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Potential Development Sites Along Proposed Streetcar Line, Part 6: Compton to Vandeventer

June 11, 2013 Featured, Midtown, Planning & Design, Public Transit, SLU 22 Comments

As I’ve done for the last month, this is another post on potential development sites along the proposed initial route of the St. Louis Streetcar.  The sections already reviewed are as follows:

  1. Olive 15th-16th
  2. Olive 16th-18th
  3. 14th & Olive To North Florissant & St. Louis Ave.
  4. Olive 18th to Jefferson
  5. Jefferson to Compton

This post will cover the section from Olive & Compton to Lindell & Vandeventer (map). For those unfamiliar with the area, Olive splits off to the north but to motorists Olive becomes Lindell (pronounced Lindle). The entire south side of this stretch of Olive/Lindell is the campus of Saint Louis University (SLU). The north is a mix of SLU, private, and institutional properties.

We’ll start at Compton and head west.

ccc
Massive SLU parking garage could be fronted with a shallow “liner building” to create a relationship with the sidewalk.

The buildings & land on the other side of Lindell from SLU’s Compton Garage are ripe for development, I’m just lacking images of them.

ABOVE:
The intersection where Olive splits off to the right was redone a few years ago.
ABOVE:
gLooking the opposite direction
ABOVE: Looking south at a planned, but unmarked, crosswalk
It shouldn’t take a streetcar to make it safe
hotel.ignacio
Hotel Ignacio is just part of the development activity that has taken place here.
The Field House Pub & Grill is an example of positive things already underway in Midtown
The Field House Pub & Grill at 510 N. Theresa is an example of positive things already underway in Midtown
The streetcar can help the existing momentum and reduce the need for the excessive amount of surface parking.
The streetcar can help the existing momentum and reduce the need for the excessive amount of surface parking.
SLU could reskin this former state office building at 3545 Lindell, adding storefronts and new floors.
SLU could reskin this former state office building at 3545 Lindell, adding storefronts and new floors.
The SLU campus east of Grand has a prison feel, fences everywhere. SLU could remove the fencing to connect to the street, like the campus west of Grand.
The SLU campus east of Grand has a prison feel, fences everywhere. SLU could remove the fencing to connect to the street, like the campus west of Grand.
With a new building on the right, street trees along Grand would make this a pleasant route to take to reach the streetcar
With a new building on the right, street trees along Grand would make this a pleasant route to take to reach the streetcar
slumidtown2
Ideally SLU will build a new building on the SE corner of Lindell @ Grand
ABOVE: The once vibrant urban street corner is now a passive hole in the city
As well as the NE corner. I’d love to see a Trader Joe’s on the ground floor, with apartments above.

The corner of Lindell & Grand should get major new buildings. There are already substantial buildings in the area, especially to the north & west. These two corners were land banked by SLU so the streetcar is the perfect time to withdraw them and put them to good use activating the intersection.

I'd love to see the ground floor of Jesuit Hall activated with a cafe or bakery
I’d love to see the ground floor of Jesuit Hall activated with a cafe or bakery
The Lindell facade of Jesuit Hall also has opportunities for activity.
The Lindell facade of Jesuit Hall also has opportunities for activity.
The Masonic garage ob Olive is awful
The Masonic garage on Olive is awful, I can’t see this staying long-term
This section of Lindell has some stunning buildings, this is SLU's museum
This section of Lindell has some stunning buildings, this is SLU’s museum
The few gaps can be filled in with massive structures, student housing over retail would be nice at Lindell & Spring
The few gaps can be filled in with massive structures, student housing over retail would be nice at Lindell & Spring
Maybe we can widen the sidewalks along Spring
Maybe we can widen the sidewalks along Spring
3699 Olive
Eventually the owner of the auto repair shop at 3699 Olive @ Spring will retire and sell.
The Coronado was vacant for years until the Gill's renovated.
The Coronado was vacant for years until the Gill’s renovated.
Hopefully someone will find the right formula for the lower level space
Hopefully someone will find the right formula for the lower level space, several places have failed
A few years ago SLU razed two buildings here to make room for expansion of the law school. With the law school opening downtown this land plus the old law school are available
A few years ago SLU razed two buildings here to make room for expansion of the law school. With the law school opening downtown this land plus the old law school are available
The various modifications to the 1914 structure at 3765 Lindell has made it rather odd looking.
The various modifications to the 1914 structure at 3765 Lindell has made it rather odd looking.
The Crazy Bows & Wraps location might be developed. This 1961 structure was extensively remodeled in the 90s.
The Crazy Bows & Wraps location might be developed. This 1961 structure was extensively remodeled in the 90s.
In 1978 it was included as a "contributing structure" in the Midtown Historic District, click image to view district nomination.
In 1978 it was mentioned in the Midtown Historic District nomination as a “unfortunate intrusion which should not have been allowed”, click image to view district nomination.
This building was also part of the 1978 midtown historic district. This building should be saved as it contributes to both Lindell & Vandeventer.
This building, originally built for the Brotherhood of Railway & Airline Clerks, contributes to the 1978 midtown historic district. This building should be saved as it contributes to both Lindell & Vandeventer.

