear arms is an unalienable right and that the state government is obligated to uphold that right? State and local governmental entities should have no direct costs or savings from this proposal. However, the proposal’s passage will likely lead to increased litigation and criminal justice related costs. The total potential costs are unknown, but could be significant.

Results:

  1. No – Against the amendment 172 [68.25%]
  2. Yes – For the amendment 75 [29.76%]
  3. Undecided 3 [1.19%]
  4. N/A — not a Missouri resident or won’t be voting 2 [0.79%]

My thoughts:

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 7 Proposed by the 97th General Assembly (Second Regular Session) SS HJR No. 68

Should the Missouri Constitution be changed to enact a temporary sales tax of three-quarters of one percent to be used solely to fund state and local highways, roads, bridges and transportation projects for ten years, with priority given to repairing unsafe roads and bridges? This change is expected to produce $480 million annually to the state’s Transportation Safety and Job Creation Fund and $54 million for local governments. Increases in the gas tax will be prohibited. This revenue shall only be used for transportation purposes and cannot be diverted for other uses.

Results:

  1. No – Against the amendment 190 [72.52%]
  2. Yes – For the amendment 58 [22.14%]
  3. Undecided 11 [4.2%]
  4. N/A — not a Missouri resident or won’t be voting 3 [1.15%]

My thoughts:

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 8 Proposed by the 97th General Assembly (Second Regular Session) HJR No. 48

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to create a “Veterans Lottery Ticket” and to use the revenue from the sale of these tickets for projects and services related to veterans? The annual costs or savings to state and local governmental entities is unknown, but likely minimal. If sales of a veterans lottery ticket game decrease existing lottery ticket sales, the profits of which fund education, there could be a small annual shift in funding from education to veterans’ programs.

Results:

  1. No – Against the amendment 160 [65.57%]
  2. Yes – For the amendment 47 [19.26%]
  3. Undecided 33 [13.52%]
  4. N/A — not a Missouri resident or won’t be voting 4 [1.64%]

My thoughts:

  • The lottery was approved to provide a funding source, any dollar going to another worthy cause isn’t going to education. This won’t increase Lottery revenues, just divide the pot.
  • We need to do more for veterans, this isn’t the right way to do it.
  • Please vote NO!

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 9 Proposed by the 97th General Assembly (Second Regular Session) SCS SJR No. 27

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that the people shall be secure in their electronic communications and data from unreasonable searches and seizures as they are now likewise secure in their persons, homes, papers and effects? State and local governmental entities expect no significant costs or savings.

Results:

  1. Yes – For the amendment 177 [72.84%]
  2. No – Against the amendment 47 [19.34%]
  3. Undecided 17 [7%]
  4. N/A — not a Missouri resident or won’t be voting 2 [0.82%]

My thoughts:

  • The NSA isn’t going to avoid Missouri if passed
  • The ACLU of Missouri urges members to vote yes.
  • I don’t see it making much difference, vote your conscience.

I happen to agree with Ray Hartmann on these five proposed amendments, see Think Again: Indecent Proposals (St. Louis Magazine for his analysis. Please vote Tuesday August 5th!!

– Steve Patterson

Lid Over Highway Takes Shape, Old Elevated Highway Needs To Be Replaced With At-Grade Boulevard

The long-desired “lid” over the depressed section of the highway is now taking shape.

Lid over the highway
Lid over the highway underway, July 18, 2014

Once completed you’ll enter the museum on the opposite side, through an opening in the grass mound. See the drawing below:

This should be the view in October 2015
This should be the view in October 2015

Orienting the museum toward the city is the correct thing to do, just as making the highway a boulevard in the future. The lid will allow visitors to cross a boulevard at the center, my primary objective is to remove the elevated section north of Washington Ave/Eads Bridge. This stretch was known as I-70 for decades, but once the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge opened it was renumbered I-44.

This divides  the historic Laclede's Landing from downtown.
This elevated highway divides the historic Laclede’s Landing from downtown.

 

Though many of us would’ve like this to have been concurrently planned, we’ll just need to keep pushing.

