Some take big all at once, but others take just a little over a long period — the latter can continue with few noticing and nobody able to stop it. Seven years ago I posted about theft of public property, see Stealing a Sidewalk (images since lost). Since then nothing has changed.
In the late 1990s, Larry Deutsch was finally allowed to raze the historic 4-story building at 1101 Locust St. that housed Miss Hullings Cafeteria for decades. After the demolition crew left, new sidewalks were poured and the lot was covered in asphalt for surface parking. That’s when the line dividing private from public property was moved more than 3 feet. Legally the lot is 121 feet x 102 feet 6 inches. But by narrowing the public sidewalk, they made their lot 124.33′ x 105.83′ — a gain of 6%! This is roughly 750 square feet of public space that has been used privately for years.
This allowed them to have 5 additional parking spaces. The current daily rate is often $10, but let’s say $5/day. With about 300 revenue days a year, that’s $7,500 in additional revenue per year. Over 18 years the total estimate is $135,000. Serious money made by taking from the public right-of-way.
It’s very obvious in person and pictures. You might be thinking the legal property lines are different than the adjacent properties to the North & West. Typically the Public Right-Of-Way (PROW) doesn’t narrow suddenly by more than 3 feet. I know from a Sanborn Fire Insurance map the line was straight in February 1909 (see for yourself).
As we know, the city has been vacating streets & alleys for decades — perhaps this was changed when nobody was looking? So last week I went down to city hall to look at the official plat records.
The owner is Double Delta Arizona LLC. This Missouri LLC was created in July 2009 by Larry Deutsch, 14 Wydown Terrace in Clayton, MO. It is to register a foreign (non-Missouri) entity of the same name, but located in Arizona and created on October 27, 1993. A search of the Arizona Corporation Commission confirms that Double Delta Arizona LLC was formed on that date. The current agent is Michael Benjamin Deutsch, 33 Oakwood Hills, Chandler AZ. Maricopa County Assessor’s records show the owners as Michael & Jill Deutsch. Double Delta Arizona LLC is a property management company located at 2130 West Chandler Boulevard, Chandler, AZ. Chandler is a suburb of Phoenix.
Back in our city hall, I stopped by the Recorder of Deeds office to look up public records on 1101 Locust. The most recent was from April 2006, a Quit Claim Deed (Wikipedia) to transfer ownership.
The 1101 Locust Street Corporation was created in June 1993, dissolved in November 2007. What I don’t know is if the PROW was reduced deliberately or accidentally.
Here’s what I’d like to see happen:
- The Deutsch family acknowledge they’ve been using part of the PROW for years.
- The Deutsch family pay the city for the cost to a) remove asphalt and pour additional concrete or b) pour new sidewalks up to the legal property line.
- The Deutsch family update the surface parking lot to the city’s current parking lot standards. including physical separation (fencing, landscaping) between private & public property.
- The city remove/reduce the existing curb cuts, requiring access via the alley on the North side of the property.
Some of you might be thinking this is not big deal — a sidewalk still exists. Yes and no. At the drives there is basically zero ADA-compliant sidewalk width. Zero. This is a pain for many besides myself — families with a baby stroller, for example.
This is yet another example of the awful pedestrian experience in St. Louis. The problem has been identified, now it should be corrected!
— Steve Patterson