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Chouteau Park Just Getting Started

October 20, 2014 Environment, Featured, Parks 3 Comments

Chouteau Park is the newest city park, created by ordinance in 2008, as compensation for the future loss of Hudlin Park to BJC. The fate of Hudlin Park was a hot issue in the Spring of 2006. This new 2.8 acre park is intended to replace the 12 acre Hudlin Park.

Chouteau Park is just largely a graded empty lot right now, awaiting funds to become a fully realized park space. The design was done by H3 studios in 2009.

Revised renderings from the H3 2009 design include a shaded promenade, adventure playground, spray fountain and park cafe.

Update January 1, 2014: the classic St. Louis park sign has been added and trees are being planted. (St. Louis w/design & revised design)

As you might expect, parks don’t happen overnight. Every park in the city was once newly created and not looking like much. Citygarden, opened in 2009, is a rare exception because it was privately funded. Construction on Chouteau Park began in the fall of 2011.

Corner of Chouteau & Newstead Avenues
Corner of Chouteau & Newstead Avenues
Gap in the sidewalk along Newstead & Chouteau may be because of the future park cafe on the corner.
Gap in the sidewalk along Newstead & Chouteau may be because of the future park cafe on the corner.
The colorful mounds will be great for kids once not surrounded by standing water & mud
The colorful mounds will be great for kids once not surrounded by standing water & mud. No telling what will end up inside he orange one
The largest encourages climbing
The largest encourages climbing
View from the top of the hill at the east end
View from the top of the hill at the east end

One sidewalk going up the hill just ended, I’m not sure of the future intent. A number of sewer inlets handle water runoff, hopefully in the future this water can be captured and refined onsite.

It’ll be fun to see this new park develop and mature over the years.

— Steve Patterson



Updating Parking Garage Lighting

Yesterday I posted about a parking garage attempting, poorly, to look like numerous buildings. In researching the garage I discovered in June Cheyenne WY approved spending a little more than $130,000 to upgrade the lighting from metal halide fixtures to LED.

Bob Bradshaw, the city’s special projects director, said the current metal halide bulbs are “burning out at a rate of a couple a day” and can cost up to $260 each to replace.

Not only are the LED bulbs more energy efficient, they last longer and require less maintenance, Bradshaw said. That means the city would save money on both energy bills and maintenance costs with the new lights. (source)

The new lighting is estimated to save $253,077 over the next decade, with the break even point “in just over four years.” While in Colorado & Wyoming electricians finished replacing the old halogen lights in our condo parking garage, located underneath both buildings.  The lights are on 24 hours a day, between electricity and replacements representing over 16% of our annual budget.

Our new lighting is brighter, with better color
Our new lighting is brighter, with better color
The fixtures look just like 4-tibe fluorescents, but these are LEDs.
The fixtures look just like 4-tube fluorescents, but these are LED tubes.

A rebate from Ameren reduced our upfront costs about 30%, but it was still a substantial investment. With a payoff of just 18 months the majority of us voted to proceed.

Once our inventory of compact fluorescents (CFL) has been depleted, we’ll begin using LED bulbs in our stairwells and hallways.

— Steve Patterson


In 2012 A Resident Had To Fight With Ferguson Officials To Keep His Front Yard Vegetable Garden

The post is a repeat of my post A Front Yard Vegetable Garden In Ferguson Missouri from August 2012:

In July one modest house in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson got the attention of many:

A Ferguson resident has won a battle with city officials that could be considered a matter of taste.

The resident, Karl Tricamo, had been feuding with the city for months over the vegetable garden he had planted in front of his house in the 300 block of Louisa Avenue.

The city saw the garden as a blot on the landscape and issued Tricamo a citation demanding he uproot the corn, tomatoes, sorghum, peppers and other crops sprouting there and, instead, seed the yard for grass. The garden measures 35 feet by 25 feet. (stltoday.com)

Other resources:

Numerous pictures were circulated on Facebook & Twitter as front yard gardening advocates celebrated this victory. But all the pictures concentrated tightly on the garden, I wanted to understand the context. I went to Google Maps but no streetview was available just an aerial.

The 45 degree view of the house in Ferguson, before the lawn was replaced with the garden. Click image to view in Google Maps.

I knew I wanted to see the garden and street in person but it’s a 12+ mile drive — and I don’t have a car. So I caught a bus at the North Hanley MetroLink station and I was within blocks.

ABOVE: The MetroBus dropped me off at Suburban Ave and S. Clark Ave, this is looking north on Clark
ABOVE: Looking west on Louisa St from Clark., nice but well-maintained homes. No manicured lawns.
ABOVE: Continuing on Louisa looking for the house & garden on the right.
ABOVE: I’m visiting on Monday August 20, 2012. The garden looks good to my eye given how dry it has been and how late in the growing season it is.
ABOVE: Lawn remains between the sidewalk and driveway
ABOVE: Another view

In an older neighborhood with mature trees locations for a vegetable garden are often limited, most vegetables need full sun.  I applaud Tricamo for fighting the City of Ferguson so he could grow food for his family.

— Steve Patterson


Urban Land Banking Prairie In Chicago

August 19, 2014 Environment, Featured, Parks, Planning & Design, Real Estate, Travel Comments Off on Urban Land Banking Prairie In Chicago

Yesterday’s post was about an interesting parking garage in Chicago, today is the story of why I went up to the top of the garage.

A long block was a prairie with native grades & flowers, it looked well kept because a wide border was mowed.
A long block was a prairie with native grades & flowers, it looked well kept because a wide border was mowed. A concrete curb separates the natives from the tidy lawn.
From the top of the adjacent parking garage you can see fenced-in prairie.
From the top of the adjacent parking garage you can see fenced-in prairie. Click image for map link. 

My assumption is this is a way of land banking until Northwestern decides to build on the land. The block held a large zig-zag 1940s/50s building, razed sometime within the last decade. The block is fenced, it isn’t used as a park. Land here, between Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue, is much too valuable to sit vacant. The campus map doesn’t identify it.

The result is a very neat looking, but easy to maintain, block.

— Steve Patterson


New Solar Carport At The Centennial Malt House Located At 2017 Chouteau

The building at 2017 Chouteau, known as the Centennial Malt House, was built in 1876 as part of the  Joseph Schnaider Brewery complex.

Merged with the St. Louis Brewing Association in 1889, Schnaider’s brewery was shut down within a decade. The Chouteau Avenue Crystal Ice & Storage Plant occupied several buildings; other property including the garden was razed for the enormous International Shoe factory. Eventually, the malt house was relegated to use by a truck parts company. Things looked pretty grim when Wendy and Paul Hamilton, owners of the nearby 1111 Mississippi restaurant, purchased the property in April 2005. Faced with a tight timetable, Paul and his restaurant staff spent many extra hours working alongside an army of contractors led by Spiegelglass Construction Co. Office space under construction on the first floor is already leased; the rooftop bar and bistro Vin de Set should open this June. National City Bank plus federal and state historic tax credits financed the $4 million mixed-use project designed by Tom Cohen. (Landmarks Association 2006 Most Enhanced Award)

To make renovation financially viable the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. Since the Hamilton’s opened Vin de Set they’ve added PW Pizza, Moulin Events, Grand Petite Market, and the Malt House Cellar. They opened Eleven Eleven Mississippi nearby in 2003.

In April 2012
The Centennial Malt House at 2017 Chouteau before the carport was built, April 2012 photo

When I was there a few months ago for the 6th Ward Participatory Budget Project Expo I had no idea a solar carport was planned, it was a pleasant surprise upon arriving for dinner on Saturday.

View of the carport in the center of the small parking lot
View of the carport in the center of the small parking lot
Looking down from Vin de Set's rooftop
Looking down from Vin de Set’s rooftop
Looking toward downtown you can see Ameren's headquarters, the solar carport is at the bottom
Looking toward downtown you can see Ameren’s headquarters, the solar carport is at the bottom

From a year ago:

Hamilton and his wife, Wendy, are investing $98,000 to have solar energy panels installed near the Centennial Malt House at 2017 Chouteau Ave., built in 1876, which houses Vin de Set, PW Pizza and Moulin Events. The 25-kilowatt, photo-voltaic system is expected to be complete by September.
As part of the project, the Hamiltons are installing a solar carport canopy on the east portion of the restaurant’s parking lot. The panels will be adjacent to Ameren Missouri’s headquarters at 1901 Chouteau, and Hamilton said Ameren will purchase excess power generated by the canopy. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Like most projects, it took longer to complete than originally planned. I like how, over the 9 years since they bought the building, they’ve added little by little to utilize the large building.  Missouri’s Historic Tax Credit Program saved an otherwise unsalvageable building, creating many jobs and tax-generating businesses.  The Solar Investment Tax Credit, Ameren rebates, etc made this project possible.  Two tax credits working as intended!

— Steve Patterson