– Steve Patterson

 

40th Anniversary of ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’; Planning/Policy Insights

Today’s post isn’t about St. Louis, but it is about urban planning/policy as observed through popular culture. The movie “Gone in 60 Seconds” premiered 40 years ago today — July 28, 1974. The second half of the movie is a very long chase scene — the police today would never be able to engage a suspect at these speeds.  The star is ‘Eleanor’, a yellow 1973 Ford Mustang Mach I.  By the premier, the ’73 Mustang had been replaced by the Pinto-based Mustang II. My very first car was a ’74 Mustang II, an awful car.

I’m a public transit advocate that’s also a car nut, this movie filmed in 1973 so many cars.

Company Headquarters/Streets

The chase scene passes by the USA headquarters of Datsun
The big chase scene passes by the USA headquarters of Datsun (aka Nissan) then located at 18501 S Figueroa St in Carson, CA

At the time the three biggest Japanese auto manufacturers (Honda, Toyota, & Datsun/Nissan) had their US headquarters very close to each other in Los Angeles County. In late 2005, Nissan announced they were relocating to Tennessee:

Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn said the Japanese automaker, which set up shop in Southern California in 1958, would spend more than $70 million to build a corporate headquarters complex in Franklin, about 15 miles southwest of Nashville.

Ghosn said the widely anticipated decision was prompted chiefly by cheaper real estate and lower business taxes.

“The costs of doing business in Southern California are much higher than the costs of doing business in Tennessee,” he said. (LA Times)

In April of this year Toyota announced it too would leave California:

Toyota is moving to Texas. The Japanese automaker is consolidating its various United States headquarters operations into a single campus in Plano, Tex.

Right now, Toyota’s sales and finance arms are headquartered in California, while its manufacturing and development arms are headquartered in Kentucky. Toyota also has offices in New York City and some of those jobs will also be moved to Texas. (source)

Another article noted Toyota wants to avoid the problems Nissan faced:

In moving its U.S. headquarters out of California, Toyota hopes to avoid some of the problems that Nissan encountered when it did the same thing in 2006.

Sources inside Toyota say they already dissected Nissan North America’s move and were particularly dismayed to see that their Japanese rival lost roughly 60 percent of its 1,300 Los Angeles headquarters staffers and executives when it relocated to Nashville. (source)

So what happened after Nissan left?

Nissan’s plan was treated with alarm by officials, who made a last-ditch effort to keep the automaker in town. Unswayed, Nissan brass turned out the lights and moved their North American headquarters to Nashville in the summer of 2006. After nearly 50 years in Los Angeles County, Nissan’s nerve center was gone.

Left behind was a cluster of 13 buildings, including a nine-story tower topped with a red Nissan sign that was a familiar sight to drivers passing the intersection of the Harbor and San Diego freeways. More than 700,000 square feet of office and light industrial space lay empty.

In Rust Belt cities such as Detroit, many abandoned commercial buildings fall slowly to pieces. But in a sign of the vitality and adaptive nature of the Southern California economy, the 42-acre Nissan campus has been taken over by 11 different businesses that are expected to employ more workers than Nissan did — about 1,400 in all. (Nissan’s old campus in South Bay gets ‘flipped’)

The campus now has multiple owners, employing more total people in diverse industries. In the developer’s words:

Now complete, Kearny South Bay Business Park employs more people than when Nissan occupied the property. Due to demand and the significant improvements made to the campus, the campus was quickly backfilled by firms in diversified sectors including finance, health services, high-tech manufacturing, fashion, automotive, and food processing which helped to re-energize the entire area. Of the 13 buildings, 7 were sold in 2007, 5 in 2008 and the last office building closed in December 2009. Kearny is proud of this transformation. (source)

As you might expect, the area looks different forty years later. South Figueroa St got a planted median to take up some the excess street width.

Similar view as the still from the movie, this image is from a May 2011 Google Street View.
Similar view as the still from the movie, this image is from a May 2011 Google Street View, click image to view in Google.

Property Taxes

The movie car chase conveniently goes by the ground breaking ceremony for a new Sheriff’s office where the announcer says:

gonein60seconds02
“In February 1968 the City of Carson was incorporated and since then it has grown to be one of the fastest growing cities in the southern California area, with a population of over 82,000 and an assessed valuation of nearly $350 million dollars and no property taxes.” Click image to view building on Google Maps.

