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Excellent Urban Infill: North Sarah Apartments By McCormack Baron Salazar

It was by chance that I discovered the North Sarah Apartments under construction on May 11, 2012.   Photographing the Hodiamont ROW for a post last month (link) I saw new construction a block north and had to check it out.

ABOVE: Storefronts face Sarah at the new North Sarah Apartments development, click image for aerial in Google Maps

Developer McCormack Baron Salazar describes the project:

North Sarah, a multi-family, mixed-use development, consists of 120 mixed-income rental units in garden apartments, townhouses, three mixed-use buildings (approx. 7,000 SF of commercial/retail space) and a fourth mixed-use building that includes management/community space (approx. 4,900 SF). This development represents a critical component of the North Central Redevelopment Plan that was developed over several years and completed in 2000 by the City of St. Louis, community stakeholders and residents.

Located in the North Central area of North St. Louis City, North Sarah is anchored by key St. Louis neighborhood assets on its edges, including Grand Center to the east, the Central West End to the west, and nearby Saint Louis University to the south and east. In the community’s core, a number of new civic, educational, commercial and residential developments have created nodes of reinvestment. However, despite this progress and potential, a number of blocks in the North Central district, including those targeted for the North Sarah development, remain heavily disinvested, preventing the neighborhood fabric from being “knit” back together as desired under the North Central Plan. The North Sarah development is a key connector in bridging current gaps in revitalization and catalyzing further reinvestment in the area.

The architecture of North Sarah celebrates the historic character of the community while featuring modern amenities and sustainable (“green” technology) to improve both the marketability and energy efficiency of the units. Specifically, the development is designed in accordance with Enterprise Green Communities criteria.

North Sarah also benefits from a creatively structured and capitalized Human Capital Planning and Implementation Program lead by Urban Strategies in collaboration with key community stake holders. The development will staff a community liaison that will assist with the coordination of supportive services and implementation of resident activities. (McCormack Baron Salazar)

Here are some of the pictures I took that day:

ABOVE: Streets have been narrowed at intersections, ramps are directly in the path of travel
ABOVE: Storefront spaces facing North Sarah, hopefully entrepreneurs can open shops and serve the needs of local residents
ABOVE: The buildings along North Sarah vary, you don’t see block after block of the same thing
ABOVE: The side streets (W. Belle Ave, C D Banks Ave, Finney Ave) have a nice feel to them
ABOVE: The buildings, facades and materials help give the appearance of private buildings rather than being part of the same apartment development
ABOVE: The spacing between buildings is good relative to the width of the buildings

The development isn’t perfect, someone thought it’d be a good idea to use the impervious concrete on some of the sidewalks on North Sarah even though it’s a rough surface. Time will tell how the project does but from a design perspective this is one of the best infill projects I’ve seen in the city. The inclusion of storefronts along North Sarah sets this apart from so many others that force residents to leave their neighborhood for goods & services.

Kudos to McCormack Baron Salazar and everyone involved for making this a reality!

– Steve Patterson

 

Continued Suburbanization of Delmar Blvd Won’t Revitalize Delmar Blvd

Delmar Blvd., like most St. Louis streets, was once very urban in form. Buildings all were built up to the sidewalk, defining the public vs. private space. This also gave pedestrians a sense of enclosure, they weren’t exposed on all sides.

For decades now we’ve chipped away at the urban form then wondered why we also had population loss, increased pollution and disinvestment. We still would have experienced population loss based on the trend to the suburbs but trying to remake the city to be like th, e suburbs didn’t work to stop the loss and now it’s preventing the rejuvenation of many areas, such as along Delmar Blvd.

Also for decades St. Louis’ “leadership” has thought that anything new — any investment — was better than no investment at all. What they continue to fail to understand is disconnected buildings set back behind parking doesn’t create anyplace special. Furthermore with old storefronts up to the sidewalk and new buildings set back the look and feel isn’t pleasant. It’s not a contiguous wall of buildings or or consistent setback common in suburbia.

St. Louis’ first planner, Harland Bartholomew, wanted to basically raze the city and rebuild in the suburban model — see his 1947 Comprehensive Plan.

So when I saw this building being built in 2006 I was appalled that it was set back from Delmar. This is the offices of 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis located at 4631 Delmar.

