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Continued Suburbanization of Delmar Blvd Won’t Revitalize Delmar Blvd

April 26, 2012 Central West End, Featured, Planning & Design, Zoning 34 Comments

Delmar Blvd., like most St. Louis streets, was once very urban in form. Buildings all were built up to the sidewalk, defining the public vs. private space. This also gave pedestrians a sense of enclosure, they weren’t exposed on all sides.

For decades now we’ve chipped away at the urban form then wondered why we also had population loss, increased pollution and disinvestment. We still would have experienced population loss based on the trend to the suburbs but trying to remake the city to be like th, e suburbs didn’t work to stop the loss and now it’s preventing the rejuvenation of many areas, such as along Delmar Blvd.

Also for decades St. Louis’ “leadership” has thought that anything new — any investment — was better than no investment at all. What they continue to fail to understand is disconnected buildings set back behind parking doesn’t create anyplace special. Furthermore with old storefronts up to the sidewalk and new buildings set back the look and feel isn’t pleasant. It’s not a contiguous wall of buildings or or consistent setback common in suburbia.

St. Louis’ first planner, Harland Bartholomew, wanted to basically raze the city and rebuild in the suburban model — see his 1947 Comprehensive Plan.

So when I saw this building being built in 2006 I was appalled that it was set back from Delmar. This is the offices of 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis located at 4631 Delmar.

ABOVE: Under construction in May 2006
ABOVE: 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis on Delmar, April 2012
ABOVE: On the Delmar sidewalk facing the entrance after exiting the bus pedestrians are less important than the cars.
ABOVE: The required ADA access route does exist but you have to go to the side street to reach it
ABOVE: The building to the east is having it's front removed to make it less urban than it's been for decades.

None of this will encourage investment and improvement of the area, it’ll likely accelerate disinvestment and abandonment. I hope to live long enough to see the 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis building razed and replaced with 2-3 urban buildings.

– Steve Patterson


Currently there are "34 comments" on this Article:

  1. Jeff says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Steve.  As long as the City tries to compete with the suburbs, the City will lose. The urban renewal schemes that St. Louis has followed for the last 60 years have not worked.  The only thing that sets St. Louis apart from its suburbs and places like Houston and Atlanta is our amazingly beautiful, distinguished, historic, dense, relatively intact urban environment.  As we keep chipping away at our biggest competitive advantage, we have NOTHING over anyplace else.  There are many cities with a better climate, mountains and beaches, but very few can match our built environment. We’ve squandered way too much already.

  2. Fozzie says:

    Baloney.  White flight and horrid schools, not a loss of urban form, resulted in decreased population.  Pollution is reduced, too.

  3. Rick says:

    Many would argue that the development is an improvement.  There is room in STL for many styles of buildings.  The 100 Black Men could have built their building in the suburbs, but they built it in the city.

    As far as what makes St. Louis unique?  It’s a lot of things besides cool architecture.  We are a great beer town.  We have great people.  We have the best baseball team in National League history.  We are a great music town.  We have great restaurants.  We have great attractions.  We have a world class symphony and botanical garden.  Need I go on?

    • Joe says:

      But great architecture and the built environment IS part of what makes STL unique, so we can’t just get rid of it or diminish its value to the City as your statement seems to do.

      I grow tired of the “but they chose to build in the city” statements, as if that gives developers a free pass for bad design. The city should encourage urban building.

    • Chris Corr says:

      The style of building is not the issue. You seem to have missed the whole point of the article. The issue is the suburban-like setback from the street.

  4. moe says:

    I was going to say I agree with you Steve, but then I read Fozzie’s post….I actually agree with him more.  Don’t get me wrong, your post is right on target.  BUT population loss = urban decay.  And Delmar has been (for at least 40 years), the demilatarized zone….the line drawn in the sand if you will of whites on the south, blacks on the north.  So race and population very much plays into the decline of Delmar.  Especially Delmar.  Then add to the mix that Delmar remains a very busy street and no one wants to live right on the street (but a bit set back) and the run down buildings and the commericalization (and don’t forget that monstrasity called Metro garage)…and you have today’s results.  And it’s a shame.  Back in it’s day, Delmar had some GREAT old homes and office buildings, but not anymore.

  5. JZ71 says:

    You state that “for decades St. Louis’ “leadership” has thought that anything new — any investment — was better than no investment at all.”  So, you would be comfortable with a continuum of no investment at all as our best, vacant and boarded up as our median and crumbling structures and vacant lots as our worst?!  That sounds a lot like our sister powerhouses, places like Wellston and East St. Louis.

    I agree, the urban form of many of our new investments isn’t very urban, but the older, more-urban stuff (that you claim to be critical to our success) simply isn’t attracting the types of tenants and users that are equally critical to our success as a city.  There are multiple commercial properties that have been sitting vacant for years, contributing little other than a physical pressence.  There are many others that have marginal, at best, uses.  A city needs jobs, commerce and tax revenues to succeed.  Vacant structures are drag on this dynamic, and when they reach the point where maintenance no longer makes any sense and isn’t being done and the buildings actually fall apart, they become a true disincentive to new investment.

    Our struggles as a city stem from many sources – white flight, deindustrialization, automation, poor leadership, widespread access to automobiles and trucks, freeways, shopping malls, big box stores, incentives from suburban governments, etc, etc – but a lack of walkability (in the urban design sense) is a very small issue. 

    Have you asked 100 Black Men why they made the choices they did?  Have you asked their architect?  Why they favored parking over pedestrians?  Why they set themselves back from the street?  I’m sure thay had valid (to them) reasons for doing so, while investing several hundred thousand dollars in the city.  Holding up examples (like this) help frame the discusion but do very little to change what’s actually being built.  What really needs to happen is a wholesale reeducation of the people with the money, the ones making the investments.  Architects can and do make suggestions and recommendations to improve designs every day, but we are beholden to our clients.  If they want to provide 50 parking spaces, while only 30 or 40 should work, most of us will figure out how to give them 50.

    There’s a big difference between ivory tower, academic speculations and getting paid for one’s design work.  Most architects are hired to do specific projects and we can and will only push the design envelope so far.  Going too far outside a client’s comfort zone can either be a waste of time or a great way to be terminated and not paid.  Few clients, especially on new-build projects, want to ignore the automobile and go back to the urban realities of the 1920’s – streetcars and walking is what most people did back then, not so much now.  The city is pretty much in the same position.  They can only require so many concessions from a developer before they conclude it’s not worth the hassle and take their dollars elsewhere.

    • Msrdls says:

      We’ve all read The Fountainhead, about a young architect’s struggle in obscurity rather than to compromise his artistic vision. It would be interesting to learn if designs by Link and Louie Sullivan and others were ever driven by external influences, or if those classic architects  exercised the ability to render their designs consistent only or primarily with their personal and artistic visions? 

  6. OctaviusIII says:

    What bothers me about it is, looking at the aerial, there are a huge number of vacant lots along Delmar.  Rather than building on one of them, or renovating an existing building, they chose to tear down an existing building.

    Perhaps a zoning rewrite with a maximum setback, or a clause encouraging reuse, would help keep such things from happening.

    • Garden Gypsy says:

      They always have a plan 🙁 The lot corner of delmar/academy will be a parking lot for the new blood bank building. They is a lot of tricky stuff going on around that area because of planned projects that they know about and we get told later.

  7. samizdat says:

    Actually, Steve, the building with the missing storefront was the result of a collapse sometime last year. Not really sure what the owners are going to do here, as they’ve got the remainder of the interior blocked off with a temporary OSB wall. There is also the building up the street–to the east–which has been under various stages of construction for about nine months. It is also set back from the street approx. sixty/seventy ft.

