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Proposed MLS Stadium, Sans Site Plan

April 29, 2019 Downtown, Featured, Planning & Design Comments Off on Proposed MLS Stadium, Sans Site Plan

Last week artist renderings were released for a proposed soccer-specific stadium, it’ll be built if the local ownership group becomes an MLS expansion team. The MLS recently approved expanding the league from 28 to 30 teams, so it seems increasingly likely we’ll get an MLS team & stadium. Images from MLS4THELOU

When people see colorful drawings of proposed projects they’ll often get drawn into the images, letting down any critical thinking they might’ve had — they’ve served their purpose of increasing support and reducing criticism. Absent from the documents was a proposed site plan.

Site plans are never sexy, but they help explain relationships between buildings. Without a site plan it’s impossible to fully understand the quality of the design.

I’m very familiar with the area where the proposed stadium would be built. In fact, in February 2016 I posted about it when another ownership group was trying to get a MLS team following the Rams’ return to LA:

The site they shouldn’t consider is the North riverfront one previously targeted for a significantly larger NFL stadium — we shouldn’t tear down buildings when we have vacant land available. We have land, mostly state owned, without any buildings and a target for redevelopment for years already. I’m talking about the 22nd Street Interchange area — an area on the West side of downtown I’ve written about numerous times over the 11+ years.

The state-owned land is the remnants of what was to be a 1950s West loop around downtown.

The second portion of the Distributor Freeway includes ramps from Interstate 64 & U.S. 40 north to Pine Street at 20th Street. This includes short roadways from the Market Street overpass south to I-64. Plans coinciding with the construction of Truman Parkway included the 22nd Street Parkway. Officially cancelled in October 2003, the four-lane parkway was a version of the late 1950s North South Distributor Freeway running north from U.S. 40 to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive. The project included the reconfiguring of the interchange with I-64 & U.S. 40 and required condemnation of land north of Pine Street. Increasing costs associated with acquiring land needed for the parkway ultimately led to its demise. (Source)

The 4th of the above images is the only one that might give us a clue about the site. Let’s take a closer look.

The top of a parking garage is shown at the bottom.

This garage is either an inaccurate representation of the garage attached to the Drury Inn at Union Station, located in the old railway YMCA, or a new garage. Here are a couple of views from 2016 looking at the proposed site.

Looking southwest, 21st & Clark with an I-64 off ramp behind it
Looking northwest, that’s 21st Street on the right

Here’s what I think about the site, both north & south of Market Street:

  • The stadium & new buildings should take advantage of the existing hole for basement or underground parking.
  • Market Street between 20th & 21st is a deteriorating bridge, it should be removed. Under it can be filled in with foam so a new road/sidewalks can be built at grade.
  • Market Street should be redesigned to be friendly to pedestrians. This means narrowing the road (fewer, narrower lanes) and more crossing points. Right now there’s a crosswalk at 20th and at Jefferson –this is nearly a half a mile without a crossing.
  • Hopefully the changes at Union Station, including the upcoming Farris Wheel along 20th Street, will mean easier access under the train shed between the Union Station MetroLink platform on the East side of 18th to the new MLS stadium.
  • Metro will need to rethink downtown circulation with a revised Union Station, a MLS stadium, and hopefully active surroundings.
  • Pine & Chestnut have been a one-way couplet for decades. Once the on/off ramps to/from I-64 are gone both streets should be returned to two-way traffic. The revised Soldiers Memorial, however, has only one eastbound lane on Chestnut between 13th-14th.  Chestnut has our only protected bike lane.

I’ll probably think of more issues, hopefully the site planning being done now will address at least some of these.

— Steve Patterson

 

Gateway Foundation & Sheldon Propose To Replace Richard Serra’s ‘Twain’ Sculpture With Artist-Designed Mini Golf

April 1, 2019 Downtown, Featured, Parks Comments Off on Gateway Foundation & Sheldon Propose To Replace Richard Serra’s ‘Twain’ Sculpture With Artist-Designed Mini Golf

It has been nearly a decade since the ribbon was cut on Citygarden, a popular 2-block oasis in downtown St. Louis:

Two blocks in downtown St. Louis have been transformed into something unlike anything else in the country. Those two blocks, now called “Citygarden,” feature two dozen works of modern and contemporary sculpture in a completely accessible setting.

The sculptures have been sited in a series of outdoor spaces designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz, of Charlottesville, VA. The garden has been conceived as a kind of oasis, welcoming everyone and eager to interact with everyone. There are no “Do Not Touch” signs on any of the sculptures. Children will be free to run and play in a “spray plaza” featuring 102 separate jets of water in shifting, computer-controlled, color-lit patterns.

The garden represents a partnership between the City of St. Louis, which owns the land, and the Gateway Foundation, which had provided the funding – an estimate $25 million, covering design and construction, state-of-the-art lighting, ongoing maintenance, security, and insurance expenses. The cost of the sculpture, which is and will remain owned by the Foundation, is separate. (Gateway Foundation)

Citygarden has been a huge hit, getting lot of positive attention for St. Louis, and winning awards.

Recognition by professional Landscape Architects

The next block to the west, across 10th Street, has held Richard Serra’s “Twain’ sculpture for decades. In contrast, it’s very sad.

Looking west inside ‘Twain’

At 5pm today the Gateway Foundation & Sheldon will announce a joint project — turning the block west of Citygarden into a mini golf course. Don’t laugh, pop-up mini golf has become very popular in many cities lately, such as Springfield, Missouri. My hometown of Oklahoma City has a permanent mini golf course in their popular Bricktown area.

Oklahoma City’s Brickopolis mini golf, click image for website.

The push for a permeant art golf experience came after the June 2018 indoor pop-up golf at the Sheldon.

St. Louis’ newest mini-golf course is a far cry from any regular golf course. Starting Sunday and through Aug. 12, you can play nine artist-designed holes at “Golf the Galleries,” a new indoor exhibit at the Sheldon Concert Hall & Art Galleries.

Golfers can knock a colored ball through a black-lit rainbow, a volcano made of packing peanuts and a model of the revamped Gateway Arch National Park.

In between swings, visitors can study prints by photographer Simon Martin that show mini-golf courses in the United Kingdom and a selection of mini-mini-golf hole dioramas made by fifth-grade math students at the Wilson School in Clayton. (Post-Dispatch)

The exhibit was

Click image to view the pop-up golf page.

The Gateway Foundation/Sheldon proposal includes creating a permanent outdoor version on the block bounded by Market, 11th, Chestnut, and 10th. Seventh Ward Alderman Jack Coatar will introduce enabling legislation when the Board’s new session begins after Tuesday’s general election.

I’ve been one of the few trying to revamp the block with Serra’s ‘Twain’, but nobody is interested in saving it. If this happens at least the block will become an active space.

— Steve Patterson

 

Restaurant Space Available In Historic Union Market

January 28, 2019 Downtown, Featured, History/Preservation, Local Business Comments Off on Restaurant Space Available In Historic Union Market

Union Market, North Broadway,  is an interesting building.

Union Market in February 2010. New floors were added for hotel rooms.

It is considered a local landmark.

Mauran, Russell and Crowell designed the market in a Eclectic Revival Style in 1924.

One of only four extant market buildings remaining in St. Louis, Union Market was constructed in 1924-25 as the city´s largest, most architecturally significant and functionally progressive market. Occupying a full city block, the building´s strong presence and individuality are established by bold rhythms of large Gothic arches and battered buttressing at the lower stories. Speckled buff brick curtain walls are handsomely accented by horizontal bands of terra cotta ornament. The three-story garage above the market space was one of the City´s early indoor parking facilities.   For over five decades, Union Market has served as one of the City´s two principal markets and has continued a tradition of marketing established on the same site during the Civil War.  Union Market is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (St. Louis City Landmark #103)

More on the building, including pre-hotel photos on the early 80s nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. As a public market, it was a failure (read nomination). It’s had a tough life, see timeline and lease battle details.

On December 31, 2018 the hotel restaurant, J.F. Sanfilippo’s Italian Restaurant, closed after 28 years.

J.F. Sanfilippo’s Italian Restaurant will close after service on Dec. 31, owner Joe Sanfilippo announced Tuesday. The restaurant has operated inside the Drury Inn & Suites at 705 North Broadway downtown since February 1991. Sanfilippo tells Off the Menu a number of factors went into the decision to close, including the departure of major companies from downtown over the years to the arrival this decade of Ballpark Village. (Post-Dispatch)

No doubt the reduction of the downtown workforce, Ballpark Village, and fewer conventions have had an impact. My only time in this building was on Saturday April 21, 2012 — for dinner solo using a Groupon.

At 7:22pm I took this photo of the empty 80s looking dining room.
At 7:50pm I photographed my pasta con broccoli.
And at 8:10pm I photographed my dessert.

As I recall, the food & service met or exceeded my expectations. The place just felt dated…bad 80s dated. Frankly, I’m surprised they didn’t close earlier than NYE. I wish them the best of luck at their Chesterfield location.

The closed J.F. Sanfilippo’s Italian Restaurant earlier this month

I do hope someone will open a new restaurant in this space — after changing the interior. XFL games begin in one year.

