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Sunday Poll: Should Larry Rice Be Allowed To Reopen His Homeless Shelter?

October 14, 2018 Downtown, Featured, Homeless, NLEC, Religion, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Larry Rice Be Allowed To Reopen His Homeless Shelter?
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Last month a 2nd court ruled against Larry Rice and his downtown homeless shelter:

The Missouri Court of Appeals upholds a lower court ruling that found the city of St. Louis acted properly when it shut down the New Life Evangelistic Center homeless mission in April of 2017.

The center’s director, the Reverend Larry Rice says, it’s hard to re-open when he can’t get petition signatures from neighbors in the locked loft next door.

“What’s really made this difficult is the people they want us to get signatures from are the people that put in the petition in order to stop us from doing the shelter,” Rice said, “At the same time, we’re willing to do our individual appeal to each person that lives in the loft next door at 15th and Locust, the management of those lofts refused to give us access.”

Rice says he may seek a court order granting him access to the building to talk to knock on doors of residents.

Also, he plans to appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court and argue that his homeless shelter is a “local church” and has a Consitutional right to stay open to serve its congregation–the homeless. (KMOX)

Today’s non-scientific poll is about Larry Rice and his former shelter.

Today’s poll closes at 8pm tonight. The usual number of votes is around 28-32 so if there’s an effort to influence the outcome it’ll be very obvious. My thoughts on Wednesday.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Should We Invest In Expansion of Our Convention Center Complex?

October 7, 2018 Downtown, Economy, Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should We Invest In Expansion of Our Convention Center Complex?
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Last week a plan to expand our convention center, aka America’s Center, was unveiled by Convention & Visitors Commission President Kitty Ratcliffe, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger:

The expansion comes as some downtown restaurateurs and hoteliers complain that their businesses have taken a hit from fewer conventions. The CVC said last month that hotel room night bookings associated with America’s Center were down 30 percent year-to-date, to 230,554 from 327,578 in 2017.

Several big conventions, such as the O’Reilly Auto Parts and FIRST Robotics, did not return this year because they had outgrown America’s Center’s facilities. Ratcliffe said that some national associations, which book several years in advance, had removed St. Louis from consideration after the unrest that began in Ferguson in 2014, and that those decisions were starting to have an effect this year.

Ratcliffe has long argued that upgraded facilities were needed to compete for conventions in cities such as Nashville, Tenn., and Indianapolis, which have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years to revamp their tourism infrastructure. She said getting the two regional leaders on board was key to the project’s success. (Post-Dispatch)

Here’s a 3-minute promotional video:

However, not everyone is on board with the expansion. Are you?

This poll will close at 8pm tonight. On Wednesday I’ll share my thoughts and the non-scientific results.

— Steve Patterson

 

Alley Retail Can Work…In The Right Conditions

September 24, 2018 Downtown, Featured, Planning & Design, Retail Comments Off on Alley Retail Can Work…In The Right Conditions

Alleys are one thing that attracted me to St. Louis in 1990, we didn’t have them in the 1960s suburban subdivision where I grew up in Oklahoma City. Interestingly, my grandparents each had alleys behind their homes in the small Western Oklahoma towns of Weatherford & Clinton. I spent a lot of time in the alleys behind their houses. Everywhere I’ve lived in St. Louis has had an alley, though for the last decade the alley has technically been St. Charles Street.

In April 2012 I posted about the streets that are really alleys parallel to Washington Ave.; St. Charles Street to the South & Lucas Ave to the North.  A year later New Brewery Improves Alley-Like Lucas Ave.

A recent “Where am I?” photo on Facebook raised interesting issues about alleys, and led me to ban someone from commenting on the page. Let me explain.

I posted the photo to the right on Facebook (blog’s cover image) with the caption “Where am I?” There were right & wrong guesses as to the location — it’s off of Locust St. between 10th-11th. One of the comments was “A sketchy alley about to get mugged by a homeless guy with a shank.  Also next to the Urban Shark.” Yes, Urban Shark is attached to the Bike Station on the left. No, not at any risk of getting mugged, but many think that way about alleys.

One person commented we need to turn alleys into pedestrian-focused retail like other cities have done, citing San Francisco & New Orleans. I recall experiencing one in Vancouver years ago — great space. However, I replied that retailing has struggled downtown even on well-populated streets like Washington Ave. Later I asked him to name just one alley downtown that would make a good candidate for retail. He, we’ll call him GB, said I was bashing St. Louis and he’s seen it work well in other cities. I’ll post more on our interaction in the future, right now I want to stick to GB’s assertion we should enliven our alleys.

Our alleys, like in many cities, were planned as ways to keep unsightly business like trash disposal out of view from primary streets. Also, most of downtown’s alleys have been privatized. Certainly those who own to the rights to formerly public alleys could try to market an alley as a pedestrian-friendly retail & restaurant hub, though ownership is often split down the middle between property owners on each side.

Yes, this has worked well in other cities. So why not downtown St. Louis? First, this has been used in areas lacking vacant street-facing retail spaces.  When retail vacancy is near zero rents go up. By expanding into alleys building owners can make retail spaces in unused/unleased portions of buildings. The rents received isn’t what they get out front but it helps the bottom line. Retailers get spaces that are more affordable in their business model.

If we look at the immediate area around the alley I posted we can see lots of available storefront space. Lots.

The corner space on the building to the East is vacant. Same for the corner space on the building to the West.
Diagonally across 10th & Locust from the above, the corner of The Syndicate remains vacant.
Stefano’s former space at 504 N 10th has been vacant for 3+ years.

The South side of Washington Ave between 10th & 11th recent became fully occupied, but the North side has lots of vacancies.

The Dorsa building was renovated more than a decade ago but ground floor retail remains vacant.
The other storefront in the Dorsa is also vacant. Years ago the St. Louis convention people made the windows look nice at least.
Two months from now will mark 3 years since The Dubliner closed, the space remains vacant.
One bright spot is someone will soon be reopening Bella’s Frozen Yogurt at 1021 Washington Ave. Yay! Click the image to open their Facebook page in a new tab.

I’ve tried to think of an alley in Downtown or Downtown West that might be a good candidate. Laclede’s Landing — can’t think of one, North of the Arch/Ead’s Bridge, has done ok with an alley or two to gain access to buildings. The best local example I can think of is the Maryland Plaza alley in the Central West End.

The property owner(s) did a great job welcoming you to the back of the buildings.
A restaurant patio occupies the West end of the “alley” behind the buildings. This photo was taken on a hot Thursday afternoon, I’d imagine it’s hard to get a table here at certain times.
Looking East toward York Ave., we see a living wall to disguise the parking garage on the right.
Approaching York Ave.

This example was never a public service alley, but it does show how a small sliver of property behind a building can become an asset rather than a liability. Former service alleys can be given this same treatment, the results are often amazing.

Still doesn’t make it a good idea for downtown St. Louis. It might, if you can think of the right location.

— Steve Patterson

 

From Municipal Auditorium to Enterprise Center

September 17, 2018 Downtown, Featured Comments Off on From Municipal Auditorium to Enterprise Center

Buildings used to be named after a person, usually a man, that had the building built or perhaps as a memorial to a prominent figure.

Opened in 1934 as the Municipal Opera House/Municipal Auditorium, the building was bounded by Market on the North, Clark on the South, 14th on the East and 15th on the West. This 1934 photo was by Charles Trefts, click image for source.

The first nine years it remained Municipal Auditorium, but in 1942 2-term (1913-25) former mayor, a Republican, Henry Kiel died at age 71. The building was quickly renamed after him.

The arena, completed in 1934, at a cost of $6 million, seated 9,300 and was built by Fruin-Colnon Construction. It was originally named the Municipal Auditorium, but was renamed in honor of former St. Louis Mayor Henry Kiel in 1943. A unique feature of the auditorium was that it was split into two; the front of the building was the Kiel Opera House. It was possible to use both sides at once as the stages were back to back. President Harry Truman gave a speech there in which both sides were opened to see his speech. (Wikipedia)

Both sides of the Kiel closed in 1991 as the auditorium portion on the South was demolished to make way for a new sports arena.

In 1992/3 the convention hall at the back was razed to construct a new sports arena

Construction on the new Kiel Center moved quickly.

The arena opened in 1994 to replace Kiel Auditorium, where the Saint Louis University college basketball team had played, which was torn down in December 1992. The Blues had played in the St. Louis Arena prior to moving into Kiel Center in 1994; however, they would not play in the arena until January 1995 due to the lockout that delayed the start of the 1994-95 season. The first professional sports match was played by the St. Louis Ambush, an indoor soccer team. (Wikipedia)

The city, via the Treasurer’s office, built a parking garage to the West.

Today it’s still called Kiel Center Parking.

Meanwhile, a new company was formed in the St. Louis region.

Savvis was founded in November 1995 under the name DiamondNet by CTO/COO Timothy Munro Roberts and CEO Andrew Gladney. The two had met in the St. Louis area in 1994 where both lived, with Roberts working for a computer store and Gladney a customer. Gladney put up the initial capital ($600,000 or $1 million, according to different sources) for a 75% stake in the startup, with Roberts’ stake the remaining 25%.

