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A Review of the Actual Site Plan of Loughborough Commons

I’ve finally seen the approved site plan for Loughborough Commons: Pedestrian access off Grand at the south end near the Lowe’s? None. Public sidewalk along Grand? None. Sidewalk along the west side of the main drive? None. Public sidewalk along Loughborough? Yes. Sidewalk along the east side of the main drive. Yes. Bike Parking? None. Parcel A (aka big pile-o-dirt)? Scary!

Let’s look at each individually:

As indicated earlier no pedestrian access is planned at the south entrance to Loughborough Commons. This secondary entrance is a wide 35ft and is near many homes to the west of the project as well as other homes where someone might walk along Koeln under I-55. Again, the drawings do not indicate any accommodation for pedestrians at this end — those walking will need to walk along the grass, walk in the auto drive or just get in their car. You can say that someone won’t walk to Lowe’s to buy drywall which is true enough. However, hardware stores of all sizes have many small sales. Furthermore, someone living in this area would naturally go this direction to get to the Schnuck’s grocery store.

Any pedestrian walking along Grand will need to be on the west side of the street as no sidewalk is being constructed along the east side of the street. While not serving any building entrances I am a firm believer in city streets having sidewalks on both sides.

At the main entrance on Loughborough the project drawings do not indicate any internal sidewalk along the west side of the entrance. This is the most logical side for those coming from all the houses to the west of the project. There will be a sidewalk leading to Parcel A but I will discuss that in greater detail later in this post.

Desco is replacing the sidewalk along the length of Loughborough. In an early post from this week I may have suggested this was not the case but in later posts was clear they were indeed replacing the sidewalk.

And finally, as Ald. Villa indicated via email and engineer Dennice Kowelman indicated via phone, they will have an internal sidewalk along the east side of the main drive. The drawings indicate it will be 5ft wide and run adjacent to the drive itself. While this is indicated on the construction documents it was not shown on the public drawings to the public in January 2005 nor does their current construction suggest such a sidewalk. I’m at a loss why the sidewalk was not poured when they did the driveway. I’m also baffled they have graded the soil and planted grass seed if they are going to do a sidewalk. They also have some access covers that would appear to be placed in a manner that will present some challenges. Again, it does not appear they will be putting a sidewalk here but the construction documents do show it. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and presume it was a matter of construction phasing.

The drawings indicate at the bottom of the hill they’d have a crosswalk taking you to the west across a 24ft drive to a striped corner and then south across a 33ft drive to a sidewalk along the front of the as yet to be built additional retail spaces north of the Schnuck’s. While I am happy they have at least this much shown it is simply not enough given the size of the project (30 acres, $40 million) and the size of the public tax breaks ($14 million). So the expectation is someone must follow a maze to get from A to B. But human nature just doesn’t work that way, pedestrians naturally take the shortest path unless the longer path is far more compelling. A plain sidewalk abutting the drive on the east is not more compelling. It dumps you out at the parking and intersection of internal drives. What will happen is people will most likely continue walking along the west side of the drive either in the drive itself or on the grass — we will probably see a worn path next year similar to those at places like Gravois Plaza.

Bike parking? Sorry, you’ll have to lock your bike to the cart racks and hope someone doesn’t hit it as they pull up in their Hummer. And yes, you can bike to a hardware store and buy supplies —- my storage on my bike is more capable than that on my scooter. It is possible some of the outparcel buildings may have some bike parking as they are not yet detailed. Well, I take that back. Parcels B, C, D and E where the current Schnuck’s is located (yes four individual parcels) are not detailed. Parcel A, where homes once stood and where you now see the great mound of Carondelet, is highly detailed. And that is the scary part.

The 13,800sf strip building is facing north toward the park but it is not located along the Loughborough sidewalk where you might expect an urban building to be. No sir, it is set back as far as it can be on that parcel with 85+/- parking spaces between it and Loughborough. Cars coming and going to this section will use the main entrance of the center. A sidewalk is shown from Loughborough where the grass is now but connecting up to this strip center, not down to the main walk in front of Schnuck’s.

Let’s assume for a moment that the St. Louis Bread Co is planning to lease space in the strip portion on this parcel rather than construct a free-standing building with drive-thru in the lower section. And you are there having your “pick-two” lunch and decide to walk over the Schnuck’s to get a few things. Following their sidewalk plan you’d walk back up to Loughborough, cross the main drive to the east, head south along the sidewalk, cross back over the main drive again this time to the west, and then cross another drive before reaching the sidewalk heading to the Schnuck’s store. Or, you cut through the grass and save roughly 350ft in distance. If you are in a wheel chair you’ll be forced to take the longer route.

So maybe Loughborough Commons isn’t the lowest form of development. It is one tiny step above the lowest because of the yet to be built sidewalk on one side of only one entrance. Yet the strip center look facing Carondelet Park will be a horrible sight and perhaps keeps them at the lowest level regardless of the final tenant(s). I’ve made a formal request under Missouri’s Sunshine Law for copies of the site plan — once obtained I will publish them here for you to review and come to your own conclusions.

– Steve

 

Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. Todd Plesko says:

    Steve:

    I concur with your support for pedestrian and bike access to commercial developments. Pedestrian walk paths and adequate space for bus stops are required to change the culture from a car culture to one where some of the trips now requiring an autombile can be shifted to an alternative mode.

    Desco and other developers typically feel that their market is based upon automobiles to the excusion of almost any other option. However if you go to almost any major development you will see many people attempting to walk, bike or use a wheel chair to get to the development.

    Metro is now operating bus service on Loughborough on the new 8 Bates line. We received numerous requests from residents along Holly Hills, Grand, Bates, Broadway and Morganford for bus access to this development. Unfortunately, there is terrible sidewalk access today. To have an ADA accessible bus stop, you need eight feet of paved depth to deploy a lift and permit a person in a wheel chair to exit a hus. Only 14 % of Metro bus stops meet that standard.

    As a Tiff funded project, can we depend upon our city and elected officials to require full multi modal accessibility?

    We complain about our dependence upon middle eastern oil, but are we not responsible for our mess when we don’t demand sidewalks, bike and bus access?

    My grandmother never learned to drive. As a kid, I remember she walked to the local corner store with her pull cart to bring home food. I am sure she and my grandfather went to the grocery store sometimes in a car, but I mostly remember her walking off to get our meals. We were not wealthy, but there were a lot of others also walking to the store. We might be surprised how many trips would disappear when we provide sidewalks.

     
  2. Jim Zavist says:

    Denver’s requirements (could work here):

    “Parking for bicycles. Nonresidential uses having an off-street parking requirement of at least fifteen (15) and not more than forty (40) automobile spaces shall provide a minimum of two (2) off-street bicycle parking spaces.

    “Nonresidential uses having an off-street parking requirement of forty (40) or more automobile spaces shall provide off-street bicycle parking spaces equal to five (5) percent of the total number of automobile off-street parking spaces provided. Subject to review and approval by the transportation office of the entire proposed off-street parking area including but not limited to the design; location; and security features, the total number of required automobile off-street parking spaces may be reduced at the ratio of one (1) automobile off-street parking space for each six (6) bicycle spaces.

    “However, the total number of required automobile off-street parking spaces shall not be reduced by more than five (5) percent. The director of planning shall adopt rules and regulations establishing the dimensional and equipment standards for bicycle parking areas.”

     
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