The former headquarters of the Missouri Pacific Railroad reopened on May 12, 2011 as luxury apartments called Park Pacific. The Lawrence Group was the architect as well as owner/developer, they an impressive job.
But I’ve had a few issues, such as rolling dumpsters left blocking the Pine Street sidewalk.
In the 2+ years since the building reopened a number of businesses moved in. KMOX radio moved into some commercial office space, for example. At the street-level there are a number of options: frozen yogurt, fine dinning, smoothies, and most recently, Art Saint Louis + Mississippi Mud coffeehouse.
Earlier this week I had a meeting with someone, she suggested we meet at Art Saint Louis + Mississippi Mud. When Art Saint Louis announced their plans to relocate from 555 Washington Ave to the Park Pacific I was interested, the sidewalk entrance from their Washington Ave location wasn’t wheelchair accessible, but at least they also had a 2nd entrance via the lobby.
I just assumed with the $109 million dollar building renovation the accessible entrance to their new space must be through the main lobby as well. I thought nobody would build a tenant space with a brand new non-ADA exterior-only entrance. Turns out I was wrong, The Lawrence Group designed, built, & leased a storefront with one public entrance without required wheelchair access as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The architect can’t say the owner made changes without their knowledge — the owner & architect are the same entity!
The sidewalk should’ve been raised up when poured, but it wasn’t. They had two years to fix it while the space was vacant and for lease, but they didn’t. No, it wasn’t until I arrive that it became an issue to fix. The executive director of Art Saint Louis and owner of Mississippi Mud were both apologetic, they genuinely felt bad. Two staff from the Park Pacific got involved, guiding me through the lobby to a back service corridor, to a back door to the Art Saint Louis space.
But it was worth the journey, the new space is very nice. Much better than their previous space, which had become very dated.
One person said they could grind off the step, though it would be steeper than the ADA allows. On Tuesday post some were shocked when I said I was ok with the city using asphalt to deal with a problem where a sidewalk sank, causing a bit of a lip less than this one. It was suggested I have a double standard.
Well, yes and no.
The sidewalk situation I posted about Tuesday has several parties involved, hard to determine who’s at fault for the sidewalk sinking next to a water vault lid that didn’t sink. Here we know clearly who’s responsible — and they received tax incentives to do the project. The mayor and other elected officials were present at the ribbon cutting. So yes, I hold this project to a higher standard, but I wouldn’t call it a double standard.
At this point I want the entrance fixed precisely conforming with the ADA — not a fraction of an inch out of compliance. I have a digital level I’ll bring to test the solution. The Lawrence Group should know better, they cannot claim ignorance. They created the problem for themselves during the renovation, they didn’t address it for the 2 years the space was vacant.
Unfortunately the very nice people at Art Saint Louis + Mississippi Mud will be inconvenienced while this is busted out and redone in compliance with the ADA. If you plan to lease space for a business please make sure it is ADA-compliant. You can’t assume just because the owner of the building is an architecture firm that they got it right, bring along an independent 3rd party to verify before you sign the lease.
I emailed Lawrence Group partner Steve Smith that same day, saying I was “angry & disappointed.” Infuriating!!
– Steve Patterson