Home » Big Box »Loughborough Commons »Planning & Design »Politics/Policy »South City »Suburban Sprawl » Currently Reading:

Some Reasons for Blighting for Loughborough Commons Remain Unchanged

Today I ran across the city ordinance establishing a CID (Community Improvement District) for Loughborough Commons. Through taxes this will account for about $3 million in improvements for the area. Click here for the 5mb PDF file. Ignore the last few pages as those pertain to another bill wherein Slay Bulk Terminals leases some riverfront land from the city, headed by Mayor Slay. Hmmmm….

What I found interesting in the CID file was an October 2004 report prepared by local firm Development Strategies to justify the blighting and establishment of the tax incentives.

This report describes and documents those conditions that, without TIF will continue to erode the Redevelopment Area’s economic vitality and hasten its transition from an economic asset to an economic liability for the City of St. Louis, its residents, and the taxing districts that depend upon it as a revenue source. The existing I-55/Loughborough Redevelopment Area suffers from a multitude of physical and economic deficiencies including defective and inadequate streets, unsanitary or unsafe condition of site improvements, deferred maintenance, a large soon to be vacant structure, improper subdivision or platting, conditions which endanger life or property by fire or other causes, and economic obsolescence.

Man, that is a lot. Good thing this was passed and everything razed. But what are some of the details behind the report leading to blight?

Well, how about “defective and inadequate street layout resulting from… interupted [their spelling] grid street pattern.” I also like, “Unsanitary and unsafe conditions resulting from: lack of sidewalks, dangerous vehicular movements.” Continuing down the list they cite “deteriorated site improvements resulting from: deteriorated parking areas, deferred maintenance” and “improper subdivision and obsolete planning.”

The report talks about the street grid that once existed many years ago:

As part of the grid, Blow Street and Robert Avenue ran uninterrupted form the west of what is now I-55 to the east of the highway. In addition, Colorado Avenue ran north-south from Robert Avenue to the north. This pattern of streets provided good access and circulation for the property in the Redevelopment Area.

It then explains how the railroad and the highway changed that and how some streets went away. No mention of putting back the grid that was removed for Nordyne and Schnuck’s (formerly a National store).

Lack of sidewalks is a whole section. This is the best part:

Many of the streets in the Redevelopment Area lack sidewalks or have inadequate sidewalks. This creates a hazardous condition for residents, employees and visitors. Specific problem areas include:

1. Lack of sidewalks on both sides of Blow Street
2. Lack of sidewalks on the east side of S. Grand to the south of Blow Street.
3. Cracked and uneven sidewalks along the east side of S. Grand Avenue between Loughborough Avenue and Blow Street.
4. Cracked and uneven sidewalks along the south side of Loughborough Avenue to the east of S. Grand Avenue.

So how did the crack team of Desco, Kowelmann Engineering and Ald. Matt Villa solve each of these blighting conditions? No sidewalks on each side of Blow Street? No problem, lets just remove the street entirely! That took care of number 1 on the list. For number two, the lack of sidewalks along the east side of Grand, they did nothing. Presumably this blighting condition remains. And those cracked and uneven sidewalks between Loughborough and Blow? No problem either, they simply removed them and do not intend to replace them. The final item, poor sidewalks on Loughborough will be fixed through the logical solution of replacement. The fact remains an unsafe condition due to lack of sidewalks along the east side of Grand Ave is unchanged. The blight cited as reasons for tax incentives and the use of eminent domain has not been solved after $40 million of expense. Sad.

The section on “Improper Subdivision or Obsolete Planning” is a propaganda gem:

This subdivision has produced lots that are inappropriate for residential use and are very inefficient to service. Some of the lots are as narrow as 25 to 35 feet wide and 283 feet deep. This is clearly not a desirable lot dimension for residential use. The depth of other lots have been reduced to 100 to 150 feet, but the narrowness of these lots and the lack of an alley create conditions where must of the lot is consumed by driveway and parking area and servicing of the residence must be done from the street in front of the house. These conditions represent a deviation from the typical residential pattern in the neighboring residential blocks and are not representative of good residential planning.

Yes, and they are all about good planning at Loughborough Commons! It appears five residential properties had this amazingly long yards which is a bit unconventional although certainly appeal to some. Such oddities exist all over this city but that is reason to wipe it clean and start over. Furthermore, three of the long properties faced the now removed Blow Street. Their combined width and depth would have ben an ideal candidate for an in-fill townhouse or condo project much like those we might see in the West End.

Stand-alone grocery stores, like the Schnuck’s store in the Redevelopment Area, are becoming increasingly difficult to economically sustain in a competitive retail environment where shoppers prefer to have all the convenience of multiple purchasing or service options at a single location. All of the major competing grocery stores that are closest to the Redevelopment Area have the benefit of being part of a strip center or a concentration of retail offerings.

This argument falls flat when examined. First, I think this holds true in suburban ares where people don’t want to navigate the family minivan from one parking lot to another on say a hellish road like Manchester in Ballwin. While this report cites a number of grocery stores attached to some sort of strip center they failed to mention the closest store — the former Schnuck’s on South Grand near Holly Hills.

The residential properties represented maybe 4 acres out of a total of roughly 30 acres. This land was at a far corner and in no way represented a block to redeveloping the remaining 26 acres. The city represented by Ald. Matt Villa and Mayor Francis Slay failed to do due diligence and correct all of the reasons the area was blighted in the first place.

We need new and better representation at City Hall or such fleecing will continue. This is incompetence at all levels of the development design and approval process.

– Steve


Currently there are "6 comments" on this Article:

  1. john says:

    Good for you, now you’re starting to recognize how frivolous blighting can be!

    Local government ignores its responsibilities and then uses the result to designate blight… what’s next? ED (eminent domain) abuse? Got to hand it to these guys… which is exactly what government does.

  2. Jon says:

    I would argue that the report Steve found is less about government wrongly blighting an area and more about redeveloping it in a manor that does nothing to address the problems with the area. Perhaps this should be a test for the ablity of gov’t to use ED. Blight an area and redevelope it? Well then you had better not recreate the same problems, otherwise you must increase payout to former land owners by 1.5.

    [UR I think the report speaks to both — how blighting can be written in such a way to justify taking and razing any area as well as the lack of control to ensure these problems are addressed in subsequent development. – SLP]

  3. toby says:

    The description of the blighted area could be applied to most all neighborhoods on the south side. Very clever of them to use such general terms, for you need only write it once and then use it several times. Very cost effective, that.

    All of the blighted streets named were part of my regular bike route. Odd that I never picked up on the topographical tragedies of that former neighborhood.

    And the former Schnucks was having economic sustainability issues? Really? Meaning that constant, dense stream of people in the store never made it to the check out line? I’d love to get a look at their spread sheets over the last 2.5 years…

    Steve, have you been inside the new Schnucks yet?
    I went in yesterday. Didn’t buy anything, just checked out the lay of the land. The interior layout (very similar to the Hampton Village Schnucks) is so grossly mismanaged that I took mental inventory of my typical grocery list, and realized I need never spend any money in that store. And the side benefit is that I need never risk my life trying to pedal through the exterior layout which – as you’ve so accurately detailed – is grossly mismanaged, insulting and ugly.

    [UR Yes, a new Schnuck’s or mainstream supermarket offers little of interest to me. I’ve been in the store numerous times in the last week and have bought a few things. Today I was drawn to an attractive display on carrots of all shapes and sizes. But, I didn’t see any that were organic. The store is clean and well lit, as I would expect any new store to be.

    The new Whole Foods stores are about the size of the old Schnucks, over 55,000SF. However, Trader Joes, Aldi and Save-A-Lot all typically limit their store size to 15,000sf. – SLP]

  4. Jim Zavist says:

    OK, OK, I think this horse is dead . . . can we quit beating it now?!

  5. Your Virtual Alderman says:

    Although YVA could expound on the reasons why blighting and ED are a critical development tool to bring new investment to city neighborhoods, Jim is right, we should move on. In that spirit, if you will permit me, I’d like to share some of the more subtle aspects of aldemanic life with you, dear UR readers.

    In the 12th ward, there is an oddity of sorts in city politics, namely, an eleceted official of Republican stripe, Alderman Fred Heitert.

    We aldermen are diligent to keep tabs on what our constituents are thinking. One excellent source of raw, unfiltered, constituent emotion is the Journal’s weekly “Town Talk” feature.

    YVA took particular note of the following Town Talk entry from this week’s Suburban Journal, phoned in from a perturbed resident of the 12th ward:

    Bane of the neighborhood

    I WAS SO happy to read the comment about Alderman Heitert. We have two families in our lovely neighborhood that have had nothing but junk in their front and backyards for years and years. We’ve been after Heitert and the city to clean them up and he has done nothing. I wish everybody in his district would call in a comment and say if they had the same problem. He does nothing about these junky people who bring our property values down. It’s disgusting.

    YVA is perplexed. In the 12th ward, we aldermen face a possible future dilemma. If a qualified democratic candidate were to run against Alderman Heitert (R), would St. Louis protocol call for us support the democratic challenger, or honor the tradition of aldermanic courtesy, and defend Alderman Heitert from all challengers?

    In this case, savvy aldermen would probably play it safe and endorse neither candidate, and wait for Alderman Heitert to retire on his own terms.

  6. ed hardy clothing says:

    We'r ed hardy outlet one of the most profession
    of the coolest and latest ed hardy apparel, such as
    ed hardy tee ,ed hardy bags,
    ed hardy bathing suits, ed hardy shoes,
    ed hardy board shorts , don ed hardyt,ed hardy tank tops, ed hardy for women,
    ed hardy swimwearand more,
    ed hardy clothing. We offers a wide selection of fashion
    cheap ed hardyproducts. Welcome to our shop or just enjoy browsing through our stunning collection available wholesale ed hardy in our shop.

    our goal is to delight you with our distinctive collection of mindful ed hardy products while providing value and excellent service. Our goal is 100% customer satisfaction and we offer only 100% satisfacted service and ed hardy products. Please feel free to contact us at any time; we are committed to your 100% customer satisfaction. If you're looking for the best service and best selection, stay right where you are and continue shopping at here is your best online choice for the reasonable prices. So why not buy your ed hardy now, I am sure they we won’t let you down.


Comment on this Article: