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Reurbanizing Jefferson & Lafayette Pt 3: Getting Started

November 22, 2011 Featured, Planning & Design, South City, Walkability 73 Comments

Yesterday I posted about the design problems at the vacant Foodland grocery store and adjacent parcels on the NW corner of Jefferson & Lafayette. The problems are numerous, but most boil down to a lack of planning for the circulation of pedestrian traffic.

ABOVE: 1984 grocery (left) and 1991 retail storefronts (right) and the main Jefferson Ave entry, the former Eads Ave.

Comments yesterday blamed failing schools and the loss of the middle class for the failure of retail at this corner. This reasoning doesn’t consider the new housing built west of Jefferson Ave in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Nor does it make sense given that other retail areas have remained stable or improved since 1984. In that period the Lafayette Square neighborhood, directly across Jefferson Ave to the east has solidified and actually gained population in the most recent census.

Poor pedestrian access (neighborhood connection) wasn’t the only the only factor in the failure but it’s one that could have been avoided and should be corrected. The city has already invested who knows how much into the area from tax incentives and the donation of land from the vacation of Eads & Texas Avenues. Now the city will be asked to contribute more money. In exchange we must fix the pedestrian  shortcomings so this retail becomes integrated into the adjacent neighborhoods in all directions.

Some have also expressed disappointment the proposal from Green Street Properties doesn’t start over from scratch. Understood, but from a sustainability perspective reusing older structures (1894 & 1984) is good if possible. Value remains in the tired vacant structures. This corner has been dehumanized incrementally since 1950 with the corner gas station to the razing of the area in the late 1970s. It’s not going to suddenly become an urban oasis, not in this economy anyway.

ABOVE: quarter mile radius of the center of the Foodland site

Solutions must account for those who will enter the site as a pedestrian, from within the usual 1/4 mile radius that most people are willing to walk. This includes those who may come from greater distances via MetroBus lines on both Jefferson & Park avenues.

ABOVE: Numerous pedestrian access points to the retail site

In the above image I look at the many points where pedestrians might approach  this corner. The pedestrians might be customers, retail employees or both. They might be library employees from across the street or from other businesses in the area. Motorists might be middle class parents shopping before or after picking up their kids at several nearby schools or downtown workers on the way home.

A retweet of yesterday’s post mentioned a desire  for a Trader Joe’s at this location. A TJs store would be an excellent draw here. Tomorrow’s post will show the results of the poll from last week, but I’ll tell you now Trader Joe’s received the second highest vote count behind Schnuck’s. Remarkable considering how few TJ’s are in the region and the closest to the city is in Brentwood.

One thing that makes Trader Joe’s unique is the size of its stores—most locations average between 8,000 and 12,000 sq ft. In February 2008, Businessweek reported that the company has the highest sales per square foot of any grocer in the U.S.; two-and-a-half years later, Fortune magazine estimated sales to be $1,750 in merchandise per square foot, more than double the sales generated by Whole Foods. (Wikipedia)

The vacant Foodland building is over 47,000 square feet so clearly the building will need to be divided up. The large parking area to the north was required for delivery tractor-traioler rigs to be able to back into the loading dock. Hopefully the architects can find a way for 3-4 tenants to receive deliveries without cutting off pedestrians.

ABOVE: The entrance & canopy to the old store will likely get removed.

A St. Louis Bread Co (Panera) also seems like a good fit for this location. Highway travelers might exit I-44 for a bite, those staying in the hotel need a place to walk to for dinner. This might be a storefront space in one of the existing buildings or perhaps a freestanding structure like Panera is building now. The benefit of the latter is a new building could help fill up the massive parking area, adding some massing. However, these include a drive-thru land which could be acceptable if good pedestrian access throughout the site is created.

ABOVE: guide to the "strategic land use" for the area.
ABOVE: Legend of land use designations

The area in question is designated a “Neighborhood Commercial Area”

Areas where the development of new and the rehabilitation of existing commercial uses that primarily serve adjacent neighborhoods should be encouraged. These areas include traditional commercial streets at relatively major intersections and along significant roadways where commercial uses serve multiple neighborhoods or where the development of new commercial uses serving adjacent neighborhoods is intended. Mixed use buildings with commercial at grade and a mix of uses on upper floors are an ideal type within these areas. These areas may include higher density mixed use residential and commercial and may initially include flexibility in design to allow ground floor uses to change over time e.g., ground floor space that can transition from residential to commercial use as the local demand for retail goods and services strengthens in the area.

The Foodland, Midwest Petroleum, Holiday Inn and retail building combined occupy over 8 acres, with the Foodland being nearly 6 of those. This is a substantial amount of land to create a neighborhood centric commercial district. Done well, it could draw customers from outside the immediate area just as say South Grand does.

Unfortunately the land use designations aren’t really used, it’s the zoning that matters. The land use strategy is modern and suggests what is desired.

ABOVE: Zoning for the area
ABOVE: Zoning legend

Our zoning, however, is a relic of Harland Bartholomew’s days, as our city planner (1918-1950). It tells you what you can’t do and how much parking you need for those activities not prohibited (modern zoning outlines what is desired).The parking mandates have no basis in our current times which is why the Board of Adjustment often grants waivers for reduced parking. We need to instead set low maximum parking requirements and let developers argue why they need a waiver to provide more parking.

This area is zoned (G) Local Commercial and Office:

The purpose of the G local commercial and office district is to establish and preserve areas that accommodate a wide range of businesses catering to the personal and home needs of the general public and to provide for employment activity and service to the public which does not detract from nearby residential uses. (Ord. 59979 § 12 (part), 1986.)

You can use the link above to read the entire section but here are the types of businesses listed in the ordinance:

  • A. Any use permitted in the F neighborhood commercial district;
  • B. Bars and taverns;
  • C. Dyeing and cleaning works;
  • D. Laundries;
  • E. Livery stables and riding academies;
  • F. Milk distributing and bottling plants;
  • G. Package liquor stores;
  • H. Printing shops;
  • I. Restaurants other than carry-out restaurants that operate as described in Section 26.40.026B provided that carry-out restaurants that meet the site requirements specified in Section 20.40.026B2 shall be permitted;
  • J. Telephone, outdoor pay, if the proposed telephone is not located on a lot that is located contiguous with or directly across a street, alley, public or private easement from a dwelling district;
  • K. Tinsmith or sheet metal shops;

That’s it, a livery and a package liquor store with a pay phone or two! How we expect to be competitive in the 21st century when our zoning dates to the early 20th century is beyond me. Bartholomew, who got us down this path was born in 1889! I’m surprised our city still has over 300,000 people given our antiquated zoning.

This entire area is within the 6th ward.

– Steve Patterson

  • Runnerdavid

    sadly, this development will fail. i live in the area, and sure, it will be convenient, but i think most of my neighbors would rather forgo convenience for safety. i hate to be stereotypical, however the socioeconomic forces are truly working against this development. i think most young professionals, and older professionals, would rather drive to out to trader joe’s, dierbergs or whole foods than shop at this store. it is not a racial issue, it is a safety, quality and amenities issue. speaking for myself, i would rather shop at the des peres “flagship” schnuck’s rather than the loughbororugh schnuck’s because of these exact issues. i hope the developer proves me wrong.

  • Runnerdavid

    sadly, this development will fail. i live in the area, and sure, it will be convenient, but i think most of my neighbors would rather forgo convenience for safety. i hate to be stereotypical, however the socioeconomic forces are truly working against this development. i think most young professionals, and older professionals, would rather drive to out to trader joe’s, dierbergs or whole foods than shop at this store. it is not a racial issue, it is a safety, quality and amenities issue. speaking for myself, i would rather shop at the des peres “flagship” schnuck’s rather than the loughbororugh schnuck’s because of these exact issues. i hope the developer proves me wrong.

    • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

      Hopefully the site will be new & different enough to be perceived better than it has been.

    • Spyke

      I think I understand your point and agree with Steve that the development will need to be new and different enough for people to forget about some of the gruesome crimes that occurred there, but seriously, you’ve got problems with the socioeconomic forces surrounding the Loughborough Schnucks? You better move out to Wildwood and build a 50 foot fence around your property if you’re scared by the demographics at that store   

      • Branwell1

        What “gruesome crimes” are you referring to? I’m curious if you mean a specific incident or incidents; when I hear “gruesome crimes”, I think of John Wayne Gacy or the Manson murders.

        • Spyke

          Supposedly happened before I moved to St. Louis and could be just an urban legend, but multiple people have told me it was the scene of some gang-related execution-style murder.

          • Branwell1

            In the late ’80s, there was a terrible mass murder at a National grocery store a few blocks north of the CWE. I don’t remember all the details, but the individuals who robbed the store shot the staff and customers that were there at the time “execution style”. It was a horrible crime, but it did not impede the resurgence of the CWE and DeBaliviere neighborhoods, as many doomsayers predicted it would at the time. 

          • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

            Agreed. I knew a husband & wife in Frontenac. He snapped a fee years ago and murdered her and her friend on Bopp Rd. A horrible crime but it doesn’t make me afraid to go to Frontenac or drive down Bopp Rd.

          • http://twitter.com/innercitivoice Edward Williams, Jr

            You have your facts wrong. The murders happened at the old National store at Natural Bridge & Newstead Ave. That is no where near CWE. It was in the heart or the northside 21st Ward. BTW that neighborhood has come along way. But some of you would not know that because you don’t go north of Delmar. There is a lot of nice neighborhoods north of Delmar.

        • Runnerdavid

          Aside from the shooting there this past year?

          • Branwell1

            I did not know about the shooting. In any case, I think such crimes are likely to be diminished or eliminated if the site becomes popular and highly traveled as a result of being redeveloped to suit the neighborhood around it. Overall, conditions there are and have been improving.

          • http://twitter.com/frusaurus Will Fru

            Again—specifics?

    • Held Over

      “loughbororugh schnuck’s”?  Really?  Shoot, I’d love to have that neighborhood to shop in.  I’m sitting here in Bevo avoiding all the nearby businesses because I don’t feel like stumbling onto the set of The Wire or the movie Judgment Night.

    • http://twitter.com/innercitivoice Edward Williams, Jr

      anytime someone say it is a racial issue…..It is a racial issue. As a black person who never abandond the city. I’m getting tired of these so called “urban legends”

  • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

    Hopefully the site will be new & different enough to be perceived better than it has been.

  • Anonymous

    Lots of good ideas.  The one thing that I’m surprised that you’re not advocating is reestablishing more of the original street grid.  Doing so would both improve pedestrian access and bring a finer-grained, more urban feel to the complex.

