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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

 

Sunday Poll: Would a MLS Stadium be a Catalyst for St. Louis’ Downtown West Neighborhood?

December 2, 2018 Downtown, Featured, Popular Culture, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Would a MLS Stadium be a Catalyst for St. Louis’ Downtown West Neighborhood?
Please vote below

Last week the city’s development agency issued a glowing report about the economic value of a potential soccer stadium, and aldermanic committee approved a resolution related to a soccer stadium:

For three hours Wednesday, aldermen on the Housing Urban Development and Zoning Committee questioned the prospective team owners and their aids on the many details of the soccer proposal. They wanted to know how much money the prospective owners were putting into the deal and how much the city would be on the hook for.

Team owners said they’d cover almost the entire $392 million cost to build the stadium, although they won’t have to pay the amusement or real estate tax. And three cents will be added to every dollar spent by fans at the game, which will go to the team.

Some aldermen wanted to know how much it would cost to demolish the yet-to-be-built stadium in 30 years because the city will own it by then.

“Some of that stuff was just meant to distract and it’s sad those things continue to happen,” Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed said.

The place was packed with soccer fans; it was standing room only. Everyone who spoke up supported the proposal.

“I have asked countless people in all walks of life tell me the downside of this. ‘It’s too good to be true.’ ‘What am I missing?’ The answer is simple there is no downside,” said Cardinals broadcaster Dan McLaughlin.

The proposal passed out of committee by a unanimous 8-0 vote. (Fox 2)

With the Resolution 180 out of committee, the full board voted on it on Friday:

The city Board of Aldermen overwhelmingly approved a resolution Friday that outlines tax incentives for a proposed Major League Soccer stadium downtown.
The proposal passed 26 to 2, with President Lewis Reed voting yes. Megan Green, 15th Ward, and Sharon Tyus, 1st Ward, voted no. Sarah Wood Martin, 11th Ward, was absent.
“I will enthusiastically vote yes,” Alderman Scott Ogilvie, 24th Ward, said before the vote. “But I will remind everyone that our work is not done making sure this is a good and fair lease.”
 
The resolution is just a first step. It outlines the financing plan but doesn’t create the laws required to secure tax incentives. Aldermen would vote on those later — if, Mayor Lyda Krewson has said, the MLS awards St. Louis a team. (Post-Dispatch)

Now it’s up to Major League Soccer (MLS) to determine if St. Louis will be awarded one of two remaining expansion teams. Today’s non-scientific poll is a hypothetical based on being awarded a team by the MLS. It’s up to you, the reader, to define what “catalyst” means in this context. An existing highway on/off ramp — built for a long-abandoned highway loop project — would be replaced by the stadium.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight. Wednesday I’ll share my thoughts, along with the poll results.

— Steve Patterson

 

Opinion: Larry Rice Should Not Reopen Homeless Shelter

October 17, 2018 Downtown, Featured, Homeless Comments Off on Opinion: Larry Rice Should Not Reopen Homeless Shelter

As a resident of the City of St. Louis for 28+ years I’ve interacted with homeless persons on many occasions, mostly in the last 11 years (as of next month) I’ve lived downtown. I’ve talked to many, bought beverages/food for some, and two have been to my loft for a shower and meal.

The city’s Board of Adjustment ruled NLEC is a nuisance, and two court rulings since have confirmed the city acted properly.

I’m no social worker, but this is a subject that has held my interest for a very long time. There are five main causes of homelessness:

When Housing is Out of Reach More than at any other time, there is a lack of housing that low income people can afford. Without housing options, people face eviction, instability and homelessness. Income and Housing Affordability Low income households often do not earn enough to pay for food, clothing, transportation and a place they can call home. Connecting Homelessness and Health Health and homelessness are inextricably linked. Health problems can cause a person’s homelessness as well as be exacerbated by the experience. Housing is key to addressing the health needs of people experiencing homelessness. Escaping Violence Many survivors of domestic violence become homeless when leaving an abusive relationship. Impact of Racial Disparities Most minority groups in the United States experience homelessness at higher rates than Whites, and therefore make up a disproportionate share of the homeless population.

For years shelters required people to not be under the influence of alcohol or other substances to receive any services. Faith-based shelters often also required participation in their worship activities. This meant many would be turned away or they wouldn’t even bother going. It’s nearly impossible for those with mental health issues or addictions to address those without a safe place to sleep at night.

Aware of how service providers cobbled together a system that unintentionally victimized the people it aimed to help, Sam Tsemberis, PhD, in the 1990s developed a model known as Housing First. Its goal is to quickly provide safe, affordable, permanent housing quickly to people who are experiencing homelessness, particularly, although not solely, those with chronic homelessness and co-occurring conditions such as mental illness or substance use disorders. Housing First programs require few or no preconditions, such as participation in mental health or substance use disorder treatment, from the people they serve. In addition to permanent housing, Housing First programs provide a wide range of wraparound services that are readily available to participants and offered assertively, but not required. Studies show that that when people experiencing homelessness are given safe, stable, affordable housing, they are better able to address other problems and needs in their lives, such as substance use disorders and mental illness. As a result, homelessness, frequent use of hospital emergency departments, and psychiatric hospitalizations are reduced. (Social Work Today)

Of course, Housing First doesn’t work for everyone, but expecting those with substance abuse problems to suddenly stop while living on the streets is unrealistic.  Sorry, prayer won’t change their behavior on the streets.

