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Sunday Poll: QuikTrip wants to build a typical QT at Jefferson & Chouteau, St. Louis should…

February 15, 2015 Featured, Planning & Design, Sunday Poll 31 Comments
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

The latest controversy in St. Louis is over a proposed QuikTrip on the SW corner of Jefferson & Chouteau, you can view the site plan on Scribd.

For the poll today I’d like to see what readers think. Answers provided range for let them build it to deny it, with two levels of compromise in between. The poll is at the top of the right sidebar, it closes in 12 hours (8pm).

I’ll detail my thoughts on Wednesday when I share the results.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "31 comments" on this Article:

  1. Brandon Robnett says:

    An urban form would be nice. Probably unlikely though. I’d like to see them place the entrance drive on LaSalle or at least do something similar to what they did with the QT on Vandeventer so as not to add more traffic to an already-busy intersection.

    • JZ71 says:

      There is an entrance planned on LaSalle – unfortunately LaSalle is a one-way street, eastbound, per Google maps.

  2. JZ71 says:

    3 out of 4 corners, here, are already “gone”. The existing older “urban” structures are surrounded by surface parking lots and vacant lots. There are far bigger battles to be fought (and won). If you wanted to fight the fight, it would’ve been when the Dyna Labs / Sheet Metal Workers Union complex was being developed, on the northwest corner, a few years back.

    • guest says:

      So because the corner sucks now we should just a low density gas station be built while allowing the demolition of 2 occupied buildings which are producing taxes for the city. We should keep setting precedents for low density development in the city. This is what you’re saying JZ?

      To me this isn’t about historic preservation, but highest and best use of the land. But people like JZ instantly think this is a “building hugger” debate vs. how can we can start developing higher density for so the city can collect more money on less land. If you’ve noticed our borders are locked, so we need to make best use of our land, and with gas stations surrounding this current site, a gas station isn’t the best use for this land

      • JZ71 says:

        The city will collect far more in taxes, both property and sales, off of a new QT, than they will off of the existing nail salon, dental office and surrounding vacant lots. Yes, I want to see “the highest and best use of the land” everywhere in the city, too, but that is driven by viable, actual, uses, not wishful thinking! The corner “sucks now” because the previous “urban” uses left and were replaced by a truck dealer, an equipment rental yard and suburban-scale office-warehouse complex on the other three corners (and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon). We are not setting any sort of precedent here, that precedent was set decades ago! Like I said, we need to pick our battles – we can’t “save” every old building just because they have a tenant, and even worse, when they’re vacant. Cities change, they evolve, and density increases if and when land values rise, NOT because some politician or bureaucrat says “no” or “you have to”! And since eminent domain is not being used here, and the current tenants are moving willingly (because $$$), the city would be shooting themselves in the foot if they created artificial, invented hurdles for this project.

        • The same arguement was probably said about the hundreds of former gas stations built over the last 50-60 years. Meanwhile the population continues to fall because, believe it or not, pspoke don’t move to the urban core of any region because of suburban gas stations — but it’s a damn fine reason to leave the urban core for other urban areas that are actually URBAN!

          • JZ71 says:

            I agree, people “don’t move to the urban core of any region because of suburban gas stations” – they move to the urban core for a whole range of amenities, including gas stations. The real argument isn’t whether to allow or to prohibit gas stations, the argument is how to reuse the land that “the hundreds of former gas stations built over the last 50-60 years” sat on, but no longer have viable uses AND how to find business uses for the urban buildings that you want (and want to save) that are willing to pay more in rent/generate more revenue than a gas station! The small, two and four-pump service stations of 50 years ago are no longer a viable business model, the multi-pump mini-mart that covers half a block IS! The sites QT is vacating are just as big a design challenge as the locations they (want to) build. And the only way to not see a gas station at this corner would be to change the zoning to no longer allow service stations as a use by right. And no, the city is not going to micro-manage the site design on a corner in a faded industrial area – this is “core” only because it’s near the CBD – it’s separated from the CBD by the viaduct!

