A week ago I suggested the vacant Ballpark Village site be divided (platted) and sold as building lots to begin to develop the total site.Â One person questioned me when I said the area once contained hundreds of buildings.Â He said it was probably more like dozens and dozens.Â I admit I didn’t count before I made my claim.Â I’ve gone back to the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for the site as of December 1908 to see.Â While not hundreds it is more than a few dozen.Â Either way the point is the same — smaller structures made for more diversity and interest.Â The area was built by many over a long period of time rather than sitting idle for a single project.
The area is bounded by Broadway on the East, Clark on the South, 8th on the West and Walnut on the North.Â In 1908 Elm ran parallel to and between Walnut & Clark until 7th Street.Â This divided the land into five blocks – Elm was removed during 1960s urban renewal.
The following are the 1908 maps for the BPV site along with the East & West parking garages that bookend the site.
4th West to Broadway (5th) – currently stadium East garage:
Broadway West to 6th:
6th West to 7th:
7th West to 8th:
8th West to 9th – currently stadium West garage:
Too many buildings to count.Â They vary in size and no doubt in age.Â Most are brick (pink) but some are wood frame (yellow) and a few are stone (blue).Â Not all the land was filled in 1908 (8th & Walnut).
For more than a half century development has followed the Urban Renewal model — clear large swaths of land and assemble manageable size parcels of land into huge blocks. Financing for these increasingly out of scale projects has grown unmanageable.
Here is the video I took when the project details were announced in October 2006:
As originally outlined, the project was to have nearly 800,000 total square feet and a total cost of $387 million.Â The site between the garages was once again going to have Elm, thus being divided into six blocks.Â That works out to $64.5 million per block – a substantial sum to raise.Â The Cardinals and developer Cordish should abandon the mega project methodology by 1) creating the through street grid to form the six blocks 2) subdivide each of the six blocks into 3-10 parcels of land to be developed by them and/or sold to qualified buyers for them to build on the land.Â Deed restrictions would not allow surface parking and would require minimum building heights (3-15 floors depending upon parcel).Â Each block should have a minimum of two buildings.Â Blank walls should be forbidden while numerous doors and windows required/encouraged.
As part of the site’s infrastructure, internal parking structures may be required to meet the total future need.Â Streets, sidewalks and parking are built first and future buildings would surround the parking structures eventually.Â With six blocks it would probably have 3-6 garages, ideally partially underground.Â These garages could be built out in phases as lots are sold.
Other developers and investors could build within the site.Â Say one group can finance $30 million for a single building, that is one more toward the goal.Â Piece by piece the area would fill in.
– Steve Patterson