Home » Accessibility »Big Box »Planning & Design » Currently Reading:

St. Louis’ Office on the Disabled Reviewed Plans for Loughborough Commons

January 3, 2007 Accessibility, Big Box, Planning & Design 7 Comments

I hate admitting I am wrong, but when it happens I face the music and admit as much. All these past few months that I have been showing you the poor planning at Loughborough Commons I assumed nobody with the city reviewed the construction documents for ADA compliance. After all, ADA is federal civil rights law, not a local building code. But, a regular reader was kind enough to point me to St. Louis’ Office on the Disabled, part of the Department of Human Services.
The following are the list of duties for the Office on the Disabled, per their website:

  • Information and Direct Referral. Office on the Disabled provides current reliable information on services, programs, issues, etc. for persons with disabilities to callers or office visits or through the mail. Standards for accessible design are available to architects, engineers, design professionals, and the general public.
  • Interpreter for the Deaf. Office on the Disabled provides interpreting for the deaf services for all city services, programs, and activities.
  • Residential Disabled Parking Program. Office on the Disabled provides reserved residential parking spaces for city residents with disabilities. (Click here for more information)
  • Parking Meter Exemption Permits. Office on the Disabled issues permits exempting persons with disabilities unable to activate parking meters in the City of St. Louis.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator. The Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator provides information on the ADA; provides reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees; offers training on the ADA.
  • Awareness Training. Office on the Disabled offers training on issues related to disabilities.
  • Public Use of TDDs. Public use of TDDs is available to deaf persons needing to make phone calls.
  • On Site Accessibility Consultation. Office on the Disabled provides advice and recommendations on facility accessibility for persons with disabilities.

I spoke earlier today with Dr. Deborah Dee who heads the Office on the Disabled. Dee indicated Loughborough Commons was reviewed by her office and that all projects are reviewed as part of the city’s “one stop shop for permits.” To what extent does this absolve the developer, architect, engineer and Alderman for the numerous problems at this still unfinished $40 milllion dollar project? Without a doubt it certainly changes the picture and calls into question the permit review process within city hall.


Currently there are "7 comments" on this Article:

  1. grasshopper says:

    In the darkness, a single candle can shed great light! Unfortunately, civil service protection and patronage can extinguish any candle…

  2. Jimmy James says:

    Steve, in all of the sunshine lawing and what not, have you ever been able to locate/ post any internal reviews of the site plan as it went through the development review process?

    This most recent revelation makes it clear that perhaps we need research everything related to the design review/ permitting process before we can fully place blame for the sorry state of the project on any one source.

    As an aside, perhaps a summary post explaining the offical development review process in St. Louis is also in order, so we can all understand who reviews the proposals and how they move to the building stage.

  3. grasshopper says:


    To untangle the web you seek would require the assistance of one thousand grasshoppers.

  4. LisaS says:

    The 2003 International Building Code, adopted by the City, incorporates the ICC A117.1 Acessibility Standards. While I’m not at all familiar with the Site Development sections, these are typically more stringent than the published ADA Guidelines. That said, under the provisions of the code, they are not required to provide accessible routes from the site arrival point to the various buildings, or among the various buildings, if “the only means of access between them, (is) a vehicular way not providing for pedestrian access.” (Section 1104)

    They may have discovered during construction that making the sidewalks accessible was going to be more costly than anticipated, so nixed them altogether. At this point, only time will tell. Unless we have some separate local ordinance on the books requiring pedestrian access (doubtful), the development seems to comply with the law. It’s just another example of why we need to revamp our local zoning and building codes.

    Does the code foster the development of univerally accessible, pedestrian friendly environments? No, but that’s not what it’s there for. The purpose of building codes is to require construction of the least safe environment that we beleive to be socially responsible, i.e., the worst building the law will allow. Unfortunately, we get a lot of that.

    [UrbanReviewSTL — Ah but the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act requires access in new construction as follows: 

    4.1.2 Accessible Sites and Exterior Facilities: New Construction. An accessible site shall meet the following minimum requirements:

    (1) At least one accessible route complying with 4.3 shall be provided within the boundary of the site from public transportation stops, accessible parking spaces, passenger loading zones if provided, and public streets or sidewalks, to an accessible building entrance.

    (2) At least one accessible route complying with 4.3 shall connect accessible buildings, accessible facilities, accessible elements, and accessible spaces that are on the same site.

    Now they might try to argue that Lowe’s is a separate site — it is indeed a different legal parcel of land.  However, for it to comply it might have an accessible entrance either via the Schnucks or from Grand. They have not been in compliance since opening.]

  5. 15thWardSTL says:

    You are not entirely wrong, Steve. Dr. Dee is in on One Stop Shop permit reviews for projects of this type, but the Office on the Disabled doesn’t have any enforcement ability when it comes to the ADA. No local authority does. As you have said before, the ADA is Federal civil rights legislation. Review by the Office on the Disabled doesn’t relieve anyone of liability for a discrimination action (just as an Architect is still liable for errors and omissions even though the plans are reviewed by the City for building code compliance).

    On projects of sufficient complexity of size, the developer or Architect sometimes hires an independent consultant to review the drawings for accessibility and code compliance. This reviewer assumes some of the liability.

    In cases where specific public funding mechanisms are used (MHDC tax credits for example), there may be an independent professional Fair Housing Act and ADA review of the drawings mandated as part of the funding approval process.

    There is no post-construction inspection for ADA compliance, except where there is crossover with the local building codes. The Fair Housing Act is the same way.

    The OoD review is often viewed by developers and Architects as a “negotiation,” particularly when it comes to renovation projects – I’m not sure why. I don’t know whether the OoD has the ability to hold up a permit, if a building otherwise meets all criteria set by the building code. Perhaps someone out there has specific knowledge of this.

  6. Maurice says:

    I would believe that the OoD review is a negotiation tool particularily in renovation projects because of the extreme cost that result from trying to adapt an old building to be disabled accessable.

  7. Happy Camper says:

    So certainly glad that the lady is gone! She was so much prima donna! Good riddance! Now who is the worse one now? the current or the former?


Comment on this Article: