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Old Post Office Plaza Still Young

May 29, 2009 Downtown, Street Vending 13 Comments

Open for just under two months, the Old Post Office Plaza is starting to have some activities as well as users even when there are no scheduled events.

The above is from a recent after work musical performance as part of a series from the St. Louis Public Library, which has a branch in the Old Post Office across Locust Street.  I was actually surprised by the size of the total crowd.  I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a while and met a co-worker of his.  They had both walked over after work to hear the music.

My new friend Sam Davis from Hot City Franks was there selling hot dogs. brats and my favorite, veggie dogs.  Since this plaza is privately owned he is able to vend there with the permission of the owner.

As this plaza and as other spaces, such as the soon to open City Garden, I hope that our level of downtown pedestrians & bicyclits will continue to grow.  I hope for the time when this plaza is full of people without any sort of “programming” being required to get them there.  Have you been?  What are your thoughts?  Here was my take the morning of the day it opened, Downtown Gets Yet Another Plaza.

 

Currently there are "13 comments" on this Article:

  1. rick says:

    Why not start an outdoor bar with free nightly entertainment? It’s too bad the plans for the video projection screen didn’t pan out. Are there other options for outdoor broadcasts being pursued? An outdoor bar would draw lots of people every day. Is one being considered for the Sculpture Garden? Walkaway cocktails help drive pedestrian traffic, people watching and spending.

     
  2. john says:

    Getting people out and on the streets is important in creating the climate the young, energetic, active, educated want… and by the way, us older folks too. Bike parking is an integral part of that but more important is creating streets that invite people, not just cars. MO has a bad reputation on these issues and the national blogs are recognizing it, compounding the poor image the state and particularly St Louis. already has earned. One example:
    http://www.streetsblog.org/2009/05/14/in-missouri-the-state-dot-lobbies-to-block-complete-streets/
    – –
    Making our streets friendlier for everyone means Complete Streets but MoDOT is working hard to block what our political leadership favors. As reported: “The reason for this last-minute, back-room maneuver was to keep provisions out of the bill that MoDOT opposed–including Complete Streets, which was approved unanimously by the House Transportation Committee and has been included in all proposed transportation omnibus bills from that chamber.”
    http://mobikefed.org/2009/05/modot-lobbying-comes-under-fire-modot.php
    – –
    Cyclists and pedestrians need to be assured that they will receive equal and fair treatment to what motorized drivers receive before our streets will be once again be filled with civility and social interaction. When you see men like Slay, Dooley or even McKee cycling to their next meeting, please get us a picture. We are stuck with the status quo until local leadership, corporate or elected, continue to favor cars over people.

     
  3. Fluffer says:

    I wish there was more shade cover. Although, perhaps that will happen once the trees mature? I think there was a lost opportunity with the sculpture on the plaza. It’s not as compelling as say Alexander Calder’s ‘Flamingo’ in Federal Center Plaza in Chicago or the ‘Cloud Gate’ in Millennium Park. People get drawn to those pieces, they want to get their pictures taken in front of and around them. The severed head in the OPO Plaza doesn’t afford the same kind of ‘welcome interruption’ to the rectilinear rhythms of urban space. On a side note, I’m not sure the story of Icarus is one St. Louis should be referring to in our attempts to revitalize.

     
  4. sethteel says:

    I love this plaza. Its contemporary design looks like something you would see in Toronto. I am disapointed there is so much impervious surface, but it does help create the great aesthetic. I have taken several people from my office to the plaza for lunch. I have yet to see your vendor friend. The walkway and screen covering that hideous wall of the Orpheum theatre was tastefully done such that the cornice and detailing that wraps the corner of the building is still visible. This attention to detail shows the foresight and thought that went into the plaza’s design. The headless bust statue is a bit ridiculous. Oddly there is a giant head sculpture at the new City Garden on Market that matches the headless bust.

    Dont forget the screening of Jaws at the new plaza on 6/4 @ 8:30pm.

     
  5. jeff says:

    I think the space has potential, but the like of shade is a huge problem and will only be moreso in the sumemr months. It comes across as very univiting: lots of sun and concrete with nowhere to sit in the middle of the plaza. The light color of the concrete and the lack of shade causes an almost unbearable amount of glare in teh middle of the day. I do like the city’s commitment to programming and promoting the space, although the programming budget was severly underfunded. Hopefully next year it can at least be doubled.

     
  6. Brian S. says:

    The space should offer plenty of shade as the trees mature. Just look at the trees that were planted along Washington a few years back – they’re really looking good now.

    Now, if the Roberts Brothers would just get some good retail tenants in the old Board of Education Building and book some shows at the Orpheum, it would help enliven the area.

    Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the way the space has turned out. It’s WAY better than tired old Kiener Plaza, which is desperately in need of a makeover.

     
  7. it's me says:

    The people in the picture would look happier if they were holding cocktails.

     
  8. MH says:

    I agree with most comments……the space has a lot of potential, is a nice design on paper, but has an uninviting quality to it. I enjoyed eating lunch there, however it is more the surroundings that make a good plaza, and this plaza has good urban views (other than the rediculous parking garages visible from the space). That, moreso than the design itself will make this a popular place.

    However, it is going to suck big time during the summer, until those trees grow in. Even then, is everyone going to pack into one half the space? It needs a ground material that isn’t going to blind you with the sun and cause major heat gain when it gets hot.

     
  9. jeff says:

    I could get on board with a little beer garden. Of course, an important part of a beer garden is shade, but still…

     
  10. crc says:

    The street vendor is out today in the plaza at 8th & Locust.

     
  11. The depressed Kiener Plaza had far more people enjoying it this Sunday. I spent 30-45 minutes in each and while I enjoyed getting wet from standing underneath the waterfall, and I actually do enjoy the headless bust, I placed more value upon photographing children with their parents in Kiener Plaza. I liked the fact that Kiener had people of all colors gathering in the plaza, and of all socioeconomic statuses. I met a homeless guy named Tony. I shook his hand and took his picture. Kiener might have an antiquated design, but it was in use by many on a hot day whereas shiny new OPO was depressingly dead.

    Instead of the creation of Old Post Office Plaza, it would be nice to witness the renovation Kiener. Rollin Stanley and the planning consultants, possibly Arcturis, commented extensively on Kiener during the Gateway Mall Presentations “way back when.” Why we did this whole new plaza, where a building could exist and where several once stood, while we have Kiener which needs renovation and already has more activity? This plaza might have potential as more residents relocate to downtown, given Kiener happens to be surrounded by non-residential single use office space, yet the Old Post Office District would be best suited for buildings. It could have been the only area Downtown where one could be enveloped in buildings (ignoring that crime against cities: the demolition of the Century Building). The City should that above partially hiding the ugly drawers of the Orpheum, which shouldn’t be visible had past demolition not occurred.

    This site instead should contain residents while possibly the donors could fund improvements to Kiener, which after all the “plan” recommended. How much could the 8.8 million do for Kiener? Yet the hand that feeds should be coaxed for its generosity insofar as it keeps dropping change.

     
  12. bprop says:

    I have been there. It’s a soul-sucking void with very little redeeming value. Until people want to be there of their own accord and not due to any “programming” then it’s going to be a failure. Sorry to say, because I love that block of Olive. Just not the Plaza.

     
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