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5th Anniversary of St. Louis’ Downtown Bicycle Station

April 28, 2016 Bicycling, Downtown, Featured, History/Preservation Comments Off on 5th Anniversary of St. Louis’ Downtown Bicycle Station

Five years ago today the ribbon was cut on a new concept in St. Louis — a bike station. A place where a bike commuter can shower and change clothes before going into his/her office.

The ribbon was cut just after 10am on April 28, 2011
The ribbon was cut just after 10am on April 28, 2011
Then we got to go inside
Then we got to go inside
Secure area for storing your bike during the day
Secure area for storing your bike during the day
Lockers and showers are in the back,
Lockers and showers are in the back,

The Downtown Bicycle Station is a project of Trailnet, which is located upstairs in the same building.

The Downtown Bicycle Station offers secure 20-hour access and features over 120 bike racks, showers and locker rooms, and is ideal for bicyclists commuting to work or looking to exercise on their lunch break.

Memberships are $20/month or $150/year.  Corporate memberships are $1,000/year for 10 users. A day membership is $5 — enter via Big Shark Bikes next door (limited to their hours).

Bike facilities have increased in these last five years, the data center at 210 N. Tucker includes a secure bike parking area  inside the building. 
Bike facilities have increased in these last five years, the data center at 210 N. Tucker includes a secure bike parking area  inside the building.

Hopefully more and more young people will be attracted to high tech and other jobs downtown — walking, biking or riding public transit to/from work.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Olive & Tucker Designed for Pedestrian-Vehicle Conflict

The intersection of two major downtown streets — Olive St & Tucker Blvd — is poorly designed for pedestrians. The are a number of problems, but this post is about poor communication to pedestrians that puts them in harms way. Specifically, vehicles that get a left-turn arrow from Tucker to Olive are on a collision course with pedestrians that don’t realize cars will be turning left into their path.

Vehicles traveling Northbound & Southbound on Tucker each get a dedicated left-turn lane onto Olive, Westbound & Eastbound. respectively.  Each gets a left arrow, so drivers assume they have the right-of-way. “What’s the problem?” you ask. Pedestrians can also think,due to a lack of pedestrian signals, they have the right-of-way.

  1. At the start of the cycle SB vehicles on Tucker get a green light, left onto EB Olive get an arrow.
  2. After a bit the arrow goes away and NB traffic gets a green.
  3. Later the SB traffic gets a red and those going NB get a left arrow onto WB Olive.

Pedestrians & vehicles can’t both have the right to be in the same place at the same time!

You might be thinking “pedestrians should just look at the vehicle signals to know when it’s OK to cross Olive.” For SB pedestrians on the East side of Tucker & NB pedestrians on the West side of Tucker the vehicle signals don’t indicate vehicles have a left-turn arrow.

SB on the East side of Tucker we can't see the signal on the right -- it's turned toward cars in the left-turn lane.
SB on the East side of Tucker we can’t see the signal on the right — it’s turned toward cars in the left-turn lane.
NB on the West side of Tucker we see a woman crossing with the green. What you can't see ifs the left-turn lane has an an arrow to turn right in her path!
NB on the West side of Tucker we see a woman crossing with the green. What you can’t see ifs the left-turn lane has an an arrow to turn right in her path!

So the first should be a relatively easy to get to achieve minimally acceptable communications — turn the signal head so pedestrians can see the green & left arrow. But the second isn’t as simple.

If possible, the bare minimum would be to change the signal head so it includes an arrow. The problem with this is the arrow might suddenly appear as a person is halfway across Olive. This really needs a pedestrian signal with a countdown timer. Another option is to redo the signal configuration — allow both left turns to happen simultaneously — then give them a red while NB/SB vehicles get a green.

Ok, so one intersection — fix it and move on, right? If the woman in blue in the 2nd image keeps waking North she’ll encounter the same conflict one block up at Locust St!

As at Olive, the signal is green but pedestrians walking North don''t know a left-turn arrow is going to send vehicles into their path.
As at Olive, the signal is green but pedestrians walking North don”t know a left-turn arrow is going to send vehicles into their path.

These are just a few examples of the dangers designed into our auto-centric system. I’ve been through these intersections many times, but had never noticed the conflict — because I’m familiar with the vehicle flow. A downtown visitor, however, might not be confused, or worse, became a pedestrian death statistic. If a pedestrian is hit by a left-turning car in these examples it’s no “accident” — it’s by design! Sadly, these conflicts have likely existed for years — perhaps even decades!

Every intersection in the city/region needs to be critically evaluated to catch conflict by design. Prioritize then and then set about correcting them. I pointed out the conflicts at Olive to St. Louis’ new Bike/Pedestrian Coordinator, Jamie Wilson, last week as we walked/rolled to lunch.

I’ve volunteered to:

  • Start a custom Google map where I can catalog problems I encounter.
  • Go out with him and other, upon request, to demonstrate the problems with out pedestrian infrastructure

Below is time-lapse video looking South and then North

— Steve Patterson

 

Expanded Civic Center MetroBus Transit Center Will Reopen In Fall 2017

The Civic Center MetroBus Transit Center, at 14th & Clark, is now closed for the next 18 months. It will be redone to handle more buses — and longer buses.

Tuesday 4/19 dignitaries each tossed a shovel of dirt to kick off the new project.
Tuesday 4/19 dignitaries each tossed a shovel of dirt to kick off the new project.

In May 2014 I posted about the future plans for the redo, see Civic Center Transit Center Sans Trees, Awaiting Redo

The trees had just been cut down in May 2014
The trees had just been cut down in May 2014
Sign announcing expansion project
Sign announcing expansion project

Then, in July 2014m I posted that the  Triangle Park Plaza Is Useless Public Space, In Poor Condition. At that time I included the design.

New design, as of July 2014
New design, as of July 2014

b

Construction will expand the Civic Center Transit Center and triple the current number of bus bays, which will allow MetroBus passengers to connect with all of their bus routes inside the transit center and out of vehicular traffic on 14th Street. A new building will also be constructed on  the site that will feature new passenger amenities, including public restrooms, an indoor waiting area, digital boards with MetroBus arrival times, a concession area and a Metro Public Safety substation.

“It is our duty to ensure that residents, workers, tourists and visitors can travel safely and efficiently throughout the bi-state region,” said Ray Friem, Executive Director of Metro Transit, “and that they enjoy the best possible transit system and experience we can provide.”

Metro successfully secured federal funding to rebuild the Civic Center Transit Center, and those funds will support 80 percent of the total project cost of $10.5 million. “The competition for federal transit dollars is intense,” said Mokhtee Ahmad, Regional Administrator for the Federal Transit Administration, Region VII. “Bi-State Development and Metro are to be commended for being so diligent and fiscally conscientious in maximizing federal transit funds to get taxpayers the highest return on their investment.”

b

The design has changed.

Latest plan, click image to view larger PDF on Scribd
Latest plan, click image to view larger PDF on Scribd

The ramp down to the MetroLink platforms is much more direct — but steeper than previously drawn. The other changes are at the North end. There’s now an accessible route from the center bays/canopies to Triangle Park. The “park” is also different — the metal panels (shown in first photo, above) will go away. A 2nd sculpture is shown right in front of the accessible route — a potential problem.

Close-up of Triangle Park
Close-up of Triangle Park

I also don’t get having a new sculpture next to the existing one.We’ll see how it turns out in 18 months.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

 

No Pedestrian Signal One Block From Busch Stadium

Monday was the Cardinals home opener, tens of thousands made their way into Busch Stadium III for the afternoon game. The current stadium opened a decade ago, the previous Busch Stadium opened to the North half a century ago, in 1966. So you’d think by now the pedestrian environment to/from the stadium has been refined by now? Sorry, no.

I give you a Clark Street crossing at 9th — a block West of Busch Stadium & Ballpark Village:

Looking North toward the stadium West garage, we can see the traffic light but no pedestrian signal. It rained earlier so the curb ramp is a pond.
Looking North toward the stadium West garage, we can see the traffic light but no pedestrian signal. It rained earlier so the curb ramp is a pond.
Looking South pedestrians have no signal or even a traffic light to determine when to cross Clark Street
Looking South pedestrians have no signal or even a traffic light to determine when to cross Clark Street

This is a common occurrence downtown, here’s why:

  • Lack of pedestrian signals at many signalized intersections throughout downtown
  • One-way streets mean pedestrians can see traffic light in one direction
  • But the opposite the direction they’re clueless, taking a risk when stepping off the curb

The intersection at 9th & Clark St isn’t typical — the interstate exit ramp complicates matters. It would be east for s person to attempt to cross here when vehicles have a green light — such as the highway exit.

Again, people have been walking to/from Cardinals games here for 50 years — the last 10 to the new stadium! The adjacent Westin Hotel in an old Cupples Station warehouse opened in 2001. I can see issues still existing a mile or more away — but this is just one block!

So now what? Someone needs to review every single intersection used by pedestrians on game days to see which are lacking. Then prioritize a list of updates to correct the shortcomings. Same goes for other attractions downtown and throughout the city, like:

  • Scottrade Center
  • Peabody Opera House
  • Kiener Plaza/Old Courthouse/Ely Smith Square/Arch
  • Soldiers’ Memorial (Reopening 2018)
  • Fox Theater/Powell Hall
  • Major transit stops (MetroBus & MetroLink)

This isn’t a lack of money — it’s a lack of priorities. Pedestrians aren’t valued in St. Louis so nobody bothers to think about how to attract/maintain them.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Monogram Building, Formerly CPI Headquarters, To Become Loft Apartments

It’s time to stop calling the 9-story building at 1706 Washington Ave the “CPI” building. It has been a few years since the failed portrait studio operator occupied the building. For decades it was known as the Monogram Building, located within the Washington Avenue Historic District on the National Register, here are a couple of quotes from the listing:

The Monogram Building, rising nine stories, is a concrete-frame factory-warehouse extending eight bays on the east, elevation (facing 17th St. and 10 bays on the north (facing Washington). On both elevations, cream colored, glazed terra cotta, fashioned into shells, bound sheaves of wheat, caducei , and -foliated patterns, faces the narrow piers and spandrels which -frame triple windows . The end bays are sheathed in red brick and demarcated by terra cotta quoining. Above the two-story base, there is a foliated, bracketed cornice of terra cotta. The facade terminates with round arches formed bv the piers above the ninth story. A terra cotta cornice crowns the facade. 

and…

Rosenthal-Sloan, the “world’s largest millinery establishment,” occupied the Monogram Building at 1700 Washington constructed in 1910.” Numerous other millinery companies occupied quarters within the District and, according to one source, St. Louis was the largest millinery market in the country. ‘ Specialty items, junior dresses, for example, originated on Washington Avenue. Fashion shows were held first yearly and then twice yearly attracting thousands of buyers to the City. Large and small firms alike and the many out of town concerns that maintained offices and showrooms in the district flourished.

Before the Monogram was built in 1910, the site had already made history in St. Louis. Washington University in St. Louis, founded in 1853, opened its first building, Academic Hall, on the site on September 8, 1856. At the time, Lucas Place, now Locust St, was home to the city’s finest mansions.

Fol­low­ing the cholera epi­demic and fire in 1849, wealthy cit­i­zens became con­vinced that it was no longer desir­able to live in down­town St. Louis. James Lucas and his sis­ter Anne Lucas Hunt soon offered a solu­tion. They devel­oped the idea of the “Place,” a neigh­bor­hood with deed restric­tions that ensured it remained apart from the city and gen­eral pop­u­la­tion. The main thor­ough­fare was aptly called Lucas Place. Orig­i­nally Lucas Place (now Locust Street) extended between 13th and 16th streets when the city lim­its were just one block to the west between 17th and 18th streets. When estab­lished, Lucas Place was west of the devel­oped por­tion of the city, mak­ing it St. Louis’ first “sub­ur­ban” neighborhood. (Campbell House Museum)

The first mansion, built in 1851, was the Campbell House — the only mansion still standing.  The university occupied Academic Hall at 17th & Washington, and other buildings, until moving to its current campus in 1905. By the time the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map Co documented these blocks in February 1909, Academic Hall had already been razed.

Every building shown in this four block map is gone -- except for the streetcar powerhouse circled in purple. The Monogram was built the next year on the site outlined in red. Click image to see larger version.
Every building shown in this four block map is gone — except for the streetcar powerhouse circled in purple. The Monogram was built the next year on the site outlined in red. Click image to see larger version.
1711 Locust was a power station for the original streetcar system, the Monogram can be seen in the left background
1711 Locust was a power station for the original streetcar system, the Monogram can be seen in the left background

The Monogram Building, built 1910-12, was designed by architect Albert B. Groves (1868-1925). Groves and his family lived at 5419 Maple Ave, built in 1906.  There are two entries for him in findagrave.com — here and here. Their son Theron A. Groves was also an architect.  Albert died weeks before his 57th birthday, Theron died at 65 — the wife & mother lived to 95!

This building is important to me, for 8+ years it has been a significant part of the view from my loft & balcony.

The Monogram is the building on the left in this December 2008 image. In November I posted about how CPI had lights on 24/7, click image to see post. In 2010 I moved my bed to the other bedroom away from the windows and urban light pollution.
The Monogram is the building on the left in this December 2008 image. In November I posted about how CPI had lights on 24/7, click image to see post. In 2010 I moved my bed to the other bedroom away from the windows and urban light pollution.
By May 2014 the frequently full parking lot was empty, but begging to be rented by the hour & month. Click image for post.
By May 2014 the frequently full parking lot was empty, but begging to be rented by the hour & month. Click image for post.

The Monogram Building has likely had many occupants over the last century, with a variety os uses. In January it was sold:

Revive Capital Development LLC, of Kansas City, bought the nine-story building from downtown St. Louis property owner David Jump. John Warren, a vice president of commercial real estate company JLL, represented Jump’s 1706 Washington LLC in the sale that closed Monday. No financial terms were revealed.

JLL said Thursday the new owner plans to put loft apartments in the former CPI headquarters at 1706 Washington Avenue. Efforts to reach a Revive representative were unsuccessful. (Post-Dispatch)

Hopefully this new Kansas City firm will be successful. The LLC’s sole listed organizer is real estate attorney Michael D. McKinley, a partner at the law firm Lathrop & Gage.

The two detailed facades are 17th (left) and Washington (right)
The two detailed facades are 17th (left) and Washington (right)
The first (East) entrance facing Washington Ave
The first (East) entrance facing Washington Ave
The next has a small step
The next has a small step
The third has a taller step
The third has a taller step

It’ll be interesting to see how Revive Capital Development configures the residential units, allocates parking, uses the ground floor. Hopefully one or two of the Washington Ave entrances will be for a restaurant or retail space, with the addition of an ADA-compliant ramp.

— Steve Patterson

 

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