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Ald. Kirner: “Very Little Community” at Gravois & Chippewa

Ald. Dorothy Kirner, D-25th Ward, was recently quoted in the Suburban Journal about the plan for the QuikTrip to move from near Gravois and Delor (14th Ward) to the former used car lot of McMahon Ford:

“There is very little community in there. It’s all businesses,” Kirner said. “I don’t see any problem with the residents.”

The message is basically we’ve long since wiped out any residents of the area and therefore nobody is around to object to yet another over-scaled gas station on a prominent city corner. In cities where urbanity is valued, not derided, such a site would become a mixed-use project with street-level retail and housing — helping to create community where it may not currently exist. Such limited view thinking will continue to prevent St. Louis from reaching its full potential as a vibrant urban center.

– Steve


Currently there are "10 comments" on this Article:

  1. 15thWardSTL says:

    Making that intersection pedestrian friendly would involve much more than development of a mixed-use building. It would have to include major infrastructure projects like narrowing the streets (both Gravois and Chippewa) and reworking that horrible concrete railroad overpass to the west.

    In terms of the current zoning (industrial), the lack of a comprehensive plan, and the way the site is completely cut off from pedestrian access on one side, it seems unlikely that the Gravois/Chippewa intersection will be capable of supporting pedestrian-oriented development in the forseeable future. I view this intersection as pretty low on the totem pole (we have to prioritize) – I would much rather see significant effort put into Grand/Chippewa followed by reconnecting Gravois Plaza to the surrounding neighborhoods.

    Most residents I have seen respond (on the neighborhood e-mail list) seem to feel that QT is at worst a neutral neighbor – the stores are well maintained, and most people still need accessible locations to fill up their cars and scooters and buy their 64 oz Diet Cokes. This location just doesn’t seem that offensive to me….

    It was disappointing to read the Alderwoman’s quote not because of the actual project, but because of the subtle sentiments behind it that

    1. Businesses aren’t members of the community, and
    2. Because there’s not an apparent “problem”, that anything goes.
  2. Multimodal says:

    ^And in addition, that the residents are something that needs to be overcome…

  3. Your Virtual Alderman says:

    Gravois and Chippewa is barely in the 25th ward. It’s closer to residents of the 14th and 15th wards.

    From the standpoint of the 25th ward alderman, there isn’t much community in there. The center of her community is further east.

  4. Multimodal says:

    Unfortunately, I don’t think she could find the center of her house.

  5. DeBaliviere says:

    I’m not a big fan of QT, but if we have to have one, this doesn’t seem like too bad of a location to me. I’ll still almost exclusively patronize the Sinclair at Hampton and Watson.

    What will happen to the original QT site in Bevo? Are there any redevelopment plans?

  6. MRH says:

    Like most here, I have more of a problem with Kirner’s comments than the project itself.

    As 15th pointed out, much would need to be done to that corner to make it more pedestrian-friendly. If a QT must locate in the area, that corner actually seems fine to me and it serves the area better than McMahon’s used car lot (talk about something that south Saint Louis has too many of- how about used car lots?)…

    Anyway, I hope QuikTrip plans to make the current Bevo location suitable for redevelopment, by removing the underground tanks as they did when they replaced their Affton location earlier this year. That site seems ripe for a more pedestrian-friendly and urban-scale redevelopment IMHO, preferably a single multi-story, mixed-use structure.

    Kirner’s comments sound eerily similar to those made by Jennifer Florida in defense of the proposed McDonalds on Grand. It’s sad to see how little residents AND businesses matter to some of our alderman, not to mention that we’re still settling for any development just to say we’re making progress, when Saint Louis deserves so much better.

  7. jason says:

    If they do indeed move this location and require aldermanic approval, I would think that one thing that we could do is at least request an exit strategy for the old location. Do they need to dig up the underground tanks? Do they have verbage in the sale clause that states that another gas station can or cannot come into the old location (possible competition and most of these have clauses that keep competiting businesses from moving in). The old location I will give you was difficult to get into and out of when Gravois was busy and there were alot of curb cuts for such a small area. I would like to see someone go back and tear that building down for a new commerical building- retail below at the street with some living space above. They could easily capitalize on the Bevo location and view as well as the rebirth of some of the storefronts along that strip thanks to the storefront fund that is helping people re-do their facades.

    [UR Jason you are just being silly, thinking an alderman in one ward is going to require something in another ward? Gregali & Kirner are buds so perhaps they will work together but I don’t see either making any demands on QT.

    Yes, the current location can be an issue with all those cars coming in and out. But, has anyone stopped to think what a QT might do to the proposed location? I’m assuming they will have at least one entrance on each Gravois & Chippewa. Both streets have lowered sections under the railroad which reduces visibility.

    Personally, I’d like to see a traffic impact study to see what this will do to the area. I’d also like to see some street trees — QT is very good about having nice landscaping but the pedestrian is usually left unprotected from traffic without any street trees. – SLP]

  8. Jason says:


    Love the comments. This reminds me of where I used to live. Down the long stretch of blacktop, when you are almost to my parents home there is a sign that says “county maintenance ends” and BOOM- you are suddenly thrust onto gravel. maybe we need signs that say “Thank you for visiting the 25th Ward- Please come again” so you know where the boundaries are. Thankfully they are not that obvious. If they are, I would be interested in seeing photos! As for street trees I completely agree. Maybe reducing the number of wards wouldnt have been bad from this perspective (not advocating for either side personally)

    I think St. Louis could go a long way toward requiring a certain amount of greenery in front of new development. Kingshighway is a great example- even though I dont think the QT has street trees, at least there is some grass! Most of the businesses up and down both stretches do whatever they can to pave over any bit of grass in front of their businesses.

    [UR Let’s not confuse the ideas of street trees with greenspace. I don’t want to see any grass on that corner inside of the sidewalk — I want buildings. Big, tall urban buildings. But, that isn’t going to happen. That said, little pieces of grass aren’t always better.

    I’ve got an idea but I will make it a new post… – SLP]

  9. Joe Frank says:

    I don’t think the McMahon Ford site — new car side east of Gravois or used car side west of Gravois — ever contained houses of any density. I think it went from agricultural to industrial/commercial on that south side of Chippewa from Alexander to the railroad bridge. There are a few houses behind McMahon on Dunnica, little 1950s/60s boxes.

    But in addition to a ward boundary, Gravois & Chippewa is also a neighborhood boundary zone. North of Chippewa is TGSouth, south is Dutchtown, and nearby to the southwest is Bevo. It’s just not that much of a landmark intersection, never has been to my knowledge. The only real landmarks are/were McMahon and, until a few years ago, Byerly Trailer/RV, since moved to Meramec Bottom Road.

    While there are some houses across wide Chippewa in TGS, I don’t think the QT will have a significant impact on them. It’s already a car sales lot, after all.

    [URI’m not buying the “it has never been special so we should make no attempt at good design” argument. – SLP]

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