An interesting paragraph from the 1978 midtown nomination:

Unfortunately, Midtown is still perceived by many as a dangerous area riddled with street crime and all manner of urban ills, the most prominent of which is the current “black sploitation” fare served at the Fabulous Fox. In spite of this onus, a 1977 walking tour sponsored by the St. Louis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and New Town/St. Louis, Inc. drew hundreds of curious and concerned

St. Louisans to Midtown. The solution for the revitalization of existing structures and the continuing education of the general public will not be easy, but to abandon Midtown is to dismiss one of the strongest concentrations of architecturally significant buildings in St. Louis.

There is more developable area north of Lindell and  west of Spring, both vacant buildings and vacant land.

— Steve Patterson

  • guest

    St. Louis needs to find development opportunities that work without streetcars. Enough chicken and egg and planning. Let’s work with what we have. That opportunity is north. Let’s clear areas to plant some urban vineyards. Vines are a good symbol of health and sustainability.

    • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

      Transportation is an important part of planning. There have been many isolated projects in north St. Louis that look & function very well, but they aren’t connected, other than via bus. Unfortunately, the bus is viewed by many as the lowest form of mobility.

      • moe

        Well I agree with you on both the “transportation is an important part of planning” as well as the bus part, I must take issue with “the bus is viewed by many as the lowest form of mobility”. That’s spot on and I agree with you. What I don’t agree with is the sinking of MILLIONS and HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS in to FIXED line modes of transportation. We need maximum flexibility with our transportation. There has to be different models of busses…painted as trolley, open air maybe, etc that can be used that allows the Metro the ability to change as needed.

        What we need to do is sink some of that money into changing the perception that bus riding is beneath us.

        If we have a trolley and a bus, and they charge even fifty cents more to ride the trolley…..all this does is perpetuate the us versus them attitude. You can take it as poor vs white, north vs south city, rich vs poor, educated vs non-educated. Haven’t we been torn apart enough with the us vs. them attitude?

        • Scott Jones

          You make a good argument. Busses were successfully rebranded in the UK. Here in Madison, they’ve introduced Hybrid busses with new styling and they’ve helped change the image of the bus. Ridership is up. There are all kinds of slick looking buses out there that could change the image from one of “welfare transportation” to green/convenient transportation (example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Castrosua_Tempus_001.JPG ).

          However, in this case I’m supportive of the introduction of a trolley line. It is FIXED but this is the urban core of the city and that won’t be changing. The cores of London & Rome are still in the same place they were centuries ago. This is where the majority of transit use is and will remain. Streetcar lines have lower long-term maintenance costs and can handle higher passenger counts for less money. They are expensive to build but they have a good return on investment. Streetcar lines in other cities have proven to increase real-estate values along their lines–especially in underdeveloped areas just outside of the downtown ( http://www.calstreetcar.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Streetcars-Econ-Impact-in-US-May-10.pdf ). If there’s one thing STL needs, it’s more revenue from property taxes. This revenue can be used to make investments throughout the city.

          It’s true that these streetcars will attract ridership who currently won’t ride busses but is that a bad thing? With global warming and peak oil, whatever gets people out of their cars is a good thing. If the MetroLink ridership demographics are any indication, the ridership of the streetcars will be very diverse and integrated. The current set up with cars vs. busses is segregated.

          • moe

            You raise some interesting counter-points. However…..given our City’s love of using TIFFS and tax abatements, there will be very little revenue from property taxes.

          • Eric

            “Streetcar lines have lower long-term maintenance costs and can handle higher passenger counts for less money.”

            Not true. You’re thinking of light rail.

          • Scott Jones

            I’m just going by Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streetcar#Advantages but, admittedly it looks like they’re a little light on references for the claims.

      • JMM

        As a transportation planner, I definitely agree with you that transportation is an important part of planning. However, I disagree that the isolated projects are connected only by bus, and that this is only germane to the Northside. Those projects are also connected by the roadway network, same as any other part of St. Louis. Additionally, outside of the central corridor, the bus and the car are the only other option throughout the rest of the city as well. If you’re arguing that people living along the north-south alignment will benefit more from the streetcar project because the are more likely to lack access to cars, then the argument should be to extend a broader transportation network into those parts of the city where car ownership is the lowest–which is not one of the goals of the streetcar project. One of my huge problems with the north-south alignment of the streetcar plan is that its proponents want to build it in the same corridor as the locally preferred Metrolink expansion: http://www.ewgateway.org/progproj/nssidestudy/nsnewsletters.pdf#Issue4 . For me, the Metrolink expansion increases transportation access for a greater percentage of St. Louis residents than the streetcar does. I know that you aren’t expressing a preference for the streetcar over Metrolink expansion, but the plan created by the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis seems to by not taking into account simultaneous efforts to expand public transportation in the city. This blind spot and lack of cooperation/communication among entities makes this project proposal seem half-baked to me.

  • JZ71

    You say “Massive SLU parking garage could be fronted with a shallow ‘liner building’ to create a relationship with the sidewalk.” Much like adding a floor or two to an existing structure, in theory, anything is “possible”, given enough money. To add a “liner building” to this parking garage would likely require adding mechanical ventilation and possibly a fire suppression system, to meet current building codes. In addition, you would need to find tenants willing to occupy space that is only about 20′ deep. A secondary challenge is how deliveries and trash would be handled, with no rear access. Nothing is impossible, but since the garage was designed assuming natural ventilation and separation from adjacent structures, adding a “liner building” would be a challenge. (Not to say that it can’t be done, IF it’s planned for from the start. The Denver Art Museum has a garage designed specifically to accommodate “liner buildings”: http://museumresidences.com/ and http://goo.gl/maps/URttU )

    • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

      Liner buildings and mechanical ventilation can be added far cheaper than razing the garage and starting over from scratch. The current situation is unacceptable, what solution do have have to add to the discussion?

      • Mike

        I think you should FORCE SLU to tear down the entire structure. Why? Because it doesn’t fit with your urban “plan”. Are you totally out of your mind?

        The other “solution”, to add mechanical ventilation, would be nearly IMPOSSIBLE! Beam and girder clearances are minimal in any GOOD garage design. Just how would you propose to run the ductwork necessary to exhaust that garage? And do you have any concept of the size ductwork that would be required to mechanically exhaust a garage of that size? I would envision ductwork to be minimally 5′ x 5’! And that ductwork has to be run all over the garage! And JZ71 is correct. A fire suppression system would ALSO have to be provided. Since the garage is unheated and subject to winter freezing, a dry system would be necessary. (About twice the cost of a wet system! Est: $4.00 SF x the number of floors) And how would you route the piping for this new dry system? For a garage that size, minimum 6″ branch pipe would be required. There isn’t 6″ of extra clearance available in any well-designed parking structure. Then, all this ductwork would likely impact the lighting design, requiring the addition of several (not just a few…..maybe as many as 30% additional) fixtures to avoid shadowing and dangerous cold-lighting spots created by the HUGE ductwork. Then all the tree huggers in and around STL would go ballistic for obvious reasons: more lighting means more wasted electricity; mechanical ventilation means a lot more wasted electricity! Then you’d have to find a place to hang the mechanical exhaust fans. Why not just hang them off the side of the building? They’ll look just great. But you can’t just plant a rosebush to conceal them. They’ll probably be 6′ x 6′, minimum 2 per floor x the number of floors! You’ll be able to see them from the Clayton Courthouse! And you’ll be able to hear them from St. Stanislaus Church!!!!!!

        To demolish the existing structure would cost north of $4.00 per SF x the number of floors, PLUS footing/pier removal. To build a new parking garage would cost a minimum of $175.00 per SF per floor if it is post-tensioned; $100.00+ per SF per floor if it is precast. (And these SF numbers are probably quite a bit conservative since new seismic codes require heavier girders, beams, more shear walls, and thicker footings…..and more reinforcing steel.)

        Sometimes your solutions are so naive they’re laughable. This is one of those times. “Chuckle of the Day!”A

      • JZ71

        Why is the current situation “unacceptable”?! Just because there isn’t street-level retail along every foot of street frontage? Want creative solutions? How about wrapping the garage structure in metal mesh and lighting it with computer-controlled LED’s to create a light sculpture? http://www.bdcnetwork.com/product/wire-mesh-protects-and-serves-lapd-parking-garage . . . How about removing the grass and parking food trucks between the sidewalk and the garage? How about a permanent skate park? How about setting up a B-cycle station to replace part of the grass? http://www.bcycle.com/ . . . How about deviating the streetcar tracks into this area, to create a layover area? How about a sculpture garden? How about a forest? How about a tent city for the homeless? Why is there always a one-size-fits-all answer?

        Urban living is messy and, sometimes, chaotic. As Scot Jones points out today, and as you have noted in previous posts, there are multiple vacant lots and surface parking lots both along and near the proposed route. They all offer more potential for “appropriate”, “acceptable” redevelopment than expecting SLU to tear down or to modify an existing parking structure. Yes, it doesn’t fit your vision. Yes, it’s not an outstanding architectural or urban design statement. It is what it is, but it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, either. Eventually, when the surrounding land becomes MUCH more valuable, then some sort of “liner building” might begin to make economic sense, but not until then . . . .

  • Scott Jones

    The real opportunity isn’t on Lindell itself but in the surrounding 2-3 blocks. About 60-70% of Midtown is surface parking or vacant lots. Lots of inexpensive development opportunities. Keep in mind though that SLU is the main property owner and that the powers that be at SLU desire this to be a suburban campus as much as possible (this is all I can deduce from their actions). They will fight attempts at making Midtown more urban.

  • guest

    Maybe time for a crime thread poll. Today the most ridiculous tweet ever retweeted by Lewis Reed from the SLMPD states that last night’s two dozen-plus “shootings appear to have been by people settling disputes rather than random acts of violence”. Say Whhaauut?? What kind of lame response is that!

    • Scott Jones

      It’s probably true. That’s what most murders are.

      • guest

        Well, thank goodness for that! I don’t know about you, but I sure feel a lot better knowing that the shootings all over town are targeted and not random.

        Tell that to the 19 year-old Bosnian convenience store clerk and the other immigrant fellow at the 7-11 killed while on their jobs on Chippewa and Gravois…

        • guest

          I have a Bosnian friend and I asked him if he knew the victim. He knew the young man since he was a little boy. SLMPD and Lewis Reed: your tweets suck!

        • Eric

          Most murders are drug dealers/gang members killing other drug dealers/gang members. Not something you and I have to worry about, presumably.

          • guest

            There are young kids getting shot in these incidents as innocent bystanders. I guess that’s something neither you nor I need to worry about either, presumably.

  • JZ71

    An article about Cleveland’s Health Line BRT, built for “half the cost of rail”, providing similar benefits as this proposal, including redevelopment of a fading corridor: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/transportation/clevelands-healthline-has-boosted-transit-ridership-and-development-692331/

  • Shawn

    SLU is going to say no thanks to building ANYTHING you just mentioned. SLU wants open land and parks. Even those parking lots will stay. I think the street car is a good idea though and will help develop the surrounding land, if SLU doesn’t grab it first of course, because they buy every piece of property that opens around them.

    • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

      I’m optimistic the new president will take a more urban approach to the campus, transforming the campus over the coming 20 years.

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