Gary Zimmerman, recruited by Roberts from SBC Communications Inc. to become Vice President of Engineering at Savvis in November 1995, built out Robert’s first national network design. The original network design was unique within the industry at the time it became fully operational, and there was significant coverage and discussion in the trade press regarding both the network and its architect, Roberts. In 2001, the last year in which Robert’s original design was in use, Savvis was ranked the #1 fastest Backbone Network by Keynote Systems, an independent network ratings service. (Wikipedia)

After being acquired by another company in 1999 it was spun out on its own in 2000. That year Savvis inked a 20 year deal for the naming rights — making the Kiel Center the Savvis Center.  However, in 2006 they changed their minds:

The agreement had been set to expire in 2020. But Savvis paid $5.5 million to back out of the deal.

Savvis says the Kiel Center Partners still have the option to keep Savvis’s name on the arena.

The company says it is not having cash flow problems.

Savvis had originally agreed to pay $62 million in annual installments for the naming rights. (St. Louis Public Radio)

That same year, 2006, the RFT named former Savvis CEO Robert McCormick as Best Local Boy Gone Bad:

Hometown network provider Savvis Inc.’s stock price may have been in free-fall, but that didn’t stop Robert McCormick from rolling high. During a 2003 outing to a Manhattan strip club, the lusty CEO and father of three allegedly racked up a $241,000 tab on his corporate AmEx card and then, when the bill came due, welshed. McCormick, who’d ultimately tender his resignation over the matter, didn’t deny visiting the New York pleasure dome on the night in question but insisted he couldn’t have spent more than $20,000. And ever- attentive to the line between business and pleasure, the CEO never asked Savvis to reimburse him for the trip. (RFT)

Savvis’ stock value was also related to the end of the naming rights deal, apparently they paid for the rights in stock. Savvis is still local, now a subsidiary of a Louisiana-based company.

Looking north toward the Scottrade Center at 14th & Clark

In September 2006 local brokerage firm Scottrade stepped in to rename the facility Scottrade Center. After a decade Scottrade announced it was being acquired by Omaha-based TD Ameritrade. By September 2017 TD Ameritrade completed the acquisition of Clayton-based Scottrade. No surprise, a company from Omaha Nebraska isn’t going to keep paying to sponsor a facility in another city.

St. Louis-based Enterprise had been looking to sponsor a local sports facility:

Enterprise’s National Car Rental brand was slated to be the sponsor of the proposed St. Louis riverfront football stadium in 2015 as National Car Rental Field. The St. Louis Rams football team ultimately moved to Los Angeles and the football stadium was never built. The 20-year naming rights agreement would have been worth $158 million. (Post-Dispatch)

After the Blue’s and Enterprise announced the deal in May 2018 the Scottrade name was quickly removed.

September 1st very little had changed, an Enterprise banner had been added on the SW corner but smaller sponsors remained, though one was covered.
On September 6th the names of smaller sponsors were being removed.
And Enterprise Center was installed.

The current deal is for 15 years — until 2033. Will Enterprise still be a St. Louis company? Hopefully private ownership and long family roots will keep the company here. I’d say the odds are good this 15-year deal will last until the end.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Parking Lot Change Resulted In Cars Encroaching On 11th Street Public Sidewalk

August 27, 2018 Downtown, Featured, Parking, Walkability Comments Off on Parking Lot Change Resulted In Cars Encroaching On 11th Street Public Sidewalk

The Louderman building at 11th & Locust includes restaurants, offices, and residential. Most parking is underground, but they’ve always had a small surface lot

The fenced surface lot is over the underground parking for Louderman Lofts building. A few years ago I used this image in a post suggesting a small retail kiosk/building at the 11th/Olive corner. The developer confirmed it was built to handle that.

Change did come to this corner in June 2017, but not in the form of an urban building to establish the corner. The parking lot was reconfigured — possibly without city approval.

June 22, 2017: A Jeep is pulling out of the one fenced-in parking lot.
A new curb cut was created. This is just East of their basement garage drive.
Looking toward the lot we see the South fence section removed.
A more direct view
Closer up we can see the old fence leaning in the background.
The removed section was installed out at the Olive sidewalk, but a gap remains along 11th Street. September 6, 2017
Parking stops weren’t used so vehicles can pull forward to allow others to be able to exit. This means vehicles are parking on the public sidewalk — as defined by a tire on the sidewalk. May 16, 2018

Either the Louderman condo association did this without the city’s blessing/permission OR the city ignored their own parking lot requirements regarding minimum space size and fencing. This lot once used the existing alley for access, now we have an exit onto Olive. It was bad enough watching for cars entering/exiting their underground garage, not pedestrians must watch for vehicles exiting this surface lot as well. The sidewalk is narrowed by the cars encroaching.

Either way it’s annoying, ugly. I’ll be sending a link to this post to numerous people to find out A) was permission granted for the curb cut change and B) if there’s anyway to require parking stops &/or continuous fencing to keep cars from encroaching on the sidewalk.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

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