Home » Downtown » Recent Articles:

McKee’s Gas Station & Grocery Proposal Highly Suburban In Plan — Inappropriate Near Central Business District

In a December 2011 post, titled Downtown’s New Entrance, I said the following of developer Paul McKee’s plans along the new Tucker coming into downtown from the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge:

I’m still concerned the new buildings will lack connections to adjacent sidewalks. St. Louis now has a “Complete Streets” policy, but no requirement for adjacent properties to connect. The ADA requires minimal connection but a building can be built and occupied without it, leaving enforcement up to those who complain. If we take McKee, and his consultants, at their word the area will be pedestrian-friendly. My preference, of course, would be a requirement by ordinance. Former 5th Ward Alderman April Ford-Griffin never would initiate such a requirement and I don’t expect any of the three woman running to fill the vacant seat to do so either. The election is December 20th. Good or bad, McKee has the Tucker & Cass area under control. But what about south of Biddle St? The 1986 McDonald’s was just razed and replaced. The new one does have an ADA access route from one of the four streets bordering the property, but it’s still a prototype  best suited for a suburban/rural highway exit.

I used the following graphic/caption in that post:

The following message popped up when I went to save this image from the source"Since we are still in the early design phases of the project, we ask that you please not copy our images yet since these designs are not final."
The following message popped up when I went to save this image from the source”Since we are still in the early design phases of the project, we ask that you please not copy our images yet since these designs are not final.”

New buildings were shown up to the streets, with parking behind — the way we should be things in the center of the region. Someone may drive to work, but it makes walking to lunch, for example, feasible.   Constructing new buildings back behind surface parking is typical suburbia — it has no place in the urban core of the region — not minutes from the Central Business District.

Years ago Paul McKee said he wanted to build walkable urbanism — not the drivable suburbia he was known for. Last week he presented a plan for two new buildings, one on each side of Tucker, that are highly suburban in their site planning.

The GreenLeaf Market will be located at 1408 N. 13th St., not far from the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge. Right across the street, McKee said there will be the ZOOM Store — a gas station, store and car wash.

“We expect the ZOOM Store to open by Thanksgiving and the other market to open by March 1,” McKee said.  (St. Louis Public Radio)

The worst-case scenario has come true — McKee is planning to build suburbia within minutes of the central business district. Not the pedestrian & transit-friendly vision he initially communicated.

On the left/East is Zoom gas station, and on the right/West is Greenleaf grocery store
On the left/East is Zoom gas station, and on the right/West is GreenLeaf grocery store
Crop of ZOOM gas station: Pedestrians are shown on the sidewalks, but no route to enter the business
Crop of ZOOM gas station: Pedestrians are shown on the sidewalks, but no route to enter the business
View as motorists drive up to the pumps.
View as motorists drive up to the pumps.
Crop of GreenLeaf grocery store. Like the gas station, no route shown for the pedestrians on the Tucker sidewalk to reach the entrance
Crop of GreenLeaf grocery store. Like the gas station, no route shown for the pedestrians on the Tucker sidewalk to reach the entrance
Typical auto-centeric viewpoint
Typical auto-centeric viewpoint

Both would be easy to have a pedestrian access route to a side street — ZOOM to O’Fallon and GreenLeaf to 13th. Technically achieving the bare minimum required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is still a long way from being pedestrian-friendly.

I’ve defended McKee’s efforts to build new urbanism in areas such as the 22nd St Parkway interchange, Pruitt-Igoe, and Tucker & Cass. That was based on him indicating his intention to do something positively urban, not ordinary suburban.  These first buildings will set the pattern for this area.

I’ve been visiting & photographing this area since work on the new Tucker began. Here are some images from 2012:

Looking South at the new Tucker from Cass Ave, both sides have large land areas ready for development. July 2012 image
Looking South at the new Tucker from Cass Ave, both sides have large land areas ready for development. July 2012 image
This land os all North of the proposed grocery store and Cass Ave. How will this be filled in? What route will people who live/work here take to walk to the grocery store? July 2012 image
This land os all North of the proposed grocery store and Cass Ave. How will this be filled in? What route will people who live/work here take to walk to the grocery store? July 2012 image
Site of the proposed gas station, July 2012 image
Site of the proposed gas station, July 2012 image

Last month I went back again:

I knew from my earlier visits that O'Fallon St no longer connected to Tucker. Is this to change if the gas station gets built?
I knew from my earlier visits that O’Fallon St no longer connected to Tucker. Is this to change if the gas station gets built?
A ramp that's too narrow because of plants goes from Tucker down to O'Fallon
A ramp that’s too narrow because of plants goes from Tucker down to O’Fallon
O'Fallon St just currently just ends. Reopening to Tucker would further complicate the traffic intersection
O’Fallon St just currently just ends. Reopening to Tucker would further complicate the traffic intersection
View looking toward Tucker from the site of the proposed gas station.
View looking toward Tucker from the site of the proposed gas station.
Southbound on Tucker, the grocery store would be built on the right past the billboard
Southbound on Tucker, the grocery store would be built on the right past the billboard
View from 13th looking at the proposed grocery store site. The wall is the last bit of the tunnel where the commuter train went under Tucker
View from 13th looking at the proposed grocery store site. The wall is the last bit of the tunnel where the commuter train went under Tucker

How we begin building on these large swaths of land matter, we need to ensure people can walk from building to building in the most direct manner possible — not some circuitous route or through surface parking lots. I’ve already contacted Good Natured Family Farms to tell them I welcome a grocery store — but not in a suburban form.

— Steve Patterson

 

Green Street Development Updating Building At Jefferson Ave & Market St

In 2014 Green Street Development bought a vacant building at Jefferson Ave & Market Street, originally built by AG Edwards, now Wells Fargo Financial. Last year they signed web developer Avatara as the main tenant, click here to see their webpage on the project. Construction on a new entry is now underway.

This is the best photo of the building I could find in my library. This shows the original corner, click image to view on Google's Street View
This is the best photo of the building I could find in my library. This shows the original corner, click image to view on Google’s Street View
The corner tower has been removed, will be replaced by a more modern entry
The corner tower has been removed, will be replaced by a more modern entry
Another view of the corner entry with the old tower gone
Another view of the corner entry with the old tower gone
Avatara has already moved in, they're using this entry on Chestnut for now.
Avatara has already moved in, they’re using this entry on Chestnut for now.
The building was built in two phases, the corner/West part in 1993. The East part, right, in 2001. Based on Green Street's rendering this connection between the two parts will also be updated.
The building was built in two phases, the corner/West part in 1993. The East part, right, in 2001. Based on Green Street’s rendering this connection between the two parts will also be updated.
Looking East down Market St
Looking East down Market St

I never liked the corner tower, so I’m glad it is gone. Looking forward to seeing the final results.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

$4.1 Million Dollar Judgement Against Owner of Condemned Parking Garage

In July 2014 the parking garage at Tucker & Locust closed for repairs. It seemed routine at the time.

On July 1, 2014 I posted this image to Twitter & Facebook saying "Workers are prepping the parking garage at Tucker & Locust for rehab (refresh concrete)"
On July 1, 2014 I posted this image to Twitter & Facebook saying “Workers are prepping the parking garage at Tucker & Locust for rehab (refresh concrete)”

It turns out the damage to the post-tensioned structure was more extensive than originally known. Since my original July 2014 tweet, I’ve posted quite a bit about it:

Central Parking System, who operated the garage, sued the owners — two LLCs that begin with Tucker Parking.  Tucker Parking countersued.

The parking garage at Tucker & Locust on March 24th -- two days after Judge Dowd ruled
The parking garage at Tucker & Locust on March 24th — two days after Judge Dowd ruled

On March 22nd Judge Dowd ruled:

JUDGMENT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW SET FORTH IN THE COURT’S ORDERS OF OCTOBER 13, 2015 AND JANUARY 21, 2016, WHICH THE COURT EXPRESSLY INCORPORATES HEREIN, THE COURT ENTERS JUDGMENT AS FOLLOWS:

1. BY AGREEMENT OF THE PARTIES, THE COURT DISMISSES PLAINTIFF CENTRAL PARKING SYSTEM OF MISSOURI, LLC’S CLAIMS AGAINST DEFENDANTS TUCKER PARKING HOLDINGS, LLC AND TUCKER PARKING EQUITIES, LLC AND DECLARATORY JUDGMENT (COUNT I) AND BREACH OF LEASE (COUNT II) WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

So Central lost on their first two counts against Tucker. Let’s continue…

2. ON PLAINTIFF CENTRAL PARKING SYSTEM PARKING SYSTEM OF MISSOURI, LLC’S CLAIM AGAINST DEFENDANTS TUCKER PARKING HOLDINGS, LLC AND TUCKER PARKING EQUITIES, LLC FOR UNJUST ENRICHMENT (COUNT III), THE COURT ENTERS JUDGMENT IN FAVOR OF PLAINTIFF CENTRAL PARKING SYSTEM OF MISSOURI, LLC AND AGAINST DEFENDANTS TUCKER PARKING HOLDINGS, LLC AND TUCKER PARKING EQUITIES, LLC IN THE AMOUNT OF FOUR MILLION ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-ONE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY-FOUR DOLLARS AND SEVENTY-SIX CENTS ($4,161,424.76).

Ouch. What is “unjust enrichment” anyway? The Wax Legal Dictionary defines it as:

The retention of a benefit conferred by another, that is not intended as a gift and is not legally justifiable, without offering compensation, in circumstances where compensation is reasonably expected. 

The elements of a cause of action for unjust enrichment are:  the enrichment of the party accused of unjust enrichment; that such enrichment was at the expense of the party seeking restitution; and the circumstances were such that in equity and good conscience restitution should be made.  An additional requirement is that the party accused of unjust enrichment must know of the benefit conferred; to ensure that the benefit was not foisted on the recipient and is something for which compensation is reasonably expected.

Recovery on a theory of unjust enrichment typically occurs where there was no contract between the parties, or a contract turns out to be invalid.

The specifics of this principal aren’t clear to me from the ruling.

3. ON DEFENDANTS TUCKER PARKING HOLDINGS, LLC AND TUCKER PARKING EQUITIES, LLC’S COUNTERCLAIM AGAINST PLAINTIFF CENTRAL PARKING SYSTEM OF MISSOURI, LLC FOR BREACH OF LEASE (COUNT I), THE COURT FINDS IN FAVOR OF PLAINTIFF CENTRAL PARKING SYSTEM OF MISSOURI, LLC IN PART AND IN FAVOR OF DEFENDANTS TUCKER PARKING HOLDINGS, LLC AND TUCKER PARKING EQUITIES, LLC IN PART. SPECIFICALLY, TO THE EXTENT DEFENDANTS BASE THEIR BREACH OF LEASE CLAIM ON CENTRAL PARKING’S ALLEGED OBLIGATION TO REPAIR THE GARAGE’S POST-TENSIONING SYSTEM BEFORE THE END OF THE LEASE TERM, THE COURT FINDS IN FAVOR OF PLAINTIFF CENTRAL PARKING SYSTEM OF MISSOURI LLC. TO THE EXTENT DEFENDANTS BASED THEIR BREACH OF LEASE CLAIM ON CENTRAL PARKING’S ALLEGED OBLIGATION TO REPAIR DETERIORATION OR DELAMINATION TO THE GARAGE’S CONCRETE SURFACE BEFORE THE END OF THE LEASE TERM, THE COURT FINDS IN FAVOR OF DEFENDANTS TUCKER PARKING HOLDINGS, LLC AND TUCKER PARKING EQUITIES, LLC. HOWEVER, THE COURT FINDS THAT TUCKER CANNOT PROVE ANY DAMAGES FOR THIS BREACH BECAUSE, AS SET FORTH IN THE COURT’S ORDER OF OCTOBER 13, 2015, THE GARAGE IS AT THE END OF ITS USEFUL LIFE, THE GARAGE’S POST-TENSIONING SYSTEM IS BEYOND REPAIR, AND THE FAILURE OF THE POST-TENSIONING SYSTEM WAS DUE TO NORMAL OR ORDINARY “WEAR AND TEAR.” AS A RESULT, THE COURT ENTERS JUDGMENT IN FAVOR OF PLAINTIFF CENTRAL PARKING SYSTEM OF MISSOURI, LLC AND AGAINST DEFENDANTS TUCKER PARKING HOLDINGS, LLC AND TUCKER PARKING EQUITIES, LLC.

Above we can get the message — the garage can’t be repaired.

4. ON DEFENDANTS TUCKER PARKING HOLDINGS, LLC AND TUCKER PARKING EQUITIES, LLC’S COUNTERCLAIMS AGAINST PLAINTIFF CENTRAL PARKING SYSTEM OF MISSOURI, LLC FOR WASTE (COUNT III), NEGLIGENCE (COUNT IV), AND DECLARATORY JUDGMENT (COUNT V), THE COURT ENTERS JUDGMENT IN FAVOR OF PLAINTIFF CENTRAL PARKING SYSTEM OF MISSOURI, LLC.

5. BY AGREEMENT OF THE PARTIES, THE COURT DISMISSES DEFNDANTS TUCKER PARKING HOLDINGS, LLC AND TUCKER PARKING EQUITIES, LLC’S COUNTERCLAIM AGAINST CENTRAL PARKING CORPORATION FOR SUIT ON GUARANTY (COUNTII), WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

6. COSTS ARE ASSESSED AGAINST DEFENDANTS TUCKER PARKING HOLDINGS, LLC AND TUCKER PARKINGS EQUITIES, LLC PURSUANT TO RULE 77.01. SO ORDERED: 32929-JUDGE DAVID L. DOWD

So who owns this garage, who is behind these two Tucker Parking LLCs?

Both were created in Missouri on April 19, 2007, indicating a home state in Delaware. TUCKER PARKING EQUITIES LLC was formed in Delaware two days earlier. City records indicate tax bills are mailed to 24 Church Street, Montclair NJ.

The legal battle may continue for a while. Still, we can accept some facts:

  • The existing garage is unusable, it’ll need to be razed eventually.
  • The owner isn’t in St. Louis.
  • The owner of the adjacent former Post-Dispatch building would like to have parking for tenant use.
  • Many downtown residents, myself included, don’t want any surface parking or even more obvious parking garages.

I contacted 7th Ward Alderman Jack Coatar via email, who said:

It is my understanding that this garage has reached the end of its lifespan and that it would be extremely expensive to shore up this garage and make it safe to use. I would like to see the garage demolished and replaced with another parking structure that includes a first floor retail component.

I would like the development committee of the Downtown Neighborhood Association’s Planning and Zoning Committee to take an active role in the planning for any future use of this site.

If a new garage is built, I’d like it to be enclosed with an exhaust system rather than being open.

— Steve Patterson

 

Too Easy To Meander Inside Many Parking Garages

Lately the issue of safety in parking garages has been in the local news:

There are surveillance cameras at the parking garage on N. 7th street near Washington Ave., however the company that owns and operates the garage, SP Plus, told the victim in a voicemail, “The cameras are not operational”

Now, two years later, it’s the same story. According to an email sent to News 4 by the victim of the sexual assault that happened two weeks ago, SP Plus told her “There are no cameras at 701 N. 7th Street. We apologize for the inconvenience.” (KMOV)

I’m no fan of parking garages — except when I want to take pictures from them. They can often provide some of the best vantage points. Well. assuming I can access them.

Structural repairs being made to one of the Kiener garages in 2010
Structural repairs being made to one of the Kiener garages in 2010

From a photography perspective I like that I can easily access many downtown parking garages without being stopped, but that’s not good for the personal safety of those who park in them. Newer garages seem to do a better job of keeping out people who aren’t retrieving their vehicle.  Still, with any public garage a person can get access if they drive in.

— Steve Patterson

 

Soldiers’ Memorial Kicked Off Demolishing Our City’s Center

Last month, on the 28th, Soldiers’ Memorial closed for a 2-year renovation. Soldier’s Memorial is St. Louis’ tribute to those who died in World War 1.

The Soldiers Memorial Military Museum closed Sunday for a $30 million renovation, with promises of reopening in two years as a functional and inspirational “transformation.”

It is the first lengthy closure of the 80-year-old downtown landmark.

The Missouri Historical Society and local public officials held a flag lowering ceremony Sunday afternoon to mark the occasion. (Post-Dispatch)

The 80th anniversary of the cornerstone isn’t until this fall.  It opened to the public on Memorial Day. May 30, 1938.

 Mayor Dickman laid the cornerstone on November 11, 1936 -- nearly two decades after the end of World War One -- less than 3 years before the start of WWII
Mayor Dickman laid the cornerstone on November 11, 1936 — nearly two decades after the end of World War One — less than 3 years before the start of WWII

The project began in the 1920s:

The City of St. Louis created a Memorial Plaza Commission in 1925 to oversee the creation of the Memorial Plaza and Soldiers Memorial. Designed as a memorial to the St. Louis citizens who gave their lives in World War I, the Memorial became Project No. 5098 of the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works. The St. Louis architectural firm Mauran, Russell & Crowell designed the classical Memorial with an art deco flair and St. Louis-born sculptor Walker Hancock created four monumental sculpture groupings entitled Loyalty, Vision, Courage and Sacrifice to flank the entrances. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the site on October 14, 1936 and two years later Soldiers Memorial Military Museum opened to the public on Memorial Day, May 30, 1938.  (Missouri History Museum — Soldiers’ Memorial)

In 1925 St. Louis hadn’t begun razing the blocks between Market & Chestnut, 11th and 20th. The Civil Courts building began in 1928, Aloe Plaza in 1931. Demolition of the original city on the bank of the Mississippi River didn’t commence until 1939. A war memorial was what St. Louis’ planner, Harland Bartholomew, needed to justify taking & razing private property just West of the Central Business District.

The block with Soldiers’ Memorial is bounded by 13th, Chestnut, 14th, and Pine, it looked very different in 1909:

In February 1909 the block was full of 2-3 story brick buildings. Click image to see Sanborn Map page with this & adjacent blocks
In February 1909 the block was full of 2-3 story brick buildings. Click image to see Sanborn Map page with this & adjacent blocks

Granted, none of these buildings were notable, no special businesses were displaced. It was rather ordinary, in fact. But this one block contained nearly 50 structures, with entrances on all four streets — it helped generate urban activity. To many born in the late 19th century such blocks were viewed as chaos.

Taking out one active block does little to change the vibrancy of a city, but when it’s repeated over and over it has a hugely negative impact.  The 1940 census showed a drop in population — at least partially as a result of massive demolition in the 1930s. At the time they thought the population would continue growing — exceed a million by 1960.  They couldn’t see their actions contributing to massive population declines in the coming decades.

The Soldiers’ Memorial building is very formal — especially compared to the nearly 50 buildings that previously occupied the block. Let’s take a look.

The St. Louis flag being lowered on Sunday February 28, 2016
The St. Louis flag being lowered on Sunday February 28, 2016
The raised platform that surrounds the building is in poor condition
The raised platform that surrounds the building is in poor condition
The raised platform helped elevated the building above the then-bust city sidewalks. The ramp wasn't installed until this century.
The raised platform helped elevated the building above the then-bust city sidewalks. The ramp wasn’t installed until this century.
At the same time another ramp was built to go from the raised platform into the open center of the building
At the same time another ramp was built to go from the raised platform into the open center of the building
The mosaic tile ceiling in the center is impressive
The mosaic tile ceiling in the center is impressive
This is the East display room on the last day, the casework and detailing are beautiful
This is the East display room on the last day, the casework and detailing are beautiful
Interior of the elevator is magnificent -- one of my favorites in the city
Interior of the elevator is magnificent — one of my favorites in the city
The West end of the upstairs is a wonderful meeting room. It hasn't been used too often because of a lack pf air conditioning
The West end of the upstairs is a wonderful meeting room. It hasn’t been used too often because of a lack pf air conditioning
Getting to the rest of the 2nd floor requires steps or a non-compliant ramp. Presumably this will be addressed. The terrazzo floors throughout are spectacular
Getting to the rest of the 2nd floor requires steps or a non-compliant ramp. Presumably this will be addressed. The terrazzo floors throughout are spectacular

Yes, St. Louis built a war memorial that many disabled veterans couldn’t visit! Not uncommon for the era — the disabled were routinely institutionalized then. Apparently the building had an outdoor mechanical lift that failed in 2004, leaving a disabled vet stranded. It was that event that prompted the effort to build ramps outside.

I love many of the interior details (floors, ceilings, rails, lights, elevator. etc) but they missed the big picture. The outdoor WWII memorial, the Court of Honor, in the block directly south also wasn’t accessible when it opened a decade later on Memorial Day 1948.

Since St. Louis has given up on the Gateway Mall Advisory Board I’m nervous above what’ll happen here.

— Steve Patterson

 

Advertisement



FACEBOOK POSTS

This message is only visible to admins.

Problem displaying Facebook posts.
Click to show error

Error: Server configuration issue

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe