Home » Downtown »Featured »Planning & Design »Politics/Policy »Walkability » Currently Reading:

Public Should Be Notified of Proposed Street Closures/Vacations

17th looking North toward Washington Ave
17th looking North toward Washington Ave

This morning the full Board of Aldermen will meet, but they won’t have a final vote on Board Bill 64  — a bill to vacate a short block of 17th Street — because it has been moved to the “informal calendar” as a result of fierce grassroots opposition being vocalized to the full board. See Proposed 17th Street Closure Would Reduce Safety & Security For Existing Residents Around Monogram Project.

BB64 passed unanimously in committee, though Downtown Neighborhood Association Executive Director Jared Opsal spoke against it. Had we all known about it we would’ve packed the hearing room. Which is why the developer & Ald Davis didn’t tell us. However, my post today isn’t about BB64, it’s about the broader issue of notification about street vacations.

The fact that a bill giving away a public right-of-way (PROW) so many of us use daily could move so quickly before being noticed is shocking. I don’t want this to happen to others in the city. Your alderman might tell you of such things, but not all of us are that lucky.

What we need is a process for public notice, not unlike the one used for liquor licenses, zoning changes, etc.  I think it need several components:

  1. Posted notice at the location for at least 15-30 days in advance of first hearing
  2. Mailed notice to property owners within 500′-1,000′ of location

The same should apply to blocking an end of a street, severing the street grid. It was the street grid that first attracted me to St. Louis 25+ years ago, it has been painful watching as we repeatedly make short-sided decisions here and there. Death by a thousand cuts.

I urge the Board of Aldermen to establish a process of notification regarding proposed street closures & vacations.

— Steve Patterson

 

Currently there are "54 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    I agree! The underlying issue is transparency in government, and that’s a local, cultural and historical question. I’m also pretty sure that the BoA already has a “process”, but it’s one that just meets the minimum required by law. In contrast, there’s this, from Denver: https://www.denvergov.org/content/dam/denvergov/Portals/730/documents/PRS/Vacation%20Process%20Requirements.pdf

     
    • Mark-AL says:

      I don’t consider this issue to be one of ‘transparency’–but rather a matter that needs to be objectively and openly debated and considered, first, in light of economic positives and negatives, next in light of overall regional benefits, and lastly in light of any negatives or positives claimed by local grass-roots groups. A final decision should not be based just on the community comments!! Grass roots types, even those who are “well-intentioned”, don’t always make decisions that benefit those who don’t share the passion. Minutes of the meeting can and should later be published in order to assure ‘transparency’. But if we elect politicians (who appoint these decision makers and city planners to their jobs), we need to let them do their job–otherwise, if we don’t trust them or if we really don’t think they’re especially qualified to do their jobs, then we need to reverse course and vote FOR a particular leader based on his qualifications and NOT just because he has a “D” tacked on to his title.

       
      • JZ71 says:

        Ultimately, all politics are local. There needs to be a balance between a regional perspective and (hyper?) local perspectives. Local residents should be given an opportunity to give their input (or not, however they choose) on substantive changes that a) would directly impact them, and b) there is a legal reason why their input should be considered. I’ll give you two examples. One, someone requests a demolition permit, yet there is no process for denying the permit based on community input. Should the community be notified and/or comments accepted if there’s no legal reason to deny the permit? I’d say no. Two, MODOT is doing a highway project. Public input is usually required, yet there is little evidence that public input has much impact on the project as its being presented and moved forward (so why even bother?). Yes, we rely on our elected officials to both act as filters and to look at the bigger picture. But we also have public processes because there are issues, like this one, that are not “cut-and-dried” and require balancing competing interests (as Steve describes).

        In this case, the developer bought a building that (currently) does not have “enough” parking for his intended use / product. This was a self-imposed hardship. The public has no duty to make his project more marketable, more profitable or more feasible, especially if it negatively impacts existing, adjacent, residents and businesses. IF a compromise can be reached (and Steve described one), and a “win-win” created, then, sure, trade away the public ROW. But if the only argument is “economic development”, then we need to look at the long-term impacts, both negative and positive, not just the short-term “benefits”. We, as both residents and elected officials, have been sold too many dreams (lies?) that fail to meet expectations, with TIF’s, BID’s and other “gifts” to developers with big dreams and only their own personal interests at heart. And once the PROW (or parkland or other public property) is “given away”, the only way to get it back would be to BUY it back!