  • JZ71

    Lots of good ideas.  The one thing that I’m surprised that you’re not advocating is reestablishing more of the original street grid.  Doing so would both improve pedestrian access and bring a finer-grained, more urban feel to the complex.

    • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

      Eads & Texas avenues still exist, although they don’t look like streets. I want to know more about the legalities of how they were vacated, can the city demand them back? If we were clearing and starting over I would demand public streets but I will settle for good pedestrian access via multiple routes.

      • JZ71

        Typically, when streets are vacated, the ownership reverts back to the adjacent property owner(s), even though utility companies usually maintain their existing easements.  But since the developer is requesting TIF assistance, it gives the city leverage to “encourage” the developer to deed the rights of way back to the city (quid pro quo).  The bigger challenge would be bifurcating Eads Park (if Eads were reinstalled); Henrietta Place and St. Vincent Avenue both seem like a no brainers, except for that perception that blocked-off streets are somehow safer than through ones.  And one final point – can anything be done to eliminate some/most/all of the existing curb cuts for the gas station / mini-mart?  They’re probably the most anti-pedestrian element of all along Jefferson between I-44 and Park Avenue . . . .

  • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

    Eads & Texas avenues still exist, although they don’t look like streets. I want to know more about the legalities of how they were vacated, can the city demand them back? If we were clearing and starting over I would demand public streets but I will settle for good pedestrian access via multiple routes.

  • Spyke

    I think I understand your point and agree with Steve that the development will need to be new and different enough for people to forget about some of the gruesome crimes that occurred there, but seriously, you’ve got problems with the socioeconomic forces surrounding the Loughborough Schnucks? You better move out to Wildwood and build a 50 foot fence around your property if you’re scared by the demographics at that store   

  • Anonymous

    Typically, when streets are vacated, the ownership reverts back to the adjacent property owner(s).  But since the developer is requesting TIF assistance, it gives the city leverage to “encourage” the developer to deed the rights of way back to the city (quid pro quo).  The bigger challenge would be bifurcating Eads Park (if Eads were reinstalled); Henrietta Place and St. Vincent Avenue both seem like a no brainers, except for that perception that blocked-off streets are somehow safer than through ones.  And one final point – can anything be done to eliminate some/most/all of the existing curb cuts for the gas station / mini-mart?  They’re probably the most anti-pedestrian element along Jefferson between I-44 and Park Avenue . . . .

  • Held Over

    “loughbororugh schnuck’s”?  Really?  Shoot, I’d love to have that neighborhood to shop in.  I’m sitting here in Bevo avoiding all the nearby businesses because I don’t feel like stumbling onto the set of The Wire or the movie Judgment Night.

  • Dave

    If you live in the City and drive out to the County to shop because you are scared please just move out there; you are part of the problem.

  • Dave

    If you live in the City and drive out to the County to shop because you are scared please just move out there; you are part of the problem.

    • Runnerdavid

      I live and work and mostly play in the city. However, the shopping choices are few and far between. It is a little disconcerting that the gas station right next to the Foodland site has EVERYTHING behind bulletproof glass.

      • Branwell1

        Bullet proof glass is bullet proof glass, but I don’t think this detail offers a meaningful barometer of the specific neighborhoods surrounding the site. Jefferson Avenue and I-44 together represent an enormous volume of traffic from disparate locations. I think bullet proof glass is an industry standard in many locations, irrespective of what the immediately surrounding area is or is perceived to be.

        The United States is the most pervasively violent culture in all of human history. I don’t say that as a political statement or to be antagonistic. I think it is a verifiably factual reality. Bars on windows, bullet proof glass and metal detectors in schools are structural representations of that culture.

  • Tpekren

    Steve, like JZ71 I was a little surprised you didn’t put back in some of the street gird.  With the TIF it seems that their is some room/leverage to make something happen.  It would be interesting to know if Green Street properties has an opinion either way.  I’,m not sure if it will matter or not but believe they will minimize their comments until they actually own the property. 

    Another thought, Does Green Street properties see a future west of Jefferson Ave?  Would Green Street have some knowledge on what SLU plans?  You could argue that things have stabilized with Lafayette Square as the anchor and SLU in the near vicinity.

    Thumbs up to TRADER JOE’s.  This location is easily accessible to South St. Louis and would pickup traffic up and down I-44.   Trader Joe’s is always a zoo at Brentwood Plaza.  Not so much the store because they are always busy but the parking of Big Box mecca.  I would have driven to this location in a heart beat when we lived in Shrewsbury and my wife wouldn’t have given it second thought to stop when leaving downtown from work.   

  • Tpekren

    Steve, like JZ71 I was a little surprised you didn’t put back in some of the street gird.  With the TIF it seems that their is some room/leverage to make something happen.  It would be interesting to know if Green Street properties has an opinion either way.  I’,m not sure if it will matter or not but believe they will minimize their comments until they actually own the property. 

    Another thought, Does Green Street properties see a future west of Jefferson Ave?  Would Green Street have some knowledge on what SLU plans?  You could argue that things have stabilized with Lafayette Square as the anchor and SLU in the near vicinity.

    Thumbs up to TRADER JOE’s.  This location is easily accessible to South St. Louis and would pickup traffic up and down I-44.   Trader Joe’s is always a zoo at Brentwood Plaza.  Not so much the store because they are always busy but the parking of Big Box mecca.  I would have driven to this location in a heart beat when we lived in Shrewsbury and my wife wouldn’t have given it second thought to stop when leaving downtown from work.   

  • Branwell1

    What “gruesome crimes” are you referring to? I’m curious if you mean a specific incident or incidents; when I hear “gruesome crimes”, I think of John Wayne Gacy or the Manson murders.

  • Spyke

    Supposedly happened before I moved to St. Louis and could be just an urban legend, but multiple people have told me it was the scene of some gang-related execution-style murder.

  • Rick

    Supposedly Trader Joe’s has ruled out STL City.  It would sure be good to prove that “urban legend” false!  

  • Rick

    Supposedly Trader Joe’s has ruled out STL City.  It would sure be good to prove that “urban legend” false!  

  • Runnerdavid

    Aside from the shooting there this past year?

  • Runnerdavid

    I live and work and mostly play in the city. However, the shopping choices are few and far between. It is a little disconcerting that the gas station right next to the Foodland site has EVERYTHING behind bulletproof glass.

  • Anonymous

    Your analysis illustrates how “free market capitalism” does not work. Each of these properties pretends they are separate entities, disconnected with their surroundings, yet a cohesive approach would increase financial success for investors, perhaps exponentially. Capitalism that is regulated is also a capitalism that can flourish.
    This does not mean a regulatory environment where those who pay make the rules, but rather a transparent planning process that is available to all.
    I agree, that at this point, comprehensive zoning is a massive failure and should be abandoned.  There are cities around the world that build far better cities and urban areas, they have processes that can be adapted to St. Louis.
    No matter what, free for all, do whatever you want capitalism is not the answer.
    Whether it is the Pevely Dairy site, this site on Jefferson or many others in the city, it all comes back the same failures on the part of city governance to implement a planning process that can maximize the potential of valuable real estate sites around the city. There is no doubt the potential of this location is much greater than current reality, so much so that it borders on the absurd. It is just as absurd St. Louis City government sits on its hands and cannot innovate or even copy the success of other cities.

  • gmichaud

    Your analysis illustrates how “free market capitalism” does not work. Each of these properties pretends they are separate entities, disconnected with their surroundings, yet a cohesive approach would increase financial success for investors, perhaps exponentially. Capitalism that is regulated is also a capitalism that can flourish.
    This does not mean a regulatory environment where those who pay make the rules, but rather a transparent planning process that is available to all.
    I agree, that at this point, comprehensive zoning is a massive failure and should be abandoned.  There are cities around the world that build far better cities and urban areas, they have processes that can be adapted to St. Louis.
    No matter what, free for all, do whatever you want capitalism is not the answer.
    Whether it is the Pevely Dairy site, this site on Jefferson or many others in the city, it all comes back the same failures on the part of city governance to implement a planning process that can maximize the potential of valuable real estate sites around the city. There is no doubt the potential of this location is much greater than current reality, so much so that it borders on the absurd. It is just as absurd St. Louis City government sits on its hands and cannot innovate or even copy the success of other cities.

  • Moe

    A TJs would be nice, but they looked at the Tower Grove area a few years back and declined, even though the TG neighborhood has more disposable income than the comparable surrounding neighborhood at their Brentwood store.

    The history cannot be denied here.  By that I mean  the grovery store both National and Foodland never made it feel safe to shop there.  Face it, back in the 80’s 90’s and even today, people just will not shop where they do not feel safe. Add to that that neither of those stores had middle or high end products.  There is a far cry from Trader Joes and an Aldi’s both in buying power and percieved quality (amazing that people will pay premium dollar for the same product if the lable is pretty and elitist sounding.  (maybe that is not the right word to use, but hey).

    On top of that the housing built just to the north did not and does not have a high level of disposable income.  Add to that again, that Laf. Square cut themselves off from this neighborhood,back then as a way to protect themselves from the crime of the area.  Laf. Sq can be a bit snug with themselves.  But unless they remove some of those pedestrian barriers, no store there will be successful.  the biggest traffic comes from AG?Wells Fargo/new name of the year company up the road….if they stop,  they want to run in and run out, not shop for a week at a time.  Nor do they want to shop where they have to worry about their car on the lot or a security guard giving them the once over as they enter the store.

    Does the city need more grocery stores?  ABSOLUTLY.  But we have to be logical and serious about it also.  A business cannot make it alone on food stamp business or just those picking up a few items on the way home.  It has to be a destination grocery store….like the Culinaria has successfully done.

    Am I being jaded or biased?  I know it probably comes across like that but in my opinion it is what it is, and there is a lot of negative history tied to that lot and the area in general and I don’t see the surrounding neighborhoods really reaching out over the past years to change any of that or grouping together for change.

    But it will be better than just an empty lot and so much better than a Walmart.

  • Moe

    A TJs would be nice, but they looked at the Tower Grove area a few years back and declined, even though the TG neighborhood has more disposable income than the comparable surrounding neighborhood at their Brentwood store.

    The history cannot be denied here.  By that I mean  the grovery store both National and Foodland never made it feel safe to shop there.  Face it, back in the 80’s 90’s and even today, people just will not shop where they do not feel safe. Add to that that neither of those stores had middle or high end products.  There is a far cry from Trader Joes and an Aldi’s both in buying power and percieved quality (amazing that people will pay premium dollar for the same product if the lable is pretty and elitist sounding.  (maybe that is not the right word to use, but hey).

    On top of that the housing built just to the north did not and does not have a high level of disposable income.  Add to that again, that Laf. Square cut themselves off from this neighborhood,back then as a way to protect themselves from the crime of the area.  Laf. Sq can be a bit snug with themselves.  But unless they remove some of those pedestrian barriers, no store there will be successful.  the biggest traffic comes from AG?Wells Fargo/new name of the year company up the road….if they stop,  they want to run in and run out, not shop for a week at a time.  Nor do they want to shop where they have to worry about their car on the lot or a security guard giving them the once over as they enter the store.

    Does the city need more grocery stores?  ABSOLUTLY.  But we have to be logical and serious about it also.  A business cannot make it alone on food stamp business or just those picking up a few items on the way home.  It has to be a destination grocery store….like the Culinaria has successfully done.

    Am I being jaded or biased?  I know it probably comes across like that but in my opinion it is what it is, and there is a lot of negative history tied to that lot and the area in general and I don’t see the surrounding neighborhoods really reaching out over the past years to change any of that or grouping together for change.

    But it will be better than just an empty lot and so much better than a Walmart.

  • Moe

    In part two of this topic there was a sub-topic of perceptions of an up-scale grocery store.  And indeed it is all about perceptions.  The Culinaria may seem normal to some and gourmet to others.  That is human nature.

    A reference was made to the Schnuck’s at Grand and Gravois as well.   For the same reason that many people from Laf Sq and Soulard will not shop at a new market or did not shop at the FoodLand are the same reasons I won”t shop at the Grand/Gravois Schnucks but instead drive to either the Loughbourgh or Hampton Schnucks:

    Better maintained parking lot that is well lit, cleaned, and even the quality of vehicles on the lot all play into whether one feels safe.
    Not many people sitting in cars with music blaring staring you down as you walk to and from the store.
    Once in the store….
    The carts are in better shape and cleaner (no sticky handles, no trash in them)
    The asiles are clean, swept, and mopped.  The Grand/Gr floors are a disgusting disgrace
    The produce is fresher, better, marketed better AND the number of people sampling the grapes and such is a lot less.
    The quality of the meat and dairy is like wise better.
    Even the canned goods are better…you don’t see mismatched shelves, dented cans and raw chicken tossed amoungst the cans of peas because someone decide to change their mind (or an open package of cookies).
    The staff are friendlier and AND the customers are friendlier to each other.

    Taken many of these are management issues (staff) but many of them aren’t.(cars on lot).  It just goes to show that everyone’s perception is valid and unless the grocery store not only gets quality staff, product, and surroundings, but continues to do so to build repeat business, it will be doomed to failure.

    But then the other side of the sword comes down…if it is too glitzy and too showy, people will not shop there thinking it is too expensive, and that will take out the other half of the surrounding population.  But perseption is what is gonig to make or break this store.

  • Moe

    In part two of this topic there was a sub-topic of perceptions of an up-scale grocery store.  And indeed it is all about perceptions.  The Culinaria may seem normal to some and gourmet to others.  That is human nature.

    A reference was made to the Schnuck’s at Grand and Gravois as well.   For the same reason that many people from Laf Sq and Soulard will not shop at a new market or did not shop at the FoodLand are the same reasons I won”t shop at the Grand/Gravois Schnucks but instead drive to either the Loughbourgh or Hampton Schnucks:

    Better maintained parking lot that is well lit, cleaned, and even the quality of vehicles on the lot all play into whether one feels safe.
    Not many people sitting in cars with music blaring staring you down as you walk to and from the store.
    Once in the store….
    The carts are in better shape and cleaner (no sticky handles, no trash in them)
    The asiles are clean, swept, and mopped.  The Grand/Gr floors are a disgusting disgrace
    The produce is fresher, better, marketed better AND the number of people sampling the grapes and such is a lot less.
    The quality of the meat and dairy is like wise better.
    Even the canned goods are better…you don’t see mismatched shelves, dented cans and raw chicken tossed amoungst the cans of peas because someone decide to change their mind (or an open package of cookies).
    The staff are friendlier and AND the customers are friendlier to each other.

    Taken many of these are management issues (staff) but many of them aren’t.(cars on lot).  It just goes to show that everyone’s perception is valid and unless the grocery store not only gets quality staff, product, and surroundings, but continues to do so to build repeat business, it will be doomed to failure.

    But then the other side of the sword comes down…if it is too glitzy and too showy, people will not shop there thinking it is too expensive, and that will take out the other half of the surrounding population.  But perseption is what is gonig to make or break this store.

  • Branwell1

    I did not know about the shooting. In any case, I think such crimes are likely to be diminished or eliminated if the site becomes popular and highly traveled as a result of being redeveloped to suit the neighborhood around it. Overall, conditions there are and have been improving.

  • Branwell1

    In the late ’80s, there was a terrible mass murder at a National grocery store a few blocks north of the CWE. I don’t remember all the details, but the individuals who robbed the store shot the staff and customers that were there at the time “execution style”. It was a horrible crime, but it did not impede the resurgence of the CWE and DeBaliviere neighborhoods, as many doomsayers predicted it would at the time. 

  • Anonymous

    That’s why my guess for most-likely candidate is Save-a-Lot – their business model is just this kind of urban retrofit:

    http://save-a-lot.com/about-save-a-lot

    http://save-a-lot.com/own/requirements/site-requirements

  • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

    Agreed. I knew a husband & wife in Frontenac. He snapped a fee years ago and murdered her and her friend on Bopp Rd. A horrible crime but it doesn’t make me afraid to go to Frontenac or drive down Bopp Rd.

  • http://twitter.com/frusaurus Will Fru

    Again—specifics?

  • Branwell1

    Bullet proof glass is bullet proof glass, but I don’t think this detail offers a meaningful barometer of the specific neighborhoods surrounding the site. Jefferson Avenue and I-44 together represent an enormous volume of traffic from disparate locations. I think bullet proof glass is an industry standard in many locations, irrespective of what the immediately surrounding area is or is perceived to be.

    The United States is the most pervasively violent culture in all of human history. I don’t say that as a political statement or to be antagonistic. I think it is a verifiably factual reality. Bars on windows, bullet proof glass and metal detectors in schools are structural representations of that culture.

  • Anonymous

    I appreciate the attempt to redesign this corner. but the problem in my opinion is much deeper. I stated previously that St. Louis City Planning has failed to adjust to a new age and you point this out with your zoning commentary. Just to take a fragment of that discussion a little further I would suggest that instead of zoning we return to more of a free form commercial approach, where businesses can open anywhere in the city. Some neighborhoods like Lafayette Square might opt out, but the ability to open a commercial business anywhere would be beneficial (with some limitations of course). Comprehensive zoning creates centralized economic activity and puts economic innovation into the hands of the few.
    In the old days in St. Louis a business could open anywhere, the city was a dynamic economic engine. Today, the economic activity is controlled by a few in government and business with the urging of chains and other centralized corporations who benefit from having economic activity designated to centralized, high priced zones and who also benefit from limited competition.
    This coupled with the lack of plazas, public space, the closing of streets for vendors and other means to encourage individual vendor economic activity results in a type of dictatorship of the economy. St. Louis is a city where small scale entrepreneurs are denied entry. It is only one of the many aspects of city planning that are failing beyond anything happening on this corner of Jefferson Ave. If this corner had to compete with businesses opening in the surrounding areas shown as residential, the corner itself may have ended up with a different outcome.
    In the end, no matter how much barking and self serving yells about free market capitalism occur in our modern society, the fact is actions and policies undermine capitalism, especially at the low end of the economic spectrum. It is where you would expect the most support for capitalism to enable the ability of people to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. The real truth is capitalism is not really practiced in this society. It is a system from the very planning of cities to the halls of Congress that is designed to hand wealth to elite insiders. Sorry, I know no one wants to talk about it, but that is driving city planning policy.

  • gmichaud

    I appreciate the attempt to redesign this corner. but the problem in my opinion is much deeper. I stated previously that St. Louis City Planning has failed to adjust to a new age and you point this out with your zoning commentary. Just to take a fragment of that discussion a little further I would suggest that instead of zoning we return to more of a free form commercial approach, where businesses can open anywhere in the city. Some neighborhoods like Lafayette Square might opt out, but the ability to open a commercial business anywhere would be beneficial (with some limitations of course). Comprehensive zoning creates centralized economic activity and puts economic innovation into the hands of the few.
    In the old days in St. Louis a business could open anywhere, the city was a dynamic economic engine. Today, the economic activity is controlled by a few in government and business with the urging of chains and other centralized corporations who benefit from having economic activity designated to centralized, high priced zones and who also benefit from limited competition.
    This coupled with the lack of plazas, public space, the closing of streets for vendors and other means to encourage individual vendor economic activity results in a type of dictatorship of the economy. St. Louis is a city where small scale entrepreneurs are denied entry. It is only one of the many aspects of city planning that are failing beyond anything happening on this corner of Jefferson Ave. If this corner had to compete with businesses opening in the surrounding areas shown as residential, the corner itself may have ended up with a different outcome.
    In the end, no matter how much barking and self serving yells about free market capitalism occur in our modern society, the fact is actions and policies undermine capitalism, especially at the low end of the economic spectrum. It is where you would expect the most support for capitalism to enable the ability of people to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. The real truth is capitalism is not really practiced in this society. It is a system from the very planning of cities to the halls of Congress that is designed to hand wealth to elite insiders. Sorry, I know no one wants to talk about it, but that is driving city planning policy.

    • Moe

      You certainly raise some valid points that should be considered further.

    • JZ71

      While I agree that government, at all levels, creates barriers to entry, I don’t think that they’re all bad and/or that they’re the biggest barriers to starting a business.  Name recognition and experience are important to success, as is access to capital – most businesses require investing in either technology or inventory, in addition to any physical location.  The challenge with the free-for-all mentality is that too many people can’t function as good neighbors.  If my neighbor wants to run a virtual, web-based business, it’s going to impact me minimally – why should I care?  If they want to bake cupcakes or barbeque meats, I can probably deal with the aromas.  But if they decide to get into gourmet sauer kraut and/or raising swine or fowl, I’ll probably want the government to step in.  And if someone decided to set up a business on the sidewalk or in the street in front of my home (yes, it’s the “public” right-of-way), I’d probably be taking things into my own hands.

      • gmichaud

        Swine, pigs, I remember doing some research years ago to determine when the City banned raising pigs, damn I forget the exact date, it might of been around the Civil War. The point is there is always going to be limitations for business formation. Old St. Louis was wide open. It avoided the centralization of commerce of today with its zoned commercial islands. Comprehensive zoning has played into the hands of an economic elite over the creative economic environment of the past that allowed for formation of a business on any site. The policies today are absolutely anti free market and anti capitalist in conception.
        Older neighborhoods in the city are more likely appropriate for a free form zoning, and even then the usage range that was place in the past is probably not as pertinent now. Soulard, in its hey day, no one would even notice a new commercial enterprise in any location due to the heavy commercial activity and density of population. Today it has become populated with a gentrified, regressive upper middle class who would not support free form zoning unless it was shown to work elsewhere. Beyond Soulard there are many St. Louis neighborhoods that would benefit from and support zoning that creates, or least does not hinder, economic activity.
        I disagree that government creating barriers to economic entry is not a major factor in Americas’ decline. Something as basic as city planning forms daily city life and economic activity. Every facet of society has been controlled and policies enacted to enable an economic elite to take control over true capitalism and robust economic competition.
        This is an extensive discussion involving the disposition of movement systems, mass transit an other factors involved in the centralization of economic activity into the hands of a few, it is difficult to undertake in a limited format.
        I am curious how anyone can argue any aspect of City of St. Louis planning policies are a success. Point me to that success, I am interested is seeing evidence of something other than a well done crosswalk.

              

        • JZ71

          You’re right, it’s a complex subject.  And when it comes to defining success, it’s another one of those perception issues – your definition of success is likely somewhat different than mine (and here’s just one example: http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/crime/largo-fights-the-not-so-sweet-soundtrack-of-ice-cream-truck-music/1203434).  But in an attempt to answer your question, the fact that the city once housed 800,000+ people, many more businesses than we do today, a robust streetcar system and many walkable, relatively dense neighborhoods with a mixture of uses all would seem to imply success, being attractive to more people than it is today.  In contrast, Houston is the de facto poster child for laissez faire planning efforts in the US, and its results seem to be less stellar than ours.  I’d also argue that there is no true nirvana, that every city or burg could be improved.  We can either lament our condition and rail against being “under the thumb of the man” or we can continue to work to make many small, incremental improvements, like what’s being discussed here.  One of the simplest, yet most difficult to implement, would be making Metro more attractive to more people.  Doing so would inform both the planning process and result in a less auto-centric built environment here – like you said, it’s all interrelated.

          • gmichaud

            I am not advocating a laissez faire planning system. In fact to attain a “successful” city requires regulation, for instance Walgreens or other businesses cannot construct corner facing parking lots. (Entry on sides or back). This helps restore a walking, transit friendly city.
            Sure it is great to make many small incremental improvements. At the same time a larger foundation of what can and should be accomplished in building a “successful” city needs to be clearly stated and understood. The corner of Jefferson and Lafayette lacks this larger understanding and intergration into the city as a holistic unit.
            St. Louis is at the point that this broad understanding of city planning and policy need to be revamped and made transparent to the citizens. The city of the past is one guide but whatever it takes needs to be undertaken and established. This is not some pie in the sky nirvana. The reality is that many cities do a much better job of planning and implementation of “successful” environments for their citizens. The results we live in St. Louis with everyday speak for themselves. (The link didn’t work)

          • JZ71
  • Moe

    You certainly raise some valid points that should be considered further.

  • Anonymous

    While I agree that government, at all levels, creates barriers to entry, I don’t think that they’re all bad and/or that they’re the biggest barriers to starting a business.  Name recognition and experience are important to success, as is access to capital – most businesses require investing in either technology or inventory, in addition to any physical location.  The challenge with the free-for-all mentality is that too many people can’t function as good neighbors.  If my neighbor wants to run a virtual, web-based business, it’s going to impact me minimally – why should I care?  If they want to bake cupcakes or barbeque meats, I can probably deal with the aromas.  But if they decide to get into gourmet sauer kraut and/or raising swine or fowl, I’ll probably want the government to step in.  And if someone decided to set up a business on the sidewalk or in the street in front of my home (yes, it’s the “public” right-of-way), I’d probably be taking things into my own hands.

  • Anonymous

    Swine, pigs, I remember doing some research years ago to determine when the City banned raising pigs, damn I forget the exact date, it might of been around the Civil War. The point is there is always going to be limitations for business formation. Old St. Louis was wide open. It avoided the centralization of commerce of today with its zoned commercial islands. Comprehensive zoning has played into the hands of an economic elite over the creative economic environment of the past that allowed for formation of a business on any site. The policies today are absolutely anti free market and anti capitalist in conception.
    Older neighborhoods in the city are more likely appropriate for a free form zoning, and even then the usage range that was place in the past is probably not as pertinent now. Soulard, in its hey day, no one would even notice a new commercial enterprise in any location due to the heavy commercial activity and density of population. Today it has become populated with a gentrified, regressive upper middle class who would not support free form zoning unless it was shown to work elsewhere. Beyond Soulard there are many St. Louis neighborhoods that would benefit from and support zoning that creates, or least does not hinder, economic activity.
    I disagree that government creating barriers to economic entry is not a major factor in Americas’ decline. Something as basic as city planning forms daily city life and economic activity. Every facet of society has been controlled and policies enacted to enable an economic elite to take control over true capitalism and robust economic competition.
    This is an extensive discussion involving the disposition of movement systems, mass transit an other factors involved in the centralization of economic activity into the hands of a few, it is difficult to undertake in a limited format.
    I am curious how anyone can argue any aspect of City of St. Louis planning policies are a success. Point me to that success, I am interested is seeing evidence of something other than a well done crosswalk.

