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THF’s Bornstein Blames Tenants for Lack of Bike Parking

At a public meeting in Richmond Heights tonight I had a chance to talk with THF Realty’s Alan Bornstein. I waited until after all the residents got through trying to find out what they will be paid for their family homes before I took my turn.

I am biased. I like good urban design and despise the dreck that THF builds throughout our region and others. I especially hate the recently completed big box development in Maplewood that lacks any bike parking even though it is surrounded by residential neighborhoods. As a kid I would often bike to nearby stores (often to buy model cars — oh the irony).

Mr. Bornstein is an avid cyclist.

He and/or THF actually give thousands of dollars every year to cycling causes. However, when it comes to providing physical environments that encourage bicycling or walking we see nothing but accommodations for cars. In their Maplewood project you’ll see a sidewalk here and there but they don’t connect the dots. Two new restaurants are opening this week yet you can’t walk there unless you are willing to walk through the project’s drives and parking lots. So sad that lots of people lost their homes in the interest of the public good and yet we can’t even walk from place to place on a sidewalk or lock a bike to a bike rack while dining or shopping. It is sad that this is what passes for development now and even sadder that we don’t demand better.

I asked Mr. Bornstein why the Maplewood project had no bike parking and he said it wasn’t in the tenant’s program. The project wasn’t mixed use and the tenants didn’t call for parking therefore it was not a consideration. That was the best he could do? I gave him a condensed lecture on why they need to learn about connecting places and how they should perhaps read a book on New Urbanism or check out the Project for Public Spaces. He wasn’t interested. It felt good to give him a piece of my mind.

I’m sure I could have approached him differently and had a pleasant conversation that would have ended with a brush off. He makes millions doing what they do, working for Wal-Mart heir Stan Kronke building sprawling parking lots next to obsolete big boxes. I’m not going to change his mind with a rational argument about good urban design. He knows better designs exists. His firm caters to the big tenants. It is what they do.

THF Realty shouldn’t be allowed to put up a pup tent anywhere much less be given redevelopment rights that include the power of eminent domain.

– Steve


Currently there are "8 comments" on this Article:

  1. Margie says:

    The tenant and the developer are two parties in this equation. A third important one is the municipality approving the development and providing tax incentives. Why didn’t they insist on sidewalks and bike parking? They do have a say.

    I’ll answer my own question:
    Our elected officials aren’t insisting on good urban design because THEIR customers (voters) aren’t asking for it enough yet. Keep educating us, Steve — it’s ultimately up to us to demand that our elected and appointed development officials set standards for better design.

  2. Brian says:

    THF also ignored the RFP asking that the northeast corner (NE of Hampton Creek) be infill housing (as shown in the map graphic of Steve’s previous blog post). Apparently, THF’s idea of “infill” is to tear down the blocks of homes, even re-routing the creek.

    Conrad’s proposal is the best by far, and the only one recognizing the importance of MetroLink nearby. Though THF would have some internal walkable streets, its proposal would still have the most asphalt, continuing its commonplace track record of building strip mall “commons.”

  3. John says:

    When THF won the honor to build the new “big box” in Maplewood, they promised it to be upscale and similar to the Mark Shale corner at the Galleria. Clearly a promise and representation THF failed to deliver. The company’s continue refusal to include walking/biking facilities is to save money at the community’s expense. Where’s the leadership ?

    I’m sure they must be drooling over the opportunity to use eminent domain to acquire property cheaply with the help of Richmond Heights. The elected representatives are in over their heads and they don’t realize it ! Just look no further than the “new urbanism” as developed in the Boulevard Project (in RH) on Brentwood. In St. Louis, new urbanism means a oversized-new parking garage…

  4. Jeff says:


    Thanks for confronting him about bike parking. Someone needs to be doing it. I agree that it takes more cyclists and those who are pro-cycling to make it known to the “powers that be” that we need better cycling / walking facilities. In the mean time just park your bike next to one of the shopping cart returns. Since I am on a bike and not there to do a long shopping stint (less room to haul stuff) I get in and out (don’t park that long). I haven’t had any complaints from people when I do this. If I do I plan on telling them to compain to mainagement about the lack of bike parking. I have written to Walgreens about
    bike parking. Got one response. It was the usual thing where “we lease the facility and would have to consult the building owners”. There are many peices to this pie. Numbers and loud voices must be heard in order to get anything done in this autocentric world. Thankfully higher gas prices have caused some change. But we must not let our guard down. Just because prices have dipped to a lower amount. We must continue to make movements to make St. Louis a better place for alternative transporatation. Our lives and the lives of future generations are at stake. This “Fast Food” mentality has to change! (longer post than I had expected).

    Keep Cycling,


  5. Colleen says:


    And I’ll be they’ll have a plethora of those “No bicycles, no skateboards” signs all over the parking lots, just like a lot of developers, shopping centers (particularly Dierbergs and Schnucks) do.

    I just ride my bike and take it INTO the grocery store because my local store has no bike parking. I had a co-worker who had a very expensive Italian touring bike and she told me about this trick and so far, I’ve never had any problems in any large grocery store.

  6. MJ says:

    Is this the same Alex Bornstein who was active with Earthways in the early 1990s? I recall him being very corporate and not thinking “outside the box” as they say in corporate America. I felt he really did not want to challenge the dominant paradigm of cars and such in favor of lighter living on the land.
    Doesn’t surprise me that while he gives a lot of money to bike causes (call it guilt money) he doesn’t think of accomodating bikes and walking when constructing his strip malls. If he bikes regularly I am sure it’s for pleasure and he uses the car for grocery trips and such, as do most Americans. They cannot see using a bike or a scooter as their only form of transport or even G-d forbid PUBLIC TRANSIT!
    Thanks for speaking truth to power!

  7. informed says:

    Alex Bornstein and Alan Bornstein are two different people. Alex was involved in Earthways and Alan is involved with THF. Both are very good people.

    [REPLY – Duly noted. I’ve corrected the entry to read Alan Bornstein. – SLP]

  8. B says:

    Rumor has it Marian Nunn was fired from THF last week…


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