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Not Impressed With Aesthetic of CityWalk Apartments

I love seeing new mixed-use buildings going up in the Central West End neighborhood, along Euclid Ave. Unfortunately, I’m not excited about the aesthetic of the nearly finished 7-story CityWalk.  When construction began in late 2013 it was expected to be completed by last Summer:

Bruce Mills, whose Mills Properties is developing City Walk, said construction will begin in early November. He said construction will take 22 months, meaning that City Walk, with 177 apartments, will be completed in late summer 2015. (Post-Dispatch)

Let’s take a look…

Looking North on Euclid toward the nearly-complete CityWalk development at Pine
Looking North on Euclid toward the nearly-complete CityWalk development at Pine
A new Whole Foods will soon open on the West end of the ground floor. I like the look of the black windows used in the project -- but the white doors on the corner are very wrong -- especially with black railings.
A new Whole Foods will soon open on the West end of the ground floor. I like the look of the black windows used in the project — but the white doors on the corner are very wrong — especially with black railings.
The balance of the ground floor facing Pine St
The balance of the ground floor facing Pine St
Looking South along Euclid
Looking South along Euclid
The West facade along Euclid
The West facade along Euclid

The facades are a hodgepodge of elements, the window are proportionally too small & horizontal.  However, the building is large and the mass has been well-maslked. The parking garage is hidden.

I look forward to taking the #10 MetroBus from downtown to shop occasionally at the Whole Foods after it opens.

— Steve Patterson

 

Curb Ramps Added Making Newstead & Duncan Crosswalk Passable

In May 2013 I posted about the lack of curb ramps for a crosswalk at Newstead & Duncan. Today I can say this has been corrected. The fix is minimal — the least required.

This February 2012 photo looking East across Newstead at Duncan shows a crosswalk that's clearly not ADA-compliant -- no curb ramps! Decorative brick was a higher priority.
This February 2012 photo looking East across Newstead at Duncan shows a crosswalk that’s clearly not ADA-compliant — no curb ramps! Decorative brick was a higher priority.
In March 2015 utility work was going on at this intersection.
In March 2015 utility work was going on at this intersection.
My next visit was October 9th, by then I noticed they did build curb ramps following the utility work.
My next visit was October 9th, by then I noticed they did build curb ramps following the utility work.

Not sure why the crosswalk is so wide, far wider than the ramps on each end. Duncan Ave is a long way from being pedestrian-friendly.

— Steve Patterson

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Don’t Wait For New Light Rail Station, Take MetroBus To IKEA

While I’ve ridden many MetroBus routes in the region, one I don’t recall is the #42 (Sarah). However, I’m familiar with it because other routes I ride, like the #10 (Gravois-Lindell), intersect with it. With the opening of the new IKEA St, Louis I noticed the #42 route makes a loop East past Sarah to Vandeventer. A new bus stop got my attention.

Nw bus stop right in front of IKEA
New bus stop right in front of IKEA

I always assumed it went North/South on Sarah, connecting with the Central West End MetroBus/MetroLink station via Forest Park. It does — but rather than turning there it uses Laclede to go East one block to Vandeventer.

If you use public transit in St. Louis you can easily get to IKEA. I use the #10 and just go down Vandeventer or Sarah from Lindell, but I could transfer to the #42 at Lindell & Sarah. Another option is the #32 from Manchester/Chouteau & Vandeventer. Many other MetroBus lines meet up with the #42 at the Central West End MetroLink light rail station.

I especially encourage the proponents of the North-South light rail to use this as an opportunity to actually familiarize themselves with MetroBus. The humble bus carries more people more places daily.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Developing Vandeventer & Forest Park: IKEA — Exception Or New Rule?

Big box stores with surface parking lots don’t fit in urban contexts — they’re sub-urban. For example, the Menard’s in O’Fallon IL I drove past on Saturday, a MetroBus stop is right out front but there’s no accessible pedestrian route to get to the entrance. See it on Google Street View here.

Decades ago the big boxes were the downtown department stores, but those days are long gone. However, a few big box retailers have taken over some of the vacant space left behind by shuttered department stores.

Taget in Chicago's former Carson Pirie Scott department store designed by Louis Sullivan. February 2014. Click image to view the Wikipedia entry on the building
Taget in Chicago’s former Carson Pirie Scott department store designed by Louis Sullivan. February 2014. Click image to view the Wikipedia entry on the building

More often, big boxes have been trying to fit into walkable urban neighborhoods; they’ve been concealed by smaller liner storefronts, stacked, etc. The Target at Hampton & Chippewa is built over parking, but it still has surface parking facing Hampton & Bancroft, with docks & garage facing Chippewa. Inevitably someone says “it’s better than what was there” or “It’s better than the location in [insert any suburban municipality.”  Sorry, but new development will be around for 20+ years, so standards should be higher than simply doing marginally better than  awful suburban development or old derelict properties. Which brings me to IKEA St. Louis, located on the SW corner of Forest Park Ave & Vandeventer Ave.

IKEA's blue & yellow big box set behind a surface parking lot at Forest Park & Vandeventer. View from the point where the two public sidewalks meet.
IKEA’s blue & yellow big box set behind a surface parking lot at Forest Park & Vandeventer. View from the point where the two public sidewalks meet.

Opening day I ran into an acquaintance at IKEA — she also arrived via MetroBus — she hadn’t yet seen my post on the pedestrian access points. Upon arriving at the corner pictured above how would a pedestrian know where to find accessible routes to the entry? By big box standards, IKEA St. Louis did an excellent job providing pedestrian access routes from each go the three adjacent streets, but the massive setback from the sidewalks

The big question now is what will happen at development sites around IKEA St. Louis? Other buildings, old & new, within a block of the intersection are all urban — built up to the public sidewalk.