          

  • Anonymous

    You’re right, it’s a complex subject.  And when it comes to defining success, it’s another one of those perception issues – your definition of success is likely somewhat different than mine.  But in an attempt to answer your question, the fact that the city once housed 800,000+ people, many more businesses than we do today, a robust streetcar system and many walkable, relatively dense neighborhoods with a mixture of uses all would seem to imply success, being attractive to more people than it is today.  In contrast, Houston is the de facto poster child for laissez faire planning efforts in the US, and its results seem to be less stellar than ours.  I’d also argue that there is no true nirvana, that every city or burg could be improved.  We can either lament our condition and rail against being “under the thumb of the man” or we can continue to work to make many small, incremental improvements, like what’s being discussed here.  One of the simplest, yet most difficult to implement, would be making Metro more attractive to more people.  Doing so would inform both the planning process and result in a less auto-centric built environment here – like you said, it’s all interrelated.

  • Anonymous

    I am not advocating a laissez faire planning system. In fact to attain a “successful” city requires regulation, for instance Walgreens or other businesses cannot construct corner facing parking lots. (Entry on sides or back). This helps restore a walking, transit friendly city.
    Sure it is great to make many small incremental improvements. At the same time a larger foundation of what can and should be accomplished in building a “successful” city needs to be clearly stated and understood. The corner of Jefferson and Lafayette lacks this larger understanding and intergration into the city as a holistic unit.
    St. Louis is at the point that this broad understanding of city planning and policy need to be revamped and made transparent to the citizens. The city of the past is one guide but whatever it takes needs to be undertaken and established. This is not some pie in the sky nirvana. The reality is that many cities do a much better job of planning and implementation of “successful” environments for their citizens. The results we live in St. Louis with everyday speak for themselves. (The link didn’t work)

  • Anonymous
  • http://twitter.com/innercitivoice Edward Williams, Jr

    I’m tired of St. Louis politics!!!! The city is in the shape it is in because of white flight. If you are afraid of someone of another race, keep yourself out in the County. The only way the city is going to have a comback, is to leave you racial biast in the county. You are going to have to work with the black majority to make this city great. Stop trying to leave us out or treating us like we don’t exist.

    • JZ71

      I’m not quite sure which part of your rant to respond to.  Politics?  Yes, they’re frustrating.  White flight?  Yes, it’s a big part of the problem.  “Work with the black majority”?  We do that already, every day.  As a relative newcomer to the area, I’ve seen a lot of underlying racism as well as a lot of political dysfunction, especially compared to other areas of the country, but something else that seems to pervade every discussion here is a lot of economic classism.  This is the first place I’ve lived where one went to high school defines you so completely.  This is the first place I’ve lived where being hoosier doesn’t mean you’re from Indiana.  This is the first place I’ve lived where whole neighborhoods have been abandoned and left to decay (except for the mining ghost towns I saw around Colorado).  This is the first place I’ve lived where whole residential neighborhoods, primarily lower socio-economic ones, have been bulldozed for new shopping centers and airport runways.  This is also the first place I’ve lived where the black middle class is as eager to abandon the city much of the white middle class is.  Blame the schools, blame the crime, blame the politics, blame the racism, blame the dysfunction, but the reality remains that more people are leaving than moving in, and this has been going on for more than sixty years.  Until this changes, poverty, especially among the African-American community on the north side will remain their defining issue.  If you can’t find a job, you can’t fight your way out of whatever economic strata your luck had you born into.  If your neighborhoods look scary, like a war zone, people of all races will look elsewhere, if they have the means to do so.  Gentrification would be the best thing to happen to the north side, but we’re a long, long way from that happening.

  • Branwell1

    Actually, for the first time in its history, the City of St. Louis has no racial majority, according to the 2010 census data. Ten years ago, the census recorded a slight black majority for the first time, (51.2%) but that has since dropped a few percentage points, due to extensive “black flight” out of north St. Louis and elsewhere in the city. That phenomenon is ongoing and is more pervasive now than “white flight”.

    I don’t think “gentrification” is ever a good thing. If by that term you mean “stabilization and investment” then I agree, that’s what the north side needs. I think that by definition gentrification is ultimately a wash, except maybe for some people who benefit (in the short term) financially.

  • TGEmpress

    I find it fascinating that many of the people on here will avoid the Grand & Gravois Schnucks and drive to the Loughborough or Hampton location when the Arsenal (Hill) Schnucks has good produce and by my account a diversified population that draws from all of the surrounding areas. Just a little comment on what I think of as the forgotten Schnucks. 

    • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

      Another Schnuck’s with no pedestrian access route. Highly disconnected.

      • Webby

        The pedestrian access route is running (or strolling) across 5 lanes of Gravois with kids in tow, dodging traffic Frogger-style.  

        I’m amazed that there aren’t pedestrians hit by cars every day on the stretch of Gravois between Cherokee and Chippewa.

    • Branwell1

      I go to the Arsenal Schnucks, as do most of my TGE neighbors. It’s much more pleasant than the Grand and Gravois store. Strictly speaking, the Arsenal outfit is not “on the Hill”, even though they try to say it is.

      • Shabadoo

        thats just sad

        • Branwell1

          Tell me about it. “Southwest Garden Schnucks” sounds fine to me. There are so many things in life to be sad about; I guess this is just one more.

    • Webby

      I live a couple of blocks from the Grand & Gravois Schnucks, and I now avoid it at all costs.  The times I’ve been there, the store has been a filthy wreck, and I never get through a check-out line in under 15 minutes.  I usually go to the Arsenal store…it’s clean, well-stocked, and the employees are helpful and pleasant.

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