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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:

FESTIVALS

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.

STREET GRID, TRAFFIC FLOW

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.

HALLWAY

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

 

Sunday Poll: Support or oppose MSD plan to raze vacant buildings to reduce water runoff?

Please vote below
Please vote below

In the news recently:

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District wants to spend $13.5 million of its own money to tear down vacant properties. Grassy lots would let stormwater slowly percolate into the ground instead of rushing into the combined sewer system that serves much of St. Louis.

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. (Post-Dispatch)

So I want to know if this is something you support or oppose?

This unscientific poll will remain open until 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Support or Oppose the Closure of Chestnut St in front of Soldiers Memorial?

Please vote below
Please vote below

Earlier this year approval was given for the Missouri History Museum to take over the city-owned Soldiers Memorial Museum, the agreement was finalized last month. A preliminary sketch showed Chestnut St closed to vehicles, allowing the WWI Memorial building to connect with the WWI/Korean War/Vietnam War memorial to the South. Final designs will be presented early next year.

It is unclear if the street is closed to vehicles, if the city’s only parking-protected bike bike lane would be interrupted.  Which brings us to today’s poll:

The poll will be open until 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

When City Hall Being For Sale Is A Good Thing

December 18, 2015 Featured, History/Preservation, Metro East, Planning & Design, Real Estate Comments Off on When City Hall Being For Sale Is A Good Thing

The right buyer can buy city hall — O’Fallon Illinois’ former city hall.

Former City Hall in O'Fallon IL, 200 N. Lincoln. Click for map.
Former City Hall in O’Fallon IL, 200 N. Lincoln. Click image for map.
The Lincoln facade
The Lincoln facade
Close up of entry. The address shown is the current city hall.
Close up of entry. The address shown is the current city hall.
Washington St facade
Washington St facade
The fire department and school district are on the same block
The fire department and school district are on the same block

From their request for proposals:

The City of O’Fallon is soliciting proposals from qualified developers and/or organizations willing to invest funds to purchase and improve Old City Hall and bring it back to a productive use that will integrate well into the neighborhood. Old City Hall is an approximately 4,500 square foot GFA, two-story brick building originally constructed in 1890. It is a locally designated landmark which requires review of changes to the exterior of the building, but does not affect remodeling of the interior of the structure. All proposals should seek to preserve and enhance the architectural character of the building. Proposals that involve demolition will not be considered. The building is located inside the Central City TIF district, created in June 2015 (more information available at www.ofallon.org/economic-development-division). As publicly-owned property, the site has no Equalized Assessed Value, which allows all property taxes to be considered increment.

Currently, Old City Hall and O’Fallon Fire Station #1 are together on one parcel (PARCEL ID 04-29.0-120- 008). All proposals should note how much of the adjacent land and parking area, if any, is desired as part of the proposed redevelopment project. The City anticipates that the resulting lot would likely be no more than 0.27 acres (see attached map). The City also expects that the property will have to be rezoned from the current SR-3

(Single Family Residence District) to another appropriate district to accommodate the types of uses likely to be proposed as a part of this RFP process. It will be the responsibility of the selected developer to obtain any and all necessary zoning changes, variances, building permits, and other approvals to facilitate the development of this property.

Old City Hall most recently housed the O’Fallon Fire Department administrative offices, but has only been used for storage since 2009. As the property has been out of use for many years, the City does not have much definitive information about the current condition of the property. As mentioned in the Environmental Conditions section below, the City is aware of the presence of asbestos and mold. The building also has other issues including: degrading/rotting wooden windows, tuckpointing and masonry repair, necessary repairs and upgrades to bathrooms, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems. The property will be sold “as is.”

I’m glad demolition will not be considered!  Hopefully they’ll get some creative proposals.

— Steve Patterson

 

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