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Public Meeting on CWE High Rise

Alderwoman Lyda Krewson (28th Ward) called me today asking that I help announce a public meeting to be held this Saturday morning. Krewson is hosting the meeting to help allow OPUS to present revised drawings for the controversial high rise they are proposing at the NE corner of Lindell and Euclid.

The presentation will be Saturday 4/15/06 at 9:30am at the Schlafly Library which is located on the NW corner of Lindell and Euclid.

Afterwards be sure to head to the McDonald’s protest at Grand & Winnebego which begins at 12:30pm.

– Steve


Forest Park SE Dev. Corp. To Hold Meeting on Forest Park Land Run

Not surprising, an organization that relies on both the area Alderman and BJC has backed the plan to let BJC build on part of Forest Park. Now they are holding a public meeting to give the appearance of seeking public input:

On Thursday, April 13th at 6:00 pm at Adams Park Community Center, 4317 Vista, residents/concerned citizens will have an opportunity to hear and discuss the proposed relocation of the Hudlin Park, portion of Forest Park, east of Kingshighway. The park is located at Clayton Road and Euclid Avenue. The proposed reuse involves expansion of the BJC/Barnes-Jewish Hospital to this site. In turn, Forest Park will receive an annual gift from BJC/Barnes- Jewish Hospital.

Forest Park Southeast Development Corporation submitted a support letter for this proposal – acknowledging that the proposed development would in turn be good for Forest Park, the City of St. Louis, and BJC/Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Attending this meeting will be Alderman Joseph Roddy and other concerned residents/business owners of Forest Park Southeast. Your input is welcomed. Again, the meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 13th at 6:00 pm.

Please forward to others.

Irving M. Blue, Executive Director
Forest Park Southeast Development Corporation

I just love how all this works:

1) Hatch evil plan around self interests but tied concerns about higher taxes if not accepted.
2) Get politicos on board with plan. After all, that is why we give them contributions!
3) Get local group on board now that they are used to our annual grants.
4) Oh yeah, almost forgot, hold some sort of public meeting now that all the decisions are made. Solicit “input” without laughing.
5) Wrap up song & dance and return to doing whatever we feel like secure in the knowledge the alderman and neighborhood are eating out of our hands.

What a system we’ve got.

The show begins at 6pm on 4/13/06 at 4317 Vista.

– Steve


BJC Hospital, Forest Park & ‘Aldermanic Courtesy’

The Post-Dispatch has a front page story about the city considering giving BJC Hospital a 90-year lease on a 12-acre parcel of Forest Park that is located East of Kingshighway.

If signed, the deal would give the hospital rights to the land for the next 90 years for an annual payment of more than $2 million, money the city says would go into a park trust. The hospital would have to pay to replace the courts, but not necessarily in Forest Park – it could put them anywhere in the city.

$180 million over 90 years. Certainly nothing to sneeze at.

Handing over a such a large piece of land to the hospital would be an unprecedented step in the 130-year history of Forest Park, a regional gem that is among the nation’s largest urban parks.

Well, not exactly. Lest we forget that thing called Highway 40/I-64 that took a massive chuck of Forest Park on at least two occasions. Our velodrome, located in a hard to reach corner of Penrose Park, was previously located in Forest Park but was relocated for highway expansion. But concerns are still valid that if BJC can build on Forest Park land what is to stop other ares from the same.

The bigger picture is the Parks Department is seeking funds to help their budget. Might they consider getting rid of some smaller parks altogether? Once they get a taste of money from this lease will they seek additional leases? Or perhaps they’ll sell sponsorships. They could rename Carondelet Park to something like Lowe’s Park at Carondelet after the new Lowe’s being constructed across the street. We’ve got some great little parks throughout the city but I have strong concerns we may see additional efforts to take these as well.

