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Old Sidewalk-Blocking Bike Racks Finally Removed

When Culinaria opened it was a relief having a decent-sized grocery store downtown. A problem was trying to get to the entrance at 9th & Olive. The public sidewalk along 9th was so full it was basically single file for many years.

I got the number of tables reduced — and pushed back out of the way. But the four original “dish drainer” style bike racks remained.

Bike racks that place bikes perpendicular to the building/curb lines never should've been allowed by the city
Bike racks that place bikes perpendicular to the building/curb lines never should’ve been allowed by the city
May 26th 2015 I posted this image to Twitter & Facebook of the new rack being installed on 9th Street
May 26th 2015 I posted this image to Twitter & Facebook of the new rack being installed on 9th Street

Nearly a year later those old racks that place bikes so they narrow the sidewalk remained in place, getting used at times. On May 10th of this year I asked the manager, Adam, when the old racks would be removed. He wasn’t sure how to get them removed — they were anchored pretty well. So that day I emailed photos to people at Streets Dept and Great Rivers Greenway (did the new rack) to inquire, copying Adam so he’d be in the loop.

The old races the next day, May 11, 2016
The old races the next day, May 11, 2016
They were removed on May 16, 2016, the cones are gone now.
They were removed on May 16, 2016, the cones are gone now.
Cyclists now have a much better rack right in front of the entrance and pedestrians have full use of the sidewalk.
Cyclists now have a much better rack right in front of the entrance and pedestrians have full use of the sidewalk.

It’s all about how we share the public right-of-way (PROW).

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Should Our Convention Center Be Expanded?

Please vote below
Please vote below

In February, the topic of expanding the downtown convention center came up:

The city’s convention center complex should expand to more than 900,000 square feet, half again its current size, according to a report given Thursday to the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission. (Post-Dispatch)

So this is the topic for today’s poll:

The poll closes at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Privately-Owned Convention Center Parking Garage In Questionable Condition

Our publicly-owned convention center, known as America’s Center, surrounds the privately-owned parking garage at 701 N. 7th Street. The garage, built in 1964, is attached to the former Stix, Baer and Fuller/Dillard’s department store building — now a mixed-use building. The pedestrian bridge over 7th St still exists, but is closed.

The garage was more than a decade old when the Cervantes Convention Center was built across Convention Plaza, previously Delmar. In the early 90s Cervantes was expanded South to Washington Ave and the dome was built to the East. That’s when the garage became surrounded on the North, West, and South. Convention guests can park in the garage and go directly into the convention center.

I photographed from the garage in August 2010, and again last week. During my recent visit I noticed damage I didn’t see nearly 6 years earlier.

The dome can be seen un the background in this August 2010 image
The dome can be seen un the background in this August 2010 image
Pedestrian entrance on North 7th Street
Pedestrian entrance on North 7th Street
Rebar exposed along East edge
Rebar exposed along East edge
Thus is just under the top deck
Thus is just under the top deck
More
More
And more
And more

I’m not not qualified to evaluate the damage or integrity of the structure, so I emailed the last four images to reader Mark-AL, an engineer who specializes in parking garages. From his reply:

It’s a garage restoration contractor’s pot of gold! It’s a classic case of garage neglect, where the operator has failed to protect the decks with a sealer or coating and has allowed water to infiltrate the deck, rusting the rebar mats and (probably) the post tensioned cables. The rust on the bottom mat steel has resulted in spalling concrete and general degradation, resulting in loss of deck strength and homogeneity. The upper level of rebar mat is most likely in equal or worse condition, and only god knows how the post tensioned cables are holding up, even though they are likely plastic encased. If the concrete deterioration is widespread and into the PT cable anchorage zones, it is probable that the decks lack the elasticity and plasticity required of the original design, resulting in increasing frictional losses–all of which says that the decks are no longer ready for prime time!

What we don’t know is if the operator is responsible for maintenance, the current operator might not have had the contract very long — we just don’t know. We do know from the lawsuits, regarding the garage at Tucker & Locust, that an operator can only do so much for a structure at the end of it’s useful life. That condemned garage is three years younger than the convention center garage on 7th.

City records show only one inspection — on July 2, 2008. The four violations were complied on June 23, 2010. This morning I’ll be emailing this post to officials at city hall (including the building inspector), Kitty Ratcliffe at the Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the current operator, SP+. They can be the ones to determine if the garage is safe to use.

— Steve Patterson

 

Parking For A Renovated Railway Exchange: Old Garage Or Internal?

Let’s assume Hudson Holdings moves forward and buys the Railway Exchange for redevelopment, see Friday’s post: Cautiously Optimistic About the Future of the Railway Exchange Building, parking may be an issue.

The Railway Exchange occupies city block 128, bounded by Olive, 7th, Locust, and 6th. It contains 1.2 million square feet but not a single parking spot. In the early 60s buildings to the South were razed so a 1,000-car garage could be constructed.

The parking garage for the Railway Exchange building was built in 1962, per city records. Shown here in 1966 while the Kiener West garage is getting started. The Railway Exchange is in the background. Scanned from my collection, photographer unknown
The parking garage for the Railway Exchange building was built in 1962, per city records. Shown here in 1966 while the Kiener West garage is getting started. The Railway Exchange is in the background. Scanned from my collection, photographer unknown
Looking from the former department store into the bridge over Olive St connecting to the garage
Looking from the former department store into the bridge over Olive St connecting to the garage, January 2011

b

6th & Pine corner of the garage
6th & Pine corner of the garage
7th & Pine
7th & Pine
7th St focus group at 7th & Pine on May 1, 2012
7th St focus group at 7th & Pine on May 1, 2012
A little further up the group is under the only ramp into the garage. The ULI TAP recommended the ramp be removed and access be gained another way
A little further up the group is under the only ramp into the garage. The ULI TAP recommended the ramp be removed and access be gained another way

The garage has lots of issues:

  • It’s 54+ years old
  • It has low heights
  • Looks dated inside & out
  • Is awkward to use as a motorist
  • Is unsecure — elevators open onto the sidewalk

Using some of the building’s square footage for parking is an option, especially the basement level. The problem? The building doesn’t have a back side. All four facades are finished and face public streets.

West/7th St facade
West/7th St facade
North/Locust St facade
North/Locust St facade
East/6th St facade
East/6th St facade
South/Olive St facade
South/Olive St facade

Last year parking came up for the Mark Twain Building in Kansas City, another future project of Hudson Holdings:

According to Chuck Reitzel, a project manager with Ebersoldt + Associates Architecture, Hassenflu is not planning parking on just four floors. Reitzel, who is Hassenflu’s architect for the Mark Twain project, said parking is planned on six levels: the lower level, first floor, a mezzanine level, and floors two through four.

The parking would be accessed off of Baltimore Avenue through a new garage doorway cut into the northeast corner of the building, Reitzel said. He said a driveway would proceed from the entrance through what his now retail space occupied by Goodden Jewellers, with a circulation ramp allowing motorists to access higher levels.

See the facade they wanted to cut open for garage access here, next door is a parking garage.

Back to the Railway Exchange…

When the indoor mall St. Louis Centre was built North of the Railway Exchange in the 80s it included a dock with elevator/tunnel connected to the basement. This might be better suited for those moving in/out of future apartments than accessing for parking
When the indoor mall St. Louis Centre was built North of the Railway Exchange in the 80s it included a dock with elevator/tunnel connected to the basement. This might be better suited for those moving in/out of future apartments than accessing for parking

Another option is to raze the 1962 garage and start over with a modern garage, or perhaps just a new structure to go under Olive St into the building.  Either would be very expensive.

I favor building the modern streetcar project that was floated a few years ago, it would run on 2-3 sides of the Railway Exchange.  T

he ground floor of the Railway Exchange should be active habitable space — restaurants/retail– not parking. No garage access/curb cut should be permitted either. Already too many garage entries to negotiate as a pedestrian downtown.

— Steve Patterson

 

Cautiously Optimistic About the Future of the Railway Exchange Building

Word quickly spread on Wednesday about a vacant building downtown:

  1. NextSTL: 1.2M SF Railway Exchange Under Contract, Mixed-Use Redevelopment Planned
  2. St. Louis Business Journal: Developer has Railway Exchange Building under contract
Railway Exchange building 2011
Railway Exchange building 2011

While most were cheering the “news”, I was digging into the record of this developer. From the NextSTL post:

“While the firm has completed several historic redevelopments, one stands as particularly analogous. Hudson purchased the 1M+ sf Huntington Building in downtown Cleveland for $22M last year and have planned a $280M renovation. The 21-story building was completed in 1924.” 

So the analogous example is planned…not completed. What about their other projects? Let’s take a look, in the order listed on their website:

Huntington Building:

Gulfstream Hotel:

Linton Towers:

Mark Twain Building:

Midtown Delray Beach:

The Orlando Hotel:

  • Unable to find anything…

Starks Building:

Sundy House:

Textile Building:

I didn’t find anything actually completed — other than some purchases.  Do they have the right experience to get these complex projects done?

From January 2015:

Steven Michael once managed hedge funds and was a member of the Chicago Board of Trade.

Today he is focused on redeveloping historic and distressed properties, a passion he and his family have followed for some time.

In Delray Beach, he started real estate development firm Hudson Holdings with friend Andrew “Avi” Greenbaum, who also has a background in finance. The company is now managing the Sundy House hotel and restaurant and has a vision to renovate the surrounding area. Hudson also recently bought the Gulfstream Hotel in Lake Worth, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, and plans to redevelop that hotel, and add hotel rooms. (Wealth managers move into real estate development)

Their bios do indicate experience closing real estate financing deals. After my research, I have many reservations. I hope they’re successful.

One year ago yesterday, a ULI Technical Assistance Panel (TAP). gave a presentation on the top floor of the Railway Exchange:

First slide, click image view ULI page with link to full presentation
First slide, click image view ULI page with link to full presentation
Boards from a Washington University project on ideas for the building, click image for article on their project
Boards from a Washington University project on ideas for the building, click image for article on their project
South view
South view

Again, I want to see the Railway Exchange redeveloped, but we must not get so excited we fail at due diligence. Having worked in real estate for years I know that not every contract closes.

— Steve Patterson

 

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