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Opinion: Shake Shack Kinda A Big Deal For St. Louis (UPDATED)

December 6, 2017 Central West End, Featured Comments Off on Opinion: Shake Shack Kinda A Big Deal For St. Louis (UPDATED)

The origins of Shake Shack were hummbl;e…a cart. From their website:

Shake Shack sprouted from a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park in Manhattan to support the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s first art installation. The cart was quite the success, with Shack fans lined up daily for three summers.

In 2004, a permanent kiosk opened in the park: Shake Shack was born. This modern day “roadside” burger stand serves up the most delicious burgers, hot dogs, frozen custard, shakes, beer, wine and more. An instant neighborhood fixture, Shake Shack welcomed people from all over the city, country and world who gathered together to enjoy fresh, simple, high-quality versions of the classics in a majestic setting. The rest, as they say, is burger history.

Founder Danny Meyer is originally from the St. Louis region. Meyer founded Shake Shack in 2004, but he was well-established in NYC by that point.

The fancy-casual flagship of Danny Meyer’s empire, opened in 1985—which led the way for a hit parade of restaurants including Gramercy Tavern, the Modern, Blue Smoke, North End Grill, Untitled, Shake Shack, and, for a time, Eleven Madison Park—closed at the end of 2015, because of an untenable rent hike, with a promise to reopen within a year. Meyer is nothing if not trustworthy. In December [2016], the U.S.C. revamp débuted in the old City Crab space, still close enough to the greenmarket to stock up on winter rutabagas and retain its farm-to-table ethos, an idea it pioneered. (The New Yorker)

Meyer has built a huge culinary empire, survived in the highly-competative casual dining marketplace. From 2015:, Compared to its peers, Shake Shack has a much higher P/E ratio than the average of 32, but because Shake Shack is growing rapidly through expansion and is still a new company, the company’s earnings may yet rise in the future to bring the P/E in line with the industry. The relatively low profit margins and return on equity might also be attributed to its rapid expansion. On the other hand, it might point to the company trying to grow too much too quickly for its own good. (Investopedia)

St. Louis now joins cities that have a Shake Shack. There’s the usual suspects like NYC, Chicago, LA, and Dallas. Ahead of us were cities like Lexington (KY), Detroit, and San Antonio. Some bigger regions don’t have a Shake Shack yet: Seattle, Portland, and Denver.

I’ve never been to a Shake Shack before, though we’ve passed by one a block West of Chicago’s Michigan Ave numerous times.

Shake Shack just West of Michigan Ave, Chicago

I recently told my husband we could go next year…he wants to try it this year…so we’ll brave the lines in the next few weeks. St. Louis’ Shake Shack is located at 32 N Euclid, in The Euclid building.

From the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll;

Q: Agree or disagree: Shake Shack opening in St. Louis is no big deal, we have plenty of burger & shake joints already.

  • Strongly agree 6 [16.22%]
  • Agree 7 [18.92%]
  • Somewhat agree 8 [21.62%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 4 [10.81%]
  • Somewhat disagree 4 [10.81%]
  • Disagree 6 [16.22%]
  • Strongly disagree 1 [2.7%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 -2.7%]

We’ll see if it lives up to the hype. I’m looking forward to trying their ‘Shroom Burger (“Crisp-fried portobello mushroom filled with melted muenster and cheddar cheeses, topped with lettuce, tomato, ShackSauce™”)

— Steve Patterson

Note: This post was updated at 7:45am on 12/6/2017 to correct location information.


Readers: New CWE Apartment Project Isn’t Too Much Density

July 12, 2017 Central West End, Featured, Planning & Design Comments Off on Readers: New CWE Apartment Project Isn’t Too Much Density

In the non-scientific Sunday Poll, an overwhelming majority of those who voted felt a new project wasn’t adding too much density. I agree. Much greater density would’ve been good too, but the number of units was limited by the amount of parking that could fit into the former 1-story warehouse. I applaud the developers for leaving a small storefront space along the street.

Along the public sidewalk you have no sense that a tower emerges from within.


The Milton is located at 4534 Olive.

Here are the poll results, the response was slightly higher than in recent weeks.

Q: Agree or disagree: Adding a 4-story tower w/30 apts to a 1-story warehouse is just too much density.

  • Strongly agree 2 [4.08%]
  • Agree 1 [2.04%]
  • Somewhat agree 0 [0%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 1 [2.04%]
  • Somewhat disagree 3 [6.12%]
  • Disagree 10 [20.41%]
  • Strongly disagree 30 [61.22%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 2 [4.08%]

I’m curious about the few that do think it’s too much density.

From across Olive the tower is obvious.
Different angle
With the tower set back from the front, the roof becomes common outdoor space for residents
You can easily see Olive when looking over the front parapet.

While I’m glad the front faced was reused, and I like modern contrasting with old — there’s something just not quite right about the new tower. It’s not displeasing, just not outstanding. Proportions and detailing — or lack of perhaps?

Opening night I entered unto the parking garage area, lots of concrete block walls to support the structure above. Pretty straightforward.

There were two interior details that were a miss — thresholds at each unit and out to each balcony.

The wrong interior threshold was used — both sides should have a beveled edge — these are a trip hazard or a major pain in a wheelchair.
And the huge step over to the outside is another area where these fall short. Try carrying a tray of drinks to guests with this tall step over.

So it’s not a perfect project, but it is a good example of how to retain a nice old facade while adding living space. In the next 5-20 years as fewer people own cars hopefully we’ll see less space & expense to accommodate car storage in new projects.

— Steve Patterson


Opinion: One Hundred Should Do Better To Receive TIF Financing

December 21, 2016 Central West End, Featured, Planning & Design Comments Off on Opinion: One Hundred Should Do Better To Receive TIF Financing

Some are opposed to the proposed 36-story glass apartment building, called One Hundred, because it’s too tall and/or too modern. Sorry, neither are a valid reason to outright reject the project. Besides, there are many valid reasons to demand be changed.

The surface parking in the foreground is for the Chase. Across the alley is the site where the proposed One Hundred is to be built. May 2013 photo
The surface parking in the foreground is for the Chase. Across the alley is the site where the proposed One Hundred is to be built. May 2013 photo

First, the results of the non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: The proposed 36-story apartment building at Kingshighway & Pine, called One Hundred, should be approved without changes.

  • Strongly agree 17 [33.33%]
  • Agree 10 [19.61%]
  • Somewhat agree 3 [5.88%]
  • Neither agree or disagreeii 3 [5.88%]
  • Somewhat disagree 5 [9.8%]
  • Disagree 4 [7.84%]
  • Strongly disagree 8 [15.69%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 [1.96%]

Tax increment financing is a great tool to help pay for public infrastructure such as roads, utilities, sidewalks, traffic signals, etc. A TIF for rebuilding public infrastructure where the 22nd interchange is now, for example, makes sense. Millions on TIF financing for this privately-owned site in a high-end dense neighborhood makes zero sense. If development of this site impossible without a TIF? Unlikely.

A 5-story base with parking isn’t good for fostering pedestrian life. It’s boring to look at, and those are the floors where residents could keep an eye on the sidewalk for added safety. The one storefront is under 1,000 share feet. A tiny closet of a space. There should be thousands of square feet of retail space at this location. Parking shouldn’t be included in the rent, it should be unbundled so residents can see how expensive parking is. Enterprise CarShare has a vehicle nearby at the Argyle garage, but there should be one here that can be accessed by the public.

There should also be some affordable units — 10% for low-income people. That’s just 3 units. The area has a lot to offer, it shouldn’t be limited to the wealthy. Doesn’t surprise me that most would approve the project without change, but this attitude is why St. Louis will never recover.


— Steve Patterson


Sunday Poll: Should A Proposed 36-Story Apartment Building Be Approved Without Changes?

December 18, 2016 Central West End, Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should A Proposed 36-Story Apartment Building Be Approved Without Changes?
Please vote below
Please vote below

The surface parking lot at Kingshighway & Pine has been vacant since 1973, when the 7-story Buckingham Hotel was razed for surface parking for the St. Regis co-op, located across the alley.

One Hundred’s design has a 355-vehicle parking garage, including one level underground. In addition to parking, the building’s five-story base will have 882 square feet of shop space and 6,756 square feet of “amenity space.”

Eli Ungar, founder of Mac Properties, said about 40 percent of the apartments will have one bedroom. About 40 percent will have two bedrooms and the remainder will be divided equally between studio and three-bedroom units. Rents near $3 per square foot per month, high for St. Louis, are possible in a neighborhood as “exquisite” as the Central West End, he said. (Post-Dispatch)

The proposed building will have 305 apartments. It has caused a debate, so I want you to weigh in, here’s today’s poll:

The poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson


Sunday Poll: After Millions in Tax Incentives, Has IKEA Been A Net Positive or Net Negative?

Please vote below
Please vote below

It has now been over a year since IKEA opened for business and it appears to be boosting tax receipts:

The Swedish retailer’s 63110 ZIP code saw a 40 percent spike in state sales tax revenue from October 2015 through June 2016 compared with the prior-year period, according to the latest available data from the Missouri Department of Revenue.

The period with Ikea generated $277 million in state sales tax revenue versus $197 million in the prior-year period without Ikea. (St. Louis Business Journal)

An increase of $80 million, though not all can be attributed to IKEA. It’s unclear now much additional revenue went to the City of St. Louis. But it didn’t come cheap, from February 2014:

Ikea’s plans to open a St. Louis store next year moved ahead Friday when a city panel voted to back a $32 million tax incentive for the project.

Members of the city’s Tax Increment Financing Commission voted unanimously to approve the subsidy. The vote also backed a separate $5.1 million subsidy for a residential building planned for an area just west of the Ikea site.

The Swedish furniture retailer has yet to specify the cost of its St. Louis store, planned for the southwest corner of Forest Park and Vandeventer avenues, but a spokesman said it will exceed $100 million.

The TIF projects are part of a $167.7 million TIF city officials approved for the Cortex bioscience district in 2012. The district is split into 10 TIF areas that must be activated individually as the area develops. (Post-Dispatch)

The store employees hundreds, each paying the 1% earnings tax.

The poll will be open until 8pm.

— Steve Patterson




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