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A Tale of Two Cities (aka Wards)

While discussing plans for a hotel in the red hot east Loop area a friend asked why Alderwoman Jennifer Florida couldn’t be more like Alderwoman Lyda Krewson. Good question. If you’ve read my prior posts on Florida you know I’m not a fan but I came to her defense. Lyda Krewson is working with Loop visionary & developer Joe Edwards. Or more correctly, Krewson is assisting Edwards create a vibrant urban street, Delmar.

Florida, given a Joe Edwards-type visionary, might just come off looking as good as Krewson does. Sadly, Florida is stuck with John Steffen’s Pyramid Companies. So instead of getting hip bowling alleys or boutique hotels like the Delmar Loop, Grand gets a relocated McDonald’s drive through surrounded by a sea of parking.

The mistake Florida made is to accept what they offer and assume that is the best we can get. Pyramid’s best just flat out isn’t good enough. It a company doesn’t get what an urban street in a city should look like then they shouldn’t be operating in the area. I’m sure some municipality in St. Charles County would love to have this McDonald’s.

Pyramid’s developers must look at this section of Grand and just see parcels of land. An Edward’s type developer that understands the urban model can look at the same part of Grand and see how many residential streets feed into the area, how it intersects with Gravois and Chippewa, that the region’s most popular bus line serves the area. This type developer can see the benefit of a good long-range plan to build up the street to an urban model, the way it was before the city let just anything be built.

It is make or break time. Florida is pushing hard for her lack of vision developer Pyramid. If they prevail it will be a sad day for St. Louis. It will mean we are not willing to become a strong urban city but one that will accept anything and everything just to say we’ve had so much development in our ward & city.

Pyramid’s proposal sickens me. Reminds me of the in-fill housing they built in the city with front facing garages a number of years ago (Delmar west of Vandeventer).

People won’t literally move away because of the McDonald’s but I think we will continue to lose urbanists to other cities if we keep following this path. Similarly, we will not attract the population that seeks an urban city. Cities that are following a more urban model such as Portland and Madison, WI will continue to gain while we are stagnant.

– Steve


Currently there are "8 comments" on this Article:

  1. This is why we were handing out flyers, to get the word out.

    More is on the table than clogged arteries. We are battling for urban style in the city, and for representation in our government.

    Some may say the parking lot is not an issue, or that McDonalds is a good place, however, they are in the minority.

    My experience yesterday overwhelmingly proved that the citizens are against this development.

    Once we get details of the protest, we need to hit the streets and get on the news. There are still people who have no idea what is going on.

  2. Chris Grant says:

    I think we need to be careful in our rhetoric here. I don’t particularly like the new McDonald’s, and I’m not sure that anyone is going to buy the houses behind the new McDonald’s given the lights and drive-through traffic. But, this McDonald’s is not going to make or break South Grand and send urbanists to other cities. There are similar McDonald’s in “hip” neighborhoods in Chicago – e.g., Logan Square, Bucktown, and East Village – and people are still moving there.

    In the perfect world, I would not build this McDonald’s on a large surface parking lot. In fact, I would not build a McDonald’s at all. But, faced with this monstrosity, and the realities of development, we can still develop a strong urban city by focusing on density. In this regard, the recently announced condo project behind Commerce Bank will have a greater impact on the future of South Grand. Adding 60 some units to the neighborhood is a fantastic opportunity. If Jennifer Florida made mistakes with the McDonald’s, then let her know it. But, recognize that we still need development, that some compromise is necessary, that Jennifer has done a lot to help South Grand, and (please excuse me for this Kumbaya-moment) that we still need to work together.

  3. “But, recognize that we still need development, that some compromise is necessary, that Jennifer has done a lot to help South Grand, and (please excuse me for this Kumbaya-moment) that we still need to work together. :

    This is not the type of development needed on South Grand. Office space, locally owned restaurants, a market, or residential is needed, not a fast food restaurant. McDonalds does nothing to contribute to the neighborhood except generate trash and health problems for its citizens. A office spaceor a restaurant with character would attract new citizens to the neighborhood and contribute something positive. McDonalds contributes only the negative!

    She may have done good things at the beginning, however, her undemocratic actions bring into question the utility of her being alderwoman. I am sure someone can do a better job.

  4. Scott says:

    Hey, you need to pick your battles Doug. Stop fighting McDonalds. Fight the design of the McDonalds! When you say McDonalds is bad for you and not a locally owned business, you change the argument.

    The real problem is the design. If they located a McDonalds on the first floor of a street hugging office building, that would be fine with me. Or if they built it on the street like STL Bread Company at Grand & Arsenal, that would be OK with me.

    When the argument turns to McDonalds being a bad company or being bad for your health, you are allowing people to lose focus on what really matters. Those factors may matter to you personally, but complicating the battle won’t help with the public. They will just think to themselves, “I like McDonalds sometimes” and dismiss the whole issue. And you lose your opportunity to educate the public.

    Beyond that, keep up the good work.

  5. Travis Cape says:

    This issue is much larger than just the design of McDonald’s. The construction of this type of business is against neighborhood ordinance, the construction is eligible for tax abatement,and on property that city residents paid for. These are my main concerns before I even get to the poor site plan and the lack of urban design.

    Let McDonald’s stay at their present site and rebuild. Build a suitable mixed-use building at the proposed site and finish the remainder of the Keystone Place development.

    I am not content to let Ald. Florida create this mess because she helped save the SSN Bank building.

  6. 1. The drive-thru violates city ordiance.
    2. The franchisee runs his McDonalds like slums while living in a million dollar Mansion in the CWE.

    Bottom line: bad for the neighborhood.

  7. South Grand Hamburglar says:

    Yes, the design of the McDonald’s sucks. But to fight that you most certainly MUST fight McDonald’s Corporation. Check out this link… http://www.mcdonalds.com/corp/franchise/realestate/site_criteria.html These are the McDonald’s Site Design General Requirements!!!!

    In this case, we’re lucky, we can fight this fight locally on the grounds that this restaurant violates the original ordinance that set up this development that specifically FORBIDS drive-thru restaurants.

  8. jason says:

    They are doing exactly what Travis suggests on Gravois by Germainia/hampton. Its going very quickly and since there was already a McDonalds there nobody had anything but good things to say about them putting a new facility in its place.



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