    As for the comments of Rick, well, most every major city has a baseball team, most every major city drinks beer (and maybe several have their own micro-breweries). Chicago, Denver, Cleveland, DC–they all have nice people. Most cities have great music and restaurants, and attractions. You don’t need to go on, to be sure. I believe that the point Mr. Patterson is trying to make is that trying to remake the City, just for the purposes of making some kind of tax revenue, or because it’s “development”, will not be the bait which will attract businesses and people back to the STL region, much less the City. Why would anyone move to a city if it looks the same as Dallas, ATL, Orlando, Phoenix, etc? We don’t have soaring  mountains, beautiful seashore, forests of evergreen (well, considering the drought and a certain destructive beetle, neither will anyone else in the Rockies). Why would anyone interested in urban–or dense–living want to live in a City that is starting to look like Chesterfield/O’Fallon/Warrenton/Arnold? It’s depressing to travel in some parts of the City, not because of the devastation from the past (though that does hurt), but because increasingly the choices made about retail and housing development could have been picked up whole from any ‘burb in the US and plopped down at the corner of Kingshighway and Delmar. That intersection makes me sick. But that’s not the only place this has occurred. Don’t even get  me started on the vast acreage around SLU which has been leveled over that last few years. Is that good for the City? Doubtful. Good for SLU, and its marketing teams? Probably. See, parents, no dark-skinned people walking around the streets near the school or the hospital. Because their are scarcely any places to live in Grand Center/SLU anymore. See what we did there? SLU is isolating itself from the City by cutting off any chance of development, and the City not only doesn’t raise a finger in opposition, it blatantly encourages the policy of land clearance for what, nothing? And this is repeated over and over. Want to build a building, but don’t have money or a permit, but that building sitting on your site has to go? Sure thing, just drop a few ducats into the collection plate for your alderman, and your golden. Put in a QT/Walgreens/CVS, etc, etc, etc., but that pesky apt building or historic structure is in your way? Go for it! No accountability, no responsibility, no planning, no brains.

    I’ll be getting out of school next spring, and my wife and I have had some serious discussions about leaving the STL for–where?–I don’t know yet. But we are both a little tired of the shenanigans and the piss-poor planning which is turning St. Louis and her history–and the buildings in which that history was made–into a weak and unneeded doppelganger to the ‘burbs.

    But, hey, your alderman just paved your alley, or put in another (unneeded) stop sign, so things are just fine, right? That’s why this City can’t have nice things. Because most of her residents have been programmed to accept shit as a substitute for real leadership, and positive and progressive development.  Hmmm, one could say much the same thing about the rest of the country. Nostrums and platitudes are no replacement for substantive and genuine advancement. I love this City, and this country, but I cannot close my eyes to the fact that we are moving backwards, and it’s scary to think that there are millions of my fellow citizens who are either ignorant of this, or are aware of it in some way, but just don’t want to look into the face of the Gorgon.

    Cripes, that was long, even for me. I think I need a beer.

    • JZ71 says:

      . . . and we all had a tree planted in Lindenwood Park today in honor of Labor Day.  Present was the mayor, alderman, head of parks, head of forestry and what looked like the entire staff of the Forestry Dept.

    • Eric says:

      “Why would anyone move to a city if it looks the same as Dallas, ATL,
      Orlando, Phoenix, etc?”

      I’m sure you would prefer those cities to become more urban as well. In which case you’d still have to ask why move to St Louis?

      The answer is that there is no special reason. St Louis is pretty similar to most other US cities especially in the Midwest, and that is unlikely to change. Most people who live here will do so because of jobs or family, as do most people in other cities. If St Louis becomes more urban-oriented, the same forces that caused it to do so will cause other cities to do the same. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

      “Why would anyone interested in urban–or dense–living want to live in a
      City that is starting to look like

      Of course they wouldn’t. But apparently there are not enough such people to make a difference. Builders will build whatever makes them a living, and until now their judgment has been that if they build urban-ly then not enough people will be interested in buying it.

  8. Ed Golterman says:

    There is no St. Louis ‘leadership’ and its decades are ‘over’. The City has may be a year,
    the County-two to two and a half. 

