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St. Louis Roots: Andy Cohen

May 2, 2023 Events/Meetings, Featured, History/Preservation, North City Comments Off on St. Louis Roots: Andy Cohen

This Friday, May 5th 2023, St. Louis native Andy Cohen will get a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame:

The late-night TV talk show host and executive producer will be inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame at 5 p.m. Friday, May 5. A live ragtime band will begin performing at 4:30 p.m. 

The ceremony is free to the public and will take place in front of the Moonrise Hotel at 6177 Delmar in The Loop.

Cohen was born and raised in St. Louis and graduated from Clayton High School in 1986. He is best known as the host and executive producer of Bravo TV’s “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen.” He was also an executive producer for “The Real Housewives” franchise and hosted numerous specials. 


Cohen’s roots in St. Louis go back a very long time, as detailed in January 2021 on PBS’ program Finding Your Roots (Against all Odds, S7E2). NPR’s Nina Totenburg was the other guest.

If you missed this episode, or want to watch it again, it will be shown again tonight on Finding Your Roots, 9.1 7pm CST in St. Louis.

In the above clip Cohen reads about a paternal great great grandfather, Russian peddler Simon Kruvant, injured in a horse/carriage accident in 1889 at South Broadway & Koeln Avenue. We also learned Kruvant and his wife lived at 1122 N. 7th Street.

1122 North 7th Street was a one story non-residential building, seen here in a 1909 Sanborn Fire Insurance map. Either the newspaper article gave the wrong address, or this immigrant couple were living in a commercial space.

Given that Kruvant was a peddler a commercial space with room for goods, cart, and horse makes sense. This wasn’t in the Post-Dispatch archives so it must’ve been another newspaper.

The red arrow center toward the bottom shows where 1122 N 7th was. Pink is masonry, yellow is wood frame. Neighbors include industrial, tenements, and Father Dempsey’s Men’s Hotel.

To see this map page in detail click here.

Today 1122 North 7th Street is part numerous vacant blocks just north of the dome.

This area was known as Near North for a long time, but officially it is part of Columbus Square. Before Neighborhoods Gardens and Cochran Gardens were built the neighborhood contained the highest concentration of tenements in the city.

This neighborhood welcomed the poorest immigrants, including: Irish, Jewish, Italian, and blacks escaping the Jim Crow south.

See Andy Cohen tonight on Finding Your Roots and receiving his star Friday in front of the Moonrise Hotel.

— Steve
St. Louis urban planning, policy, and politics @ UrbanReviewSTL since October 31, 2004. For additional content please consider following on Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, and/or Twitter.


April 2023 Election Results Sets New 14-Member Board of Aldermen

April 5, 2023 Board of Aldermen, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on April 2023 Election Results Sets New 14-Member Board of Aldermen

St. Louis voters have selected their candidates for our new 14 wards, cut in half from the 28 wards for more than a century.

St. Louis City Hall

Of the 28 the following aldermen didn’t run this year:

  • Dwinderlin Evans (4th ward)
  • Christine Ingrassia (6th ward)
  • Jack Coatar (7th ward)
  • Annie Rice (8th ward)
  • Dan Guenter (9th ward)
  • James Lappe (11th ward)
  • Bill Stephens (12th ward)
  • Carol Howard (14th ward)
  • Jesse Todd (18th ward)
  • Marlene Davis (19th ward)

The following aldermen ran, but were defeated in the March primary:

  • Michael J. Gras was the 28th ward alderman, coming in a very close 3rd in a 3-way primary in the new 9th ward.
  • Lisa Middlebrook was the 2nd ward alderman, but was defeated in a 3-way race against two other existing aldermen in the new 13th ward.
  • Brandon Bosley (3rd ward) and James Page (5th ward) were defeated in a 4-way primary race in the new 14th ward.

The following aldermen were defeated in Tuesday’s general election:

  • Joe Vaccaro, longtime conservative alderman in the 23rd ward, was defeated by 24th ward alderman Bret Narayan in the new 4th ward.
  • Tina Pihl was 17th ward alderman, losing to Michael Browning in the new 9th ward.
  • In the new 13th ward Norma Walker, recently elected to fill the 22nd ward seat, was defeated by 27th ward alderman Pamela Boyd.

Two former aldermen lost in their attempts to return to the board: Ken Ortmann & Jennifer Florida.

State Rep Rasheen Aldridge thankfully defeated Hubbard dynasty candidate Ebony Washington. Aldridge will resign as state rep to be sworn in as 14th ward alderman. A special election will be held to fill the state rep seat — hopefully a Hubbard won’t be elected.

The new 14-member board of aldermen will be:

  • 1) Anne Schweitzer* (13th)
  • 2) Thomas Oldenburg* (16th)
  • 3) Shane Cohn* (25th)
  • 4) Bret Narayan* (24th)
  • 5) Joseph Vollmer* (10th)
  • 6) Daniela Velazquez
  • 7) Alisha Sonnier
  • 8) Cara Spencer* (20th)
  • 9) Michael Browning
  • 10) Shameem Hubbard* (26th)
  • 11) Laura Keys* (21st)
  • 12) Sharon Tyus* (1st)
  • 13) Pamela Boyd* (27th)
  • 14) Rasheen Aldridge

So ten of the fourteen aldermen were reelected (marked with *, followed by their pre-2023 ward number), with only four being entirely new to the board. With Aldridge, the board will now have two openly LGBTQ members, joining Cohn.

Fifty percent are people of color (PoC), and one more than half are women. When you include the board president, comptroller, and mayor this is the first time in the 259-year history of the city that women and people of color will be in charge — long overdue!

I believe it is the new aldermen representing the even-numbered wards that will start with 4-year terms — those representing odd-numbered wards will initially have only a 2-year term. In 2025 the odd-numbered wards will hold elections for 4-year terms.

Voters also approved Proposition C establishing a Charter Commission to propose charter amendments to voters. I strongly recommend language changes to eliminate the March primary — with instant runoff/ranked-choice voting in every April in races with 3+ candidates. We shouldn’t have to go the polls just 4 weeks apart!

A 3% tax on recreational/adult-use cannabis was approved in the city, and in St. Louis County. Though I’m a supporter of legal cannabis, I’m among those who voted yes because these jurisdictions will need to provide city services.

Sadie Weiss and Tracy Hykes were elected to the board of education, Nicole Robinson defeated incumbent Pam Ross for a trustee seat on the community college board. Voters approved the DeBaliviere special business tax district.

— Steve
St. Louis urban planning, policy, and politics @ UrbanReviewSTL since October 31, 2004. For additional content please consider following on Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, and/or Twitter.


BREAKING! New MLS Stadium Sponsor to be Announced Monday

April 1, 2023 Featured, MLS Stadium Comments Off on BREAKING! New MLS Stadium Sponsor to be Announced Monday

Last year ST LOUIS CITY SC, the latest MLS expansion team, announced a stadium naming partner only to announce later that deal fell through.

The downtown-based home of St. Louis CITY SC is now known as Centene Stadium, it was announced Tuesday.

The expansion club, which will become Major League Soccer’s 29th team upon competing in 2023, has entered a 15-year naming rights partnership with the multi-national healthcare enterprise.

mlssoccer.com February 15, 2022

The team released a slick video via Twitter:

A little over 6 months later, Centene was out!

ST. LOUIS — Centene Corp. has backed out as the naming sponsor for the new Major League Soccer stadium here, just eight months after striking the deal.

St. Louis City SC’s stadium will now be called CITYPARK, the team said Tuesday, and it is searching for a new naming sponsor.
The Clayton-based health insurer’s decision marks the first major upheaval among the team’s corporate sponsors that include some of St. Louis’ most well-known businesses, such as Anheuser-Busch and Purina.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The thrilling home matches have been at CITYPARK — yes, all caps. According to sources today a new stadium sponsor will be announced Monday.

Dirt Cheap’s mascot Clucky promoting the Blues NHL team. Monday expect to see Clucky outfitted in STL City SC kit! Fun fun!

Another well-known St. Louis company has stepped up. The new name will be, ironically, Dirt Cheap Stadium. MLS rules prohibited it from being called Dirt Cheap Beer & Cigarettes Stadium. Carol House Furniture was a close second.

This is sort of in the family. STL CITY SC’s main owners are related to the late Andy Taylor, founder of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Dirt Cheap Beer & Cigarettes was founded by Paul Taylor, Andy’s 2nd cousin. Not to be confused with Andy’s late brother Paul.

Note, the person many of us remembers from Dirt Cheap commercials was not founder Paul Taylor, but employee Fred Teutenberg.

Enjoy tonight’s home match hosting Minnesota United FC at CITYPARK. In two weeks we’ll host FC Cincinnati at Dirt Cheap Stadium…even though tickets, food, beverage are anything but dirt cheap.

— Steve
St. Louis urban planning, policy, and politics @ UrbanReviewSTL since October 31, 2004. For additional content please consider following on Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, and/or Twitter.


April 4th General Election Ballot

March 23, 2023 Education, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on April 4th General Election Ballot

The St. Louis general election is just around the corner, Tuesday April 4, 2023. Early (no excuse absentee) voting is open now. I’ve voted absentee by mail.

Vintage photo of the former offices of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners. From my collection

In the March 7th primary we all had the one candidate race for President of the Board of Aldermen and races for all 14 wards — the first reduction from 28. The election has those races, plus two propositions, school board, and community college trustee. You can view the sample ballot here.

I’m not going to go through the aldermanic races, you probably know those. Instead I want to draw your attention to the other races you didn’t see during the primary. First, two propositions:

Shall Article V of the City of St. Louis Charter be amended to establish a Charter 17 Commission which shall:Consist of nine registered city voters free of conflicts of
interest recommended by members of the Board of Aldermen, nominated by the Mayor of the City of St. Louis, and confirmed by the full Board of Aldermen.

Be appointed on August 15, 2023, and every ten years thereafter, or upon the certification of a petition signed by five percent of city registered voters who voted in the last general election for mayor, and discharge its duties and cease to exist within one year of its first public meeting.

Solicit public input and consult experts to consider revisions
to the City Charter, and, in accordance with the provisions of
the Missouri Constitution, submit proposed amendments to the qualified voters for approval, which amendments shall go into effect subject to a three-fifths vote in favor. YES – FOR THE PROPOSITION

From sample ballot

I think it makes sense to continually look at the charter for areas to improve. If approved they could start with replacing our every other year primary & general elections with a single ranked-choice/instant runoff election for races with 3+ candidates.

The other proposition on the ballot is related to Missouri’s new adult-use recreational cannabis sales — specifically a local tax.

(Additional Sales Tax on Retail Sale of Adult Use Marijuana)
Shall the City of St. Louis impose an additional sales tax of three percent (3 percent) on the retail sale of adult use non- medical marijuana?

From sample ballot

Again, I voted yes because 3% is a small amount and it’ll help pay for local municipal services. This tax isn’t applicable to those of us with medical cannabis cards.

Lastly there’s three candidates for two 4-year terms on the St. Louis Board of Education and two candidates for one 6-year term as a trustee of the St. Louis Community College. Voters in DeBaliviere Place are also voting on a special taxing district.

For more information on this election and early/absentee voting see the Board of Elections. Another great source is Ballotpedia.

— Steve
St. Louis urban planning, policy, and politics @ UrbanReviewSTL since October 31, 2004. For additional content please consider following on Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, and/or Twitter.


My Zip Code Has the Lowest Average Credit Scores in the St. Louis Region

March 20, 2023 Economy, Featured Comments Off on My Zip Code Has the Lowest Average Credit Scores in the St. Louis Region

A new database uses average credit scores as a measure of a community’s financial wellbeing:

The Financial Wellness Index dashboard and mapping – created in partnership with Experian – provides a unique snapshot of a community’s financial health as measured by the average credit scores of its residents. Credit scores are important because they affect residents’ ability to borrow, the likelihood they can be resilient during difficult times, and their ability to achieve financial goals like purchasing a home or starting a business. — Operation Hope

I checked the zip codes for both sides of the Mississippi River and my zip code (63106) was the lowest of all, hence the worst in terms of financial health. There’s a direct correlation between primarily using currency instead of credit cards and having lower credit scores.

Before going further a brief credit score 101 is necessary:
We don’t have just one credit score, we have numerous. There are 3 major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian). Each maintains a file on our loans, credit cards, payments, etc. Each will vary slightly from the others, even without errors.
Credit scores are calculated based on information from one of the three credit bureaus, but there are two major formulas used currently: FICO8 and VantageScore 3.0. Both scoring methods use a range of 300-850.

The credit bureaus collect information voluntarily reported to them. Many payments such as utilities, rent, handshake loans, etc haven’t been reported because it involves extra work to do so. When I was a landlord I don’t think there was a way to report payments/delinquencies by my tenants — but technology is changing to allow more into the files.

Ok, end of credit scores lesson.

Average credit score for 63106 as of March 20, 2023. Click image to view wellness index and check out your zip code.

The Operation Hope database uses Experian data and the VantageScore 3.0 formula. The national average was 698, Missouri & Illinois averaged 694 & 702, respectively. The City of St. Louis had an average of 681. My zip code (63106), just north of downtown & downtown west was just 589.

Downtown (63101) & downtown west (63103) both averaged 645. This is low, but it’s nearly 60 points higher than the adjacent zip code of 63106.

The 7 city zip codes mostly north of Delmar average 604, the highest is 63112 (646)– which includes the Debaliviere & Debaliviere Place neighborhoods. Credit scores in five of the seven north side zip codes are between 589-601. In the rest of the city the lowest average is 619 (63111), the highest is 714 (63139).

What do these numbers mean?

VantageScore rates them as such:
300-499: Very Poor
500-600: Poor
601-660: Fair
661-780: Good
781+ Excellent

Again the average score (Experian/VantageScore 3.0) for my zip code of 11k people is 589. Individually that’s a Poor score. What about from a community perspective? I think the same classifications apply. If the average is 589, what are the low and high scores? After decades of low scores, mine have all been in the classification for over three years now.

Poor credit scores prevent people from getting loans altogether, or at least without paying through the nose interest rates. This might look like buying an overpriced well-use car at a ”we finance anyone” place to get wheels to get to work. The high rate of interest means the payments are steep. The dealer doesn’t care if you pay in full because they can repo and resell to someone else.

While a prospective employer or landlord can’t see your specific score, they can ask your permission to see your credit report. A lack of credit history, or bad history, can mean a person needs to keep looking for a job or apartment.

What does this have to do with cash, printed currency? A lot!

Today, roughly four-in-ten Americans (41%) say none of their purchases in a typical week are paid for using cash, up from 29% in 2018 and 24% in 2015, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Pew Research

I’m in that ”none” group. I use cash only for the occasional lottery ticket or very rare medical cannabis purchase. But many are the opposite, using cash for everything. Back to Pew Research:

Americans with lower incomes continue to be more reliant on cash than those who are more affluent. Three-in-ten Americans whose household income falls below $30,000 a year say they use cash for all or almost all of their purchases in a typical week. That share drops to 20% among those in households earning $30,000 to $49,999 and 6% among those living in households earning $50,000 or more a year.

Even so, growing shares of Americans across income groups are relying less on cash than in previous years. This is especially the case among the highest earners: Roughly six-in-ten adults whose annual household income is $100,000 or more (59%) say they make none of their typical weekly purchases using cash, up from 43% in 2018 and 36% in 2015.

There are also differences by race and ethnicity in cash usage. Roughly a quarter of Black adults (26%) and 21% of Hispanic adults say that all or almost all of their purchases in a typical week are paid for using cash, compared with 12% of White adults who say the same.

Pew Research

The areas with the lowest credit scores are the same as those that use cash almost exclusively. Can’t expect a good credit score if you never/rarely use credit!

The part that stumps me is how to change the current paradigm. It’s necessary as the population increasingly goes cashless, otherwise those on the economic fringe will be even more isolated financially they are currently. Future posts on credit scores will look at how the scoring models have improved since their inception, what still needs to be done, how can the region lift scores — and how this will indirectly reduce crime.

— Steve
St. Louis urban planning, policy, and politics @ UrbanReviewSTL since October 31, 2004. For additional content please consider following on Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, and/or X (Twitter).