ABOVE: Under construction in May 2006
ABOVE: 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis on Delmar, April 2012
ABOVE: On the Delmar sidewalk facing the entrance after exiting the bus pedestrians are less important than the cars.
ABOVE: The required ADA access route does exist but you have to go to the side street to reach it
ABOVE: The building to the east is having it's front removed to make it less urban than it's been for decades.

None of this will encourage investment and improvement of the area, it’ll likely accelerate disinvestment and abandonment. I hope to live long enough to see the 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis building razed and replaced with 2-3 urban buildings.

– Steve Patterson

 

Update: Tuck-Under Garages On Delmar

In December 2010 I posted about standing water at an unfinished house at 4343 Delmar, the post included the following image.

ABOVE: green standing water halfway up the door reduces the curb appeal. Please excuse the picture quality

Nearly a year later the problem remained.

ABOVE: By November 2011 the garage door was open but the water remained

And earlier this month I drove by on the 18th…the same.

ABOVE: March 18, 2012 nothing had changed

So I was surprised a few days later when I drove by and saw city workers pumping out the water.

ABOVE: St. Louis City Water Dept employees and equipment were pumping the water out on March 21, 2012

The house was started in 2008 but the city condemned the building on March 16th. City records list the owner as Brainchild Holdings LLC, a venture of Third Eye Investment and Development, Corp. and One Vision Homes, Inc. Three other matching buildings were finished, sold and are occupied.

– Steve Patterson

 

Updated Street Lighting on Taylor

AVOVE: New lighting on Taylor Ave

In July new lighting was turned on along a short stretch of Taylor, a description from June:

The Taylor Pedestrian Lighting project is nearly complete. When finished, Taylor Ave between Forest Park Parkway and Lindell Ave will be illuminated by pedestrian lights rather than cobra-head lights. The pedestrian lights will make that stretch of Taylor Ave more attractive and safer for pedestrians at night, and will better connect Taylor south of Lindell to Taylor north of Lindell, which already has pedestrian lighting installed. Pedestrian lighting is another initiative to make the Central West End and the 17th Ward a more walkable, pedestrian-friendly, and vibrant community.

The $330,000 project was funded by various sources, including $60,000 from Washington University Medical Center, $30,000 from Central West End South Business District, and $100,000 from block grant. The remaining funding came from the 17th Ward Infrastructure Funds allocated by Alderman Joseph Roddy. (Source)

It seemed bright at first but the night I was out taking pictures I noticed it was about the same as some areas north of Lindell. These lights aren’t as tall as the cobra head lights that are common throughout the city. These lights equally light the street and sidewalk.

ABOVE: A cobrahead light on Taylor just north of Lindell

The cobrahead fixtures are taller, spaced further apart and directed toward the road rather than the sidewalk. I’m glad to see this change, but I’m disturbed these types of changes happen only within a single ward. Corridors involving more than one ward are probably out of luck.

– Steve Patterson

 

Parking in Bus Stop Locations

Twice now in the last month I’ve departed the #10 bus on Forest Park on the east side of Euclid, in front of the Parkview Hotel (map). Both times a car has been parked in the bus stop.

ABOVE: BMW illegally parked in a bus stop on Forest Park

The first time the car was parked between the intersection and the bus stop sign, the bus had to let me off at the hotel driveway because the driver couldn’t get close enough to the curb. Tuesday the illegally parked car was further east so the bus had room to pull to the curb to let me off and pull back out into traffic.

The first time I jokingly asked the bus driver if it would be fun to push such cars out of the way, he affirmed. This time I thought of a recent news story from Europe:

Drivers who park in cycle lanes would normally worry about receiving a fine or perhaps having their vehicle towed. They probably do not expect to have their car crushed beneath the wheels of an armoured personnel carrier which has the local mayor at the controls.

But car owners in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, may be choosing their parking spaces a little more carefully after the city’s mayor, Arturas Zuokas, drove over – and wrecked – a Mercedes in a stunt to serve as a warning to anyone who thinks about parking illegally. (Source)

Here is the video:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQ-8xj8CUZw

Recently I was at another bus stop when a motorist parked in the stop where I was waiting. When she got out I asked her to move because the bus was due in minutes. On South Grabd I had to go into the FedEx store to find  the driver of a FedEx truck parked in the bus stop. He pulled out as the bus arrived.

I like and support on-street parking. When I chose to drive my car on-street parking is often the only choice I have to get me close enough to my destination I can walk there.  The road in Vilnius has zero on-street parking, no wonder they have a problem.

Anyone know where I can get a used tank?

– Steve Patterson

 

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