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Kevin McGowan Calls Me From the Dog House

August 18, 2006 Downtown, Parking, Politics/Policy, Scooters 12 Comments

This morning I received a phone call from developer Kevin McGowan of McGowan|Walsh. He was calling, as you might guess, in response to the flack over a pet ban in the loft building in which he and other members of his family live (see prior post). For the last week he has been in a PR doghouse.

I’ve known Kevin for some time now and we worked together last year on a team looking at the Gateway Mall. It was nice to have the opportunity to talk with him again. He appreciated my prior post on this take as I presented a “rational” perspective as did some of the comments from others.

Kevin wanted to set the record straight:

  • M|W projects have condo rules similar to most condos downtown or otherwise that allow for pets but place limits no pounds and number of pets. Once the owners take control of the association they are free to change the rules as prescribed in the binding agreement.
  • His building contains 13 residential units with only four of those being owned by a member of the McGowan family.
  • The vote to change the rules in the building was “nearly a year ago” and existing pets were grandfathered in. Kevin says he was not present for the vote.
  • Kevin said he is not an officer in the association now nor was he at the time of the vote.
  • The issue of late has been that a couple of owners wish to sell and claim the no-pet policy is hurting their ability to sell their lofts. Kevin said the requests to change the policy have been too numerous.
  • Finally, he says, he was so “exacerbated” by the repeated requests he recently sent off the email trying to put an end to the issue. Again, he is not an officer in the association but just one of the 13 owners.
  • He and his wife Erin, before having children, had a dog for a good five years. I didn’t ask what they are going to do when their kids want a pet dog.
  • But I couldn’t have him on the phone and not challenge him. I said it seems like much of the debate is over dogs in common areas as well as dogs barking which can be heard in adjacent units. He agreed. So I asked about having a single cat. I offered that a vote to consider keeping a ban on dogs but allow a single cat might appease the owners trying to sell units. He didn’t seem to have considered that option but was not optimistic they’d consider such a compromise. The other thing, we didn’t discuss, is why not have another vote on the issue of pets in the building? If the majority still feel it is a sound policy it will remain. Obviously an association shouldn’t consider and vote on the same subject every month but at some point if an owner asks to reconsider a policy it should be voted on.

    The other thing we discussed was a dog park. It is common knowledge that Kevin was working on trying to get a dog park in Lucas Park for a while. Turns out the city has a policy that prohibits more than 30% of any designated park being separated and used for a dog park. Also, Larry Rice objected to park space being taken away from the homeless. But, he says, he is still working on a dog park because it is good for business. To that end he is looking to set up a non-profit to lease vacant land from the city to use as a dog park where owners could pay a small fee to help cover maintenance. The idea being that non-park land could be used 100% for a dog park. He is firmly convinced a dog park is good in helping attract new residents.

    Kevin mentioned one person that, if we had a dog park, would buy a loft downtown: Mayor Francis Slay. He said, “Francis is a big dog lover.” The issue is many dog owners, the Mayor included apparently, want a place where they can take the dog off the lease and let the dog be a….well, a dog. Kevin says Mayor Slay and his wife would move downtown if we had a dog park. You heard it here first, not in Deb Peterson’s column.

    A couple of other topics came up in our 45-minute conversation. As I had previously posted, McGowan|Walsh is offering free scooters with the purchase of a loft in the Motor Lofts and Packard Lofts. Kevin says they are now extending this to all McGowan|Walsh projects so it includes the GEW building on Washington at Jefferson and the Ballpark Lofts in Cupples Station adjacent to Busch Stadium. Their first order of nearly 200 scooters are expected to arrive in December and they just placed a second order of almost 300 more scooters. Wow, that is a lot of scooters! Kevin says he really enjoys his scooter. Blue Boat Designs on Washington Avenue was given a scooter from M|W and one of the staff, Jon Carlson, told me the other day he is having a blast riding it to work from home near Tower Grove Park. Kevin was excited about the idea of seeing all these scooters running around downtown.

    I just couldn’t let him go without once again bringing up the issue of excessive valet parking downtown. Kevin is an owner in the building where one of the biggest offenders, Lucas Park Grille, is located. His brothers, but not him, are partners in that restaurant. Kevin generally agreed that the valets may be taking too much space and as more and more storefronts become occupied by retailers needing convenient parking for their customers this issue is not going away on its own. He suggested I talk with Ald Lewis Reed on this subject. Good idea as Reed is up for re-election in March so perhaps the matter of valet parking along Washington Avenue can become a campaign issue for him or a challenger.

    – Steve


    Currently there are "12 comments" on this Article:

    1. publiceye says:

      “He suggested I talk with Ald Lewis Reed on this subject. Good idea as Reed is up for re-election in March so perhaps the matter of valet parking along Washington Avenue can become a campaign issue for him or a challenger.”


      Or, you could talk to Rep. April Ford Griffin in whose 5th ward I suspect that stretch of Washington actually is.

      [REPLY LOL, back at you. I checked the map and Lewis Reed’s 6th ward starts at 13th street where the issue does exist. His ward also includes 14th & Washington where valets are taking up too much space. And, let’s not forget that Reed’s ward also includes places like Eleven-Eleven Mississippi that is going crazy on their valet parking as well. Besides, Richard, this is a city-wide issue and I would think an alderman could introduce legislation to establish some guidelines for the entire city. Despite what they may think, we are still one city and not 28 little cities. – SLP]

    2. Tim says:


      The Larry Rice note in your post, raises a question as to what your thoughts are on the homeless presence in the downtown parks. How does it affect the downtown living experience? From your perspective how does it fit into the whole urban planning scheme?

    3. In my opinion, allowing homeless to live on the streets is horrible because:

      It does nothing to help them
      It makes the City look bad

      We need to get the homeless into homes, get them job training and back into the work force. Rather then allow them to camp out, we need to re-integrate them into society.

      I have been hearing good things about Slay’s 10 Year Plan, although I have not read the entire document myself.

      Emergency shelters are a good thing, but allowing them to camp out either in parks or a shelter for a long period of time solves nothing.

    4. Your Virtual Alderman says:

      Indeed, your virtual alderman has experienced a significant increase in the number of spare change requests from downtown panhandlers lately.

      And for those not used to seeing homeless people en masse, understand that they are a much more common sight in urban destinations considered to be far hipper, more creative, and more attractive to young people than St. Louis.

      The difference is staggering. Visit “cool” place like Seattle, San Francisco, or Miami and you’ll come back to St. Louis thinking we hardly have any homeless problem at all.

    5. Jeff says:

      “Larry Rice objected to park space being taken away from the homeless”

      So the park belongs to the homeless? How is it being taken away from them any more than anyone else?

    6. awb says:

      I find it significant that downtown residents in, say, the Louderman, Bogun, and Railway buildings don’t share an alderman. Louderman in Young’s ward, Railway in Reed’s, and Bogun in Ford Griffith’s ward. Hmmm. And none of these aldermen has any substantial percentage of constituents composed of downtown residents. Hmmm.

    7. Brian Ireland says:

      Out of sight, out of mind–that’s the attitude most developers and loft residents have toward the homeless in St. Louis.

      Thanks to some great work by the St. Louis University Legal Clinic the Slay administration was recently exposed for forcing the poor to do community service, even though they had not been convicted of any crimes! So it comes as no surpise that the folks who think that it is illegal to be homeless would put more stock in accomadating dogs than people.

    8. Becker says:

      The fact is that legally there is nothing that can be done to keep the homeless off of the streets. A little something called ‘right to assemble’ has an effect on that issue.

      Now as up to 90% of the chronically homeless are victims of one form of mental illness or another perhaps a comprehesive mental health plan could be undertaken. Of course you can’t force people to get mental treatment no matter how bad they need it.

      Downtown could take a cue from ‘The Plaza’ district in KC and post signs that list the locations of shelters, food kitchens, etc. and ‘discourage’ people from giving to panhandlers.

    9. anono says:

      I hardly think valet parking is much of a campaign issue. Really, who is going to be mobilized by that? Who is running against Reed anyway? He needs to get some people together to call him progressive, support a new residential tower and maybe the critics will blay off him for awhile. That seems to be the way incumbents stay in office, and critics silence themselves by seduction. Only mass movements change things, and so far I don’t see an army trying to oust Lewis.

    10. Joe Frank says:

      I think the reason April got that stretch into the 5th Ward was because of the Jefferson Arms. Mostly, African-American seniors live there, and they vote! So, that’s how that happened. That block from 13th to Tucker is the only section of the 5th Ward south of Delmar (Convention Plaza).

      Anyway, I think Lucas Garden Park is WAY too small to effectively accommodate a dog park. Already, the eastern third or so of the ‘public’ park is dedicated to a usually locked playground for Downtown Children’s Center exclusive use. So, a dog park would probably displace the only public playground in the vicinity, located on the west side of the park by 14th St.

      Besides, we’ve got lots of open space in the blocks and blocks of Memorial Plaza, south of Olive. Why not carve out a chunk of that for a dog park? It would actually be more visible to passersby there.

    11. Your Virtual Alderman says:

      Joe is right. Build the dog park on the green space across from city hall. Whose ward is that anyway?
      Hmmm, now that’s an interesting question…

      A dog park right across from city hall…

      Ward…? Whatever.

      Would it require support from the local alderman to build a dog park across from city hall?

      Would the rest of the real aldermen defer to the alderman in whose ward city hall sits to do anything on the grounds across from city hall?

      What if the alderman in whose ward city hall is located wanted to demolish city hall?

      Would the rest of the aldermen defer? After all, it would be proper aldermanic courtesy, right?

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