— Steve Patterson

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No Longer A Downtown Resident

January 7, 2019 Downtown, Featured Comments Off on No Longer A Downtown Resident
A 2011 interior photo of our former loft in Downtown West

In my 28+ years living in St. Louis I’ve lived in different places/neighborhoods. These have been the Central West End, Old North (still officially called Murphy-Blair at the time), Dutchtown, Mount Pleasant, and, since November 2007, Downtown West. Late last month my husband and I moved to a smaller apartment within the City of St. Louis.

In the coming weeks I’ll share more about why we moved, and where. Though we’ve been in our new place over a week, we’re still in the process of removing the last of our belongings from the old place. Moving in not fun, especially when disabled.

For over a week now I’ve had many topics come to mind to blog about. Being in a new, but familiar neighborhood, has peaked my curiosity. It’s very exciting. Prior to moving I’d already looked at early 20th century Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, historic aerials, and WalkScore.

The loft we left was the longest I’d lived at any address, other than the house I grew up in.  If not for two events in 2008 I’d have moved long ago: my stroke & the market crash.

Moving has forced me to realize how much I’d accumulated in 11+ years, nearly 6 of which with my husband. Though I despise moving, perhaps it’s an exercise I should do every 5-6 years? Still not ready for a tiny house, but I downsized in 2007 and downsized again.

Again, future posts will unveil the reasons for our move, where we’re living, etc.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Opinion: Possible Soccer Stadium Will Not Help Downtown West Without A Neighborhood Plan

December 5, 2018 Downtown, Featured, Planning & Design Comments Off on Opinion: Possible Soccer Stadium Will Not Help Downtown West Without A Neighborhood Plan

Before I begin discussing my thoughts on a possible soccer stadium in the Downtown West neighborhood, let’s take a look at the results from the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: If awarded an MLS expansion team, the stadium could be a catalyst for the Downtown West neighborhood.

  • Strongly agree: 18 [34.62%]
  • Agree: 7 [13.46%]
  • Somewhat agree: 8 [15.38%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 3 [5.77%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 3 [5.77%]
  • Disagree: 3 [5.77%]
  • Strongly disagree: 10 [19.23%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

Over 63% percent voted in the affirmative, I voted “somewhat agree” because yes, it could become a catalyst. With history as a guide, it most likely won’t do anything positive for the surroundings. Busch Stadium II (1966-2006) didn’t have much of an impact on adjacent blocks for the 3 decades it stood. Our NFL dome didn’t do anything for its surroundings either — the large site to the North is still vacant.

To become a catalyst for private investment a lot of planning must happen, a form-based code adopted so every property owner contributes to the same vision. Part of the problem is the current ownership group, and the last, both want to located the stadium South of Market Street — between 20th & 22nd Streets.  In February 2016 I suggested a MLS stadium North of Market bounded by 20th Street, Market, a rebuilt 22nd Street, and Pine. Only the stadium would fit, if at all. This land is also owned by the State of Missouri. This would leave lots of room for new development South of Market Street, North of Pine, etc.

Looking East toward Union Station from 22nd Street, a new Fairfield Inn is under construction on the former site of Harry’s.

Part of the area where they want to build a stadium is where Harry’s Bar & Restaurant was located at 22nd & Market St. This small site is already being developed, from September 2017:

The Fairfield, a Marriott brand, will have about 125 rooms and a two-story parking garage along with event space on the almost 1-acre site at 2144 Market Street. Developer Equis Hospitality Management of Brentwood hopes to finalize financing for the $19.5 million project by January and begin construction in January. (Post-Dispatch)

In October it was said the hotel site wouldn’t be needed for the stadium.

Across 22nd Street from the hotel, now under construction, is the St. Louis office of the FBI. Urban Stadiums should be like Chicago’s Wrigley Field, surrounded on all sides by numerous businesses that are active even on days when the stadium is empty. Not surrounded on one side by a fenced parking lot at a fortress. I doubt the FBI has any plans to relocate.  The stadium would be focused more toward Union Station, presumably. Still, the best urban stadiums are surrounded by active properties owned by others.

Financially the deal isn’t the worst. the land hasn’t generated any property taxes for decades, so by abating property taxes it’ll continue as it would if nothing were built. The city would wave taxes on construction materials like they’re doing with the hotel and other projects. This isn’t a huge gesture because most construction materials used on these projects aren’t bought from suppliers located in the city. This might be an incentive for the contractors to buy from city suppliers rather than outside suppliers.

It’s really hard to be anything but cynical about a new stadium, likely surrounded by acres of surface parking. Hopefully I’ll be pleasantly surprised…assuming the MLS awards one of the two remaining expansion teams to St. Louis.

— Steve Patterson

 

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