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Commentary on Maryland Plaza in West End Word

maryland plaza - 45.jpgThe new issue of the West End Word is available and it includes a commentary on Maryland Plaza by yours truly. Here is the opening paragraph:

Maryland Plaza, the continuation of Maryland Avenue between Euclid and Kingshighway, probably ranks as the most controversial street in all of St. Louis. Not even the costly and lengthy transformation of Washington Avenue a few years ago can compare. Maryland Plaza has a good 35 years worth of controversy.

Pick up a copy this week or read it online. What do you think of Maryland Plaza? Add your comments below and/or send an email to the West End Word editor.

For more images see my gallery of 40+ photos on Flickr.

– Steve


Currently there are "5 comments" on this Article:

  1. Trevor Acorn says:

    The fountain “in the middle of the road” is a great planning trick that creates visual interest and serves as a traffic calming device, and thus promoting a pedestrian friendly area.

    Question, is the grass area across the street zoned for 2+story development to match the side all ready built? It should be. Good streets need walls.

    [REPLY The grassy area to the North is the front lawn for the mansions turned condos. There was talk at one time about trying to move the mansions closer to the street but that was beyond cost prohibitive. Agreed, streets need good walls. – SLP]

  2. Benjamin Hoffmann says:

    Seems like this block was once a much wider boulevard: The topography in front of the Maryland mansions seems to indicate they were once closer to the street. The residential tower on Euclid lines up with them, and the two story retail building at the NW corner of Euclid and Maryland was maybe added later on the right of way? That unusual entrance tunnel to the apartment tower through this building hints at this to me.
    Maryland “plaza” is definitely a hybrid urban street, with a complicated past that most of us can only guess about. Thats why to me some of the slick new street stuff seems a bit contrived, a little bit like the mall. But I do think the improvements make the place more habitable, which is important.

    [REPLY The street right-of-way itself was never wider. But yes, the large setback of the mansions did match the old hotel, now apartments/condos. It was an earlier makeover project when the hotel got the extension out to the corner of Maryland & Euclid. – SLP]

  3. Scott Holifield says:

    Steve, I read your article in the West End Word and I have to say you seem to be hypercritical about the music being piped in and missed a very important topic. Why are there still so many vacancies? Mr. Koplar seems to have the same theory as Mr. Rothchild has which is to have many empty store fronts in the CWE. As a CWE resident it still disturbs me to see so many empty windows and long time tennants unable to afford rents. Our neighborhood is special in that there are not a lot of generic chain stores and restaurants and indies can survive (mostly). But it would seem to do the neighborhood and the mom and pops some good to have a strong anchor like the Gap or a Williams Sonoma. This would bring some stability and those who frequent the national chains will spill over to the indies. Density is good. Thoughts? Feedback?

    [REPLY The music has been a major part of the controversy and adds to the Disney theme so I don’t feel that I was overly critical on that topic.

    True, I didn’t mention the vacant storefronts. Due to deadlines and such the piece was written over a month ago and I didn’t think it was fair to press that point just yet as potential tenants may have been waiting for street construction to finish so they could get their interior finish crews into the area. But, things need to start happening soon as interest will fade quickly if we don’t see more openings this year. If anything they should pay a vendor to sell hot dogs or other food near the fountain until something opens.

    You just had to mention Williams-Sonoma? My personal weakness is kitchen stores! But, I tend to buy most of my kitchen items downtown at Casa Simplice or The Kitchen Conservatory on Clayton Road — both locally owned stores.

    Finding the right mix of stores and chains is a big challenge. I agree that some property owners may have too many vacancies while waiting for the right tenant. Thanks for reading and providing consructive feedback! – SLP]

  4. Scott Holifield says:

    I congratulate you on going independent with your kitchen goods. Most of us do support our local indy retail shops but my point was bring in something that can be utilized by more people to the West End such as a strong stable national chain such as WS or as mentioned a store like the Gap. One that a majority of people will use like kitchen gear or clothing that many people can use. For example the Gap. Adult men and women and children can all shop in this type of store instead of many small niche market stores which are questionable to survive (those with pet clothing and those who fit the female market to shop at Girl)

    I followed the development of Maryland Plaza in the recent past and the same company that developed the Bellagio fountain in Las Vegas developed our Maryland Plaza fountain. This makes sense since the Bellagio is choreographed to music hense the reason we have music here. (Not to be 100% compared to the Bellagio fountain obviously). From the European Alley and it’s faux window boxes to the re-design of the facade and the fountain the whole concept is somewhat “Disneyfied” and this is not really a bad thing in small amounts. The West End is really quite homogenous in it’s retail in that most of it is independent. Just stating that a little National Chaining would not be a bad thing. I was hoping you would give some feedback on urban areas that are successful that have a nice mix of businesses. Look forward to you addressing this topic.

  5. Maurice says:

    There are many cities with areas such as ours. Examples of two that come to my head quickly are Kansas City’s plaza area with big name stores and indies. Along with that is Tempe Az, main street….again, a mix of big stores and indies.

    It’s about getting the people in to do more than walk the dog, get a coffee, or grab a dinner.


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