What I really want to see is how the BJC/Forest Park debate plays out in the Board of Aldermen. You see, we have this archaic practice called “Aldermanic Courtesy” whereby all the other aldermen forget they are elected as legislators and “defer” to the alderman in the ward where development is to take place. This is how Matt Villa got away with the horrible Loughborough Commons, Joe Vollmer is getting away with razing St. Aloysius and how Jennifer Florida thinks she will get away with a drive-thru restaurant where city ordinance says one cannot exist. You’ll recall that Ald. Craig Schmid got in trouble for speaking out against Florida’s drive-thru even though his ward is a literal two blocks away and he was representing the interest of his constituents.

By their own twisted logic on legislating the city the only alderman that should have any say in the matter is Joe Roddy. The parcel in question is in his ward, barely. But hey, that is the process. The other aldermen will say it is best they defer to the aldermen of the area but they know what is best. We all know this is BS but they continue to espouse it like it is gospel.

The balance of Forest Park falls within Lyda Krewson’s 28th Ward. Will Roddy become Florida in this case, advocating against public outcry, and will Krewson become Schmid, bucking the unwritten code of aldermen and actually representing the best interests of the city at large? Only time will tell.

BJC should have to make due with the land they’ve got.

– Steve


A Tale of Two Cities (aka Wards)

While discussing plans for a hotel in the red hot east Loop area a friend asked why Alderwoman Jennifer Florida couldn’t be more like Alderwoman Lyda Krewson. Good question. If you’ve read my prior posts on Florida you know I’m not a fan but I came to her defense. Lyda Krewson is working with Loop visionary & developer Joe Edwards. Or more correctly, Krewson is assisting Edwards create a vibrant urban street, Delmar.

Florida, given a Joe Edwards-type visionary, might just come off looking as good as Krewson does. Sadly, Florida is stuck with John Steffen’s Pyramid Companies. So instead of getting hip bowling alleys or boutique hotels like the Delmar Loop, Grand gets a relocated McDonald’s drive through surrounded by a sea of parking.

The mistake Florida made is to accept what they offer and assume that is the best we can get. Pyramid’s best just flat out isn’t good enough. It a company doesn’t get what an urban street in a city should look like then they shouldn’t be operating in the area. I’m sure some municipality in St. Charles County would love to have this McDonald’s.

Pyramid’s developers must look at this section of Grand and just see parcels of land. An Edward’s type developer that understands the urban model can look at the same part of Grand and see how many residential streets feed into the area, how it intersects with Gravois and Chippewa, that the region’s most popular bus line serves the area. This type developer can see the benefit of a good long-range plan to build up the street to an urban model, the way it was before the city let just anything be built.

It is make or break time. Florida is pushing hard for her lack of vision developer Pyramid. If they prevail it will be a sad day for St. Louis. It will mean we are not willing to become a strong urban city but one that will accept anything and everything just to say we’ve had so much development in our ward & city.

Pyramid’s proposal sickens me. Reminds me of the in-fill housing they built in the city with front facing garages a number of years ago (Delmar west of Vandeventer).

People won’t literally move away because of the McDonald’s but I think we will continue to lose urbanists to other cities if we keep following this path. Similarly, we will not attract the population that seeks an urban city. Cities that are following a more urban model such as Portland and Madison, WI will continue to gain while we are stagnant.

– Steve


Base of Park East Tower Leaves Much to be Desired

Parkeast Tower

Originally uploaded by urbanreviewstl.com.

Opus Development is well along on the construction of a new residential tower at the NW corner of Euclid & Laclede. The tower portion looks great. The base, however, leaves much to be desired.

Too much parking above grade to create much interest fo the pedestrian. Yes, they’ll have sidewalk retail but the space above the retail overpowers the sidewalk.

I’m not fond of reflective glass, which will cover the corner and other areas where they are attempting to bring some relief to the facade. Decorative metal will cover additional areas.

All in all I’m not impressed with the base. I’d like to see these developments look at putting a couple of levels of their parking below grade rather than all being above the retail.

Something different needs to be done as this is just not friendly.

– Steve