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Walking To The “Flagship” Dierbergs & Schnucks Locations In Des Peres, MO

September 10, 2012 Featured, Retail, St. Louis County 24 Comments

On September 15, 2009 Schnucks, the largest grocer in our region, opened a new “flagship” location:

DES PERES, Mo. – After 46 years of serving customers in its present location, Schnucks Des Peres will close at 9 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 14, and reopen at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 15 at its new location, 12332 Manchester Road (next to West County Mall). The relocation of this landmark facility marks the beginning of a new era for the family-owned grocery company.

At 74,000 square feet, this combination food and pharmacy store is like no other Schnucks store. Schnucks Chairman and CEO Scott Schnuck explained, “We promised our Des Peres community something special and that’s just what we will deliver. Des Peres will be a flagship store in our company because of the atypical offerings it will include.” (Source: Schnucks)

Not to be outdone, the region’s 2nd biggest grocer, Dierbergs, opened a new flagship store nearby on July 31st of this year:

The supermarket, located on the south side of Manchester Road, one mile east of I-270, is a free-standing 75,000-square-foot store. It sits on approximately 6.5 acres, occupying a full city block of Des Peres. HBD Construction is the general contractor for the project.

Dierbergs submitted its proposed site plans to the city in fall 2009. With plans for three levels, including a mezzanine dining area, it was evident from the beginning that this would be a different Dierbergs. (Source: Dierbergs

Two huge locally owned flagship grocery stores a short distance apart? This foodie had to see what each had to offer! On Saturday August 18th I caught the #30 MetroBus just two blocks from my downtown loft. At the Maplewood MetroLink station I transferred to the #57 MetroBus that goes all the way out to Wildwood. I got off at Manchester & Bopp Rd since the Dierbergs was the first location I came to arriving from the east.

Using public transit meant I was arriving as a pedestrian, not a motorist. Of course, no downtown resident is going to go all the way out to Des Peres to shop for groceries. But people living near these new stores may decide to walk, rather than drive, to shop on a nice day. This is a look at how Des Peres residents would walk to these two stores.

Dierbergs:

Located on the south side of Manchester, where Bopp Rd ends, this large building is highly visible to passing motorists.

ABOVE: View of the new Dierbergs as seen from southbound Bopp Rd at Manchester Rd. ADA ramps, crosswalks, and pedestrian signals were all replaced as a part of this project.
ABOVE: Like the Target in south city, the Dierbergs has parking under the building. Pedestrians have the option to enter at this point.
ABOVE: Unfortunately for a first-time visitor it’s unclear where the entrance is located and no protected pedestrian path is provided.
ABOVE: Back outside, those approaching from the east will cross an auto entrance, but walk signals are provided.
ABOVE: For those who don’t wish to enter via the lower level parking they can continue west to the main entrance. Curvy sidewalks are annoying but I’m glad it wasn’t up next to Manchester Rd.
ABOVE: A walk takes you from the Manchester Rd sidewalk to the main entrance, which faces the parking lot to the west.
ABOVE: The western boundary of the site is Lindeman Rd. Those persons living directly to the south also have a sidewalk to get them to the store.
ABOVE: Unfortunately the crossing distance near the entry is wide and a ramp wasn’t provided right away. This is the biggest pedestrian access error they made.
ABOVE: View of the produce section from the upper level mezzanine.

This Dierbergs is a big box geared toward the driving public but they recognized the need to provide access for pedestrians from all possible directions.  A neighbor might send their 8 year old for a loaf of bread or an 80 year old neighbor might want to do their shopping and stay fit.

Let’s head west on Manchester now to check out the Schnucks flagship store.

Schnucks:

Part of a new shopping center called Des Peres Corners on the southeast corner of Manchester & Ballas Rd (map).

ABOVE: Getting close to Ballas Rd so it must be close. Here’s a MetroBus stop, great for low-income service workers that can’t afford private transportation. Sidewalks are new and friendly considering they’re next to busy Manchester Rd.
ABOVE: At the eastern edge is a one-way auto driveway but no pedestrian access.
ABOVE: A little further west is the main entrance to the Des Peres Corners shopping center that contains the new flagship Schnucks.
ABOVE: The Des Peres Corners main entry but no access for pedestrians. I’ll keep looking.
ABOVE: Des Peres Corners contains a couple of buildings besides the Schnucks, each with multiple tenants. So close but I’m not seeing a way to the businesses from the public sidewalk.
ABOVE: Without any luck off Manchester I turned south along Ballas Rd to try that side.
ABOVE: Just past the first building I can see the second building, but no pedestrian access.
ABOVE: So I continued south along Ballas to what I assumed was the last opportunity for pedestrian access.
ABOVE: At the intersection I can see the public sidewalk continue to the south, providing a way for all those residents to walk to the store, if there’s a way to do so.
ABOVE: Oh good, I knew there had to be at least one way to enter this large site as a pedestrian!
ABOVE: But this is as far as I was able to get. An able-bodied person could find their way to the Schnucks but I couldn’t go any further.
ABOVE: By now I was ready for lunch but I couldn’t even do that at any of the places at Des Peres Commons. I crossed Ballas and had a nice lunch at West County Mall.

Final Thoughts:

These new “flagship” grocery stores are world’s apart when it comes to pedestrian access. Dierbergs is still largely auto-centric but it goes beyond the minimums required by the American’s with Disabilities Act of 1990. Those who planned the Dierbergs clearly made a decision in their process to provide a way for pedestrians to reach their store. These pedestrians include employees arriving for work on MetroBus, neighbors walking from nearby homes as well as residents of nearby suburbs also arriving on MetroBus. I’d give it a B+/A-

The Schnucks at Des Peres Corners is a total failure from a pedestrian perspective, a big F. Schnucks/Des Peres Corners makes no attempt to provide access to those from outside the development or even internally from one building to the next. The civil engineers responsible need to have their licensees taken away. They may know parking lot drainage and requirements for retaining walls but that are incompetent when it comes to pedestrians and the ADA. I hope someone with legal standing takes Schnucks and the developer to court to force them to come back and correct their mistakes — also known as a violation of my civil  rights as a disabled person.

Only after I got back home did I see that my friend Herbie Markwort pointed out the flaws at Des Peres Commons in July 2009, prior to Schnucks opening:

A quick look around the site, however, reveals that no thought was given to accommodating pedestrians. (Gateway Streets)

It’s appalling that such a bad development can get municipal approval and bank financing. Loughborough Commons doesn’t look quite so bad now.

If you live in Des Peres please don’t patronize Des Peres Corners until they’ve retrofitted the site with internal pedestrian connections as well as access from both Manchester & Ballas.

— Steve Pattersin

 

  • RyleyinSTL

    My wife was chairing a small medical conference this week waaaay out at Wesport in Maryland Heights. I was there helping her out and we stayed at the silly Chalet hotel together. As we usually do, we got up to run at 5am. Unfortunately in the suburban wasteland of Maryland Heights, we had huge issues finding continuous sidewalks and/or street lighting (in both the residential and commercial areas). This made running in the dark a very dangerous enterprise. I can only imagine the difficulty someone in a chair would have if they needed to commute out there or visit for business and needed to use public transport.

    While it is great to see that Dierbergs actually gave some thought about pedestrian access, this is an exception to the usual suburban de-facto which I experienced in one of STLs largest suburban communities. Even parking lots in auto centric developments generally make no previsions for drivers safe entry into the store once they leave their automobiles.

    Is it possible that communities like Des Peres or Maryland Heights, which are largely designed with no thought what-so-ever to foot traffic, are deliberately attempting to keep the lower economic classes (and disabled individuals) out of the community?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Jones/1611723632 Scott Jones

      I worked at an office briefly across the street from West County mall and literally could not walk *accross the street* to the mall food court for lunch without having to walk across busy streets, dodge cars with no sidewalks or provision for pedestrians.

    • Fozzie

      Conspiracy theories? C’mon.

      If residents of Des Peres wanted to walk places, they’d live in the CWE. Supply and demand dictates catering to automobiles.

      When there is a sidewalk, people bellyache that it is too curvy? Ridiculous.

      • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

        People live where they do for a variety of reasons, such as working at Edward Jones nearby. Pedestrians walk in straight lines when trying to reach a destination, adding curves may be interesting to the designer or passing motorist but the perception to the pedestrian is the path is longer than necessary.

      • RyleyinSTL

        I’d say residents of Des Peres want to walk places, they just don’t know it yet because they have no way to do so.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Jones/1611723632 Scott Jones

    Almost everything on Manchester road west of Maplewood is an auto-centric wasteland of strip malls, car dealerships, and big-box stores. Big-box supermarkets will *never* be walkable or pedestrian friendly not matter how many sidewalks or whatever they build. They are antithetical to walkability. What is needed are multiple, modestly sized, neighborhood grocery stores (Schnucks Culinaria downtown is a good example). With one behemoth supermarket around, the smaller neigborhood stores can’t compete and go out of business. Everyone is then forced to drive to the new big-box supermarket.

    • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

      I strongly disagree that these areas will never be walkable. The Dierbergs is a step in the right direction. If municipalities continue to take a hands off approach, then yes it’ll never change. Hopefully Des Peres realized what a disaster Des Peres Corners is and stepped up standards for the Dierbergs.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Jones/1611723632 Scott Jones

        I think you missed my point: they may make them accessible by walking/wheelchairs but that doesn’t make them “walkable”. You yourself have made this point in the past. It’s impossible to miss the glaringly obvious fact that these places are designed to be driven to and almost nobody will walk to them or take public transportation to them unless a) they have to (no car) or b) they really, really want to be green and are willing to swim against the stream and are willing to be thought of as poor or having their license revoked (DUI), etc.

        • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

          I got your point. I know that change is constant. It won’t happen overnight but in time Des Peres can become more walkable than it has been throughout most of its history. Will a stroll down Manchester Rd ever compete with walking down Euclid? No, but it can be pleasant enough for those who chose to live there.

    • Eric

      With big box stores, it is expected that customers come rarely, but when they do come they make huge purchases, which require a car to be taken home. Thus pedestrian access is less important than with small stores.

      Because these stores are larger they are more efficient (less labor, maintenance etc.), and charge lower prices. Neighborhood grocery stores will survive if enough of the locals are willing to pay more for groceries, or else, if land prices rise enough to make big boxes more expensive. The latter is unlikely to ever happen in the far-out suburbs.

      • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

        I’ve gone to big box stores and bought one small item numerous times. Most recently a replacement flapper for my toilet — too small to even need a bag.

  • Guest

    We cured our son of any possible West County addiction by making him take the bus to work for his summer job at Lowe’s in West Wherever, 6+ miles west of 270 on Manchester. To arrive by 9:00 am, he had to catch the bus at the Maplewood, Manchester Road Metro stop at 7:20. An hour and fifteen minutes later, he arrived in the vicinity of the store, and had to walk the quarter mile or so from the street, across the parking lot, to the store. Walkable? Who cares.

  • JZ71

    Agree with 98% of your observations. The one minor area I have a quibble is expecting a striped walkway from the northeast (Manchester) corner of the new Dierberg’s garage all the way across to the customer entrance on the south side. They’ve met their ADA requirements by providing good access to their main entrance on the west side. Any designated path through the parking garage would likely be along the perimeter, and not a direct one that most pedestrians would take diagonally through the parked cars. Its use would be minimal, at best. A designer can anticipate (and accommodate) multiple circulation paths, no one can anticipate (nor accommodate) EVERY potential path . . . .

    • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

      It was that, an observation. I said “Unfortunately for a first-time visitor it’s unclear where the entrance is located and no protected pedestrian path is provided.” I didn’t say they failed or that it was a mistake. I didn’t know where the elevator was located at first. I know now.

  • JAE

    What is it with Schnucks?

    We live near the Schnucks on Clayton Road in Richmond Heights. We *do* walk there – via a side street with partial pedestrian access (the sidewalk doesn’t connect but it’s passable). But there is no direct way to get to the store from Clayton Road: the narrow entrance is cars-only and there’s a long fence blocking efforts (by the able-bodied) to cross anywhere other than the automobile entrance. I’ve seen several elderly people nearly hit, as well as having close calls with turning cars myself.

    • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

      The “friendliest stores on town” just don’t give a damn about customers that happen to be pedestrians.

      • Fenian

        Walking to the Webster Groves Schnucks is the same sort of scenario that JAE describes. I would like to think that Webster is much more walkable than many other suburbs, but there is still a huge disconnect when it comes to pedestrian access at Schnucks.

  • Greyson Winters

    I believe the commenter who suggested Des Peres is purposely trying to keep lower socio-economic groups away from their cherished new development is absolutely correct. Absolutely everything in STL has a racial or “keep poor people away” component to it. I also think that this is just poor planning on the part of developers. STL will never be a first rate City until & unless we fully support mass transit & walkable steerts that are both safe and intelligently designed.

  • moe

    Flagships? Flagships at what? Snobbery if you ask me. Sidewalks look nice, but really….just how many of their customers will actually use them? %wise I bet it will be a very low number. To Dierbergs and Schnuck’s I say: Thank you, but no thanks. I’ll keep my dollars in the CITY.

  • moe

    Flagships? Flagships at what? Snobbery if you ask me. Sidewalks look nice, but really….just how many of their customers will actually use them? %wise I bet it will be a very low number. To Dierbergs and Schnuck’s I say: Thank you, but no thanks. I’ll keep my dollars in the CITY.

  • moe

    Flagships? Flagships at what? Snobbery if you ask me. Sidewalks look nice, but really….just how many of their customers will actually use them? %wise I bet it will be a very low number. To Dierbergs and Schnuck’s I say: Thank you, but no thanks. I’ll keep my dollars in the CITY.

    • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

      I did encounter pedestrians while I was in Des Peres. Also remember many service workers use transit and they’re pedestrians going from the bus to their jobs.

  • Moe

    Flagships? Flagships at what? Snobbery if you ask me. Sidewalks look nice, but really….just how many of their customers will actually use them? %wise I bet it will be a very low number. To Dierbergs and Schnuck’s I say: Thank you, but no thanks. I’ll keep my dollars in the CITY.

  • Moe

    Flagships? Flagships at what? Snobbery if you ask me. Sidewalks look nice, but really….just how many of their customers will actually use them? %wise I bet it will be a very low number. To Dierbergs and Schnuck’s I say: Thank you, but no thanks. I’ll keep my dollars in the CITY.

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