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Harris-Stowe State University Campus Disconnected From Adjacent City

January 17, 2012 Midtown, Planning & Design 24 Comments

In the 21+ years I’ve been in St. Louis I’ve watched Harris-Stowe State Universitygo through name changes and a major expansion of their campus.

ABOVE: Backside of entrance marker to Harris-Stowe State University WB on what was once Laclede Ave, facing Compton Ave & Saint Louis University

This was done under the leadership of university president Dr. Henry Givens Jr., now retired:

Givens managed to grab the LaClede Town housing project land – valued at roughly $17 million – for $10 after the federal government shut it down and turned it over to the city in the 1990s. His hard work and relentless political negotiating got him the old Vashon Community Center and three surrounding acres for another $10. The historically black college for teachers kept adding buildings – along with students and degree programs – and eventually earned full-fledge university status in 2005. (West End Word)

In 2006 Harris Stowe added their first dormitory.

ABOVE: Gillespie Residence Hall opened in 2006

In August of last year they opened a second  residence hall:

Harris-Stowe State University celebrated the opening of its second residence hall and new student dining facility on Friday, August 12. The university named the recently completed 65,000-square-foot, four-story structure in honor of attorney Freeman R. Bosley Jr., the first African-American mayor of the City of St. Louis and long-time advocate of the university and its mission. (St. Louis American)

Combined the two residence halls house 428 students.

ABOVE: Bosley Residence Hall

With two residence halls and more and more academic buildings just south of the emerging Midtown Alleydistrict:

Boutique hotels and trendy restaurants today are sprinkled among [marketing] agencies with names like “Scorch,” “Four Alarm” and “Spoke.” The development makes it difficult to envision that barely ten years have passed since the Thoelkes brought their shop specializing in cultural events and institutions to Midtown. (STLtoday.com)

What an exciting environment to have adjacent to a college campus! The closest establishment to campus is the hugely popular Pappy’s Smokehouse but also close is The Good Pie, The Fountain on Locust and opening this coming Saturday, Hamburger Mary’s. The students must walk to Midtown Alley all the time. Well, I’m sure they would  if they could.

ABOVE: Harris-Stowe's fence prevents pedestrian access to the sidewalk along the east side of Cardinal Ave
ABOVE: A locked gate blocks access to the sidewalk on the west side of Cardinal Ave, seen here looking south toward campus, leading directly to Pappy's
ABOVE: Looking south from Cardinal Ave toward campus we see that buildings were located to block this natural access point.

To be fair to Harris-Stowe, when they acquired the LaClede Town land the area now known as Midtown Alley had yet to begin developing. In planning their campus they used the same failed logic as Saint Louis University — the area outside of the campus border has nothing now nor will it ever so it’s best we just turn out backs and keep the students safe from the big bad world.

ABOVE: Harris-Stowe campus on bottom, Cardinal Ave center and Hamburger Mary's upper right. Click to view in Google Maps

TOKY Branding + Design opened on Olive just east of Compton in 2002.  Two years later the Emerson Performance Center (lower left, above) opened permanently blocking access to Cardinal Ave and Olive St.  Just reaching the bus stops at that intersection is a challenge for students.

ABOVE: Harris-Stowe's official campus map shows access to Grand via Laclede but SLU closed that route

b

ABOVE: Garbage dumpsters for Emerson Performing Center are located where a strong pedestrian connection on campus should lead to the city beyond

b

ABOVE: You can't miss Hamburger Mary's on Olive, it opens on Saturday.

Hamburger Mary’s will likely draw huge crowds starting Saturday. I’m afraid students or others will get hurt trying to cross Olive St at Cardinal Ave to reach the new bar & grill. A strong campus connection at Cardinal Ave would have made pedestrian signals at Olive easier to justify. I cross at Compton Ave but I doubt others will go out of their way to do so.

Like Saint Louis University to the east, Harris-Stowe State University has very nice buildings, green grass and an orderly campus. Both fail at connecting to the city. – Steve Patterson

 

Currently there are "24 comments" on this Article:

  1. MAKES_SENSE_DONT_DO_IT says:

    A couple of simple, low cost changes would open up the entire Harris Stowe campus and facilitate movement to Midtown Alley.  The larger question is the speed of traffic on OLIVE  between Grand and Garrison.   Frankly, it is a raceway, downhill in both directions to Compton.   A 30 MPH Speed limit with speed bumps and flashing yellows at Vito’s and Hamburger Marys would make a huge difference.  Further, a Center Median Planter and 45 degree angle parking in both directions will make it truly WELCOMING  to the hundreds of thousands of pedestrians who cross Olive near Compton for all of the games and concerts at Chaifetz or to go to Pappy’s Smokehouse.   Every day, horns blare and pedestrians run along and across this dangerous strip of Olive.   A hurt pedestrian on this stretch is just a matter of time be it SLU Student, Alum or others who come here.   