         
      • JZ71 says:

        This not much different than the ongoing discussion about removing I-44 (formerly I-70) from the depressed section downtown. Locally, there’s support, regionally, not so much.

         
  2. Mark-AL says:

    I have at least three thoughts about today’s post:

    1) If opposition to the street closure is so loud that city officials just can’t ignore it, let’s hope the developer doesn’t take his building plans and move on with them to the next nearest city.
    2) I wonder what is so sacrosanct about an interrupted street grid that must be perpetually respected ad infinitum. Adults adapt to change! My mother frequently laments that all the good parking spaces are always marked with a wheelchair symbol!!!! But life goes on, and she’s resigned to having to walk a little greater distance to enter the Piggly Wiggly.
    3) “Design by Committee” seldom results in success, from my experience. I remember a “design-build” project I worked on early in my career led by a general contractor who really had no business building anything beyond Target stores and gas stations. To complicate issues, the building owner invited a group of his employees to provide “input” during the design-development stage. (Department heads are frequently brought in to offer valuable input, but it is done in private meetings with the consultants and seldom in a open forum format.) The “design” sessions for this particular building soon became counterproductive and required the architect to use the valuable meeting time to explain to the group, time and again, why several special employee requests could not be implemented due to code restrictions, etc, or for other reasons that only a professional would identify, or just because certain special requests were cost-prohibitive. I think city planners need to give lip service to groups requesting community input regarding street-grid modifications, because community activists and busybodies often rarely see the big picture and their interests are often provincial and even selfish. If my 65 year old mother is expected to walk a greater distance to enter the Piggly Wiggly, why shouldn’t a pedestrian offer to do the same thing in order to walk from Locust to Washington, in exchange for creating a better site plan for a budding business that might employ or accommodate local residents???

     
    • 1) he’s bought the property, he can either work with us or sell to someone who will. St. Louis has tried the ‘build whatever they want’ approach before — huge failure.
      2) The street grid is public property that facilitates the navigation of the city. As it is chopped up mobility is reduced.
      3) This is why the city needs strong form-based codes so major issues are addressed before an outside investor buys property here.

       
      • Mark-AL says:

        But with a soaring murder rate that makes Detroit and NYC and LA look like Disneyland, and in an area where public schools graduate several high school seniors each year who haven’t the slightest idea about how to solve “X” in a (X+3=7) equation, haven’t the slightest idea of the uses of “your and you’re”, couldn’t find Kansas on a map even if an arrow were pointing to Topeka, don’t know who the current vice president is, have no idea about why the US entered the 2nd World War……………., let’s face it: St Louis really can’t be too picky at this point. I’d prefer to allow the Monogram developers to use 17th Street vs watch the building go undeveloped and slowly deteriorate from non-use and inevitable vandalism. If the Monogram developers have any balls, they’ll tell the City that the deal goes south without 17th Street! Then we’ll see if the City reacts stupidly or as business people would. St Louis ain’t Beverly Hills, CA, where developers are lined up, three abreast, to build or renovate a building. Toyota just started construction on their new US headquarters. Where? Plano, TX!!! Why? Because Plano TX runs excellent schools with incredible fine arts departments, in addition to award-winning math, science, and humanities departments. One school alone (Plano West High School) graduated over 50 National Merit Scholarship students this year. Plano West’s orchestra is #1 in the entire state of Tx, and rated in the top 3 in the US. ( https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiI0dHu5Z3NAhWGYyYKHSMABf8QtwIIRzAG&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DRnw3u1LJU-E&usg=AFQjCNEmioMKqv8muQI4gkZxa8ZoMpgcKg&sig2=ctRbUOnfHA5Ta7dtDpQu4Q) Try on this rendition of Verklarte Nacht, considered one of the most complicated and difficult pieces of orchestral music in music history…..and played by a group of 11th and 12th graders!!!!!

        Plano’s police do their job. No nonsense. And the city is builder-friendly, which doesn’t mean they bend over, but it does mean that they know how to lean. I have found my experience with the City of Plano to be a model of how a city development department stays in the driver’s seat, but doesn’t crash the car at the first busy intersection.

         
        • Adam says:

          Are you on drugs?

           
        • jeff707 says:

          Plano is one of the most depressing places I have ever been in my life, so I am not sure we want to be using that to set our bar.

           
          • Mark-AL says:

            “Depressing”?? Kate Turabian wrote “vigorous writings is concise.” I’d be interested in knowing why you find Plano to be depressing. Be concise.

             
          • Adam says:

            Kate Turabian’s grammar was terrible.

             
          • Mark-AL says:

            Ignorati Elenchi!

             
          • jeff707 says:

            Every experience I have had there was coated in suburban malaise. Other than about a four square block historic downtown area, which very few people actually live near, everything is very far apart and takes it takes for ever to run a simple errand because after it takes you 5 minutes to get out of your subdivision, you are fed onto wide, imposing, straight, roads-that-are-built-for-speed-but-somehow-manage-to-be-full-of-traffic where you pass tract after tract of identically looking 6000- sq ft houses (or depending on the route you take, 10,000 sq ft houses) for another 10-15 minutes until you get to a mega intersection that has a strip mall on all four corners (granted, often with high-end stores) that are separated from the road with a sea of parking. And that’s just to pick up your dry cleaning. Or get a coffee. Or buy a birthday card. THAT is a depressing experience. I know they have been pushing lifestyle malls like everywhere else in the country, but those are just a different form of depressing.

             
          • Roobah says:

            Clearly you don’t live near that street or downtown. There are — give or take a handful — 2000 apartments and homes between 15th and 18th streets, Chestnut and Washington, and I’m not even counting the building wanting to own the street — in the immediate areas surrounding this area. In other words, it’s more densely populated with apartments and condos that require a means to get in and out of your property. Chestnut and Pine offer direct access off and onto I-64, Olive Street is a major thoroughfare. Getting to these east-west streets happens by north to south (grid access), and this is one of the FEW north south roads that offer drivers the opportunity to stay off 14th and 12th streets due to already heavy traffic flow is what needs to be preserved. With the complete recent rerouting of buses down 18th street, that street is now heavily trafficked, too.

             
          • Adam says:

            I think jeff707 was talking about Plano, TX in the above comment, not downtown St. Louis.

             
      • Mark-AL says:

        I’d be surprised if the developer made a firm commitment without first negotiating his “must haves”, and obviously he feels strongly enough about vacating 17th Street to have included that in his negotiations. If the City were to renege on that concession, the deal just might fall through…and at the same time send a message to the business world that STL isn’t such a developer-friendly city…not a good tag to hang on STL.

        You’re right that STL needs to develop firm and reasonable form-based codes BEFORE negotiations begin. And those codes need to apply to InBev and to the GSA, as well as to Trixiebelle’s Diner. But that likely won’t happen, will it?

         
        • Adam says:

          God forbid St. Louis send a message to developers that we don’t freely give away public property and public RsOW for their private use. Eye roll. I’d rather the development fall through than set that kind of precedent. This developer expects to make money. That’s why they bought the building and parking lot. I highly doubt that they’re counting on 17th street to make or break the project.

           
          • Mark-AL says:

            I think it’s important to weight the positives, not just the negatives, of vacating the street in order to create a parcel on which parking is contiguous with the building. Doing so will isolate the path from a car to the building and create both the illusion and the reality of a safer overall work environment. If management feels strongly about doing whatever it can to create this more secure environment and if the City rejects their request for variance, there are surely larger parcels of land available in So. County or Wentzville. If this firm employs 100 with an average annual salary of $50,000.00, the City stands to collect $50,000.00 annually from the E-tax alone…..which is a big jump on hiring another police officer in a city that can probably use another police officer…or two! Add to that RE taxes, benefits to surrounding businesses including sales taxes collected on purchases, etc etc etc etc, and the logic to compromise becomes a turkey shoot! Crime in downtown STL is NOT under control, despite the fact that downtown advocates appear to deny that reality. I wouldn’t want my wife or mother or daughter walking from her car to the back door of this building unless the pathway was well isolated from the general public….especially before dawn and after dusk. There is nothing inalienable about the street grid! Its layout should best serve the city, and that can be best determined by weighing the pros and cons of the proposed revision.

             
          • Adam says:

            Maybe instead of getting worked up about hypothetical scenarios, go read about the actual plans for the property. It’s a residential developer, not a “firm”. The plan calls for 168 apartments with a ground-floor preschool, not 100 $50,000.00 jobs.

            “I wouldn’t want my wife or mother or daughter walking from her car to the back door of this building unless the pathway was well isolated from the general public….”

            They should probably get jobs in the suburbs then.

             
          • Mark-AL says:

            Regardless of the ownership, with 168 apartments going into the building..as you state…and especially with a preschool in the mix, there needs to be a way to segregate the building users from the general public. Residents’ parking is typically contiguous to the building, or on the basement/ground floor. Residents in this building will be coming and going at all hours of the day and night, and they don’t need to be running across 17th Street to get safely to and from their cars. And a buffer for the kids–especially–would create a safer environment for them. Instead of $50,000 earnings tax, substitute $50,000.00 +++ (probably approaching $160,000+) real estate taxes. That makes the development even more attractive to the City. The point, Adam, isn’t what’s going into the building. The point is that, whatever it is, if negotiations with the developers go well, revenue will be generated for the City, which obviously needs it. And, let’s face it, statistics don’t lie. Downtown is not safe. The murders in STL to date exceed those of last year. STL is the MOST DANGEROUS city in the US! And like Gabe Lozano, CEO of LockerDome stated, the city needs to do something about it!

             
          • JZ71 says:

            This is a downtown, very urban, site, not a suburban one. No one should expect to “segregate building users from the general public”! Yes, we need a safe(r) city, but building walls is not the answer. If (some?) residents “need” “safe” parking, then the developer can carve some out of the existing floorplates (or hire armed guars to provide personal escorts 24/7!) . . .

             
          • Mark-AL says:

            Guards 24/365 will add around $60.00 a month to the rent, minimum, based on a $40,000.00 annual salary package for each guard. This apartment building isn’t One57 in NYC, or even close. And for this project, 24/7 security is an unnecessary expense, even in the war zone it’s located in. $60.00 a month would probably go a long way toward covering monthly tenant utility payments in the Monogram project!! $60.00/mo. is a big price to pay in lieu of designing a simple solution from the get-go. It will take just one assault, one carjacking, one murder to turn this building into a Section 8 complex. Statistics don’t lie. “Walls” were never in my cards. The City parking-lot ordinance requires that a fence be erected around a parking lot….which a landscape architect could tastefully place around the vacated area as well, as well as landscaping, a patio area, possible dog park, etc…. all the things that would make urban living more enjoyable, IMO. , eliminate having to cross the slushy streets during snow-melt season.

             
          • Mark-AL says:

            http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/national-international/Florida-Nightclub-Attack-US-Mass-Shootings-382610241.html

            We live in a different world than our parents did. We all know that. So we need to live cautiously, but we still need to live. Architects, engineers, developers and city planners have a moral obligation to design responsibly, even if to do so results in slight/perceived inconveniences to the end user and to the public. I’ll give up a single, short street in my city in exchange for a buffered area that at least makes an attempt better serve a building user. I’m not a fan of passing on 6 empty disabled parking spaces in a rainstorm, but I do it because I know that keeping them available for those who need them is the right thing to do. But I as an able-bodied citizen am inconvenienced, especially if the next available space is 10 cars away! Our world is full of changes. Giving up one lousy street should rank last on the list.

             
          • JZ71 says:

            Then we should “give up” every street downtown so that every loft resident can have convenient “safe” parking! When my wife and I were looking at lofts, years ago, safe, secure parking was one of our requirements, but one that we were prepared to pay for, ideally in attached, covered parking. We sure weren’t expecting the city to provide it to us, for little or no cost.

             
          • Mark-AL says:

            No, I’m not suggesting that STL offer up all the streets for safe use of a building. But not all existing buildings can or SHOULD accommodate internal parking, and obviously not all existing buildings can provide contiguous parking accommodations, without concessions. But if residents have to walk even a block to their vehicles in an urban environment, then parking cannot be considered safe. (It would be interesting to check out Urban Blue’s issues with safe parking, if any.) I got a call from a former classmate who is also a structural engineer, and he invited me to take a look at a loft building being developed in another city, where an additional sub-grade level of parking was being added below the previous basement level, just to add secure, covered parking to the building. He was not involved professionally in the project, and so we visited the site after-hours. We both walked away from the site shaking our heads in disbelief.
            Vacating 17th Street is a win-win for the City, as I see it. It avoids adding to the list of white elephants, adds real estate tax dollars to the operating budget, increases earnings taxes, increases the downtown population, helps to increase the bottom lines for nearby businesses…..in exchange for giving up a single, short street flanked by two existing streets. Neither the developer nor the City can be said to is giving up much in exchange for the overall good. No losers here! No one comes out on the short end of any classic David Hannum aphorism. Life will go on, just like it did yesterday.

             
          • JZ71 says:

            We’ll have to agree to disagree . . .

             
          • Adam says:

            “…there needs to be a way to segregate the building users from the general public.”

