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Legal Wrangling Over Century Building and Parking Garage that Mocks the Century Continues

Readers of the St. Louis Business Journal were treated last week to another of their one-sided near press release type articles, this time an update on the latest in the lawsuits between interested parties of the 9th Street Garage (that over lit monstrosity facing the Old Post Office) and two citizens that happen to be friends of mine, Marcia Behrendt & Roger Plackemeier. The latest? Well, the developers (and city and state agencies) are filing a motion to have attorney Matt Ghio named as a defendant as well.

I should back up a bit here and explain how we got to where we are today. In short, Behrendt & Plackemeier both sued a long list of people over the plan to raze the Century Building for the construction of a parking garage. Various lawsuits focused on process, such as approvals, as well as the official downtown plan which indicated no parking garage should face the Old Post Office. Behrendt & Plackemeier were seeking to save the Century Building which was individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Once the building demolition was underway, as these citizens could not post bond sufficient to get a restraining order, their suits became moot. However, the developers and others came back and sued them with malicious prosecution. This is basically a legal way of suing if someone sues you with no basis — if they sued you simply to be disruptive. However, in the case of Behrendt & Plackemeier I know that they were seeking to save a historic structure from meeting an untimely mess and to protect their personal property interests. Proving Behrendt and Plackemeier had no foundation for their lawsuits it a tough legal challenge. This brings us current.

Now, the Business Journal is talking about a motion filed by the developers seeking to name Behrendt & Plackemeier’s attorney Matt Ghio as a defendant. They seek to add two counts of “abuse of process” to the claim of malicious prosecution. Although the developers just filed their motion and the judge has not ruled, later in the article writer Christopher Tritto calls them a “trio of defendants.” Uh, maybe it is best to wait for the judge to determine that?

Today the garage is finished and damn if it ain’t boring as, well, a parking garage. Recently I was at a function on the top of the Metropolitan Building and the most visible building downtown was this parking structure. The lighting level are so bright we don’t even need street lights. At least it doesn’t have mag wheels attached to it like the one over on 7th. The Old Post Office Square area is also boring, very little to do. The most visibly active of the tenants in the building is the Pasta House Pronto which seldom has any customers on the times I’ve been there. The razing of the Century and construction of yet another downtown parking garage is Slay’s equal to Schoemehl’s Gateway One decision — controversial at the time and in hindsight a very poor decision.

I personally applaud Behrendt & Plackemeier for their continued fight in this battle. Of course, when you are being sued for a million dollars you kinda have to keep fighting.


Blogging from a Panel About Blogging

November 1, 2007 Media, Travel 1 Comment

So I am in Miami at the annual Rail~Volution conference. This afternoon I am on a panel with Kathy Albert, Sound Transit; Effie Stallsmith, Federal Transportation Administration; Phillip Jacques, URS Corporation; Jeff Wood, Reconnecting America & The Overhead Wire.

I’ve set up wireless in the room for this event. We are getting set up right now. Come back at 2pm St. Louis time for more. The following items are in reverse order, the latest is right below here.

5:30pm – I’m back.  Had to close up shop at the end of our presentation.  Had a good veggie burger over on Washington Ave @ 14th Street.  I’m back in my hotel room about to head over to the beach.  There are a few clouds out but everyone is headed to the beach.  So, I’m grabbing the lawn chair out of room closet and heading across the street.

2:46pm – Showing YouTube video on RSS Feeds, highly recommended.

2:45pm – Jeff also has a transit aggregator, called City Transit Advocates.

2:43pm – Jeff talking about his blog, The Overhead Wire.

2:40pm – Video he created added to YouTube. Funny part, they can’t see it from work.

2:35pm – Showing image of a proposed train station added to Google Earth.

2:33pm – Great visuals, give the public a great perspective on what the completed project might look like.

2:30pm – Phillip Jacques showing great slide show, created mostly from Sketch-Up.

2:28pm – MySpace.com is a great option for transit agencies. San Antonio has a great site on MySpace.

2:25pm – PlaceMatters.com is a website mentioned by Effie. Very interesting site.

2:18pm – Effie is showing different transit sites from all over the country, with some of the options for showing basic information. Many are using video and real time data relative to “boring” stats.

2:10pm – Effie is talking about visualization, a requirement of federal law. Basically this is a way of talking about visual communication — being able to see what is proposed. Obviously, it would be hard to communicate without visual clues.

2:00pm – Kathy Albert is getting the event started. Kathy is introducing the topic and the panelists.

1:25pm – We’ve gone through our roles and we are ready to go. Effie will be first.


Two St. Louis Blogs Make ‘Top 100 Architecture Blogs’ List

October 25, 2007 Media, STL Region 6 Comments

Congratulations to Toby Weiss and Andrew Raimist for making a list of the top 100 architecture blogs.  International Luxury Home website ‘International Listings’ created the diverse list.

48. B.E.L.T.: This blog is about “Built Environment in Layman’s Terms.” But, the photography is by Toby Weiss, an architectural photographer. Once again, this blog was difficult to classify so it ended up as a niche blog since the writing is as interesting as the photographs.

76. Architectural Ruminations: Andrew Raimist, from Raimist Architecture, Inc., offers his perspectives on St. Louis, Missouri, modern architecture including works of modern architect Harris Armstrong, and Raimist’s photographs. 

Congrats to these two for the widespread recognition of their work.  Click here to view the full list.


Tune Into KDHX (88.1FM) Tonight at 7pm

October 22, 2007 Media Comments Off on Tune Into KDHX (88.1FM) Tonight at 7pm

I’ll be a guest on tonight’s Collateral Damage program with hosts DJ Wilson and Fred Hessel. Discussion topics will include Larry Rice’s Energy Center and yesterday’s rally at City Hall. No radio? No problem — you can tune in online.


Urban Review Voted Best Blog, Michael Allen Named Best Gadfly

September 26, 2007 Media, Site Info 9 Comments

The ballots are in & counted and the Rivertfront Times’ annual Best of St. Louis issue is out on the streets. This year the RFT editors named ‘From the Mayor’s Desk as their pick for best blog. For the second year in a row, RFT readers voted UrbanReviewSTL the best blog in St. Louis. Three years ago, in a new category, the RFT named UrbanReviewSTL the “Best Civic-Minded Blog.” To everyone that took time to vote for UrbanReviewSTL in the poll this year — Thank You! Thank you to my guest writers and everyone that takes time to comment on the various topics. Your voice — even when disagreeing with mine — is an important part of the dialog that takes place daily in this corner of the blogosphere.
Last year the RFT editors named me “Best Gadfly” with the honor this year deservedly going to Michael Allen of the Ecology of Absence for his digging on the Blairmont/Paul McKee/Tax Credit issue in North St. Louis. Congrats Michael.

Again I want to thank everyone that voted — it is a real honor. I also appreciate all the emails I receive from the many readers here. I just reviewed the hundreds of such emails I have received just this year and pulled out a partial selection that is representative of the type I receive. For privacy purposes, I have deleted some information so as not to identify those emailing me. A few are from the same person but most are from separate persons.

“I have been reading your blog for some months now, and love what you are doing for our city. I live in [suburb name deleted], but I am very interested in city architecture and design. As I am the mother of two young children, and push a wide double stroller, I love to see people being forced to look at sidewalk issues.” – S

“I read your blog about running for office. Is there a standard location for running for office? and all you must do? is it better to run as an independent or as a green party candidate or democrat? locally, I think I would prefer independent or green party candidate, but party affiliation might be helpful. I would like more information.” – R

“Thanks for your great website, and sorry for the long-winded e-mail!” – B [SLP: it wasn’t long at all]

“Would you go over and visit the people at Harry’s on Market St. regarding the Valet parking issue? In spite of the fact that they have an off street parking lot, they still block so much of their street that you have to walk a ways to the restaurant in the evening even when nobody is there. Thanks for dealing with Washington Ave. I couldn’t believe the number of places that had been co-opted by the valets even on slow nights.” – T

“I heard your KDHX interview tonight and I was impressed. Calm, well-informed, thoughtful!” – T

“We have been trying to collect information on other development that is planned or in the works in the area but have been met with a wall of silence. Any contact information and/or knowledge of development would be greatly appreciated.” – A

“Thanks a lot and I love what you are doing. Your exposure within the city has increased dramatically this year. I’ve see 3 news stories with you in it, in just January alone. Keep up the good work and I look forward to what else you will do for St. Louis!” – A

“Thanks for everything you do for St. Louis. We’re lucky to have you.” – W

“I’ve been a fan of your site for quite a while. It’s interesting to see the things you’ve taken on. It’s also nice to see your investigative journalism skills. Keep it up.” – A

“I want to let you know that I have learned so much from your website. Thanks for educating the masses.” – D — “I think your site does a great service for st louis and is a valuable resource.” – F

“Steve, I have heard many good things about your website and your ability to get things done in the city. I would like to run some stuff by you and am not really comfortable doing it online. [deleted] said he has talked to you in person and I am wondering if you would be willing to meet with me at sometime? I am at a loss as to who to go to with some city issues–one of the reasons I have to be careful is because I work for the city.” – [initial withheld just to be safe]

“Keep up the good work. I find that people I talk with, love Stl, and don’t really see how we can do things better. I love how you show we can do things better.” – D

“We read your blog quite regularly and in living in the city it really has changed our mindset in terms of issues which I now realize greatly affect me and my community. Thanks for your continued writing as all those that I have referred to your blog have sincerely enjoyed its postings.” – R

“Cities need more folks like you. So first and foremost, thanks for your insight and civic spirit.” – E

“By the way, I enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for all your work.” – H

“Also, just wanted to say I have been reading Urban Review for 1.5 years now. You have really made me think about urban issues and made me miss my home town.” – M

“Hey Steve, keep up the muckraking.” – A

“Great blog. I grew up in St. Louis but have lived in Chicago for the last ten years. We are now moving back home to St. Louis in a few months, albeit with mixed feelings. It is nice to see someone that cares about St. Louis and its development.” – B

“Just wanted to let you know I really like the new calender function.” – S

“Steve, thank you so much for coming today to the BoA meeting about 3557/59 Halliday.” – B

“Enjoyed reading your blog. I noticed we have a lot in common. I am currently looking to attend grad school at SLU.” – A

“I’m a casual reader of urbanreviewstl; I check on it about once a month. I generally like the work you’re doing here, tho I may not agree with everything. Just most things :-)” – M

“Just wanted to thank you. My hobby, believe it or not, is urban exploration. I love cities and I had just gotten an announcement from Frontier Airlines that they were adding Wichita to their flight paths. So, I thought, hmm. Wichita. Kansas. Dorothy. Glen Camp bell. Prairie. Dust. Dust in the Wind. Kansas.” – J

“Any updates on Loughborough Commons? How about the new homes being built near Robert Ave and Field? How about the casino that is to be built in south county? How about the shopping center that is planned on Weber Road? Metro Link in south St. Louis and south county? I love your web site, I read it nightly.” – W

“I think your blog is one of the coolest and hippest, while most up to date…asking all the right questions in Saint Louis. I know that you and I have spoken on various topics and we both know that we’re strong in our opinions. I appreciate talking with you about topics as many times it puts a new slant on the topic or I realize that my reasoning isn’t as strong as I originally thought. I know that you have a large following of readers, and I congratulate you for inciting discussion and thought on what is happening in the City.” – B

“Great blog you have here. I just visited my brother who lives in University City over the weekend and from what I saw of the STL metro area, I liked the area a lot. My wife and I are considering a relocation from the Chicago suburbs if we can ever sell our house up here and then get some jobs. I cam across your blog and found it very informative.” – E

“Thanks for keeping me so informed AND entertained!” – C

“I found your Blog through some random Google searches. I was happy to stumble onto it. I think it was the “Urban Review” language that first caught my eye.

I like your style…

My wife and I are moving to St. Louis as part of the big AG Edwards merger. We currently live in…” – T

And from a personal friend of mine that lives out of state:

“Hi … tis Friday afternoon … kind of bored at work … very quiet … so, take this as a compliment … I started reading your blog … you crack me up. Some of your writings and articles are funny. Thanks for the laughs today.” – E

Thank you to everyone that has taken the time to read UrbanReviewSTL, for commenting, for emailing and in general for giving a damn about the future of the city & region. The comments are open for your views if you care to share your thoughts. Peace, Steve