  9. Brian Wittling says:

    fewer things irritate me more than seeing these suburban style shitboxes being built in the city. Vinyl-sided houses with front-facing attached garages and driveway in the city?!? are you F@#ing kidding me?

    Stay in St. Charles (or farther) if that’s what you want. Please. We don’t need you. 

  10. Moe says:

    @JZ71:disqus ….a very well rounded response.  Thank you.
    @Brian…There is a place for all types of buildings in St. Louis.  Attached garage/basement garage, etc….it’s just how it’s planned to set in the neighborhood that is important.  I’m thinking of the Sear’s homes…the steel puzzle homes shipped on railcards…at one time these were generic and mass produced…now collectors items.  Or in my Tower Grove neighborhood where many in-fill homes look like they were transported out of Crestwood.  Will a vinyl sided house be a collectors item?  Unlikely, but my point is is that there is a place for all those types of homes…IF they are placed properly.  They can add to the eccletic look of a neighborhood.

  11. imran says:

    Form Based Zoning. We desperately need it in the city. That and a change in laws that makes Historic rehabs more profitable than parking lots and gas stations.

    • JZ71 says:

      Our zoning is not the major problem.  Our major problem is a lack of a viable public transporation system that is embraced by all levels of our community.  As long as buses are relegated to and viewed as something only the poor and the transit dependent use, while everyone else drives, combined with a large supply of relatively low-cost real estate, we’re going to continue to see parking lots and sprawl defining our “urban” environment.  When a city loses more than half its population and more than half the jobs it had 50 years ago, the whole reason for density goes away.  Vacant buildings are viewed as liabilities and abandoned and demolished.  Businesses that offer free, convenient parking do better than businesses that charge for parking or offer no parking at all.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why “suburban crap” gets built – it generates more money for its users.  It “works”, even if it’s somewhere between mandane and boring and butt-ugly.

      The 100 Black Men CHOSE to orient their front door toward the parking lot because that is how the vast majority of their users will be accessing the building.  The 100 Black Men had/have some idea how many of their people use Metrobus and how many drive.  They provided parking for the number of users they expect to drive AND they located on an active bus route.  The parking lot was an expense, but it was obviously within their budget.  There’s also a logical reason for placing the parking lot between the street and the building, better security, for both vehicles and users.  Parking lots isolated behind buildings are known to be areas of higher risk, since there’s less passing traffic to observe crimes in progress.

      Form based zoning would likely have squished the parking and the building around a bit, but you would still end up a one-story building and a large parking lot on land that was surprisingly cheap to buy.  You’d probably end up with a side-by-side arrangement, with the building on one corner and the parking lot on the other.  The current design presents a solid wall on the short side of the structure, so the sidewalk along Delmar would likely be up against a blank wall.  Whether that would be “better” is open to debate.  If you want people walking, you need to give them a reason to do so, and as long as parking is allowed, parking will be provided and people will drive instaed of walking.  Form based zoning can’t make density happen.  Only the demand for density will make it happen, and that starts with high land costs.  We have the double-decker portions of I-64 because the state determined that the cost of land acquisition was greater than the added cost of building the highway structure itself.  If that calculation were done today, the results would be different

  12. GMichaud says:

     Most of the comments seem to point to the stupidity of the continual emulation of the suburbs. And while diversity is great, there is no doubt the major need now is for focused strategies that put pedestrians, transit and bicycles on equal footing with the automobile.
    Not all development is an improvement, this one is marginal at best. Still city leadership apparently can care less what the hell they are doing. We continually see random projects without connections and meaning to the larger city. In fact that is the norm.
    It is a failure that is repeated over and over and is obvious at this point (I dread to see Paul McKee’s fantasy on the Northside)
    The real question becomes how to overthrow this stagnant system of government that only represents insider interests? It is pitiful, and what’s worse the mainstream press stands around with their heads up their ass too.
    The rebuilding of the city is a critical issue, not only for preserving the functionality of the past that is left, but for combining all of the individual parts into a meaningful urban environment for the enjoyment and use of its citizens, all tied to a future less reliant on oil.
    The reality is that if it were not for the Urban Review and a few other blogs, hardly any of this would ever be discussed in public. It is an indictment of the political/corporate system that has evolved to limit debate so the only solutions presented are the ones of their preferred interests.
    The result is St. Louis is still in decline, even after decades of destruction and population loss.

  13. Rick says:

    What kind of law makes historic rehab more profitable than parking lots and gas stations?   How does zoning make one use more profitable than another?  Government can do lots of things, but it cannot replace the forces of the market.  

  14. Moe says:

    Agreed Rick…and then that opens the can of worms as to property rights, tax credits and yada.  And while everyone is nit picking the City to death,  The mid-core (Webster, Kirkwood, Crestwood and the like) that are now approaching the end of their suburban life span are fighting the same fight we are….St Charles and the outlayers.  And the East side..can’t forget that.  So let’s not cast the City as the Big Bad Guy here….there is plenty of blame around and when you are the one in office you get into office and stay in office by putting your area (aldermandic) or city above all else and screw  your neighbors.  It’s harsh, it’s cruel, but it’s the real world.  Give me an example of where any official said…let’s not do that in our town because it will cause our neighboring town hardship….good luck with that ANYwhere in this Country.  I guess what I’m saying is don’t cry for me Argentina, but Rise up and run for office and be the change you want! 

  15. J Saracini says:

    Lots of grief about St. Louis … and the concern that it may end of looking like other cities …like Dallas.  These remarks make me think of the Soviet leadership that had never visited the USA but were so convinced that it was decadent and it’s “time was over”.  They didn’t have a clue … and to those who made the Dallas remark, don’t have one.  I have lived in Dallas for 29 years but when people ask me where I’m from, I always say St. Louis.  Why, because that IS where I’m from … and I’m proud of it.  I just live in Dallas.

    To get to the point, if you came to Dallas and I took you around to the various locations in the city, you would impressed witht he urbanization of this city.  Whole developments of urban centers built around a variety of street level shipping, 4 and 5 story apartments and condos … built next to the sidewalks.  There is quite a bit of renovation … but most of this city is new.  The reason, builders are investing millions to be part of this town.  We have leaders that have imagination and when they decide to do something … like a urbanized consolidated neighborhood; or an international airport; or a stadium … they don’t try to figure out how to do it on “the cheap”.  They really do believe, “If you build it; they will come!” … and it’s proven it self time and time again.  They are laying track for the train system that is causing developments like those mentioned above, around EVERY train station.  Again, because people with money see opportunity.

    I visit St. Louis a few times a year. Still have family there … including the Cardinals.  I saw the Kingshighway/Delmar mention … that is exacly were I grew up. 713a N. Kingshighway, 1/2 block north of Delmar.  The person that remarked that “Kingshighway and Delmar makes me sick” is right on.  It makes me sick too and quite sad to remember the vibrancy of that intersection in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.  Buses (every 2 or 3 minutes – “Kingshighway”; “Washington”) streetcars; (“Olive”; “Hodiament” [spel?]) service cars (privately owned limos that ran up and down Delmar taking people to U City; the theaters on Grand Avenue; or downtown.  Multi-story hotels like the Westgate; the George Washington; the Adolphus; even “hooker heaven” – the Delway; lots of small shops; two theatersmade; a number of racous night clubs and taverns …. all providing a tremendous amount of automotive and pedestrian traffic,  Where did it all go … and why?

    Because St. Louis is … and has been saddled with unimaginative, small thinking, managers … not leaders that prefer the status quo because they know anything better is a threat to their positions.  Keep the money people (bad) fighting with the unions (good) to obfuscate, delay and destroy.  THEY HAVE AND ARE WINNING!

    • JZ71 says:

      Well said.  Now how do we change the current dynamic here?!  “Builders are investing millions to be part of this town” (Dallas) because they believe they can get their millions back, and more, because people want to move to Dallas, because Dallas has a transit system that appeals to most economic levels, because Dallas has jobs and economic opportunity and because Dallas is building on successful projects that have shown that medium-density projects with structured parking sell, even at the premiums it costs to do them!

