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Former St. Liborius Church Complex Fits Beautifully in the Street Grid

October 21, 2022 Featured, History/Preservation, North City Comments Off on Former St. Liborius Church Complex Fits Beautifully in the Street Grid

A major reason why I decided to make St. Louis my home back in August 1990 was the complex street grid and the buildings that neatly fit into it. One of the finest examples of fitting into our decidedly non-orthogonal street grid is the former St. Liborius Church complex, bounded by Hogan, North Market & 18th streets. This is where two different grids collided (View in Google Maps).  When two grids of different orientations met the result was often awkward — this created very interesting buildings on non-rectangular sites. The views looking down streets as they bend into another grid alignment can be spectacular.

Looking east on North Market in September 2011. The former convent is in the center, the church on the right.

St. Liborius was a catholic parish founded by German immigrants on October 21, 1856 – 166 years ago today. In the 1850 census St. Louis had a population of 77,860 — that was a 372.8% increase over the 1840 census. By 1880 the population was 350,5218.

In March 1888 work on the foundation was underway, their existing church & school were a few blocks to the west. In June of that year it was reported the cost was $100,000 and “much of it was on hand.” In 2022 money that’s like $3.124 million!

“The church was completed in 1889. The rectory was built the following year and the convent was built in 1905. The School Sisters of Notre Dame taught in the parish school from 1859 to 1969. The parish buildings were declared a City Landmark in 1975 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.” (Wikipedia)

The year after the church opened the 1890 census showed the St. Louis population had grown to 451,770.

Let’s take a look at the church and surroundings in 1909.

The October 1909 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows the church, convent, and rectory –plus a school & other structures on the site. Only the 3 circled in green remain, everything else in this view is gone. Click image to view full page of the 1909 map. Pink is masonry, yellow is wood frame.

The 1910 population was 687,029. By this point the parish was more than half a century old, the sanctuary more than two decades. In late August I finally got up close to the buildings, and saw inside the sanctuary.

Getting closer we can see the front relationship between the convent and church
Around the north we see a brick wall where the school had been.
Inside the wall we see the large space between the sanctuary and convent.
The rectory faces 18th Street. With the grade change the 2nd floor of the rectory connects to the main floor of the back of the sanctuary. Great use of topography.
Back around near the front corner of the church we see the back of the rectory. Additional buildings were to the right in 1909.

In my 32+ years in St. Louis I’ve seen too many great 19th century buildings fall apart due to neglect & abandonment. I’ve feared the loss of these. But the former convent is owned by Karen House, a catholic worker house. The sanctuary & rectory are owned by SK8 Liborius — a skate park.

The interior of the church was stripped after closing in 1992. It’s great seeing indoor ramps in the space. Photo by David Frank.

The other use for an old sanctuary I’d like to see would be as a vertical hydroponics farm.

— Steve Patterson

 

I’m Now More Optimistic (Less Pesemistic?) About The Next NGA West Campus

October 18, 2022 Featured, Neighborhoods, North City, Planning & Design Comments Off on I’m Now More Optimistic (Less Pesemistic?) About The Next NGA West Campus

A decade ago the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), located near Anheuser-Busch brewery, announced it intended to build a new campus. If you’re not familiar with the NGA here’s how they describe themselves:

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) delivers world-class geospatial intelligence that provides a decisive advantage to policymakers, military service members, intelligence professionals and first responders. 

Anyone who sails a U.S. ship, flies a U.S. aircraft, makes national policy decisions, fights wars, locates targets, responds to natural disasters, or even navigates with a cellphone relies on NGA. (NGA)

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The NGA site is a big chunk of the St. Louis Place neighborhood. The latest documents call it 97 acres, not 99 on this image used in a prior post.

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I just couldn’t see how building a large high security military facility was going to be a positive for the immediate area — people would drive in for work, maybe drive out for lunch, then drive home at night. Having seen the secure entrance to their current facility numerous times it’s not welcoming, nor pedestrian oriented.

Current NGA entrance, 2015

This February 2016 concept was prior to the final decision of the St. Louis Place site in April 2016

In the concept above we see structures in the center of the site, not edges — for security. In the very center is 7 separate buildings, with a parking garage to the north & south (left & right). If you’ve been watching the construction taking place you know NGA’s actual design is different than St. Louis’ concept rendering. Again, the concept above was part of the successful St. Louis effort to have the site at Jefferson & Cass selected.

Construction of a parking garage in September 2021, as seen from the #04 Metrobus

Last month us residents participating in the process to create new plans for the 6 neighborhoods around NGA (St. Louis Place, Old North, Hyde Park, JeffVanderLou, Carr Square, and Columbus Square) were invited on site for an open house.

The open house was at Gate 3, off of Cass Ave. There was a presentation in the parking area, then we got to go up into the viewing tower on the right for a better view. Yes, I slowly walked up the flight of steps.

Photography & video were not allowed, but we were given a site plan for the actual design. To my knowledge this is the first site plan the public has seen of this project.

Site plan distributed last month, click image to see a larger version.

Finally seeing what the NGA is actually building gives my some hope that it can potentially have a positive impact on the trajectory of North St. Louis. My concern had been this becoming a big barrier, especially once the intact street grid was erased. Well, it’s still a barrier but the employees within the grounds will have opportunities to come & go relatively easily as pedestrians. Hopefully this will translate to businesses east, south, and west of the site.

I was also concerned about a line of cars on Jefferson Ave to enter the site.

There will be two “Access control points” for those driving to work — one in the NW & SE corners of the site. Each has a curved drive to give cars room to queue up without blocking through traffic on Parnell or 22nd. This design also means vehicles can’t get a good straight run at trying to crash through the gate.  All cars entering the facility are examined, especially for explosives.

The inspection facility in the NW corner will allow trucks with deliveries to unload and leave out the alley on the north. Items will be inspected before being loaded onto a secure truck for delivery to the main building.

You can see a sidewalk out to Jefferson. The SW corner of the site is the intersection of Jefferson & Cass avenues. The security fencing will be set way back from Cass to allow a corner park/plaza space and visitor parking. A park that’s not behind a security fence? They’ll allow visitors?

A visitor’s center will be adjacent to the visitor parking. This center is where guests will go through security. Apparently the main building is compartmentalized such that visitors can be allowed in part without risking security in the remainder. It will have an outdoor courtyard in the center of the building.

The SE corner of the site (22nd & Cass) is the other access control point — accessed via 22nd Street, not Cass Ave. Along 22nd Street is where I hope to see businesses in the existing buildings, or maybe urban new construction. Perhaps places workers see driving in/out so they decide to walk to them at lunch.

I think 22nd & Cass will likely become a signalized intersection, possibly another at the other access point.  I use the #32 bus along Cass Ave at times so I’m curious about the nearest bus stop to Jefferson — right now the westbound bus stop is before 22nd Street, so a long distance from Jefferson. No bus stops are shown on the site plan. Across Cass Ave to the south is the mostly vacant former Pruitt-Igoe site. How this gets developed will determine the long-term success of the area. I hope we don’t get a free-standing Starbucks with or without a drive-thru.  A coffeehouse on the ground floor of a multi-story building on the SE corner of Cass & Jefferson would be great.

Knowing NGA employees can get in/out of the site pretty easy as a pedestrian is encouraging.  The construction will be finished in 2025, the NGA expects to relocate to this new facility in 2026.

— Steve Patterson

 

Potential North-South & County Light Rail Line Should Include ‘Green Track’

June 30, 2022 Environment, Featured, North City, Planning & Design, Public Transit, Transportation Comments Off on Potential North-South & County Light Rail Line Should Include ‘Green Track’

No, I don’t want the rails to be painted green. Instead I want the space between the rails to be green with vegetation, where possible.

Why? Aesthetics, cooler temperatures, management of stormwater runoff, etc.

Pre-Katrina you could see natural green track in New Orleans LA, April 2004

Green track isn’t limited to only historic lines, it’s increasingly common in Europe with some limited use in North America.

Over more than 6 (six) decades Green Tracks are popular through out Europe in dense urban areas. They are a fantastic tool to mitigate stormwater issues, to reduce noise and certainly to beautify their integration. Green light rail tracks demonstrate environmental responsibility and they value their customers by making things nice, green and beautiful. Today there are over 500 miles of Green light-rail tracks in Europe.

The living green layers within and around the tracks reduces the noiseand absorbs stormwater. Thus, reducing combined sewer overflow. Modern track systems are typically Ballastless Tracks or Slab Track systems. Basically, a traditional elastic combination of ties/sleepers and ballast is replaced by a rigid construction of concrete or asphalt. Because such systems are ideal for greenery, it is even possible to create additional stormwater retention and detention from surrounding impervious areas with the system.

Already, in 1995 Green Roof Technology filed patents for greening systems on Ballastless Track systems. Currently there are around 300 miles of green tracks in Germany alone. As a result, these tracks eliminate at least 150,000 gallons of water per years from entering the combined sewer system.

In North America, Baltimore started with some experimental Green Light-rail Tracks in 2011 insisting on Sedum mats. The testing was less promising because Sedum mono-cultures are not a good choice for most green light-rail track system. Unfortunately the advice from Green Roof Technology using a smart mixtures of grasses, herbs and wildflowers was not heard. Some call it learning by doing – well – they just don’t do it. (Green Roof Technology).

Typically rails are supported by ballasts, treated wood or concrete pieces set into the ground perpendicular to the rail. Our original 1993 light rail line used wood ballast, the 2006 Shrewsbury extension (aka Blue) line was constructed with longer-lasting concrete ballasts.

Our current lines are Red & Blue so naturally I’d like this new line to be the Green Line. Green track for the Green Line!

It can’t be everywhere, but in many places it can be. A lot of the new line would be in the center of Natural Bridge, which recently went through a quick traffic calming project that reduced vehicle travel lanes to one per direction. Adjacent to Fairgrounds Park the center is green — would be greener if not on top of asphalt.

Looking east toward Grand

Looking west from the same location.

I think the green looks nice, helps keep the area slightly cooler.

While we’re on the subject of alternatives to impervious concrete, another would be water — yes, wet track! Rail going through a fountain…

Not sure if or where this might work, but I think it’s very interesting. Perhaps on Jefferson near the stop near Olive or Market? Guests in new hotels could look down from their rooms and see transit & water converge.

I’d just like us to consider something other than boring ordinary impervious paving.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sportsman’s Park (later known as Busch Stadium) Reopened 120 Years Ago Today

April 23, 2022 Featured, North City, Popular Culture Comments Off on Sportsman’s Park (later known as Busch Stadium) Reopened 120 Years Ago Today

The baseball diamond bounded by Dodier, Grand, Sullivan, and Spring is commonly called Sportsman’s Park, but it has had many names during the century prior to the Herbert Hoover Boys Club taking over the site. When I decided to write a post about this I naïvely thought it would be fairly simple to do. Instead it got more complicated (and interesting) than I anticipated.

PART OF CROWD OF 26,248 AT BASEBALL GAME AT SPORTSMANS PARK, 1 JUNE 1943. VIEW FROM RIGHT FIELD WING OF GRANDSTAND. Source: Missouri Historical Society.

This post will be about this location, plus some others where baseball has been played in St. Louis — not about the sport or some great play in a game. This post is presented as a  chronological timeline, but there are many gaps & details not researched. At the end I’ll discuss the urban planning issues around these sites, such as building codes, land use, zoning, public transit, parking, etc.

The following is from various sources, not all independently verified.

  • October 16 1834: Augustus Solari born in Switzerland. He’s an important figure in St. Louis baseball stadiums…keep reading.
  • 1860: Solari marries Louisa Sartore. She was also born in Switzerland (1837). Wedding location unknown.
  • 1866: Augustus Solari acquires land in St. Louis that will eventually become Sportsman’s Park. He’s a recent immigrant, 31 or 32 years old at the time and a father of 3 at this point.
  • 1867: Augustus Solari begins staging baseball games at the Grand Avenue Ball Grounds (also known as Grand Avenue Park).
  • 1870: St. Louis population 310,864.
  • June 1874: A judge will hear the case of John Dee against saloon proprietor Augustus Solari. Dee alleged Solari assaulted him with a stick, was unprovoked. Apparently this saloon was at the ball park.
  • 1875: St. Louis Brown Stockings formed in St. Louis, began playing at the Grand Avenue Ball Park. St. Louis has one major all-white baseball team. Founders/ownership is unclear but it doesn’t appear Solari was involved.
  • 1877: “After the conclusion of the 1877 season, a game-fixing scandal involving two players the Brown Stockings had acquired led the team to resign its membership in the NL. The club then declared bankruptcy and folded.”
  • April 14, 1878: St. Louis Brown Stockings defeat the Athletics, 2,600 “witnesses”.
  • May 1879: the National League and the team fold.
  • June 1879: Solari helps reorganize the St. Louis Brown Stockings.
  • 1880: St. Louis population 350,518.
  • July 25, 1881: The circuit court issued issued an injunction preventing a planned pigeon shoot near the fields. Augustus Solari and others are mentioned in the page 8 story titled “Pity for Pigeons.”
  • 1881: First grandstand constructed of wood, located at southeast corner closest to Grand & Dodier. As you’d expect the home plate is in this corner.
  • 1881: Grocery store and saloon owner Christian Friedrich von der Ahe (1851-1913) bought the St. Louis Brown Stockings when he was in his early 30s. Changes team name to the St. Louis Browns.
  • 1882: St. Louis Browns become part of the American Association league.October 2, 1883: Supreme Court (state? federal?) overturns lower courts, giving possession of the Grand Avenue Base Ball Park back to the descendants of George C. Miller and tenant Augustus Solari.
  • 1890: 451,770 population.
  • 1892: When the American Association folded St. Louis Browns was among teams included in a new National League.  The team began looking for a new place to play.
  • “For 1893, owner Chris von der Ahe moved his team a few blocks to the northwest and opened a “New” Sportsman’s Park, on the southeast corner of Natural Bridge and Vandeventer. The move to this particular site was part of a “deal”, as the property had been owned by a trolley company, who then ran a trolley line out near the ballpark. The diamond was in the northwest corner of the block. Prairie Avenue was the east (left field) border. Right field, the shorter of the outfields, was bordered by Lexington Avenue.The ballpark was generations ahead of its time in some ways. Along with the basic stands, Von der Ahe had built an adjoining amusement park, a beer garden, a race track in the outfield, a “shoot-the-shoots” water flume ride, and an artificial lake (used for ice skating in winter). The side show notwithstanding, the club performed poorly on the field for most of the 1890s, consistently finishing at or near last place in the 12-team league as Von der Ahe sold off his best players in order to keep the club solvent.”
  • April 27, 1893: After nearly two decades at Sportsman’s Park (Grand & Dodier) the St. Louis Browns play at their new ballpark for the very first time. The original Sportsman’s Park becomes the Old Sportsman’s Park, later Athletic Field.

October 1909 Sanborn Fire map of the wooden New Sportsman’s Park — aka League Park, Robison Park.

  • April 16, 1898 a dropped cigar catches the wooden grandstand at the New Sportsman’s Park on fire.
  • May 11, 1898: Augustus Solari dies at age 63. Two of his eight children preceded him in death, one just four months earlier.
  • 1899: Cardinals owner Chris von der Ahe files for bankruptcy, forced to sell team. Brothers Frank & Stanley Robison purchase the team and New Sportsman’s Park.  They rename the ballpark (Vandeventer & Natural Bridge) as League Park.
  • March 28, 1899: August Anheuser Busch Jr. born.
  • 1900: The 1900 census showed the St. Louis population at 575,238 — a 28.9% increase since the 1890 census of 451,770.
  • May 4, 1901: Another fire at League Park, formerly New Sportsman’s Park. The Cardinals played the next day at the Old Sportsman’s Park (aka Athletic Field) and then on the road while their ballpark was being rebuilt.
  • 1902: The Milwaukee Brewers move to St. Louis and become the St. Louis Browns. This was okay because the Browns many in St. Louis knew were now the Cardinals, with the color red instead of brown.
  • April 23, 1902: the ballpark reopens with a new grandstand and home plate on the northwest corner, Spring & Sullivan.
  • 1909: A new concrete & steel grandstand is built, it and the home plate are in the southwest corner. This was the 3rd major stadium with a modern concrete and steel grandstand. The home plate remained in the southwest corner until May 1966 when it was flown to Busch Stadium II.

October 1909 Sanborn map of Sportsman’s Park. Blue is concrete & steel, yellow is wood, pink is brick masonry.

  • 1909: Bicycle shop owner William Carter started Carter Carburetor. Business location unknown — but it was NOT in the block south of Sportsman’s Park.
  • 1910: population: 687,029
  • 1911: Frank Robison’s daughter inherited the Cardinals from her uncle Stanley, following his death. Presumably Frank Robison died before his brother.
  • 1913-1915: Former player Branch Rickey becomes general manager of the St. Louis Browns — the team that moved to St. Louis in 1902.
  • 1917-1919: World War I.
  • 1919: After a brief return to the St. Louis Browns as general manager, Branch Rickey becomes the general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.
  • 1920: population: 772, 897
  • June 6, 1920: The St. Louis Cardinals last game at their mostly wood Robison Field.  The land was sold, Beaumont High School was built on the site in 1924.
  • 1920: Negro team the St. Louis Giants played a best of seven series against the Cardinals at Sportsman’s Park. The Cardinals won 4 games, the Stars 1. The Giants and later Stars home field was at Compton & Laclede — now a diamond for Harris Stowe University.
  • 1922: St. Charles -based American Car and Foundry Company purchases Carter Carburetor. At some point in the 1920s they built offices & factories on Spring at St. Louis Ave. — a block south of Dodier from Sportsman’s Park.
  • 1928:  Carter Carburator Co, a subsidiary of ACF, builds headquarters at 711 N. Grand — a little over a mile south of their factory.
  • 1930: population of 821, 960
  • 1936: “Browns owner Phil Ball died. His family sold the Browns to businessman Donald Lee Barnes, but the Ball estate maintained ownership of Sportsman’s Park.”
  • 1940: slight decline in population to 816,048.
  • July 4, 1941: A double header of negro teams played at Sportsman’s Park. First was the Scullin Mules playing the St. Louis Giants for the city’s negro championship. The feature was the Kansas City Monarchs versus the Chicago American Giants. The Monarchs’ star Satchel Paige was among their players — prompting a story the previous day in the Post-Dispatch. On this day only African-American spectators could sit anywhere in the stadium, not confined to the colored section.
  • 1942/43: The Brooklyn Dodgers hire Branch Rickey as their new general manager.
  • October 4-9, 1944: For the 3rd time in World Series history, both teams shared the same home field. The Cardinals won in the 6th game.
  • 1945: A young Jackie Robinson joined the KC Monarchs.
  • 1946: The Browns buy Sportsman’s Park.
  • April 15, 1947: Jackie Robinson played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking the long-standing color line in baseball.
  • Late 1947: Sam Breadon sells the St. Louis Cardinals to Fred Saigh and Bill Hannegan.
  • May 3, 1948: The U.S. Supreme Court decided racial restrictive covenants can’t be enforced by governments. The case of Shelley v. Kraemer was a St. Louis case involving a residence less than 2 miles to the west of the ballpark.
  • 1950: peak population of 856,796.
  • 1951: Cleveland Indians owner, Bill Veeck, purchases the St. Louis Browns and Sportsman’s Park. Veeck thinks St. Louis isn’t big enough for two major teams, removes memorabilia of tenant team the St. Louis Cardinals. Veeck wanted the Cardinals to relocate to another city, hopes for an out of town buyer.
  • 1953: Instead local brewer Anheuser-Busch buys the St. Louis Cardinals from Fred Saigh.
  • November 1953: a group in Baltimore buys the St. Louis Browns from Veeck, becoming the Baltimore Orioles. Anheuser-Busch buys Sportsman’s Park, ending their tenant relationship with the ballpark. Chairman August A. “Gussie” Busch wanted to rename the ballpark Budweiser Stadium but the league pressured him not to do that, so it became Busch Stadium. Not long after they began selling Busch Bavarian beer.
  • January 3, 1960. The last day the Grand streetcar operated, replaced by buses.
  • 1960: population drop of 12.5% to 750,026
  • May 8, 1966. Last Cardinals game at Busch Stadium, home plate dug up and flown via helicopter to the new Busch Stadium II “by the riverfront.”

Again, this was by no means a complete timeline. I finally had to stop digging because I ran out of time.

It’s clear to me the early decades weren’t a stable period for teams. The first ballpark wasn’t in the middle of the city, it was out on the edge — the city grew up around it. Heavy industrial uses replaced largely residential blocks as once plentiful land in the city became increasingly scarce.

It’s fascinating to me how a row of houses backed right up to the new concrete and steel grandstand in 1909. These appear to have still been in place in the late 1950s.

Selected sources, further reading:

— Steve Patterson

FYI the following are some interesting YouTube videos, in no particular order

 

Exploring Housing Options for 801 Dickson Street

March 17, 2022 Featured, North City, Planning & Design, Real Estate Comments Off on Exploring Housing Options for 801 Dickson Street

Monday’s post was about reconnecting the pedestrian grid at 8th Street, just south of Cass Ave — see 8th Street Walkway Needed To Fill Missing 110’ Connectivity Gap. Today’s post is about exploring options for new housing on the large lot known as 801 Dickson Street — it stretches a full block along the north side of Dickson, between 8th & 9th streets. This vacant land is owned by the St. Louis Housing Authority.

First we’ll look at the site, conditions, etc. and then some of the various configurations I’ve considered. You may have others.

Aerial view of 801 Dickson Street
801 Dickson is owned by the St. Louis Housing Authority, zoned D Multi-Family Housing. The strategic land use is NPA — neighborhood preservation area. The long sides are 292.52 feet, the east/right short side is 110 feet, and the left/west short side is 120 feet. Click to view in Google Maps — sans boundary lines.

Site characteristics:

  • Faces south-southwest.
  • Gentle slope south from alley.
  • The parking for 12 cars at the alley has been in place for 70 years, it lacks an accessible space and adjacent loading zone.
  • The Youth & Family Center on the north side of the alley was built in 1982. It was previously called Cochran Youth & Family Center. It has entrances onto Cass and the back alley. It has no parking on its site at 818 Cass Ave. Nobody ever parks on Cass Ave, even though it isn’t marked as no parking.
  • A northbound bus stop (#32) is on the short side, on 9th Street.
  • Overhead electric enters the site on the east side, about 20 feet south of the alley. The poles and overhead wires stop just before 9th Street (left side).
  • Some mature trees exist along the alley, 9th. Smaller street trees exist along Dickson Street. The trees next to the alley have been trimmed so as to not interfere with the overhead power lines.
  • The west end had part of Cochran Gardens tower C-9 from 1951 until about 2005, the west end was part of a Cochran Gardens playground. Presumably the building foundations were fully removed. Potentially 19th century remnants remain buried.

Looking west at 801 Dickson

Looking north on 9th, at Dickson. The #32 bus frequently stops here to drop off a rider, or let one board.

Looking back east from 9th, the brick circle is all that remains from Cochran Gardens. Parking & electrical poles are visible.

A direct view of the parking from the alley. Again, the overhead electric is visible.

Before getting into the various options for new construction please understand this post isn’t concerned with who would build any housing, or how it would be paid for, demand, market economics, etc. The purpose here is to see the various options for constructing additional housing on the site — what does & doesn’t physically fit on the site. Ideally I’d like to avoid a curb cut/driveway off both Dickson & 9th streets.

A good plan to start with ideas is to look at the context, the housing around the site. To the east of where I want a new 8th Street pedestrian walkway the dimension between 8th and 7th is just a few feet wider. It has two buildings, each with four townhouses. Along the alley are two garage buildings, each with a 2-car garage — one for each of the 8 total townhouses. When Cochran Gardens was replaced all the new construction, like my apartment, is rental — but each of the 8 townhouses are privately-owned, owner-occupied.

Row houses 7xx Dickson
Row houses 7xx Dickson

Garages behind 7xx Dickson
Garages behind 7xx Dickson

The problem is the aforementioned parking spaces off the alley, on the west end of the site. If the trees along the alley were removed you could building one group of four townhouses, with garage. You could do a second if the parking were removed, but that’s not ideal.

Directly across Dickson Street are more townhouses, these are mixed-income rentals with a common shared parking lot behind. Theoretically it may be possible to put a shallow parking lot behind townhouses.

This is a 2012 view of townhouses on 9th Street, the ones facing Dickson are similar.

The other contextual option is a building with garden apartments. The Cambridge Heights garden apartment buildings each contain 12 apartments — 3 floors, six units per two entrances/breezeways. Like townhouses, parking might be possible behind. One such building could fit. A variation with 18 units with three entrances/breezeways could potentially fit.

What about going higher than 3 floors? While elevators are expensive, and costly to maintain, a 4-5 story building could work as you get more units in the same space. The scale of an old 5-story building on 7th seems fine in the neighborhood. I’d love to see a lot of accessible units as the need for low-income housing for the disabled is needed — especially near downtown. With an existing bus stop adjacent it would be great for many people who don’t drive or own a car, this would make it easier to not have any off-street parking. Perhaps the site is arranged so a small parking lot is located off the alley, on the east end of the site.

It would be nice if an elevator building had a retail space at the corner, perhaps part of a live/work unit.

Another option would be groupings of tiny homes (300sf) or small homes (800sf).  Some could front onto the 8th Street walkway I’d like to see get built. Since the site is a block long there’s nothing to say it all has to be the same, some combination of ideas can be used.

The parking at the alley for the Youth & Family Center should probably be separated from the main lot, or a formalized easement. It would also be nice if the overhead electric was buried. The St. Louis Housing Authority also owns a larger lot between 8th & 9th, on O’Fallon Street (map), but kids often use this for ball, frisbee, etc.

The vacant land in my neighborhood, owned by the housing authority, is ideal for affordable/low-income new housing — perhaps by a developer seeking a tax break on a big project in the central corridor.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

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