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Readers: Blue is Favorite of Six Plaza Square Colors

January 13, 2016 Downtown, Planning & Design, Real Estate Comments Off on Readers: Blue is Favorite of Six Plaza Square Colors

Blue was the favorite Plaza Square color picked by readers in the non-scientific Sunday Poll, with orange second.   Readers were allowed to pick two. Blue & orange are also my top two favorites, though I prefer orange over blue.

Q: The six Plaza Square buildings were restored to their original colors, which are your TWO favorites?

#1 Blue with 18 votes (27.69%)
#1 Blue with 18 votes (27.69%)
#2 Orange with 14 votes (21.54%)
#2 Orange with 14 votes (21.54%)
#3 Teal Green with 12 votes (18.46%)
#3 Teal Green with 12 votes (18.46%)
#4 Light Blue with 9 votes (13.85%)
#4 Light Blue with 9 votes (13.85%)
#5 Yellow with 7 votes (10.77%)
#5 Yellow with 7 votes (10.77%)
#6 Mustard with 5 votes (7.69%)
#6 Mustard with 5 votes (7.69%)

Yellow, which finished fifth, is a close third favorite of mine.

As I said on Sunday, I thought the colors were originally used on the North & South ends but the National Register listing says they were always white.

The white ends just do not look right to my eyes
The white ends just do not look right to my eyes

Though I like a lot about these six buildings, they make no attempt to connect to Olive, Pine, or Chestnut. With Pine & Chestnut being a one-way couplet they’re horrible places for pedestrians, There is zero positive street activity.

Hopefully they’ll do better now that ownership, mission, etc are split up.

— Steve Patterson


Court Documents Shed Some Light On Condemned Parking Garage

January 12, 2016 Downtown, Featured, Parking 2 Comments

For over a year I’ve been posting about the now-condemned parking garage at Tucker & Locust, it closed in the summer of 2014 for structural repairs:

On March 9, 2015 CENTRAL PARKING SYSTEM OF MO, LLC sued TUCKER PARKING HOLDINGS LLC & TUCKER PARKING EQUITIES LLC, the two entities that own the garage, Case 1522-CC00532.  That same day Tucker et al countersued.

Later that month the court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to prevent contractor Tarlton from removing the shoring and rented equipment with Tucker et al to pay invoices. “Rental, monitoring, and other shoring related expenses” for April 2015 through October 2015 totaled $894,479. Tucker et al didn’t pay and in November the exterior scaffolding was removed, the interior shoring remains to date.

December 2014
December 2014

Last month the court issued a judgment against Tucker et al for the original amount plus an additional $11k in interest for a total of $905,507.05. It’s unclear to me if Tarlton has been fully paid for their more labor-intensive work from July 2014 through March 2015. Regardless, if paid, it was likely in excess of $2,000,000.  Just before the judgment the city filed a motion to intervene, but withdrew it four days later.

Early this month a hearing for February 16th was cancelled. Court records & documents found at Missouri Court’s Case.net.

— Steve Patterson


Sunday Poll: The Six Plaza Square Buildings Were Restored To Their Original Colors, Which Are Your Two Favorite Colors?

January 10, 2016 Downtown, Featured, History/Preservation, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: The Six Plaza Square Buildings Were Restored To Their Original Colors, Which Are Your Two Favorite Colors?
Please vote below
Please vote below

One of the earliest urban renewal projects in St. Louis was Plaza Square — six high rise apartment buildings. Four city blocks were razed — except two churches — to make room for the six buildings. Site selection was made in 1950, but the project wasn’t completed until 1962.

Over the years the ownership on the group has changed numerous times. One was converted to condo ownership a decade ago, the other five are now owned by 2-3 entities. All six have been, or are in process of, renovated. The group are listed as a district on the National Register of Historic Places.  All six now sport their original color schemes, from the National Register listing:

Originally, each building’s enameled panels were painted a different solid color on the east and west elevations, with the panels on the north and south elevations painted white. Specifications and early color photographs are at odds, and conclusive assignments of original colors for three of the buildings have yet to be made. However, evidence shows that Building 20 has orange paint underneath the current coat, Building 30 has green and Building 60 was originally the same blue that it is today. The distinct colors differentiated the individual buildings from each other; this effect was an important balance to the uniform appearances of the buildings. (Section 7 page 6)

I was thinking the owners were too cheap to paint the North & South ends — but that’s how they were originally built!

Today’s poll is one I’ve wanted to do for a long time, I just had to wait  until all six got repainted.

The six colors are presented in random order — please vote for TWO.  This poll will close at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson




Proposed Alterations To Soldiers’ Memorial Should Take These Issues Into Consideration

Soon the Missouri History Museum is expected to show final designs for two blocks of the Gateway Mall bounded by 14th, Pine, 13th, and Market — Soldiers’ Memorial & Court 0f Honor. A big unknown is Chestnut Street which runs one-way Eastbound between the two blocks.

The Gateway Mall Master Plan calls the area around Soldiers' Memorial the "Civic Room"
The Gateway Mall Master Plan calls the area around Soldiers’ Memorial the “Civic Room”
St. Louis' Court of Honor, June 2010
St. Louis’ Court of Honor, June 2010
Soldiers' Memorial, 2011
Soldiers’ Memorial, 2011

Since the Slay administration chose to abandon the Gateway Mall Advisory Board, I don’t know what to expect in the way of review for compliance with the master plan, public input, stakeholder input, etc.

Here are my primary areas of concern:

  • Festivals
  • Street grid, traffic flow
  • Linear hallway along Gateway Mall

Let’s examine each:


This might be moot, since the Slay administration ran off great events like the Taste of St. Louis in favor a concert series that never happened:

After a year without major summer festivals in downtown St. Louis, the city may have finally had enough. On Black Friday the mayor’s office announced that it had ended its agreement with Los Angeles-based International Creative Management (ICM) to produce a promised but never held “Summer Rocks” series on the Gateway Mall.

That controversial deal, spearheaded in part by developer Steve Stogel (president of Clayton-based DFC Group) and approved by the city via Festival Reservation Bill 328, blocked out a downtown area from Union Station to City Hall from May to September 2015, and would have continued to do so for another nine years (and possibly more). The non-compete clause had already forced out local festivals like Taste of St. Louis, Ribfest and Bluesweek. (RFT)

The Gateway Mall Master Plan calls for this area to be the city’s main space for festivals. It calls the blocks including, and around, Soldiers’ Memorial the Civic Room:

The Civic Room will create a large uni?ed space well-suited for civic events, markets, festivals and concerts. In order to achieve this, it is anticipated that Chestnut Street would be closed incrementally over time, beginning with temporary closures for festivals, and ultimately consideredfor permanent or seasonal closure, though still allowing emergency and service vehicle access.Chestnut Street should still be hard surfaced with a paving different than surrounding areas, to accommodate tents and other services necessaryfor festivals. Locations for performance stages and cultural or art annexes should be provided to further de?ne the civic character of the space and create attractions to activate the Mall.

Before Citygarden was built a few blocks to the East, that area was used for large events as well — the Taste of St. Louis started where Citygarden is now. With this new agreement, the Missouri Historical Society (MHS) will have discretion for the use of the middle of the Civic Room festival area:

Although MHS will not host concerts or festivals that do not meet with the mission of Soldiers Memorial, it is willing to collaborate with festivals held in its neighboring parks for something that is mission driven. For example, MHS might have a wreath laying ceremony during Pride on the Soldiers Memorial grounds for LGBTQ members of the military. (FAQ)

Personally, I’d like to see large festivals held elsewhere, perhaps in & around the new Kiener Plaza?  Kiener is closing next month for a 12-14 month makeover, the median will be removed from Market Street.


I never liked the master plan’s suggestion to eventually close Chestnut St. When you close one block of a street that kills activity on the rest of the open blocks before & after the closure. I’d like to see Chestnut & Pine return to two-way traffic West of Tucker. Then they’d feel like neighborhood streets again rather than very long highway on/off ramps.

Missouri History Museum drawing from Fall 2015 shows what appears to be a single lane. Final design may be different.
Missouri History Museum drawing from Fall 2015 shows what appears to be a single lane. Final design may be different.

The problem with this draft is it doesn’t show the surrounding context. What about the blocks to the East West, & North?  What is the whole concept for all of these blocks? It doesn’t need to be built by the history museum but all needs to be part of the design process — so it’ll all work eventually. Looks like they’re designing this in isolation — an island. Chestnut is two lanes with diagonal parking to the East & West — lanes, crosswalks, curb ramps need to align. Without showing surrounding existing conditions it is hard to determine if these have been considered. Most likely they haven’t.

The new parking-protected bike lane on Chestnut is an issue, but it should’ve been on Olive. That would’ve required building accessible bus stops in the parking lane — Chestnut was picked for the bike lane because it was easier than Olive.


One of the best parts of the Gateway Mall Master Plan is the hallway concept — a wide tree-lined sidewalk along the North side of Market St.

The Gateway Mall master plan calls for this "hallway" to run from Broadway to 20th
The Gateway Mall master plan calls for this “hallway” to run from Broadway to 20th

Their preliminary design doesn’t show the hallway. So far we only have the two blocks along Citygarden.

— Steve Patterson


Readers Split on MSD Plan To Raze Vacant Buildings To Reduce Water Runoff

Focus area, click image to view larger PDF
Focus area, click image to view larger PDF

In the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll readers were split on MSD’s plan to raze vacant buildings to reduce water runoff.

  • Support side 18
  • Oppose side 17
  • Neutral+Unsure 7

Below is the breakdown:

Q: To reduce water runoff, the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) plans to raze vacant buildings. Oppose or support?

  • Strongly support 8 [19.05%]
  • Support 3 [7.14%]
  • Somewhat support 7 [16.67%]
  • Neither oppose or support 5 [11.9%]
  • Somewhat oppose 2 [4.76%]
  • Oppose 3 [7.14%]
  • Strongly oppose 12 [28.57%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 2 [4.76%]

As you can see, the “strongly oppose” answer got the biggest response. Supporters weren’t as enthusiastic. Much of the demolition would happen in neighborhoods struggling to remain relevant.

While it could take several years to spend down the money, even the longest spending scenario would amount to a near doubling of St. Louis’ demolition budget. And areas where MSD sees the most benefit in terms of runoff and watersheds also are the areas – primarily in north St. Louis – where the city’s vacant properties are concentrated. 

Those areas are part of the Bissell watershed, where the Environmental Protection Agency has told MSD to better manage stormwater. (Post-Dispatch)

Each time a building is razed it gets harder to convince remaining owners to invest in their properties, to get residents to stay. Still, I need to read more about MSD’s Project Clear.

— Steve Patterson