McKee’s Gas Station & Grocery Proposal Highly Suburban In Plan — Inappropriate Near Central Business District
In a December 2011 post, titled Downtown’s New Entrance, I said the following of developer Paul McKee’s plans along the new Tucker coming into downtown from the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge:
I’m still concerned the new buildings will lack connections to adjacent sidewalks. St. Louis now has a “Complete Streets” policy, but no requirement for adjacent properties to connect. The ADA requires minimal connection but a building can be built and occupied without it, leaving enforcement up to those who complain. If we take McKee, and his consultants, at their word the area will be pedestrian-friendly. My preference, of course, would be a requirement by ordinance. Former 5th Ward Alderman April Ford-Griffin never would initiate such a requirement and I don’t expect any of the three woman running to fill the vacant seat to do so either. The election is December 20th. Good or bad, McKee has the Tucker & Cass area under control. But what about south of Biddle St? The 1986 McDonald’s was just razed and replaced. The new one does have an ADA access route from one of the four streets bordering the property, but it’s still a prototype Â best suited for a suburban/rural highway exit.
I used the following graphic/caption in that post:
New buildings were shown up to the streets, with parking behind — the way we should be things in the center of the region. Someone may drive to work, but it makes walking to lunch, for example, feasible. Constructing new buildings back behind surface parking is typical suburbia — it has no place in the urban core of the region — not minutes from the Central Business District.
Years ago Paul McKee said he wanted to build walkable urbanism — not the drivable suburbia he was known for. Last week he presented a plan for two new buildings, one on each side of Tucker, that are highly suburban in their site planning.
The GreenLeaf Market will be located at 1408 N. 13th St., not far from the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge. Right across the street, McKee said there will be the ZOOM Store — a gas station, store and car wash.
“We expect the ZOOM Store to open by Thanksgiving and the other market to open by March 1,” McKee said. (St. Louis Public Radio)
The worst-case scenario has come true — McKee is planning to build suburbia within minutes of the central business district. Not the pedestrian & transit-friendly vision he initially communicated.
Both would be easy to have a pedestrian access route to a side street — ZOOM to O’Fallon and GreenLeaf to 13th. Technically achieving the bare minimum required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is still a long way from being pedestrian-friendly.
I’ve defended McKee’s efforts to build new urbanism in areas such as the 22nd St Parkway interchange, Pruitt-Igoe, and Tucker & Cass. That was based on him indicating his intention to do something positively urban, not ordinary suburban. These first buildings will set the pattern for this area.
I’ve been visiting & photographing this area since work on the new Tucker began. Here are some images from 2012:
Last month I went back again:
How we begin building on these large swaths of land matter, we need to ensure people can walk from building to building in the most direct manner possible — not some circuitous route or through surface parking lots. I’ve already contacted Good Natured Family Farms to tell them I welcome a grocery store — but not in a suburban form.
— Steve Patterson