At the time Carson was a new city in the region, with employers like Datsun and attracting more with the lure of no property taxes.

Carson borders Compton:

Soon, middle class blacks also found other areas more attractive to them. Some were unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County such as Ladera Heights, View Park and Windsor Hills; and others were cities such as Inglewood and, particularly, Carson. The latter was significant because it had successfully thwarted attempts at annexation by neighboring Compton. The city of Carson opted instead for incorporation in 1968, which is notable because its black population was actually more affluent than its white population. As a newer city, it also offered more favorable tax rates and lower crime. 

A more affluent unincorporated area incorporated rather than be annexed by an area losing its tax base, this happened everywhere.

By the time Carson finally incorporated as a city in 1968, its landscape was pockmarked with the dozens of refuse dumps, landfills, and auto dismantling plants which none of its neighbors would have in their own cities.

As a result, the history of the City of Carson since 1968 has, to a large extent, been the history of struggling to deal with these problems caused by its late incorporation. And to its credit, Carson has worked miracles in the short time since its birth as an independent city.

Following its incorporation in 1968, Carson acted swiftly to close down most of the unwanted facilities that had been foisted upon the city in the past, enforcing a strict building and landscaping code, and a working to attract successful new commercial ventures to the city. As a result, most of the heavy industry of the past has been replaced. The new industrial parks in Carson, such as the Watson Industrial Center, are models of cleanliness and attention to appearance. Beautification efforts by the city have resulted in numerous landscaped center medians, lighting projects, street improvements and public parks.

All these services eventually required property taxes.

b

Carson’s 18.968 sq mi makes it less than a third the size of the City of St. Louis (66.2 sq mi).  St. Louis has a slightly greater population density.

b

Ronald Moran Cadillac was featured  in the chase, it's now Penske Cadillac.
Ronald Moran Cadillac was featured in the chase, it’s now Penske Cadillac, click image to view in Google Maps.
One of the most memorable scenes was a police car s,mashing into a line of new Cadillacs.
One of the most memorable scenes was a police car s,mashing into a line of Cadillacs.

The chase ended up at the Cadillac dealership after passing by the nearby Mazda dealer.

A camera inside the showroom saw the police set up a road block right out front
A camera inside the showroom saw the police set up a road block right out front. The car in the showroom is likely a 1973 808 (aka RX-3)

Across Hawthorne Blvd was a wall, but now the road is wider with a median. Across the street is a trailer park.

Eleanor had lap seat belts, no shoulder belt. All the cars had round sealed beam headlights, as required by US law. In 1974 the law was changed to allow rectangular sealed beam headlights. It wasn’t until the easily 1980s that more headlight designs were allowed on vehicles sold in the US.

I’ve rambled enough, I’m going to get a big bowl of popcorn and watch this great movie another time. You can watch it on YouTube here or order a DVD at gonein60seconds.com.

– Steve Patterson

Poll: Should St. Louis Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages?

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

A couple of weeks ago you may have seen this story:

St. Louis Health Department Director Pam Walker said Saturday night that she would attempt to ban horse-drawn carriages from city streets.

Walker’s vow followed an incident in front of the City Museum downtown on Saturday night. Walker, who lives in a building adjacent to the museum, was walking her dog just before 9 p.m. when she spotted what she said was a horse “showing classic signs of heatstroke.” (stltoday)

The poll this week asks if we should ban horse-drawn carriages, I’ve provided a variety of answers but you can also supply your own. The poll is at the top of the right sidebar (mobile users need to switch to the desktop layout).

– Steve Patterson

New St. Louis Police Headquarters

July 26, 2014 Crime, Downtown, Featured 4 Comments

For the most part a police headquarters isn’t much different than any other office, so reusing a 1990 office building makes perfect sense. During the open house last Saturday I saw every floor of the new St. Louis Police headquarters, it seems like the space worked well for their needs.