            No, there doesn’t. Are you finished going through contortions to try and rationalize your weird vision for St. Louis as a collected of dissociated fortresses? Jesus, if you’re so terrified go somewhere else. Oh, and statistics are manipulated into lies all the time. Don’t be disingenuous.

            “…all the things that would make urban living more enjoyable, IMO.”

            based on your O it sounds like you would LOOOOOOVE the western suburbs. you should move to one of those. they’re SUPER safe and everything is nice and segregated. maybe not enough fences around public properties for your taste but i think you’ll be pleased by the cul de sacs and parking moats and the general lack of accessibility.

             
          • Roobah says:

            Escalating to the ridiculous: Let’s add to that philosophical thinking about the safety of walking from a parking lot to a building: While we’re at it, let’s also close off 17th street between Olive and Pine Street and give the street to Blu Condominiums, for safety reasons, so the owners living in that building don’t have to cross the street getting from their parking lot behind 7-11 to the building on the east side of 17th Street. Better yet, most people don’t realize this, the north exit out of 7-11 is private property of Blu Condominiums. Perhaps Blu should just put up an 8′ fence between their parking gate and sidewalk to keep the panhandlers out off their property. (What would 7-11 say to the sudden loss of an exit to their property?)

            At a MINIMUM, this “giveaway” should carry the same restrictions that were placed on the 16th Street closure between Olive and Pine Street — they were required to maintain a public walkway through the property. That is necessary to ensure safety for those who walk in the area.

            Until St. Charles Street is a fully developed street, this is just crazy! Future development of Butler Building’s 384 apartments (the southwest corner of this road closure) will be seriously impacted by loss of this street.

             
  3. rgbose says:

    Amen!

     
  4. Imran says:

    Had the streetcars and their extensive network of tracks been preserved, we could have prevented so many misguided street closures. I am glad the residents of Downtown are standing up to this s&!*

     
  5. gmichaud says:

    Actually the failure to inform citizens of hearings, or even hold hearings is the way city government operates. They can’t have the peasants voicing their opinions or views. Contrast this to a city like Helsinki which has a four step planning process, three of which ask for objections from the citizens, those three steps are the draft plan, the plan proposal, and final approval, (Helsinki City Planning Review 2016, page 39).
    Rather than value citizens and finding the best solution for both the developer and community St. Louis goes to great lengths to avoid citizens, their concerns and ideas. The planning process is a major reason why Helsinki is a world class city while St. Louis barely reaches livable status.
    JZ71 cites Denver and a process that appears far better, but exhibits some of the same insular qualities and potential for abuse as St. Louis. Although I am guessing city officials in Denver would be more enlightened in the handling of the matter in general.
    While it good to question the overall way vacating a street is handled, it should be important to note that the overall problem is that city officials represent developers interests and not the citizens. It is why people are so sick of government, doesn’t matter, republican or democrat, we have a government for, by and of wealthy insiders and that isn’t hyperbole.

     
    • JZ71 says:

      One other part of the Denver empowers neighborhood organizations, who act as both filters and ways to communicate with local residents: https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/community-planning-and-development/registered-neighborhoods.html

       
    • Mark-AL says:

      In all of today’s comments, I haven’t read even a single legitimate (or illegitimate for that matter) reason why you are all hell-bent on preserving a single street in STL that is flanked by nearby and adjacent streets that can more than handle any pedestrian and vehicle traffic typically seen in the area. Are you opposed to “change”? Or are you all so possessive that you can’t stand even the thought of losing something that is “yours”? Developers are not your enemy; yet it appears you feel that they are. Are you afraid of Slick Willie? I would expect a negative reaction to the proposed street closings from those of you who purport to be urbanists, but in light of the potential gains the City will realize if this project moves forward, your apparent negativity is a sad eye opener. It’s funny: I didn’t read of any naturalists or urbanists complaining when the Musial Bridge was being discussed, possibly impacting the wildlife, waterfowl and/or marine life in and around the Mississippi, or even complaints about the altered landscape, introducing concrete and steel in an area where it hasn’t existed since the beginning of time. Omnia Mutantur, as the famous poet once wrote. And she was right!

       
    • Mark-AL says:

      I like and relate to your comment about “hyperbole”! Gotta watch out when you use hyperbole in this crowd!

       
  6. Mark-AL says:

    Did anyone even bother to watch/listen to Schoenberg’s Verklarte Nacht? Actually, Adam’s question if I was on drugs was appropriate. The night when this piece premiered in the early 20th Century in Vienna, riots broke out in the audience, and people thought Schoenberg had been on drugs when he wrote it because it employs unusual chromatic and dissonant chords and rejected all the musical norms of the day. It’s really a remarkable piece, and I doubt you’ll ever hear of another high school group performing it, certainly not with the musicality of this group. In fact if you go to Steven Schoenberg’s Facebook page (son of the composer), he too gives high praise for the Plano West High School performance.