Two other corners contain urban buildings a historic firehouse and a new apartment complex built around a parking garage
Two other corners contain urban buildings a historic firehouse and a new apartment complex built around a parking garage
The 3-story building on the NW corner was razed 4+ years ago. At right you can see the South end of the historic Gerhart Block that I posted about on Friday.
The 3-story building on the NW corner was razed 4+ years ago. At right you can see the South end of the historic Gerhart Block that I posted about on Friday.

In July 2011 I posted about the building on this very same corner being razed. The Southeast corner, except for the firehouse, is to be retail.

The firehouse is supposed to remain, will help "hold" the corner. But how will everything else relate to the street & sidewalk?
The firehouse is supposed to remain, will help “hold” the corner. But how will everything else relate to the street & sidewalk?
Behind the firehouse is largely an old industrial site
Behind the firehouse is largely an old industrial site
But even the old industrial office is urban in form
But even the old industrial office is urban in form
The urban form continues across Spring Ave
The urban form continues across Spring Ave
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And across Forest Park Ave more urban form. Will the new retail to the South respect the urban pattern?

One of the most critical development parcels is immediately to the West of IKEA, at 4052 Forest Park Ave.

Looking West from the IKEA property line. The other three sides are bounded by Forest Park Ave, Sarah Ave, and Duncan Ave
Looking West from the IKEA property line. The other three sides are bounded by Forest Park Ave, Sarah Ave, and Duncan Ave. The former Ford plant in the background is now lofts
Looking South across Forest Park. IKEA is to the left, just out of view. The development parcel straight ahead will ideally be of similar massing as the lofts on the right, with storefronts at sidewalk level.
Looking South across Forest Park. IKEA is to the left, just out of view. The development parcel straight ahead will ideally be of similar massing as the lofts on the right, with storefronts at sidewalk level.
Looking East on Duncan Ave, from Sarah Ave. The CORTEX master plan wants Duncan to be a pedestrian-friendly spine through the district. The form of new building(s) on the parcel on the left will matter greatly.
Looking East on Duncan Ave, from Sarah Ave. The CORTEX master plan wants Duncan to be a pedestrian-friendly spine through the district. The form of new building(s) on the parcel on the left will matter greatly.

This site could be developed similar to new apartments at Forest Park & Vandeventer — a parking garage concealed on all sides by habitable buildings. The difference here is it should have storefront spaces on the ground floor. A boutique hotel, like one of these chains, should occupy part of the upper floors.

Hopefully IKEA St. Louis will be the exception, not the rule.

— Steve Patterson

 

Historic Buildings West of Saint Louis University Renovated Into Lofts

For many years, two buildings on Laclede Ave., faced uncertain futures.  Both personal favorites, their futures as residential buildings are now secure. They’re located at 3900 & 3965 Laclede.

Beautiful proportions, great mix of brick colors, industrial windows, glass block
Beautiful proportions, great mix of brick colors, industrial windows, glass block

The S. Pfeiffer Manufacturing Company Headquarters is located at 3965 Laclede Avenue in St. Louis (Independent City), Missouri. The brick, three-story office, lab and factory building was constructed in 1946 from a Modern Movement design by St. Louis architect Bert Luer. The buff-colored, asymmetrical primary (south) elevation features bands of hopper windows that wrap around the southwest corner, emphasizing horizontality while an elaborated, slightly projecting entrance bay on the southeast corner is a strong vertical element. The recessed entrance consists of double wood and glass doors below a grooved, streamlined overhang. Above the entrance, a shaft is embellished by a two-story glass block window with sidelights and three small terra cotta panels accent the parapet. Many of the building’s windows are tinted blue. The side and rear elevations are functional in design, feature red brick instead of buff brick, and utilize a concrete structural system with metal industrial hopper windows and overhead vehicle doors. The interior has an open plan with concrete, mushroom- shaped supports, concrete floors and ceilings, and glazed brick walls. The third level retains the original laboratory sinks and counters. Currently used as storage for automotive parts, the S. Pfeiffer Manufacturing Company Headquarters is in excellent condition. Relatively unchanged since its construction, the building easily retains integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association from its period of significance. (2010 National Register nomination)

The facade facing Vandeventer Ave
The facade facing Vandeventer Ave

From February 2014:

Capstone Development has the building under contract and is planning an $8 million restoration and rehab.

Bill Luchini, Capstone’s president, said today he plans to renovate the 11,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space and build 17 loft-style apartments on the second floor. Construction will take about a year and begin after he completes the building’s purchase in about 60 days. (Post-Dispatch)

Some background:

The Gerhart Block, located at 3900-3908 Laclede Avenue/1-17 Vandeventer in St.Louis. Missouri, is locally significant under National Register Criterion C in the area of Architecture. The period of significance is 1896. the date of construction. Local architect August Beinke who was known for designing a number ofprominent buildings and fine houses, earned the commission from the Gerhart Realty Company to design this substantial corner retail and residentialbuilding.ThepicturesqueVandeventerfacadeisenlivenedbyaseriesofstorefront display windows, oval-paned entrances, and round arched openings. A pyramidal roofanchoring the corner, a turret on the south end. as well as stepped gables and hipped roofs over projecting bays animate the roofline. This application of the French Renaissance or “Chateauesque” style to a commercial block is skillfully handled, resulting in one of the city’s most picturesque neighborhood commercial buildings. Exterior integrity is extremely good. (2002 National Register nomination)

Vandeventer & Laclede
Vandeventer & Laclede

I’ve never been in the first building, but the second housed various gay bars for years so I’ve been in it many times over the lsat 25 years. I can’t wait to see both inside, the Gerhart work is finishing up now.

Official information:

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