        • Greg says:

          Do you really think a QT will spur new sales tax revenue? I doubt it… it will instead take sales tax revenue away from other gas stations and convenience stores nearby. I’m not going to buy “more” gas simply because there is a new QT.

          • JZ71 says:

            No, QT will likely not produce any more net tax revenue, when you look at it from a neighborhood or regional perspective, but it will produce more, on this site, this year, this decade, than a dentist and a nail salon. The government should NOT be in the business of picking “winners” and “losers” in the world of business – let the business(es) offering the best products and best service prosper, and let the ones “just getting by” go out of business. The consumer will decide which businesses succeed (see Apple) and which businesses fail (see Radio Shack).

          • Greg says:

            So then let’s just shift tax revenue down and end up with a different gas station going out of business, leaving a contaminated piece of land behind.

            As pointed out in the NextSTL article about this project, other development at the site would likely provide more net revenue to the city.

        • Adam says:

          The current buildings produce more property tax per acre than the QT will produce. Demand for gas and convenience items is not increasing, and is already oversupplied in the immediate vicinity. QT will be taking business from the 5 other gas stations within 1.5 miles of this intersection, producing no net gain in sales tax. The best use of this land is to construct similar mixed-use buildings on the adjacent vacant land, not a redundant, low-density gas station. Residential construction is being planned for the Praxair site across Jefferson. Along with mixed used construction adjacent to the existing buildings and across Chouteau there would be zero “gone” corners at this intersection.

          • JZ71 says:

            The QT at 3400 S Kingshighway currently pays $40,400 in yearly property taxes, the QT at 2851 Gravois currently generates $19,200 in property taxes; they also generate substantial sales taxes. It’s harder to determine how much is currently being paid in property taxes for the proposed location, but it looks like it will include properties between 2600 and 2626 Chouteau and properties between 2605 LaSalle and 2613 Lasalle, and it looks like those properties currently generate, in total, $13,178 in property taxes.

            Of course, we can speculate, endlessly, about how much more would be generated “if” more dense development happened, here and elsewhere, as in “other development at the site would likely provide more net revenue to the city.” It’s that old “bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” and “money talks and BS walks”. Do we wait, endlessly, for something “better” (and what is truly “good enough”?), or do we embrace continual change? All those cool, mixed-use, higher-density, infill projects that we see happening in many, many other cities aren’t happening on bare ground. Stuff is being torn down, including gas stations, fast food restaurants, single family homes and “obsolete” commercial properties.

            It’s simple economics – you don’t find QT’s in downtown Clayton or along Washington Avenue, downtown, not because there aren’t enough potential customers, but because the LAND is too expensive! You do find QT wanting to be in locations like this one because of the balance between land values (low enough) and traffic counts (high enough).

          • Adam says:

            you act as though we haven’t been “embracing continual change” (i.e. mowing down urban buildings for highways and gas stations) for years and years and years. WE HAVE! IT ISN’T WORKING! even if we set the bar as low as possible and define “good enough” as staving off further decline, it’s pretty clear that gas stations aren’t “good enough”. the city neighborhoods that have faired the best are the ones with the fewest gas stations and the most pedestrian amenities. the ones with the most gas stations are empty stretches of fast food and 5–6 lane thoroughfares that clearly aren’t attracting or retaining residents. and your point about other cities tearing down gas stations for “cool” (not sure why you’re attempting to reduce mixed-use to “cool” rather than the smart economic development that it is) IS THE WHOLE F*CKING POINT. THEY’RE NOT TEARING DOWN DENSITY TO BUILD REDUNDANT GAS STATIONS. THEY’RE TEARING DOWN LOW DENSITY TO BUILD HIGHER DENSITY. finally—and for some reason people keep bringing this up as if it’s supposed to convince us that this is a good development—what QT WANTS has absolutely nothing to do with weather or not a low-density gas station is appropriate development for this intersection. QT WANTS to maximize it’s profits and put its competitors out of business. QT could not care less about urban form or smart urban development.

          • JZ71 says:

            You’re absolutely right, “QT could not care less about urban form or smart urban development”, all they care about is their own profits! As for why cool/mixed-use development is happening elsewhere, and not here, this is just one article that explains WHY: http://www.citylab.com/commute/2015/02/a-new-index-to-measure-sprawl-gives-high-marks-to-los-angeles/385559/?utm_source=SFTwitter . . And YES, I’d love to see a lot, much, much more mixed-use development happening in the city (nothing would make me happier), but the city saying “no!” to demolition is NOT THE ANSWER! Two old buildings surrounded by surface parking and vacant lots is NOT “density”, its a remnant of different and better times. You, Steve, Gmichaud and others are focused on the buildings – you really don’t care if they’re full or empty, highly productive or housing nail salons. I, and others, are focused on attracting and keeping both businesses and residents to occupy ALL buildings, under the basic theory that more DEMAND is needed to JUSTIFY both the higher densities (that you all desire) AND the costs it takes to maintain our existing building stock AND to build new, hopefully higher-density, mixed-use structures!

          • gmichaud says:

            Demand is your sun god. You worship it even though capitalism is a tool of mankind, not the other way around.
            Designers, urban planners in fact all of marketing is geared to creating demand, but you have to have a good product for success.
            Creating the framework of a beautiful city will create demand. Quicktrips on every corner will do nothing but damage the fabric of the city, especially in locations such as this.
            Like city officials you exhibit a suburban mindset that harms rather than enhances. You too have the attitude the people of St. Louis can do nothing about it, that us poor Hoosiers should just let corporations and their hand maiden politicians screw over the people of St. Louis for the sake of profits.

            You, just like St. Louis city officials have no idea how to build cities. Basing city design on demand is an asinine concept that is not working for St. Louis and never will, if you like the suburbs and you don’t want to improve St. Louis City, have at it.

          • Adam says:

            “Two old buildings surrounded by surface parking and vacant lots is NOT ‘density’…”

            Two buildings is MORE density than a QT, and the QT eliminates the potential for increased density. This is obvious.

            “…its a remnant of different and better times.”

            This is a weird comment that has nothing to do with smart urban development.

            “…you really don’t care if they’re full or empty, highly productive or housing nail salons.”

            Bullshit. I’d rather have a nail salon in an urban building, along with the potential for greater density, than a gas station, particularly in a market that is already saturated with gas stations. You’re making a value judgement that a gas station is more “productive” than a cluster of urban buildings housing small businesses. You’re wrong.

            “I, and others, are focused on attracting and keeping both businesses and residents to occupy ALL buildings…”

            Bullshit. You’re supporting the demolition of existing, occupied buildings for a redundant gas station. There is no universe in which this gas station will attract more businesses or residents. As has been playing out in St. Louis for years, it will have the opposite effect of reducing demand. And guess what? Building a gas station does not increase demand for gas, nor does it mean there aren’t enough gas stations to meet demand. Demand remains the same, and one or more of the other gas stations will go out of business, which is exactly what QT wants.

            “…AND the costs it takes to maintain our existing building stock …”

            We are specifically talking about two buildings THAT ARE OCCUPIED AND MAINTAINED. We can keep going around and around on this but you are not going to convince me that exchanging these buildings for another gas station is good development by any definition. Don’t waste your breath.

        • Adam says:

          “the city would be shooting themselves in the foot if they created artificial, invented hurdles for this project.”

          right, because the city hasn’t been shooting itself in the foot for years creating a wasteland of gas stations and auto infrastructure around which nobody wants to live. by all means, lets keep doing it until the city empties out completely.

          • JZ71 says:

            Meanwhile, the county, and the counties beyond, HAVE been “creating a wasteland of gas stations and auto infrastructure around which” many, many people do “want to live” . . . .

          • gmichaud says:

            JZ71 is against any type of discussion that might actually improve St. Louis, hence the onslaught of marginal arguments. The truth is city governance is now at a crossroads, and its continual failure to support urban style development will end it only when the current office holders are displaced. It is complete nonsense to continually build a suburban environment in the city. You have a tremendous walking neighborhood in Lafayette Square adjacent, in addition, the neighborhood behind this proposed Quicktrip is largely intact. Those are the aspects that should be enhanced with any new development, not degraded.
            Challenge Quicktrip to come up with an urban friendly design. They clearly have poor advisors and architects on staff or under contract. If you look at the new Quicktrip at Chouteau and Vandeventer one can easily see how poorly laid out it is, meaning what we really have is a corporation that could give a shit less about the city and its residents. Hence the importance of city governance to set standards.

            St Louis has being going through this crap for some time, I remember a beautiful row of commercial Mansards at the corner of Gravois and Jefferson At the time 7 – 11s were the next big thing (as Quicktrips are now). The result today is a tired almost useless corner at Gravois and Jefferson. Maintaining the mansards would have been a much better urban decision. Even after all of these years the City of St. Louis is still run by the same cretan philosophy as practiced in previous years. Mayor Slay and his minions in the Board of Aldermen are running the City of St. Louis into the ground.

          • JZ71 says:

            Chouteau is not a pedestrian friendly street, all the way from Grand to Broadway, nor is it much of a residential street – it’s served as an industrial and commercial corridor for many, many decades. The same can be said about Jefferson, between Chouteau and Market. Yes, Jefferson starts to transition to a finer grained, more pedestrian friendly street south of Chouteau, but that transition doesn’t start until south of the fire station, at about Hickory. Improving St. Louis, at this point, is primarily about reversing the outward migration and shoring up land values. And you’re right, QT “is a corporation that could give a shit less about the city and its residents” – they’re in business primarily to make money! And no, I’m NOT “against any type of discussion that might actually improve St. Louis,” I’m all about dicussing solutions that have a glimmer of a chance of working. Just telling QT “no” is not a “discussion”, it’s a knee-jerk response that ignores the reality that a) unlike many other businesses, they ARE willing to make a substantial investment in the city, and b) the city stands to see increased tax revenues from said investments. It’s great to have ideals, but it also takes $$$ to run any city, and those come primarily from successful businesses, of all sizes.

            If we want to gain credibility as “urban experts”, we need to pick our battles – saying “no” to every proposed development is not a viable strategy. I’ll repeat, there are many, many “possiblities”, many, many “better uses”, for this site, just like there are for most every other parcel in the city, but this is the only one that is currently funded and “real”. It meets current zoning, it doesn’t require a lot of, if any, government funding, and there are, apparently, no other “real” proposals on the table.The city can say yes or the city can say no. You may want to, individually, do design review and approval, and you probably want some city office to (be able to) do the same, to set some “better standards”, but that’s not “the law” (and we’re a nation of laws). If this were being proposed at Park & Mississippi, you’d have a much stronger argument, but picking these two old buildings as a point to “draw a line in the sand” is an exercise in wishful thinking and futility. I see this as an appropriate use on an appropriate site, and one that does not detract from any efforts to do more infill developments on the blocks to the south and east. (And if and when the momentum excceds the supply of available, buildable, parcels, guess what? QT will get an offer that they can’t refuse, for purely business reasons, and the site will be reconstructed, one more time, with a denser, urban, mixed-use, multi-story project . . . . )

          • gmichaud says:

            You are just apoligizing for the sorry state of St. Louis and saying its okay. What battle is it you want to fight? I haven’t seen one yet that you consider worthy.
            The question involves a broader approach to the urban environment that you ignore. There is excellent mass transit along this corridor. That should be part of a broader discussion. Nor do Industrial uses preclude a sane approach to urban planning along Chouteau. Of course that is one of the major problems, everything is chopped up in thought and of course we see the chopped up results in real time across the city.
            I’m not drawing a line in the sand for two old buildings as much as pointing to the dysfunctional nature of any universal city planning objectives, which as far as I can see, there are none.

          • JZ71 says:

            And that is key to any “discussion” – you present your opinions and alternatives, I do the same, as do others. I agree, getting the public to embrace mass transit is key to seeing greater densities in the St. Louis region, and that discussion is as, if not more, dysfunctional than any urban planning efforts. As long as most St. Louis residents drive, either out of choice or a lack of other viable options, we’re going to see continued demand for surface parking, attached residential garages, more lanes, auto-centric mini-marts, shiny new gas stations and fast food drive-thru’s. Auto-centric urban design (what you refer to as “the sorry state of St. Louis”) is a direct result of our transportation choices, including a real lack of public transit options for most residents – if it’s going to take 3 times as long (or longer) via transit, to commute to work every day, most sane people are going to choose to pay way more to drive, alone, just to have that extra 2 hours, or more, “back” every day!

            The one point that I would like to “discuss” are your thoughts on a unified design language, as in “one of the major problems, everything is chopped up in thought and of course we see the chopped up results in real time across the city. . . . pointing to the dysfunctional nature of any universal city planning objectives, which as far as I can see, there are none.” My view/position is that there is no one “right” answer, no one-size-fits-all “solution” to every design challenge. Every site is defined by different geography, different intended uses, different adjacencies, different economic realities, and, hopefully, a broad range of material choices and technology options. One of the major knocks against suburbia is its blandness, it’s lack of a soul or a “place”, but most of that is a direct result of being built out at one point in time, out of a limited range of similar, affordable materials and using a common design vocabulary.

            I’m a big believer in the observation that cities are messy. There is layer upon layer of development and redevelopment, investment, disinvestment and reinvestment. Money talks – if there’s money to be made, money will be spent; if there’s no money to be made, it will seek greener pastures. I see goverment’s role as managing the chaos, not leading it. Government needs to limit the worst negative intrusions of neighbor upon neighbor, but it also needs to let mistakes happen. Innovation comes out of trying, blandness comes out of “playing it safe”. And using your definition of “worthy”, what would you propose? (And no, “just don’t build it”, is not a viable answer!) Have QT build and MAINTAIN one or more bus shelters for public transit users, here? Remember, by definition, the vast majority of their cutomers are driving – you rarely take the bus to buy gas, and QT obviously sees a viable business model for investing more than a million dollars on this corner.

            And if not QT, which company would you like to see? Trader Joe’s? Starbucks? St. Louis Bread Company? CVS? Walgreen’s? Family Dollar? Auto Zone? Title Max?! Left Bank Books or Apple is NOT going to put a store on every urban street corner in St. Louis, so we’re all going to have to lower our sights, down to the art of the possible. If we’re all going to wait for just the “right”, above-average, “appropriate urban” uses, and always say “no” to every “suburban”, “auto focused” proposal, we’re going to see continued stagnation, if not outright decline. I have no need for Babys R Us, Victoria’s Secret, Gander Mountain or the Apple Store, but I’m not about to say that they shouldn’t be allowed to build, here, or anywhere else!

          • gmichaud says:

            You can go ahead and lower your sights, that is also the problem with St Louis city government, like you, they have a very low bar on what they think can be accomplished. In fact the city can be and should often be the leader in urban design, I have pointed out many times details of approaches in numerous cities, and in fact successful cities have a leadership role in insuring the urban environment works in a viable way for its citizens. I can’t believe you keep defending what is clearly dysfunctional urban design, a dysfunctional urban planning process.

            Take Chouteau for instance, it is a unique road. It travels from Wharf Street just south of the Arch, runs near Busch Stadium, and downtown, near the 14th Street central train station (such as it is). Chouteau is adjacent to a major metro station at Grand Ave, it changes to Manchester near Vandeventer and continues through downtown Maplewood, touches another Metro Station at Hanley and continues through primarily busy commercial development all the way out of St. Louis County into the country.
            In a situation where the urban planners in St. Louis knew their asses from a hole in the ground this route would be designated a major transit connector route, suitable for a streetcar line or other significant investment.
            In turn this would suggest approaches to land use along this corridor.

            In any case another QT is not needed. There is plenty of vacant land they can build on. And as has been pointed out this business only displaces other businesses, it does not offer a unique product, say like Ikea.

            Yes St. Louis, the city and its administration does need to start saying no to every “suburban” and auto focused proposal. Notice CVS on Lindell actually changed their design to more fit the needs of an urban environment when told they had to.

            You can clearly care less about outcomes in the urban environment. The lack of a commitment to maintaining and encouraging a truly urban environment harms St. Louis and its standing in the nation, much more so than the loss of an NFL team.
            I doubt St. Louis would have lost so many national headquarters if it was a viable and beautiful urban environment.
            Instead your answer and the answer and position of the St Louis city administration of Mayor Slay is that new gas stations somehow represent progress.
            It is not real progress, it is actually going backwards. The same way St. Louis has been going backwards for decades.

          • JZ71 says:

            I’ll leave this for you to chew on: http://www.citylab.com/commute/2015/02/a-new-index-to-measure-sprawl-gives-high-marks-to-los-angeles/385559/?utm_source=SFTwitter . . ANY city that loses 2/3 of its peak population, as St. Louis has, will struggle with maintaining a dense, urban environment. We can’t plan our way back to greatness, given 6 decades of continual population loss. We need to stabilize, then grow, the city’s population before we can have any dreams of citywide increases in urban density.

          • gmichaud says:

            As I said above, your solution to everything is that the people of St. Louis should sit on their ass and wait until the capitalism gods bless them.

          • JZ71 says:

            “Many of the metros that saw the most sprawl are older Rustbelt communities that have suffered from deindustrialization, job loss and population decline, such as Detroit, Flint, Cleveland, Toledo and, perhaps surprisingly, Chicago. These metros are locked in a troubling syndrome of outward expansion without economic or population growth. As Laidley notes:

            “The plight of declining metropolitan regions—which sprawled the most from 2000 to 2010—highlights the difficulty in preserving compact communities in places suffering from significant losses in population and employment. As controversial as the imposition of growth controls has been, targeted decline raises even more vexing questions as to how to preserve relatively healthy areas amid widespread deprivation.”

          • gmichaud says:

            And that is the crux of the discussion, how to preserve relatively healthy areas, and I would say influence and reverse widespread deprivation rather than accept the deprivation. That is the point, a QT in this location does not represent part of the broader discussion needed to actually address overall decline.

          • Fozzie says:

            You’re delusional. The lack of an urban environment is not the cause of so many headquarters leaving town. Yet you pretend to be the smartest person in the room slamming every governmental agency in town. Good God.

            This blog is insane. It’s the car wreck I cannot turn away from watching.

          • gmichaud says:

            You are the one that is delusional, corporations do factor in the living environment for their employees in their decision making. As far as government agencies go there are many successful cities that have other approaches in policy, in public participation and so on, neither you nor St. Louis officials apparently bother to find out why some cities find ways to succeed while St. Louis muddles along.
            As far as the personal attacks, shove it up your ass pal. I have never seen you make a comment useless it is to attack someone. You are the worst kind of internet troll. I never pretended to be the smartest person in the room, but at least I’m not a dumbass like you. If you have something constructive to say, then say it. It seems you don’t like this blog, fine, take your hostility elsewhere. You must be a real piece of work.

          • Adam says:

            and that has what to do with the city? yes, people who want to live in the suburbs aren’t going to be deterred by gas stations. people who want to live in a CITY are going to be deterred by the overabundance of gas stations and associated lack of urban density, and will move elsewhere.

          • JZ71 says:

            An “overabundance of gas stations” and “auto infrastructure” is NOT why “nobody wants to live” and/or work in the city, it’s the poor public school system, high crime rates, racism, the earnings tax, an older building stock and a dysfunctional city government. Yes, “people who want to live in a CITY” like density – that, by definifition, is what a “city”/urban area IS – the difference is that everyone has their own standard as to what is just the right “density” and what is “too dense”! And, no, there will never be an “overabundance of gas stations” that are actually in business – market forces will make sure of that. There, will, however, be vacant, failed gas stations, just like there will be failed businesses of all types – bookstores, restaurants, used car lots, local coffee shops and chain fast food operations, etc. – waiting to be demolished and replaced by “more appropriate”, urban uses. The real battle, here, isn’t “saving” the dental office and the nail salon, the real battle is finding other uses / tenants / owners willing to occupy all the other vacant lots up and down both Chouteau and Jefferson!


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