      Until we start to see local success, it’s going to be hard to convince cities, developers and end users to try anything other than the “proven” suburban model.  New Town St. Charles, The Boulevard Shops across from the Galleria and downtown Dardenne Prarie are all valiant attempts to do something different, yet none are viewed as rousing successes, while the mundane stuff nearby seem to be doing perfectly fine.  Whether it’s Metro, McKee, Sunnen or someone else, it’s going to take a major player taking some risks and then succeeding to convince the “safe managers” to follow their lead.

  16. Joe Frank says:

    I agree with you to some extent about this, Steve, but the reality is that stretch of Delmar has been a mish-mash without any real coherent plan for development, for decades, at least since the Union-Sarah Economic Development Corporation disbanded, and the Roberts brothers acquired much of the property once held by that CDC.  I agree that transit access should be maximized, but you need public policy that encourages that — few builders or property owners will do it on their own.  That’s true for non-profits as well as commercial and residential developers.

    Having attended high school at basically Delmar and Kingshighway myself from 1993 to 1996, I am saddened by how much the immediate vicinity has declined just in the past 15 years. Once the grocery store closed, the viability of many of the surrounding businesses suffered.  While city government has put some dollars into infrastructure improvements on the stretch of Delmar west of Kingshighway, there’s still a lot of room for improvement east of Kingshighway.

  17. GMichaud says:

    Rick, the government replaces the forces of market everyday, that’s how we got into this situation, 100s and 1000’s of small and large policy decisions that allow gas stations and the automobile to dominate over walking and transit is the source of the decline of the city.
    The change that has to occur is to put the pedestrian, the bicycle and transit on at a minimum of equal footing with the auto. In fact the city, if it is to maintain its unique character should make walking, and pedestrians the basic element of city planning.
    Right now just about everything is designed for the auto: the inanimate object of the automobile is more important than the lives of people.
    Compare this 100 men building to the business district on South Grand. Someone, I don’t know if it was the developer or the city who initiatied the solution, but they built a street front row of stores with parking behind at the intersection of Grand and Arsenal. (Bread Company, Kinko’s etc.)
    How hard would it be to ruin the South Grand business district?, Not hard if that project was a strip mall instead with parking in front. If demolition was allowed and encouraged and auto centric development was promoted it could ruin the district quickly.
    The ambiance and walking friendly atmosphere would disappear. Further impacting the appeal (and economics) of the businesses who depend on people outside of the neighborhood. In turn this impacts the base economic support of the surrounding Tower Grove South and East neighborhoods, making them less desirable and making disinvestment more likely.
    Eventually the area would be a wasteland with a QucikTrip at Grand and Arsenal. That describes the choices the city makes every day.
    A major point about the 100 men building is the lack of a publically stated strategy for the street and general area. What is the connectivity of this major street to the rest of the city? It is the role of government to take these actions. It is not happening. Where is that strategy? How does the 100 Men building or other new buildings in the area fit into a strategy into the city as a whole?
    There is no strategy.
    City government is a failure, in fact the continual decline of St. Louis, using the anything goes, free market, forget everything but the auto approach is the policy supporting that decline. Looking at the disaster of the population lost of the city for six decades is the ongoing proof of that failure. It is time to try something new.
    Please don’t say the government can’t do anything, it is not true.
    Start with heavy regulation of all gas stations, businesses with street front parking and parking lots along streets. This does not mean ban them, but to manage them.
    Build the city for people, not for cars.