2011 Photo
Vacant 1915 Olive in December 2010
Saturday morning before the ribbon cutting
Saturday morning before the ribbon cutting
The open house began while the festivities were still going on outside. We started at the top, 7th floor, and worked our way down floor by floor.
The open house began while the festivities were still going on outside. We started at the top, 7th floor, and worked our way down floor by floor.
The new office of Chief Sam Dotson
The new office of Chief Sam Dotson
View looking north on 19th Street from the 5th floor
View looking north on 19th Street from the 5th floor
The only clue this isn't most offices is the bank of holding cells and nearby interview rooms.
The only clue this isn’t most offices is the bank of holding cells and nearby interview rooms.

It’ll take a few weeks for police and civilian staff to get relocated into the new building. Hopefully having the long-vacant building occupied again will lead to nearby storefronts getting new businesses. The police are leaving their old headquarters built in 1927 because renovating it for their continued use would’ve cost considerably more. Besides, they couldn’t have stayed during renovations.

What will become of the old building?

– Steve Patterson

Ameren Updating Outdated Infrastructure Downtown, Replacing A 1948 Substation

July 25, 2014 Downtown, Featured 4 Comments

The electric power downtown never goes out because the lines are underground and not subject to storm damage like overhead wires, or so I thought. But Wednesday night many downtown did lose power, we didn’t thankfully. Old infrastructure was to blame. Though not the cause of Wednesday’s outage, the  substation at 13th & Cole, built in 1948, is ready to be replaced.

A 1951 photo of the newly completed substation at 13th & Cole. Source: Ameren Missouri
A 1951 photo of the 1948 substation at 13th & Cole. To the left you can see the 1947 building that housed KWK Radio & KWK-TV (precursor to KMOV).  In the background is the Shrine of St. Joseph. The high rise Cochran Gardens public housing project began a year later. Source: Ameren

Ameren has been planning to replace this substation for years, in January I unknowingly posted two pics related to their effort.

Utility work on Washington Ave 15th-17th
On January 3rd I posted about ongoing utility work downtown, this at Washington Ave around 16th. Click image to view post.
December 2013 photo
Then on January 20th, as part of my annual post on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive I posted this image from December 2013, the site at 1901 MLK was purchased more than a decade ago. Click image to view post.

In late May my friend Kent Martin from Ameren’s communications department emailed me a pitch about their work to replace an old downtown substation and update the underground power grid.  Seeing the 1951 image shown above I was interested, but busy prepping for my June 8th wedding. I wanted to see the old substation in person so we emailed back and forth but we couldn’t find a time to meet. Finally we agreed on Wednesday morning, but then postponed to Thursday morning so he could get one of Ameren’s Chevy Volt electric cars to pick me up, plus the weather would be nicer.

I’d gone by the old substation in my wheelchair Tuesday morning, and hours before the outage, I drove my husband by the old and new substations on our way home from dinner. Sitting on our balcony later we noticed the street lights on Locust go out. We still had power but soon a message was posted online about a power outage downtown. I thought I knew the problem, but it turns out a combination of problems at other locations led to the outage.

Still it drives home the point the infrastructure is old.  How old? Over a century in some places!

This photo of 8th & Olive shows the mass of overhead wires on Olive. The photo is marked as 1889, but the Union Trust wasn't built until 1893. The 1896 Chemical building isn't built yet so that narrows the age of the photo. Source: Ameren
This photo of 8th & Olive shows the mass of overhead wires on Olive (look closely). The photo is marked as 1889, but the tall Union Trust wasn’t built until 1893. The 1896 Chemical building isn’t built yet so that narrows the age of the photo. Source: Ameren
Starting around 1904 the mess of wires downtown began getting buried. The exact date & location of this photo is unknown.  Source: Ameren
As early as 1904 the mess of wires downtown were being buried beneath the streets & alleys. The exact date & location of this photo is unknown. Source: Ameren

I had no idea overhead wires were moved underground so early! So much of the trenching in downtown’s streets over the last 6-12 months has been replace old conduit and wire. The new substation being built on Dr. Martin Luther King between 19th & 20th will start going into use in late September and by April 2015 the old substation on Cole will be out of service.

I got to see the new and old substations yesterday.

The east end of the new substation, along 19th, is a MSD-required bioswale to handle water runoff.
The east end of the new substation, along 19th, is a MSD-required bioswale to handle water runoff. The brick piers and fencing is much nicer than the chain link at the Cole substation. I’m told the entire site will be landscaped once construction is complete. I’m going to suggest street trees between the curbs and new sidewalks.
Much of the new site is open with weatherproof transistors
Much of the new site is open with weatherproof transistors
Four prefab buildings made in Fulton MO hold more sensitive electronics
Four prefab buildings made in Fulton MO hold more sensitive electronics
Workers inside one of the four
Workers inside one of the four
Over at 13th & Cole you notice the heavy door and detailed masonry.
Over at 13th & Cole you notice the heavy door and detailed masonry.
The plaque on the brick wall proclaiming "Union Electric of Missouri"
The plaque on the brick wall proclaiming “Union Electric of Missouri”
You also notice the trailer outside handling a lot of the switching duties after some equipment inside failed.
You also notice the trailer outside handling a lot of the switching duties after some equipment inside failed.
Thanks to project manager Matt Haffer (left) and director of Ameren's underground division John Luth for showing me both facilities.
Thanks to project manager Matt Haffer (left) and director of Ameren’s underground division John Luth for showing me both facilities.

The Cole substation will be razed next year, some remediation will be performed on the site. Ameren will retain & landscape the site.

– Steve Patterson

Housing For Homeless Veterans Nearing Completion At 4011 Delmar

I February 2010 I posted I would live at 4005 Delmar, then a vacant & boarded building, I was dreaming of it being renovated.

Boarded storefronts at sidewalk level
Boarded storefronts at sidewalk level, February 2010

The building at 4005-4011 Delmar has since attracted the attention of a developer, who also dreams:

We believe being a dreamer is every bit as important as being a do’er. In our personal and our professional lives, the members of The Vecino Group are dedicated to imagining a better world and then working to make it happen. 

I too agree it is important to dream, I’ve shared mine here for over 9 years.

Last year:

A housing developer from Springfield, Mo., has embarked on a $12.7 million project to renovate the building as 68 affordable apartments for homeless vets. The five-story building, at 4011 Delmar Boulevard, is in the city’s Vandeventer neighborhood, about three blocks from the John Cochran VA Medical Center.

Plans call for the building, named Freedom Place by the developer, to be redone as 20 studio apartments, 24 one-bedroom units, 16 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units. Monthly rents are scheduled to range from $369 to $640. (stltoday)

According to city records, the building had 100 one-bedroom apartments and three “other” units. Hopefully the new mix of units will work well.

I pass by this project on the #97 MetroBus, but recently I was in the area photographing for my post on the North Sarah Apartments so I got a closer look at the progress.

New windows greatly improve the appearance
New windows greatly improve the appearance

I’m curious to see how the ground-level will be used. Will a neighborhood coffeehouse be able to open?  A small local market perhaps? The area desperately needs economic activity to create jobs for the veterans that will live here, as well as others.

Directly across the street a 1945 commercial building is vacant. With its side parking lot this could be a good market.
Directly across the street a 1945 commercial building is vacant. With its side parking lot this could be a good market for the area.
At 4035 the later commercial store front in from of a 19th century house has collapsed.
At 4035 a commercial storefront  addition in from of a 19th century house has collapsed.

Housing for these vets is huge, but we must also finds ways to rebuild the local economic base to create jobs. One local effort is Bridge Bread:

Bridge Bread is a social entrepreneurship initiative designed to provide job opportunities for guests of The Bridge. The goal of the initiative is to help disadvantaged guests engage in a financially rewarding effort that enhances self-worth, promotes dignity and enables the guests to help themselves.

It takes much more than a shelter cot to rebuild the lives of the homeless. Kudos to the people behind The Vecino Group!

– Steve Patterson

Banks Closing Drive-Thru Lanes

Shortly after the weekly poll started last week I realized a flaw in how I constructed the answers, lumping walk-up ATMs and drive-up ATMs together as one:

Q: You’ve got a check to deposit into your checking or savings account, pick your two preferred methods from the following list:

ATM 45 [28.85%]
Lobby teller 39 [25%]
Drive-thru teller 34 [21.79%]
Smartphone app 32 [20.51%]
Mailing check to my financial institution 5 [3.21%]
N/A — I don’t have a checking/savings account 1 [0.64%]

Had I broken the ATM answer down into the two types as I did with tellers the results would’ve been different. Still, the results are interesting. In a few years I think we’ll see smartphone apps increasingly used for depositing increasingly rare checks.

Looking back west across Tucker. Infilling the bank site with a building about the height of the Jefferson Arms would be ideal.
US Bank on Tucker between Olive & Locust has so much space devoted to the drive through and drive-up ATM.

For decades banks  razed buildings to build drive through lanes. Decades ago these lanes were full of cars but now fewer and fewer use them. Last year Bank of America began closing drive-up teller service at some locations.

In the latest move to scale back its branches, Bank of America is ending drive-up teller service at some locations, including in the Charlotte region.

The reason? Too few people are using the drive-thru lanes, the bank says.

The move comes as the Charlotte-based lender is in cost-cutting mode, closing branches nationwide and shrinking its number of automated teller machines. (Bank of America to close drive-through teller lanes)

The Bank of America branch at 800 Market still has drive-thru lanes, but their website indicates the branch hours will change on August 4th. Will they close then? Don’t be fooled, the banking industry is changing big time:

Drive-through teller stations, once promoted as a convenience for the after-work crowd wanting to keep Bob Dylan songs playing while depositing their paychecks, are losing some of that traffic to mobile apps. As consumers increasingly use self-service channels from wherever they wish, financial institutions are reimagining their physical footprints, including drive-ups, to adjust. (American Banker)

The lobby branch of Bank of America at 100 North Broadway will close in November, according to their website. They surveyed their customers:

Almost two-thirds of consumers (62%) have at least tried to use mobile banking. The most common activities performed using mobile banking are account balance monitoring and statement viewing. Bank of America now has over 15 million active mobile banking users who access their accounts on a mobile device over 165 million times per month, according to SVP and mobile solutions executive Marc Warshawsky. This number is growing by more than 200,000 customers per month.

However, visits to bank branches are still the preferred method for managing accounts. Around 84% of respondents have visited a bank branch over the last six months. And 23% of the respondents said that they complete the majority of their banking transactions at a branch. About half (47%) of the respondents said that they use the bank’s mobile app or website as a preferred method for certain tasks. (Forbes)

When I deposit a check via ATM I don’t like having to use an envelope, the newer ATMs that read/scan the check as you deposit it are much more 21st century. I’ll revisit this in five years.

– Steve Patterson

Forget TOD, Apparently Parking Critical To Financing Redevelopment of Arcade-Wright Building

July 31st marks 21 years since the 8th & Pine MetroLink light rail station opened downtown, the Arcade-Wright building on that corner remains undeveloped.  For nearly 20 minutes at the June Parking Commission meeting Otis Williams (SLDC: St. Louis Development Corporation) & Steve Stogel talked about a variety of downtown development issues, including why a lease for parking spaces in the 7th Street garage was critical.

The Arcade portion of the Arcade-Wright, 8th & Olive
The Arcade portion of the Arcade-Wright, 8th & Olive
The Wright portion of the Arcade-Wright, 8th & Pine
The Wright portion of the Arcade-Wright, 8th & Pine, entry/exit to station (WB) next to building
The Arcade-Wright across 8th Street from the 8th & Pine MetroLink light rail station
The Arcade-Wright across 8th Street from the 8th & Pine MetroLink light rail station (EB)
The city-owned 7th Street parking garage
The city-owned 7th Street parking garage

During the 18 minute discussion many details about the proposed redevelopment are revealed.

The Arcade-Wright building:

  • is owned by the LCRA (Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority), for about 5 years
  • is one of the last buildings awaiting redevelopment downtown.
  • has roughly 500,000 square feet
  • Webster University will lease the 1st floor, mezzanine & 2nd floor, 55,000 sq ft. Their campus will be about 90,000 sq ft total
  • Upper floors will be a combination of (202) affordable and (80) market rate apartments
  • $118 million dollar project
  • LCRA bought the Arcade-Wright building for $4,500,000 after John Steffen’s Pyramid Constriction firm collapsed with 7-9 downtown buildings
  • Mortage was held by Bank of America. Total for this mortgage and several other buildings was $32 million
  • Interest had accrued and property taxes hadn’t been paid on the properties
  • Development will let the LCRA get reimbursed for all expenses
  • Not enough parking in the building, “the 200 affordable units have to park somewhere”, seeking long-term lease in the 7th street garage so the residents in the affordable units have parking

Other:

  • Redevelopment of the Chemical building at 8th & Olive will move forward once the Arcade-Wright is underway
  • The owner of the Laclede Gas Building is planning a renovation once Laclede Gas moves out
  • Jefferson Arms is the other building that was held by Steffen in 2008 that hasn’t been renovated yet
  • April 23, 2008 John Steffen asked Steve Stogel to help him liquidate. (Note: Pyramid shut down on April 18, 2008)
  • The Chemical building is 160,000-180,000 sq ft

This was on June 12th, I’ve not seen any announcements since. I recorded (audio) of the nearly two hour meeting, you can listen to the last 18 minutes about the Arcade & development here.

Further reading:

So all 202 affordable (subsidized) apartments at a MetroLink stop need a parking space in the garage a block away to finance the redevelopment. It’s unclear if parking at Dominium’s Leather Trades & Metropolitan is included in the base rent or an additional charge. I’m not sure anyone involved realizes the building is adjacent to an underground light rail station — one people would need to walk past to reach the parking garage! Enterprise CarShare also operates downtown, for times when residents need wheels.

– Steve Patterson

New Phases of North Sarah Apartments, Buildings on Vandeventer

In June 2012 I posted about Excellent Urban Infill: North Sarah Apartments By McCormack Baron Salazar. Since then the project has expanded, across Sarah to the west, and at Vandeventer, to the east. The ribbon cutting on the new phase was Friday afternoon, but I visited Wednesday.

New construction on the west side of Sarah (right) gives an urban feel missing in the original only on the east side of Sarah.
New construction on the west side of Sarah (right) gives an urban feel missing in the original only on the east side of Sarah. The #42 (Sarah) MetroBus line is popular.
Some of the original live/work units have businesses in them. Not a busy retail street, but a start. The new building on the west side of Sarah also features live/work units.
Some of the original live/work units have businesses in them. Not a busy retail street, but a start. The new building on the west side of Sarah also features live/work units. In time I hope we’ll see more than closed blinds…
When I was here in 2012 the landscaping wasn't complete. These rain gardens will be problematic with grass instead of perennials
When I was here in 2012 the landscaping wasn’t complete. These rain gardens will be problematic with grass instead of perennials.

In 2012 I noted the rough surface of the impervious concrete sidewalks. They’ve not held up well, they’re even rougher, broken, etc. Pervious concrete works well for parking areas, but not for public sidewalks. I mentioned this to city officials after I experienced it in 2012, it wasn’t used again for recent sidewalks at this project. I returned to the area because I’d been seeing construction on North Vandeventer as I crossed on the #97 Delmar bus. I waited until I thought the work was complete.

Heading north on Vandeventer from Delmar, the new buildings are visible in the background,
Heading north on Vandeventer from Delmar, the new buildings are visible in the background, an Urban League building on the left looks out of place now.
Here 3-story buildings were used at Vandeventer & CD Banks Ave
Here 3-story buildings were used at Vandeventer & CD Banks Ave, click image for map

Two blocks of urban buildings on one side of Vandeventer is a start, but the corridor needs more of this. Unfortunately, due to a lack of coordinated planning, it seems unlikely even in the next 15-20 years. The church across the street was built in 2000, the car wash in 1981, the Urban League in 1990. In the block to the north is a single-story building set back behind parking built in 2009.

The Urban League at 965 N. Vandeventer was built in 1990
The Urban League at 965 N. Vandeventer was built in 1990
The car wash at 1036 N. Vandeventer was built in 1981
The car wash at 1036 N. Vandeventer was built in 1981

Without a corridor plan to guide development, North Vandeventer will remain a hodgepodge. In time more phases will fill in the area between Vandeventer and Sarah. They’ll likely remain a nice island unless groups come together to plan how Sarah & Vandeventer should look & feel in the coming decades.

– Steve Patterson

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