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Sunday Poll: Will North St. Louis Be Better Or Worse 25 Years From Now?

June 26, 2016 Featured, North City, Sunday Poll 15 Comments
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Please vote below

A quarter century ago I moved North of Delmar — from the Central West End. As I reflect back on the last 25 years, I think about what the next 25 might look like.

The National Geospatial Agency (NGA) will have been in it’s new headquarters for years. Will it help or hurt the surrounding area? Will Paul McKee’s plans get built? Will public transit be improved?

I have a lot of questions, but no crystal ball. There’s also a good chance I won’t be alive in 25 years to see the answers to my questions.

There’s no right or wrong answer to today’s poll — it’s a non-scientific measure of readers’ outlook. I’m not setting any criteria by which to compare now to 25 years from now, that’s up to you.

The poll is open until. 8pm.

Starting this week I’ll be cutting back from six posts to five — no more Monday posts, the next post will be Tuesday.

— Steve Patterson



Currently there are "15 comments" on this Article:

  1. gmichaud says:

    This was a hard one, given the fact NGA is locating there gives it a positive, the fact it is the same clusterf**k it has been for 6 years due to the fact city government totally doesn’t care about outcomes and it is reflected in the few (like next to zero) discussions about city and transit planning for this area and its impacts on the city as a whole (including nga and mckee). This should be a seminal project for St. Louis, it is not
    As it stands the positive is the NGA relocation to the area, the negative is the incompetent city government that can’t be concerned with what should be the most important developments in St. Louis in decades.
    Public input, screw the public is the message as McKee announces two autocentric projects, anti transit, anti pedestrian and anti urban in every form. I get why you are leaving Steve, what’s the point, the same either stupid or corrupt people are running everything. It has to be one or the other when the underhanded process that allows for no citizen concerns is rammed through the Board of Alderman as Board bill 93 for McKee (and many others including the recent 17th street closure)
    Based on my analysis the crap that is proposed by McKee and Hubbard will likely depress any potential success of the northside, I would definitely not place any potential success at the top. Success will likely be middling at best, but leave it to city fathers and their friends quest to steal as much as possible to make NGA a complete failure.
    Am I being too harsh? I don’t think so, I have 60 years of data showing the decline of St. Louis to back me up.

    • Mark-AL says:

      I wonder if your expectations are a bit bent? I wonder if North St Louis’ eventual redevelopment might be considered a success even if the final or developing product doesn’t meet your stated expectations? If the areas around NGA get developed like Affton, for example, where middle-class residents live comfortably, work regularly, contribute to society, use their cars to commute to work and to get to the shopping venues, and pay earnings and real estate taxes, would you still consider the McKee et al. ventures to be a failure? I wouldn’t. I would view it a total success, while acknowledging that the new NSL isn’t a duplicate of the original. Things change.

      • gmichaud says:

        No, this is not my expectations, it is how city building is done in successful cities. I can supply you link after link, document after document, city after city if you are really interested.
        The City of St. Louis has totally mishandled the Northside. Nor does paying property taxes mean a project is a success if it ruins the city otherwise, That’s why meat slaughtering operations were banned in the center of the city
        Your argument for suburban style development falls apart when transit and pedestrian access are included. I’m a little surprised since you say you have lived in Frankfort you don’t seem to understand urban issues a little better.
        Affton style development is preposterous. Do you understand in addition to quality of life there is a serious question about responses to climate change?
        I can speak to either one, but Affton is best left to Affton, it is a nice town. But St. Louis should be far more aggressive in finding solutions to 6 decades of decline rather than creating another Affton.
        The real change would be to abandon the car. Things change.

        • Mark-AL says:

          I was temporarily relocated to Frankfurt because our firm has opened a new office in Frankfurt, because there’s a growing interest all over Europe, especially in Greece, Turkey, Italy and Germany in seismic design which is one of our firm’s areas of concentration.I won’t be living in Germany past the forthcoming academic trimester. We’ll be returning to the US, and we’ll decide if we want to live in LA, San Francisco, Dallas or somewhere relatively near JFK in NY. We’ll likely choose Plano, a Dallas suburb. I’ve personally spent so little time in Germany due to my travel commitments, but I do recognize the advantages of living in a community, like Frankfurt, that doesn’t require use of a personal vehicle and has access to commuter trains.My kids commute daily to and from school on the train. It’s been a god-sent! But the point I was making about NSL is that it has been a wasteland for decades, with little interest beyond McKay for initiating any significant development. Developers like McKay make decisions based on perceived customer interest. I’m fairly certain that his business plan is responsive to his anticipated customer base. He’s nobody’s fool. Why would he develop a neighborhood that nobody wants to live in? And I’m certain that he can amend his plans to be more inclusive of urban issues if his customer base expresses an interest. All of STL is NOT in decline. Take a look at South Hampton, STL Hills, areas of Carondolet, Holly Hills, Soulard, The Hill, Tower Grove East, Dogtown, Downtown, Benton Park, LaFayette Park, and I can’t imagine you’ll say that those areas are in decline. NSL and other similar areas are in decline, and NOT because of the absense of commuter trains! The neighborhoods named above are vibrant neighborhoods, and they’ve remained so without mass transit and pedestrian access beyond the scope that McKay is proposing in NSL. Not everyone wants to walk to the bus or train to go to work, school, the grocery store or to church. If non-urban planning works in those areas, why not in McKay’s NSL? The area around NGA won’t develop JUST because of NGA. And it won’t happen on its own. And it won’t be a success unless the customer base buys into the plan. I’d like to see just one viable urbanist developer commit to NSL as McKay is purporting to do. If McKay fizzles out, the area will be sitting there for the first urban developer to step in to put his money where his opinions originate!

          • JZ71 says:

            This is a discussion over whether “something” is better than “nothing”. If the city holds the land hostage, insisting on ONLY transit-friendly, high-density, infill development, then given our current local economy (not great), odds are high that NOTHING will happen for the foreseeable future. If the city allows lower density and adequate parking, the odds go up that SOMETHING will be built. Bigger picture, especially with low-density retail, is that in 30 or 40 years anything built now can be easily be replaced with something “better”. While we’d all like to see immediate change for the better, especially as we continue to age, ourselves, and especially in north city, I’m in the camp of something, anything, now, IS better than waiting on the “perfect” project to materialize in 10, 20, 30 or 50 years. (And it’s McKee, not McKay . . .)

          • Mark-AL says:

            Oooops! See, I learned something today!

          • gmichaud says:

            No its not a discussion about something is better than nothing. The reason the local economy is not great is because of ideas like yours which accepts the lousy as ok. It is a fantasy to think that something is going to be replaced in 30 to 40 years, my brick house is over a 100 years old, there are tons of frame homes, 60, 70 or even 80 years old in parts of the city and county.
            if you want to embrace the mediocre, have at it. The process of development is more corrupt than a 3 dollar bill, it’s yours. We are not talking about perfect at all, simply the auto sharing the environment with pedestrians and mass transit.
            McKee owes the public 40 million dollars (or more?). It is not his project, nor would it be if he was in fact supplying the money, (Steve recently reported one his suburban style projects requested a TIF in the board bills)
            City building is a community art, it does not belong to any one developer, unfortunately the process St. Louis now uses gives most of the city buildings decision making to the developer through one alderman. Aldermanic Courtesy is killing the City of St. Louis. Look at the decline of 60 years, it all has been done by people willing to accept lousy solutions like you advocate.

          • JZ71 says:

            I’ll repeat, development happens when there is demand and money to make it happen: http://www.denverpost.com/2016/06/28/denver-arapahoe-square-high-rise-rules/ . . and I have no problem with public involvement and (some reasonable) government controls when there is something actually happening. The “problems” in north city (currently) have very little to do with with city’s planning processes (or lack thereof), and a whole lot to do with how people choose to interact with each other (or not). Businesses and residents have left, and continue to leave, the area for many reasons (crime, better opportunities elsewhere, racisim, newer buildings elsewhere, etc.) and I see little value in wasting money creating grand plans when there’s little chance they will ever be implemented. Instead, we should focus, first, now, on the basics – crime and punishment, growing small businesses, improving schools – to create a city where people want to be, instead of one they’re wanting to escape!

          • gmichaud says:

            No matter how many times you repeat something it doesn’t make it true. Grand Plans, Jesus Christ how about the basics? Honestly you don’t have a clue how supply and demand work, no matter how many times you invoke it.
            Maybe you should head back to Denver. I wonder how long they will put up with your naysayer attitude that nothing works, probably not long. That’s likely why you are in St Louis.
            How in the hell are you going to create a city where people want to be if you don’t build it? You once again rely on your magic fairy which I’m guessing is getting worn out.
            And yes St Louis City planning processes are archaic and ineffective when compared to other cities of the world. That is if there is an interest in actual facts.

          • JZ71 says:

            And what part of population decline can’t you understand? People and businesses have been moving out of the city for 65 friggin’ years. It’s not because of poor urban planning, it’s because people see better options elsewhere, including the suburban hellhole that is St. Charles County! People want to be safe, they want their kids to be well educated and they want to see their taxes spent wisely. And here are some “actual facts” – St. Louis population, by decade:

            1900 575,238
            1910 687,029
            1920 772,897
            1930 821,960
            1940 816,048
            1950 856,796
            1960 750,026
            1970 622,236
            1980 453,085
            1990 396,685
            2000 348,189
            2010 319,294

          • JZ71 says:

            This is how you get planning done – you reach out and include the broader community and you break the tasks down into digestible chunks: https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/mayors-office/newsroom/2016/denveright-task-forces-announced.html

          • gmichaud says:

            I figured you had an understanding of Frankfort, the fact that your kids commute daily to and from school points to the quality of life.
            I’m not ready to settle for average or why not do it right the first time. I don’t believe Mr. McKee knows what he is doing truthfully, he has gotten at least 40 million of public money (you know how to look up the latest figures Steve?)
            I realize there are many successful neighborhoods in St. Louis, the fact they are all pedestrian and transit friendly should tell you that it will work and that just any piece of obscene suburban design should be accepted because its better than nothing.
            We are talking about designs that support quality of life as mentioned above, but more than that climate change is a force to be concerned about for all children, including yours.
            I still remember the coal filled skies of St. Louis as a child. It didn’t completely disappear until the source of pollution did, it was regulated out of existence as a main source of heat.
            I’m not part of the anything goes crowd that has ruined St. Louis and the region. St. Louis is so far behind now it can’t see its own rear end. The next decades will tell the story as the region chokes on its own incompetence.
            Other cities strike a balance between the pedestrian, transit and the auto, other cities make using transit a joy, or at least efficient, other cities include citizens as a valued part of the process. I’m not interested in supporting the mediocre

          • Mark-AL says:

            I have to say that I admire your (and Steve’s) passion for the vision of NSL City that your comments reflect. But your vision will not create the NSL City that you are seeking. All the energy, vigor and enthusiasm in your voices fail to address the single-most reason why anything that (ever) gets developed in NSL will be risky at best and very limited–until someone can get a handle on the burden of all the senseless crime and violence that NSL City is known to carry. Until Black youth and young Black men experience a change or heart and attitude not just toward whites but toward persons of their own race as well, nothing in NSL City will change dramatically. Oh, there will be pockets of development, residential and commercial, mostly to support the NGA employees brave enough to live nearby, but there will be no widespread development in the area, even if a trolly, train or bus runs down every street 24/7 a week, every 10 minutes. Who in his right mind would send his kids to and from school on a train in a community where violence (for violence sake) and knock-out games are routine–not just against whites, but against fellow blacks? “Crime” is the major criminal in NSL City, and it impacts the safety of not just the streets, but of the schools, shopping venues–and inside the home itself. Walkable neighborhoods is not primary concern on the minds of parents who want to raise their kids in a neighborhood. They want safe streets, safe schools taught by educated and coherent teachers who express themselves intelligently when they’re interviewed on the local news!. They want their kids to sit in classrooms alongside other kids who respect the value of education (or at least have parents who will make sure they will value their education). No, gmichaud, it’s not about sidewalks. It’s more about developing an environment where parents feel safe sending their kid out to pick up the paper from the yard. I always feel relieved when I talk with my wife each evening and confirm that my kids arrived home safely on the train that given day. I can’t imagine living with that apprehension for the balance of my child-rearing days.

  2. Sgt Stadanko says:

    I hope so. Maybe then those human cockroach panhandlers will migrate up there instead of being parasites downtown. Thanks, Sarge

    • Sgt Stadanko says:

      Steve, I am sorry to hear you are going to cut back on the posts I enjoy the posts and they are informative, Is this a permanent thing? Or just because it is summer? Thanks for all you do, Sarge


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