     
  2. MAKES_SENSE_DONT_DO_IT says:

    A couple of simple, low cost changes would open up the entire Harris Stowe campus and facilitate movement to Midtown Alley.  The larger question is the speed of traffic on OLIVE  between Grand and Garrison.   Frankly, it is a raceway, downhill in both directions to Compton.   A 30 MPH Speed limit with speed bumps and flashing yellows at Vito’s and Hamburger Marys would make a huge difference.  Further, a Center Median Planter and 45 degree angle parking in both directions will make it truly WELCOMING  to the hundreds of thousands of pedestrians who cross Olive near Compton for all of the games and concerts at Chaifetz or to go to Pappy’s Smokehouse.   Every day, horns blare and pedestrians run along and across this dangerous strip of Olive.   A hurt pedestrian on this stretch is just a matter of time be it SLU Student, Alum or others who come here.   

     
    • JZ71 says:

      “Downhill in both directions”?  Impossible!  “the hundreds of thousands of pedestrians who cross Olive near Compton”?  As in jaywalking?  There’s a signal at Compton – use it!  Hundreds, yes.  Hundreds of thousands, no, unless you mean in the past DECADE!

      Olive is a six-lane thoroughfare, designed to move traffic, NOT to be a leisurely neighborhood street.  If you want that, move a block or two north, to Locust or Washington.  Olive has been this way for, what, 60, 80, 100 years?  This is classic, after-the-fact NIMBY – move in, then expect things to change, to meet your own personal vision – who cares about the rest of the city?!  The real crime here isn’t Olive, it’s the fact that both SLU and Harris Stowe have destroyed the historic street grid.

       
      • MAKES_SENSE_DONT_DO_IT says:

        Never have seen such a knee jerk response so far from reality … have you been to this area regularly over the last 10 years?
        1. Go stand on the corner of Olive and Compton and look up Olive in both directions…..  Grand is uphill to the West, Garrison is uphill to the east,   Compton is the low point, not impossible, I stood there this a.m.
             Ever stand in the middle of a creek bed?  Both sides are uphill …. same principle.
        2. The Chaifetz is the MOST SUCCESSFUL venue of its size in the UNITED STATES and holds 6,000 to 10,000 per show or game.    Let’s do some math …. Conservatively if 500 of the people attending any given 
            event park north of Compton, and the Chaifetz has 200 events per year (which they do), that is 100,000 people crossing Olive each year.   Pappy’s serves over 700 people per day so let’s conservatively add
            another 100 daily or 30,000 per year crossing Olive, now add the Jazz Club, SLU, Vito’s, Moto Museum and Harris Stowe events and you are north of 150,000 crossings of Olive per year.  Wake up.
        3. How about just the 2 speed bumps and 30mph in that stretch, no 45 degree parking?… that would suffice to make it safer and keep Olive at 4 lanes with parallel parking on each side.  Olive Street would only slow 
            for under 1/2 mile in this congested pedestrian area,  then everyone could punch it in both directions.
        4. What Olive has been for the last 100 years makes no difference, the Chaifetz changed that permanantly, so get used to it.   If your kid got hit and killed crossing Olive, history would mean nothing to you and that is
             what is going to happen.
        5.  Nimby?  How does slowing traffic for a few hundred feet and adding pedestrian safeguards make me a NIMBY… I see myself as an IMBY… Put these things here…. it beats your obstructionist, backwards thinking.
        6.  Harris Stowe and SLU anchored and developed the entire area for the last 100 years.  As late as the late 1990’s the entire area we are talking about was an unsafe ghost town; now it is the fastest growing
             neighborhood in the city.   Yeah maybe it is my vision but what kind of horror show is yours?  And how does transforming a neighborhood hurt the rest of the city?  makes no sense.

         
        • JZ71 says:

          Which is it?  “Uphill in both directions” or “downhill in both directions”?  Every road goes up and down, partly for drainage and partly because of our local hills and valleys.  Unless you’re in the mountains and have a serious, sustained grade, speed is a function of road width, traffic control devices, enforcement and operator action, not because of a 1%, or less, grade (which is the case here).

          Lindell / Olive are a major corridor between downtown and the Central West End and points west.  I agree, Chaifetz is an addition to the venue options in the area, but it’s not a “game changer”, something that requires massive street changes to the existing street grid.  Besides the two institutions of higher learning, you also have the Fox theater, several large churches, a new charter school and multiple businesses in the area.  Pedestrians have crossed Grand, Lindell, Olive, Washington, Compton, etc, etc, for years.  Most do it successfully, a few don’t. 

          It sounds like you fall into the “you can never be too safe” camp, and not in the urban awareness camp, where one needs to look both ways and wait your turn, not just wander aimlessly into traffic, and expect everyone to stop.  I know, I know, pedestrians legally have the right of way, just like how smokers are legally prohibited from throwing their butts on the ground.  Until we get better enforcement, neither law is going to be very effective, so just deal with it.

          Your comments are NIMBY just like suburbanites who object to the hog farmer behind them or the loft dweller who objects to the nightclubs and late night revellers.  Caveat Emptor.  The farm, the nightclubs and the 6-8 lane Olive were all here first.  You knew it.  Why should you expect them to change?!  If Chaifetz generates large numbers of pedestrians, either SLU needs to provide more on-campus event parking or one or more of those 4 security agencies can get out of their cruisers and provide special traffic control on Olive, as needed.  The rest of the time, the few pedestrians crossing Olive can either use the light at Compton or look both ways and wait for a break in traffic, to jaywalk.  Using your “logic”, the streets around Busch Stadium also need to be permanently narrowed to accomodate all those pedestrians.

          “Transforming” a neighborhood is usually a good thing, but it doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  The city doesn’t do speed bumps for valid safety and legal reasons.  They can and do damage vehicles and can even cause them to lose control.  They also slow down some drivers, but not all drivers, so they present a false sense of security.  Traffic is also like water, it follows the path of least resistance.  If traffic is slowed down on or diverted from Olive, it IS going to go somewhere else (NIMBY?).  It may end up on I-64 or it may end up on Washington or on FPP / Market or it may just stay out of the city, completely.  The problem you mitigate here will likely negatively impact someone else’s neighborhood.  Urban living involves shared sacrifice, and traffic is, unfortunately, one of them.

           
  3. Anonymous says:

    “Downhill in both directions”?  Impossible!  “the hundreds of thousands of pedestrians who cross Olive near Compton”?  As in jaywalking?  There’s a signal at Compton – use it!  Hundreds, yes.  Hundreds of thousands, no, unless you mean in the past DECADE!

    Olive is a six-lane thoroughfare, designed to move traffic, NOT to be a leisurely neighborhood street.  If you want that, move a block or two north, to Locust or Washington.  Olive has been this way for, what, 60, 80, 100 years?  This is classic, after-the-fact NIMBY – move in, then expect things to change, to meet your own personal vision – who cares about the rest of the city?!  The real crime here isn’t Olive, it’s the fact that both SLU and Harris Stowe have destroyed the historic street grid.

     
  4. Moe says:

    Well the bigger issue is why HS feels they need to fence in their campus.  We cannot wave a magic wand and have crime disappear.  And safety is a big draw for colleges.

     
  5. Moe says:

    Well the bigger issue is why HS feels they need to fence in their campus.  We cannot wave a magic wand and have crime disappear.  And safety is a big draw for colleges.

     
    • MAKES_SENSE_DONT_DO_IT says:

      For the last 2 years, the area that incorporates Harris Stowe, SLU, Grand Center and Midtown Alley enjoys the lowest crime rate across all categories in the City of St. Louis.   Why?  The St. Louis Police Department and FOUR other private security firms patrol there (SLU Security, Harris Stowe Security, Grand Center Security and Locust Business District Security) plus over 30 security cameras populate the area monitoring and recording
      happenings.   The North and West Entrances to the Harris Stowe campus are manned 24/7 and access could be opened from 7am to 8pm weekdays, 11pm weekends.    SLU has much more open access and have very few problems with kids in Grand Center and Midtown Alley (where over 150 of SLU Students now live).

       
  6. MAKES_SENSE_DONT_DO_IT says:

    Never have seen such a knee jerk response so far from reality … have you been to this area regularly over the last 10 years?
    1. Go stand on the corner of Olive and Compton and look up Olive in both directions…..  Grand is uphill to the West, Garrison is uphill to the east,   Compton is the low point, not impossible, I stood there this a.m.
         Ever stand in the middle of a creek bed?  Both sides are uphill …. same principle.
    2. The Chaifetz is the MOST SUCCESSFUL venue of its size in the UNITED STATES and holds 6,000 to 10,000 per show or game.    Let’s do some math …. Conservatively if 500 of the people attending any given 
        event park north of Compton, and the Chaifetz has 200 events per year (which they do), that is 100,000 people crossing Olive each year.   Pappy’s serves over 700 people per day so let’s conservatively add
        another 100 daily or 30,000 per year crossing Olive, now add the Jazz Club, SLU, Vito’s, Moto Museum and Harris Stowe events and you are north of 150,000 crossings of Olive per year.  Wake up.
    3. How about just the 2 speed bumps and 30mph in that stretch, no 45 degree parking?… that would suffice to make it safer and keep Olive at 4 lanes with parallel parking on each side.  Olive Street would only slow 
        for under 1/2 mile in this congested pedestrian area,  then everyone could punch it in both directions.
    4. What Olive has been for the last 100 years makes no difference, the Chaifetz changed that permanantly, so get used to it.   If your kid got hit and killed crossing Olive, history would mean nothing to you and that is
         what is going to happen.
    5.  Nimby?  How does slowing traffic for a few hundred feet and adding pedestrian safeguards make me a NIMBY… I see myself as an IMBY… Put these things here…. it beats your obstructionist, backwards thinking.
    6.  Harris Stowe and SLU anchored and developed the entire area for the last 100 years.  As late as the late 1990’s the entire area we are talking about was an unsafe ghost town; now it is the fastest growing
         neighborhood in the city.   Yeah maybe it is my vision but what kind of horror show is yours?  And how does transforming a neighborhood hurt the rest of the city?  makes no sense.

     
  7. MAKES_SENSE_DONT_DO_IT says:

    For the last 2 years, the area that incorporates Harris Stowe, SLU, Grand Center and Midtown Alley enjoys the lowest crime rate across all categories in the City of St. Louis.   Why?  The St. Louis Police Department and FOUR other private security firms patrol there (SLU Security, Harris Stowe Security, Grand Center Security and Locust Business District Security) plus over 30 security cameras populate the area monitoring and recording
    happenings.   The North and West Entrances to the Harris Stowe campus are manned 24/7 and access could be opened from 7am to 8pm weekdays, 11pm weekends.    SLU has much more open access and have very few problems with kids in Grand Center and Midtown Alley (where over 150 of SLU Students now live).

     
  8. Mark Brown says:

    Olive St. – from Tucker to Grand – needs to be narrowed with greenscaped medians. While the street has always been too wide, the big wide street is obsolete and no longer carries the amount of traffic it was built for. Medians would not only narrow the road, but it would help slow down traffic. A lush and ornate streetscape with medians and an intelligent traffic system could potentially make Olive/Lindell a premier street in St. Louis City.

     
  9. Mark Brown says:

    Olive St. – from Tucker to Grand – needs to be narrowed with greenscaped medians. While the street has always been too wide, the big wide street is obsolete and no longer carries the amount of traffic it was built for. Medians would not only narrow the road, but it would help slow down traffic. A lush and ornate streetscape with medians and an intelligent traffic system could potentially make Olive/Lindell a premier street in St. Louis City.

     
    • JZ71 says:

      Why not move the curbs toward the center (instead of adding medians) and create bigger “front yards” for the existing buildings?  Or, why not leave the north curb where it is, move the south curb to the center of the existing street, and then “reclaim” and sell off the south half for new, tight-to-the-sidewalk urban structures?  Landscaped medians are maintenance headaches.

       
  10. Mark Brown says:

    I forgot to add too that a landscaped and ornate streetscape along Olive/Lindell could spark new development/projects. There are a lot non-historic buildings that can be sacrificed for new development as well as vacant lots ripe for new development.

     
  11. Mark Brown says:

    I forgot to add too that a landscaped and ornate streetscape along Olive/Lindell could spark new development/projects. There are a lot non-historic buildings that can be sacrificed for new development as well as vacant lots ripe for new development.

     
  12. Anonymous says:

    Which is it?  “Uphill in both directions” or “downhill in both directions”?  Every road goes up and down, partly for drainage and partly because of our local hills and valleys.  Unless you’re in the mountains and have a serious, sustained grade, speed is a function of road width, traffic control devices, enforcement and operator action, not because of a 1%, or less, grade (which is the case here).

    Lindell / Olive are a major corridor between downtown and the Central West End and points west.  I agree, Chaifetz is an addition to the venue options in the area, but it’s not a “game changer”, something that requires massive street changes to the existing street grid.  Besides the two institutions of higher learning, you also have the Fox theater, several large churches, a new charter school and multiple businesses in the area.  Pedestrians have crossed Grand, Lindell, Olive, Washington, Compton, etc, etc, for years.  Most do it successfully, a few don’t. 

    It sounds like you fall into the “you can never be too safe” camp, and not in the urban awareness camp, where one needs to look both ways and wait your turn, not just wander aimlessly into traffic, and expect everyone to stop.  I know, I know, pedestrians legally have the right of way, just like how smokers are legally prohibited from throwing their butts on the ground.  Until we get better enforcement, neither law is going to be very effective, so just deal with it.

    Your comments are NIMBY just like suburbanites who object to the hog farmer behind them or the loft dweller who objects to the nightclubs and late night revellers.  Caveat Emptor.  The farm, the nightclubs and the 6-8 lane Olive were all here first.  You knew it.  Why should you expect them to change?!  If Chaifetz generates large numbers of pedestrians, either SLU needs to provide more on-campus event parking or one or more of those 4 security agencies can get out of their cruisers and provide special traffic control on Olive, as needed.  The rest of the time, the few pedestrians crossing Olive can either use the light at Compton or look both ways and wait for a break in traffic, to jaywalk.  Using your “logic”, the streets around Busch Stadium also need to be permanently narrowed to accomodate all those pedestrians.

    “Transforming” a neighborhood is usually a good thing, but it doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  The city doesn’t do speed bumps for valid safety and legal reasons.  They can and do damage vehicles and can even cause them to lose control.  They also slow down some drivers, but not all drivers, so they present a false sense of security.  Traffic is also like water, it follows the path of least resistance.  If traffic is slowed down on or diverted from Olive, it IS going to go somewhere else (NIMBY?).  It may end up on I-64 or it may end up on Washington or on FPP / Market or it may just stay out of the city, completely.  The problem you mitigate here will likely negatively impact someone else’s neighborhood.  Urban living involves shared sacrifice, and traffic is, unfortunately, one of them.

     
  13. Anonymous says:

    Why not move the curbs toward the center (instead of adding medians) and create bigger “front yards” for the existing buildings?  Or, why not leave the north curb where it is, move the south curb to the center of the existing street, and then “reclaim” and sell off the south half for new, tight-to-the-sidewalk urban structures?  Landscaped medians are maintenance headaches.

     
  14. Benya31 says:

    The big problem with SLU and HS are their fences. Colleges are supposed to encourage thier students to walk from class to class but its impossible when every block is surrounded by black steel fence so that the perfect greens aren’t ruined, stupid. makes it unwalkable

     
  15. Benya31 says:

    The big problem with SLU and HS are their fences. Colleges are supposed to encourage thier students to walk from class to class but its impossible when every block is surrounded by black steel fence so that the perfect greens aren’t ruined, stupid. makes it unwalkable

     
    • JZ71 says:

      Amen!  I attended one college and two universities, and lived for many years close to another university.  NONE of them were fenced in like these two institutions, making them feel more like minimum-security prisons than parts of their communities!

       
  16. Anonymous says:

    Amen!  I attended one college and two universities, and lived for many years close to another university.  NONE of them were fenced in like these two institutions, making them feel more like minimum-security prisons than parts of their communities!

     
  17. MAKES_SENSE_DONT_DO_IT says:

    I walked the SLU Campus 3 or 4 days a week all summer and found it to be quite open for urban university and easily accessed from most any direction, albeit limited to major walking paths.   Harris Stowe is another story, there is basically one way in and out.   The neighborhood crime rate
    has fallen drastically over the last 10 years, so it is time for both to take a look at more accessible campuses.

     
  18. MAKES_SENSE_DONT_DO_IT says:

    I walked the SLU Campus 3 or 4 days a week all summer and found it to be quite open for urban university and easily accessed from most any direction, albeit limited to major walking paths.   Harris Stowe is another story, there is basically one way in and out.   The neighborhood crime rate
    has fallen drastically over the last 10 years, so it is time for both to take a look at more accessible campuses.

     

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