    • Msrdls says:

      A group  from our office decided to have lunch at Bread Company several  months ago and we started to drive to the South Grand location. Then it started to rain. Because parking at this location is MOSTLY available only behind the restaurant, we decided to drive to the South Broadway Bread Company location,  where we could park closer to the front door and avoid getting rain-soaked.  I’m not so sure that rear-parking is necessarily more user-friendly. Maybe it’s more friendly for pedestrians and those in wheelchairs, but those customers probably represent a minimal percentage of a restaurant’s customer base.   ….just sayin’ 

      • Webby says:

        Never heard of an umbrella?  Afraid you’ll melt?  There’s a breezeway right next to the South Grand BreadCo to the rear parking lot…it’s not very far at all.  And what are your chances of getting that spot near the front door of the other location at lunch time?  Wimp.  …just sayin’

        • JZ71 says:

          No, what’s an umbrella?  But seriously, there’s a difference between observing and explaining why people do what they do and advocating for that position.  As moe notes below, most people own their own motor vehicles and most people choose to drive them, instead of walking more than a block, biking to the store, taking public transit to work, etc., etc.  All this informs our built environment, and until the majority of the public decides to give up (or to significantly reduce their) driving, the “need” for convenient parking will heavily impact both our politicians and the development community.

  18. Moe says:

    What does it matter?  umbrella or not.  Well pontificating about the loss of pedestrian and bike traffic sounds nice…it’s time to face the real world and the real world, like it or not IS auto-centric.  While many of the readers of this blog are quick to take the drivers to task, it isn’t these readers you have to convince…its the thousands of others out there that wil drive their car one block to the corner market rather than walk.  Preach all you want, but sadly, that is the reality of today’s world…in St. Louis City, County, and all across this nation.

  19. GMichaud says:

    Aside from the pontifications of the auto centric crowd it is important to know reality is not that cars are the end all to be all.
    The reality is that many cities around the world do manage the auto, walking, bicycles and transit very well as complete and complimentary systems.
    The reality is St. Louis has suffered almost 6 decades of decline while following auto centric policies.
    The reality is that St. Louis will not reverse this decline until other approaches other than auto worship become policy.
    I am amazed at the number of comments that excuse, apologize for and rationalize auto centric development. It is a sick approach as the decline of the city proves clearly.
    As far as umbrella’s go, the notion that autos can drive directly to the door is laughable. Malls and even most strip malls one is not likely to get a parking space anywhere close to the door. It might happen once in a while, but to base a whole urban planning paradigm on a chance the auto can get close to the door in rain is ridiculous.
    Cities with true mass transit, Toronto for instance, utilize taxi’s as part of the transit system. (Do you need more examples?). In the case of Msrdls, if he was in Toronto, New York or another city not completely dependent on the auto, he would have taken transit to work and he and his friends would have taken taxi’s to the front door of their destination.
    That’s how it is done in cities with complete and useful transit systems.
    Of course now the excuses will come from the auto centric crowd, supporting poor design and their dogma that human beings are helpless and we should do nothing more than accept the reality of the crap urban planning the automobile has given us.
    Continually making excuses for auto centric development is a big part of the problem. It is why St. Louis continues to decline, not just the city, but the region also. 

  20. German-language-teacher says:

    This is so sad. I live near Delmar Blvd. and I think it must have been great once (I am from Germany). The problem in the States and esp in St. Louis: Parking lots in front of the buildings. It destroys everything, the whole atmosphere. Atmosphere is created by streets you can walk on, that are nice to look at, that offer retail (a few chain stores don´t matter), with patio dining options, that are connected to public transit and that offer many cafés on “Plazas”, where musicians can perform etc. Throw a movie theater into the mix and a grocery store (people get hungry at night) with late night opening hours and you are all set. It is that simple.
    What do we see here: Parking lots. The crossing Skinker /Delmar is just downright ugly. They made the worst choices ever: A fast food restaurant with a parking lot in front, a gas station (not even vintage style, come on, it´s Delmar Blvd!!!) with a parking lot, a brick building with a fenced parking lot and an empty store front. Who plans these new “additions”?
    St. Louis does have a lot of potential, but nobody wants to actually change something, I guess.
    I would like to open a business on Delmar. I walk by many empty retail spaces every day on my way to the gym.
    There must be something, that can be done.


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