     
    • Adam says:

      It has nothing to do with closing 17th. You go from “St. Louis ain’t Beverly Hills” (thank God) to (paraphrasing) “Toyota’s building a new headquarters in Plano because Plano High has a good band.” You’re all over the place. You’re not making sense. Hence the drugs comment. By the way, the Fulbright Program recognized Truman State University as a top producer of Fulbright Scholarships. Guess that makes Kirksville an urban paradise. (That’s cool though that Plano’s getting a new car factory. All we’re getting at the moment is a half-billion-dollar Centene expansion and a couple-billion-dollar NGIA headquarters on top of a few billion dollars in developments elsewhere around the city, including downtown.)

       
      • Mark-AL says:

        1) I mentioned “orchestra”, not band. There is a difference!
        2) Plano was chosen for Toyota’s US headquarters, not for a car manufacturing facility. (Those headquarters guys make the big bucks, and they demand the best for their kids!) They chose Plano BECAUSE of their excellent PUBLIC schools, much like St. Louis’, eh????!!!!!!!! (Hyperbole) (Raise a kid in downtown STL, send him to Jefferson Elementary, Yeatman-Liddell Middle School and Vashon High and he might be reading at the 7th grade level by the time he graduates from Vashon…if he makes it out of there alive.) The Plano people promote education and opportunities for their kids to develop into contributing citizens; you worry about sidewalks and street grids.
        3) I mentioned nothing about “urban paradise. But, no, Kirksville is not an urban paradise, IMO. Nor is STL, definitely! Nor is Plano, obviously in your opinion. Don’t forget: STL is the most dangerous city in the US! And you can dance all around that fact, but I question if you can and will continue to deny the importance of the quality of life that PARENTS experience when their kids are actively engaged in school and excited about all thing academic. I don’t see that level of involvement among the Vashon High students, nor do their test scores suggest ANY level of involvement. So while Plano may not have historic structures or an urban feel, their streets are safe and students there are offered amenities and opportunities that will give them the tools to actually write a complete sentence, to speak clearly and coherently, and to develop the other skills necessary to contribute to society. “URBAN PARADISE” is a catchy but nebulous term. You may consider an urban paradise to be a city filled with renovated pseudo-historic structures built on an orderly street grid. In the short and long term, what difference will the order of the street grid really make 20 years from now when our kids are running the show?
        4) You suggested I move to a suburb west of the city. Did that. First we lived in STL Hills, then we moved to Clayton, and the Jewish elderly on our block in Clayton didn’t care much for our kids who played basketball in their own driveway or roller bladed down the city sidewalks..or the sound of my oldest son’s minibike. So we moved to Chesterfield where the kids could be kids and didn’t have to apologize to their neighbor when they passed gas.

         
        • JZ71 says:

          The biggest reason Toyota moved was taxes, which is a state, not local issue. I’m not familiar with Plano. but I’m guessing that it’s like pretty much like any other wealthy suburb, near a major (and failing, in comparison) urban center – good schools, McMansions, strip malls, one or two “lifestyle” centers, a few countrty clubs, and the requisite suburban office parks – the “definition”, to many people, of a great place to “raise the kids” . . .

           
          • Mark-AL says:

            The Japanese place high value on education. Their investments allow for long-term vs immediate payoffs. Their decision to locate in Plano came after years of consideration and investigation into school districts that offer a Renaissance approach to education: proven academics, unparalleled fine arts, consistently high performing sports programs. This year they won the US Championship debate competition. Their orchestra won first place in the state 2016 (a state that really promotes music in the schools!). Their band (2016) won the coveted national Sousa Award. One of 4 high schools won over 50 National Merit Scholarship awards alone. 94.6% of Plano ISD graduates pursue higher education, and they boast one of the highest performances on college level entrance exams in the nation. One of their orchestras finished #1 in the state, and ONE OF THEIR JUNIOR HIGH ORCHESTRAS finished #2, competing with all of Texas’ orchestras that fill their top chairs with juniors and seniors. One of their orchestra teachers (from STL) has earned credentials that compare favorably with professors in music schools all over the US. I think there’s more to life and urban planning than just creating the ideal “urban experience” by keeping an eye on the street grids. Strong schools make for a strong society.

             
          • JZ71 says:

            It’s more about the business (profitability, competitiveness), than it is about the kids: http://www.dallasnews.com/business/columnists/mitchell-schnurman/20140614-why-move-to-plano-toyota-has-to-get-better.ece

             
          • Mark-AL says:

            The fact that Toyota employed scouts to interview administrators, teachers and students at several independent school districts located around Plano ISD (McKinney, Allen, Denton and Plano) suggests Toyota was focused on locating their executives and their families in an area where students can receive a Renaissance education in a safe and comfortable environment. These scouts attended sporting events and fine arts performances as well, just to get the full picture. They did their homework, because they know well that a happy employee is one whose kids are receiving a comprehensive education that isn’t being compromised by mediocre programs and makeshift facilities. Last month, by the way, Plano ISD approved a half-billion dollar bond initiative to further improve their school facilities, teacher salaries and course offerings, and a $68.5 M performing arts building!!!! Plano’s sights are set on bigger things than street vacations and loading docks.

             
          • jeff707 says:

            I have heard that many of the senior executives and younger employees are looking inside the LBJ/635 ring, at Highland Park, Preston Hollow and Uptown. Even if the most senior executives lived close to the HQ, I imagine St. Mark’s, Jesuit, Hockaday, Ursuline, etc will be getting their tuition dollars. Again, it is odd that you seem to think that Plano is some sort of paradise: http://reportingtexas.com/in-plano-as-in-new-york-city-heroin-is-a-killer/

             
          • Mark-AL says:

            We’ll see. While the private schools listed offer excellent programs and exceptional academics, on the average they don’t top Plano HS and Plano West High School. I couldn’t find evidence that any of the private schools have earned honors in TMEA statewide. Jesuit schools are typically among the best in a given city. My two oldest boys attended SLUH when I lived in metro STL, and I felt SLUH’s academics were very strong, but their fine arts offerings were only mediocre. But if I lived in Plano I think I’d locate within Plano West HS’s boundaries, due to their exceptional academics, physical plant and especially because of their orchestra program which is really unequaled anywhere in the area, When the time comes, we’ll see how many senior executives’ kids do actually attend private schools that will require such a long daily commute, since traffic all over Dallas is a nightmare.Even a 10-mile commute can sometimes take an hour, as I’ve learned in my recent trips to Plano. While Highland Park’s orchestra program is nationally recognized, it isn’t typically mentioned among the TMEA and state finalists.Plano’s schools regularly are among the top 3 in the state. Music is HUGE in Texas, and for those students familiar with the various programs and interested in fine arts, there’s a strong likelihood that they’ll pressure Mom and Dad to locate in Plano or Allen. Plano isn’t a paradise. But it’s an affordable, clean safe city dedicated to providing educational opportunities and state of the art recreational facilities for its residents, runs a police force that enforces the law, (no-nonsense-style enforcement), and it’s located within a reasonable distance to downtown Dallas.

             
          • JZ71 says:

            And to quote Toyota’s CEO: “As we looked closer, though, the advantages Plano offered our company and the quality of life it offered our employees became clear — including the cost of living, access to top-tier schools and cultural offerings, low tax rates and a wide range of affordable urban and suburban living options within a short commute of our headquarters site.

            “Another reason we chose Plano is simple geography. Locating there will bring us closer to our manufacturing footprint, in a time zone that allows us to communicate more easily with our North American operations, with direct flights to all of our operations — including Japan.

            “Throughout our search, it was also important that we chose a location without an existing Toyota presence, one where we could build a new culture from the ground up, based on our core values. Plano offered a business climate that we believe is the most ideal for bringing our sales, marketing, manufacturing and corporate cultures together as one for the first time.”

            What he fails to mention is the $6.75 million incentive package! http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2014/05/what-brought-toyota-to-plano-everything-apparently.html/ . . and the fact that Dallas city schools, no surprise, aren’t the greatest: http://www.bizjournals.com/dallas/blog/2014/04/toyota-chose-plano-over-dallas-because-of-schools.html . . http://www.autonews.com/article/20140505/RETAIL01/140509934/whats-so-tempting-about-texas-to-toyota%3F

             
          • JZ71 says:

            “Last week, we revealed that over the next few years, Toyota will be gradually relocating their United States headquarters to Plano, Texas. But what some of you might be wondering, why Texas? Did Toyota look anywhere else or was Texas always the number one choice? Unbeknownst to most, they actually conducted a top-secret, 100-city search before Toyota chose Plano.

            Many cities are now wondering why they weren’t chosen, especially Charlotte, North Carolina, the runner-up to Plano. Toyota looked for cities that were near airports that could provide direct flights to Japan, a lower cost of living, great educational facilities, as well as finding a city that was somewhat neutral to their current California, Kentucky, and New York employees that will eventually be relocated.

            Mike Michels, Toyota’s Vice President of product communication to the Charlotte Observer that “with manufacturing locations in many US states, Canada and Mexico, we chose a location that better supports our diverse geographic footprint, in a time zone that allows us to communicate better with most of our operations, and has direct flights to all our North American operations and Japan.” http://toyotatacomawa.tituswilltoyota.com/toyota-chose-plano-charlotte-relocation/

             
          • Mark-AL says:

            Your link addresses the heroin problem present in the Plano and other North Dallas communities. The kids who indulge are victims of their parents’ success; they have plenty of pocket change and they’re naturally inquisitive–which is why we as parents have to take off the blinders and be more proactive. My 16 year old son recently experimented with marijuana. When my wife and I confirmed his experimentation, he was grounded. When that didn’t work, I locked up the keys to his car. That got his attention. The keys will remain in my pocket until September. Maybe some of the Plano parents need to pay closer attention to their kids’ activities, as parents everywhere should do.

             
          • JZ71 says:

            But wait, Plano’s high school football stadium is only 5th best – time to upgrade! 14,000+ seats and a video scoreboard just isn’t cutting it, anymore . . . http://www.dallasobserver.com/news/the-five-best-high-school-football-stadiums-in-dfw-7115295

            But seriously, my point is that Toyota simply left a nice part of California for a nice part of Texas – there are “good” schools in both locations. Few big companies are going to move their corporate HQ to a below-average urban area, in ANY state. I’m sure that Plano has great schools and a nice, “safe”, upscale, suburban vibe. But so does Wildwood, here, Northbrook, outside Chicago, or Highlands Ranch, outside Denver. The differences between Plano and Wildwood and Torrance are primarily taxes – in Texas, with no personal income taxes and relatively low property taxes, highly-paid executives get to hold on to more of their “hard-earned” money. And given Texas’ central location and DFW’s robust flight schedules, it makes more sense for the company to be centrally located, since it’s shifted from being a company (in the USA) that’s primarily an importer of completed vehicles from Japan to a manufacturer with multiple plants in the midwest. The move was a business decision, not a search for better schools than those in California!

             
          • Mark-AL says:

            You’re right.. Their decision to relocate wasn’t motivated by a “search” for a better school district, but the school district played a role in the Plano selection. Houston, Austin, San Antonio would also have offered suitable locations with similar tax incentives. 14,000 seat stadium? Football is big in Texas. Parents and alumni support their team. If you design a conference room that needs to accommodate 20 employees, you probably won’t design it for 15. Wait until the plans for Plano’s new fine arts performance building are available on line. And from what I’ve seen in the last few months of regularly visiting Plano, the fine arts auditorium will be packed with parents, their kids, grandparents, aunts and uncles and other city residents. Again, the biggest item on Plano’s aldermanic agenda isn’t street vacations (not that the agenda really means much due to aldermanic courtesy and all the entangling alliances that exist in the Democratic network)….

             
          • JZ71 says:

            DFW is the big decider in Texas, similar to ORD or ATL. The decision wasn’t Plano vs Houston, Austin or San Antonio, the decision was Plano vs Irving, Richardson, Coppell or McKinney, no different than the decision, here, between Clayton, West County or St. Charles (and possibly Cortex). If you want a nice suburban office park and nice suburban schools, ANY of the top 30 urban areas can deliver. But if you want a hub city with robust national and international airline schedules, your choices are more limited (and dwindling) – ATL (95M), ORD (67M), LAX (64M), DFW (59M), DEN (54M), JFK (49M), SFO (44M), CLT (41M), LAS, PHX, IAH, MIA, MCO, EWR, SEA, MSP, DTW and PHL all handle more than 30 million passengers annually, while STL is currently handling just 13 million (down from 30 million in 2000, and 20 million in 2003). Until STL becomes a hub, again (if ever), we’ll be at a big disadvantage in attracting any big company, like Toyota, that has a lot of executives flying every week.

             

Comment on this Article:

Advertisement



FACEBOOK POSTS

This message is only visible to admins.

Problem displaying Facebook posts.
Click to show error

Error: Server configuration issue

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe