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Where is Dogtown?

I know where Dogtown is in St. Louis, but that wasn’t always the case.

Looking at the city’s list of neighborhoods you won’t find a listing for “Dogtown”

Dogtown is generally the three areas known officially as Clayton Tamm, Ellendale and Franz Park.  Does anyone outside these three areas use these names? Doubtful.

– Steve Patterson


Shaming Owners of Rundown Properties

St. Louis could learn something from Webster.  No, not the suburb Webster Groves, Webster Mass:

WEBSTER, Mass. – The health board in a Massachusetts town has approved a plan to shame owners of rundown buildings into fixing and securing their properties.The plan approved Monday by the Webster board allows the town to place 4-by-8-foot signs on the sides of dilapidated buildings with the owner’s names, address and telephone number. (Mass. town approves plan to shame property owners)

St. Louis could just print lots of signs with the same info — no, not Paul McKee:

lraThe LRAreceives title to all tax delinquent properties not sold at the Sheriff’s sale. Also receives title to properties through donations. The SLDC Real Estate Department maintains, markets, and sells these properties and performs land assemblage for future development.” Maintains?

– Steve Patterson


Is Food The Secret Ingredient To Revitalizing Neighborhoods, Commercial Districts?

I’m a foodie! So much so I started a second blog, The Budget Vegetarian Foodie, to express my thoughts on food. But lately, I’m starting to think about the roll of food in revitalizing neighborhoods, commercial districts and entire inner cities.  Hear me out.

Although independent restaurants do exist in the far suburbs, those areas are known for ubiquitous chains.  The core of any major metropolitan region you have far fewer chains but lots of locally owned establishments.

Recently I was in the Walgreen’s at North Grand and ML King when the guard asked out loud if anyone knew where Crown Candy was located.  I responded, “14th & St. Louis Avenue.” As I reached my car he asked if I had time to show someone where it was located.  I did so I agreed. When we got to the intersection I pulled over to chat with the two women — in their Social Security years and from out of state — they had a list of 5-5 restaurants and wanted to know where they were located. One seemed to know the region a bit.  I love food tourists!

ABOVE: Chef at the North City Farmers' Market prepares summer rolls
ABOVE: Chef at the North City Farmers' Market prepares summer rolls

Farmers’ markets are gaining in popularity throughout the St. Louis region. The chef above also made an awesome ratatouille entirely from

Sidewalk cafes work great in walkable neighborhoods where sidewalks exist — much different than sitting in front of a Qdoba facing the parking lot of the Walmart Super Center. The process of bringing in food, I think, will bring people:

As the rate of obesity, diabetes and other nutrition-related health problems rise in the U.S., focus is again turning to low-income neighborhoods that have few healthy food options. Food co-ops are stepping in, in some underserved communities. (NPR)

The NPR story features the recently opened Old North Grocery Co-Op (a non-profit I donate advertising space on this blog) but mentions the model is being used throughout the country.  While proving healthy food options for those without access outside a small area, these efforts are also a draw for the middle class. We all eat and for many who desire living in a walkable urban environment seek local places to buy food – grocery stores and restaurants.

ABOVE: Vendor sells Mexican grilled corn at the downtown farmers' market.

From my observations I’d say the following need to be considered when looking to revitalize a neighborhood:

  1. A grocery store(s) within a 1/4 mile walk of most residents. A place where a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits can be purchased with few processed foods offered.
  2. A seasonal farmers’ market, with actual farmers.
  3. A community garden.
  4. A variety of locally owned cafes, bakeries and restaurants so that someone has a choice for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night on weekends.
  5. An open policy toward food vendors with carts & trucks.

In short, attract the foodies and you will create a buzz for your commercial area.  Once you’ve got a commercial district with a positive buzz people will want to live nearby.  Of course revitalization is more complicated than I presented here. We should discuss over a good meal at a sidewalk cafe.

– Steve Patterson


Five years since the Praxair explosion

June 24, 2010 Neighborhoods 6 Comments

Five years ago today the normally quiet Lafayette Square neighborhood was rocked by a massive explosion at the Praxair industrial gas facility on Chouteau:

ST. LOUIS – A blaze at an industrial plant sent huge fireballs shooting into the sky Friday afternoon, casting a towering cloud of black smoke over the area as traffic backed up and nearby residents evacuated their homes.

There were no injuries, St. Louis Fire Chief Sherman George said. There also was no word on the cause of the rapid-fire series of spectacular explosions at Praxair Distribution, which processes propane and other gases for industrial use.  (Source)

Video from a nearby resident:

Today the building and site remain vacant.  The 4 acre site, located at 2210 Chouteau, is listed for $2,250,000.

ABOVE: the burned out structure remains
ABOVE: the burned out structure remains

Nearby residents started Praxair Watch to oppose the reopening of the facility.

The 2.105 acre site to the east is listed for $750,000.  Between the two sites is a former street, Mackay Place:

ABOVE: the former Mackay Place with the Praxair site on the right
ABOVE: the former Mackay Place with the Praxair site on the right

This former street is owned by the same limited liability corporation that owns the site to the east.

The Praxair explosion was featured on an episode of the History Channel’s Modern Marvels as an “engineering disaster.”

– Steve Patterson


Project destroyed by 2006 arson fire getting rebuilt

February 5, 2010 Neighborhoods, South City Comments Off on Project destroyed by 2006 arson fire getting rebuilt
ABOVE: morning of June 14, 2006

A few years ago St. Louis experienced some high profile arson fires. In April 2006 a condo project under construction on South Grand was totally destroyed.  Then in June 2006 two separate projects in Lafayette Square were torched.  A year later, to the day, an arsonist destroyed an apartment complex under construction.  All but one were rebuilt, finished and have been occupied for a while.

ABOVE: destroyed building finally being replaced.
ABOVE: destroyed building finally being replaced.

The other day I noticed the last of the damaged buildings going up on Mississippi Ave. .  It is nice to see this hole facing Lafayette Park get filled in.

– Steve Patterson