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Dead Sidewalks Won’t Come Back To Life With Overhead Walkways Gone

May 21, 2018 Downtown, Featured, Planning & Design, Walkability Comments Off on Dead Sidewalks Won’t Come Back To Life With Overhead Walkways Gone

Enclosed walkways over public sidewalks are generally a bad idea — removing pedestrians from the public realm. However, with these elevated walkways often comes the real culprits to killing sidewalk life: blank walls, inward focus, etc.

A prime example of what not to do in a downtown was downtown St. Louis’ St. Louis Centre indoor mall.

Blank walls faced the public sidewalk, under the walkways it was dark.

ABOVE: Looking east on May 27, 2010

It was 8 years ago today that a big event was held to begin the removal of the very oppressive walkway from over Washington Ave — the first step in transforming the inward-focused mall into outward-facing MX retail with the interior becoming a parking garage.

See:

 

Two other walkways have been removed in the last year, one on each side of the former Southwestern Bell headquarters, later an AT&T building on Chestnut between 9th & 10th. The walkways connected the now vacant tower, now longer owned by AT&T with an older Bell building to the West and a 90s data center to the East.

Former walkway over 9th Street, 2009 photo
Similar walkway over 10th St, also a 2009 photo

These walkways were very different than those at the former St. Louis Centre — up high, small, transparent, These allowed employees to walk to/from all 3 buildings without having to keep going through security. With AT&T’s significant reduction in the number of downtown employees the center towner became unnecessary. The tower’s new owners needed to reconfigure the tower from a single-occupany headquarters into a multi-tenant building. For them and AT&T that meant disconnecting the three buildings.

In SEptember 2017 the walkway over 9th was gone, though work remained to fill in the hole in the West side of the data center created by removing the walkway.

The exteriors are all repaired now, though all three buildings are lifeless at the sidewalk level. This us by design. The removal of these two walkways won’t have the dramatic results we’ve seen at MX.

St. Louis has systematically killed street life block by block, neighborhoods by neighborhood. Attempting to bring back vibrant sidewalks for more than a few blocks here or there is likely a waste of time at this point.

— Steve Patterson

 

Deutsch Family Profiting From Public Right-of-Way…Again

April 16, 2018 Downtown, Featured, Parking, Walkability Comments Off on Deutsch Family Profiting From Public Right-of-Way…Again

A couple of weeks from now will mark two years since my post titled: Deutsch Family Has Profited From Public Right-Of-Way For Nearly Two Decades. It was a more detailed follow up to an April 2009 post called Stealing a Sidewalk.

From the 2016 post:

In the late 1990s, Larry Deutsch was finally allowed to raze the historic 4-story building at 1101 Locust St. that housed Miss Hullings Cafeteria for decades. After the demolition crew left, new sidewalks were poured and the lot was covered in asphalt for surface parking. That’s when the line dividing private from public property was moved more than 3 feet. Legally the lot is 121 feet x 102 feet 6 inches. But by narrowing the public sidewalk, they made their lot 124.33′ x 105.83′ — a gain of 6%! This is roughly 750 square feet of public space that has been used privately for years.

This allowed them to have 5 additional parking spaces. The current daily rate is often $10, but let’s say $5/day. With about 300 revenue days a year, that’s $7,500 in additional revenue per year. Over 18 years the total estimate is $135,000. Serious money made by taking from the public right-of-way.

After my May 2016 post they put orange cones in the parking spaces that were partially on public property.

The building represents the property line, not the concrete sidewalk.

On the East end of 1101 Locust St the same thing along 11th — they [placed cones along the actual property line
Each time I’d go past the cones would be out — not as good as pouring new concrete sidewalks at the actual property line. But the other day I noticed they were back to stealing public right-of-way for their profits!

The driver’s half of this car is parked on the public right-of-way
And along 11th half of this vehicle is parked on the public right-of-way.

Ownership hasn’t changed. As I said two years ago, the city needs to force the Deutsch family to pour new concrete sidewalks that extend all the way to the property lin. They also need to bring this surface lot up to current standards for surface lots — with physical barriers between sidewalk & parking so cars can’t park on or drive on public sidewalks.

I’ll be reminding 7th Ward Alderman Jack Coatar about this today.

 

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Aldermen Approved Failed St. Louis Centre Forty Years Ago

March 16, 2018 Board of Aldermen, Downtown, Featured, Retail Comments Off on Aldermen Approved Failed St. Louis Centre Forty Years Ago

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s also the 40th anniversary of the start of one of St. Louis’ worst decisions: St. Louis Centre

This Day in St. Louis History, March 17, 1978:
The first step towards St. Louis Centre

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved three bills that would set the stage to develop a proposed downtown shopping mall, with the only further step being the acquisition of federal funding. The headquarters of Stx, Baer, & Fuller, which would become Dillard’s just months before the mall’s completion, and Famous-Barr existed with one block separating them between Washington and Locust at 6th Street. The goal was to create an enclosed, urban shopping mall with these two companies as anchors, and the estimated budget was nearly $150 million. St. Louis Centre opened in 1985 as the largest shopping mall in America. It had over 150 stores and 20 restaurants, and was initially a great success. Challenges appeared in the 1990s however, as the Westroads Shopping Center was redeveloped into the St. Louis Galleria and stores began closing. St. Louis Centre closed in 2006, and since then has been redeveloped into a 750-car parking garage and retail center. (From now defunct STL250 Facebook page)

The mall opened seven years later, in 1985.

To any urbanist the idea of razing an entire city block to build one massive internally-focused building is just wrong. Anyone who knew better either kept quiet or were silenced, ignored. Malls in the suburbs are doing great so we must do the same.

St. Louis Centre, April 2006
Looking east along Washington Ave from 7th, February 2006

The mall is now a parking garage with out-facing retail at the sidewalk level. The oppressive bridges over Washington & Locust are gone.

2014

The mistake has been reversed, but the damage was done long ago. Retailing, once a big part of downtown, is almost nonexistent. Restaurants are now the generators of much foot traffic.

I can’t help but wonder where downtown would be if bills weren’t approved 40 years ago.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Should Parking Stay Within The Treasurer’s Office?

December 31, 2017 Downtown, Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Parking Stay Within The Treasurer’s Office?
Please vote below

When St. Louis voted itself out of St. Louis County in 1876 it became an “independent city” with city & county elected offices. In the years since this has produced conflicts as “county” office holders are elected independently and don’t answer to the mayor or aldermen. Sometimes lawsuits are filed.

A lawsuit that’s been moving steadily through the courts since January questions whether the Parking Commission of St. Louis should even exist under Missouri’s constitution. In August, a member of that commission — Jeffrey Boyd, who heads the board’s streets, traffic and refuse committee — became a plaintiff suing the state and the city. Another plaintiff in the suit is James J. Wilson, the former city counselor under Mayor Vincent C. Schoemehl Jr. (Post-Dispatch)

The court case ix 1722-CC00338 – JAMES WILSON ET AL V CITY OF ST LOUIS ET AL (E-CASE). It can be found on Missouri Case.net. This bags the question about who should be in charge of parking and the revenues it generates?

Here is the last non-scientific poll of 2017;

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

Many Holiday Gifts Came Likely Came From St. Louis’ Jaccard & Co Jewelry

December 25, 2017 Downtown, Featured, History/Preservation, Retail Comments Off on Many Holiday Gifts Came Likely Came From St. Louis’ Jaccard & Co Jewelry

Many of you will likely be giving and/orreceiving gifts today. Some of those gifts may include jewelry.The following post was started about two months ago, it seemed appropriate to finally finish it for today.

Like many, my husband and I are fans of PBS’ Antiques Roadshow program. We watch each new episode and, if nothing else is on, we’ll watch a repeat. Such was the case on Saturday October 14th. That night we watched the 2nd of a 3-part program from Detroit (Season 18 Episode 5). When it started I didn’t anticipate it would take me on a long dive into St. Louis history..but one appraisal did just that.

The appraisal titled 1900 Diamond Brooch with Dranwing was brought in by a man whose grandfather had it custom made in 1900 for his grandmother. His grandparents were living outside of Cincinatti but commissioned a jeweler in St. Louis.  Appraiser Peter J. Shemonsky says “they were a very well-respected and well-know jeweler at the time period.” On the internet I quickly find the segment to watch again so I can catch the jeweler’s name.

Receipt from E. Jaccard Jewelry Co

So I have the name and location (Olive and Sixth), should be easy, right?

My search led me to the FindAGrave.com bio of David Constant Jaccard, which explained many company name changes:

At the age of eleven, David began serving his apprenticeship to the watchmaker’s trade. After his graduation he taught school for a year and then came to the United States to join his relatives Louis and Eugene Jaccard, who were already in business in St. Louis. Louis founded the house under the name of Jaccard & Recordon. Six years later Eugene Jaccard became a partner in the firm, the name of which was changed to Jaccard & Co. In 1844 they sold their establishment, but regained possession of it a year later. Eugene became the sole owner in 1849. In 1853 he admitted to partnership with him A. S. Mermod, and in 1855 D. C. Jaccard, under the firm name of E. Jaccard & Co. The business was continued under this name until 1862. D. C. Jaccard and A. S. Mermod then joined forces and purchased a jewelry establishment under Odd Fellow’s Hall in St. Louis, founding what became one of the most famous jewelry houses in the United States. In 1873 the firm name was changed to Mermod, Jaccard & Co., followed by the name of Mermod & Jaccard Jewelry Company in 1883. The house had its own watch manufactory in Switzerland as well as in Paris and various other cities in Europe.

In 1868 Mr. Jaccard was appointed vice-consul for Switzerland in St. Louis and later acted as consul for that country for two years. During the Civil War, as treasurer of the “Societe du Sou par Semaine,” he distributed over twenty thousand dollars to relieve the wants of those who suffered from the effects of the great struggle then going on, without regard to their sympathies either with the North or the South.

I found a photo of their beautiful building in Washington University’s Eames and Young Architectural Photographs collection.

E. Jaccard Jewelry Company Building – Eames and Young … Washington University in St. Louis E. Jaccard Jewelry Company Building – Eames and Young Architectural Photographs. This building was located on the northeast corner of Broadway and Olive, the future location of the National Bank of Commerce Building, then the Monward Realty Company Building.

But wait, this 1880 photo indicates it’s located on the NE corner  of Broadway & Olive. Broadway is the name used instead of 5th. I hope to learn more about St. Louis’ famous jeweler. Since this post was started we’ve seen another segment with an item from Jaccard — see 1898 Kansas City Fire Chief Presentation Badge.

I’m no stranger to famous local jewelers, everyone who’s lived in Oklahoma City knows BC Clark Jewelers has been around since 1892 — 15 years before statehood. Megan Mullaly even sang their jingle to Jay Leno. I’d still like to know what happened to the Jaccard store.

Have a great day today!

— Steve Patterson

 

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