Larry Rice doesn’t want the homeless housed so they can get treatment and their lives in order. He counts on people donating to help the cause. That’s his business model. From what I gather, he personally lives modestly — good. So do many of the people sending him money.

Last year Rice sold his TV station, channel 24, for a tidy sum:

According to filings with the Federal Communication Commission, TV-49 Inc. will pay $3.75 million to buy the independent station from Rice’s nonprofit New Life Evangelistic Center Inc. The station has broadcast secular programming, liberally interspersed with Rice’s religious sermons and calls to social activism, since it first hit the airwaves on Sept. 12, 1982. The sale does not include Rice’s property at 1411 Locust Street in downtown St. Louis — a building that had been used as a homeless shelter for years until it was closed in April by St. Louis city officials. (Post-Dispatch)

KNLC’s is now part of Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting, channel 24.1 is the new MeTV affiliate.  Their 24.2 does still broadcast Rice’s religious programming.

Here are the results of the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: Larry Rice should be allowed to reopen 1411 Locust as a day shelter for the homeless.

  • Strongly agree: 6 [14.63%]
  • Agree: 2 [4.88%]
  • Somewhat agree: 3 [7.32%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 2 [4.88%]
  • Disagree: 8 [19.51%]
  • Strongly disagree: 20 [48.78%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

Back to the two previously homeless individuals that have been in my loft. The first, ‘FC’, ceased being homeless 10 years ago today. That’s the day I let him begin staying in my previous residence — a corner storefront building in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood. This arrangement helped both of us — a safe place for him and someone there to keep the property safe from vandals/thieves. FC lived there for a couple of years — the new owners allowed him to stay a while after I sold it.  He’s since gotten married, he and his wife bought a home together a few years ago.

FC is older than I am, but the other, DT, is roughly half my age. In 2016 I helped him get out of St. Louis so he could return to his family in Washington state. Both made some bad decisions in life, both were addicted to narcotics.

Remember, many homeless receive VA or disability income, work, etc. There are people on the streets that look homeless, their “job” is to take advantage of those who are homeless. It’s important to keep the homeless separated from those who prey on them. That includes the religious.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sidewalk Cleaning Is Important, Yet Not All Do It

October 15, 2018 Downtown, Featured Comments Off on Sidewalk Cleaning Is Important, Yet Not All Do It

For nearly fourteen years now I’ve posted about many topics, often minor & obscure in nature. The little things, however, can also be important. First impressions can be lasting.

Our convention center entrance on Washington Ave is at 8th Street.

Often conventioneers stay across the street in the Marriott St. Louis Grand hotel. They power wash their sidewalk along Washington Ave weekly. I know because I see them doing it on my way to the YMCA. Also, I asked the last worker I saw how often it’s done.

Looking West from 8th, you can see the sidewalk is wet from just being cleaned
Equipment used to power wash the sidewalk.

It always looks great, they do a wonderful job! I can’t say the same about the other side of 8th.

Immediately East of 8th the sidewalk is always dirty, even after a hard rain.
Close to the building you see bird waste that has been there for at least months.
Around the corner, along 8th, it’s worse.

This is part of the entire block controlled by US Bank. Visitors to our convention center likely see this filth. While the Marriott to the West of 8th does an excellent job, US Bank fails at keeping their sidewalks presentable.

More examples.

The Ely Walker lofts, 1520 Washington, frequently power washes their sidewalk
The sidewalk in front of Roberts Galerie, 1224 Washington, is always nasty.

Maybe US Bank and others rely solely on the Downtown Clean Team:

Downtown STL Inc. has established a Clean Team in an effort to contribute to the beautification of the Community Improvement District (CID), through an aggressive sidewalk and street level cleaning program.

Clean Team members, dressed in purple and khaki, walk the streets of Downtown, St. Louis, to make sure we maintain a clean and inviting appearance to all visitors.

Some of the duties the Clean Team may encounter are: debris clean up on streets and sidewalks; graffiti and handbill removal from first floor buildings; power washing sidewalks; clean up after special events (Parades, Sporting Events, Festivals, etc.); and also cleaning and maintaining the Old Post Office Plaza and Downtown Bike Station. (Downtown Clean Team)

They also do a great job, I see them frequently. Maybe building managers/owners need to request power washing if they don’t want to do it themselves like others do? I’ll contact them myself to see if they can help out where they’re so desperately needed.

— Steve Patterson

 

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