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A Possible Strategy for the North Grand Corridor

Upon going north to Delmar you can quickly tell you're suddenly in a different place.
Upon going north to Delmar you can quickly tell you’re suddenly in a different place.

This is the fourth post on the North Grand corridor, prompted by the announcement Schnucks would close a store. Here are the first three posts:

  1. Some Possible Reasons Why the North Grand Schnucks Didn’t Make a Profit
  2. Rethinking the North Grand Corridor for Jobs, Economic Opportunity
  3. Institutions & Businesses That Might Help Plan Rejuvenation of North Grand Blvd

The store is now closed. I’ve been reviewing materials on revitalizing low-income areas and one theme is repeated: JOBS! Critics would correctly point out it would take a lot to convince an employer to move their business to a depressed low-income area, that’s why the business and jobs must be created from within.

Anchor institutions—hospitals, colleges, and other institutions deeply rooted in their communities—are a form of commons that is viewed as crucial to revitalizing low-income neighborhoods. Besides being major employers and big customers for local businesses, they have an intrinsic stake in making sure their neighborhoods thrive. Your local hospital, for instance, is not going to pack up its beds and move to Mexico. 

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An initiative in Cleveland aims to help local residents become owners of new businesses that serve a cluster of hospitals, universities and cultural institutions on the city’s struggling East Side, including the famed Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University. The Cleveland Foundation teamed up with Ted Howard of the Democracy Collaborative at the University of Maryland to launch the Evergreen Cooperatives: 1) Evergreen Cooperative Laundry, an environmentally conscious employee-owned firm with a contract to clean linens and scrubs for local hospitals; 2) Green City Grower Cooperatives, an employee-owned 3.25 acre greenhouse that produces greens year-round for hospitals and the university; and 3) Evergreen Energy Solutions, where worker-owners install photovoltaic panels and make weatherization improvements for anchor institutions and local residents. (source)

Let’s take a closer look at the Cleveland Example, Evergreen Cooperatives:

The Evergreen Cooperatives of Cleveland, Ohio are pioneering innovative models of job creation, wealth building, and sustainability. Evergreen’s employee-owned, for-profit companies are based locally and hire locally. They create meaningful green jobs and keep precious financial resources within the Greater University Circle neighborhoods. Worker-owners at Evergreen earn a living wage and build equity in the firms as owners of the business.

From their Vision & Goals page:

The strategic pillars on which the Initiative is built are: (1) leveraging a portion of the multi-billion dollar annual business expenditures of anchor institutions into the surrounding neighborhoods; (2) establishing a robust network of Evergreen Cooperative enterprises based on community wealth building and ownership models designed to service these institutional needs; (3) building on the growing momentum to create environmentally sustainable energy and green collar jobs (and, concurrently, support area anchor institutions in achieving their own environmental goals to shrink their carbon footprints); (4) linking the entire effort to expanding sectors of the economy (e.g., health care, our aging population, local food, and sustainable energy), many of which are recipients of large-scale public investment; and (5) developing the financing and management capacities that can take this effort to scale (that is, to move beyond a few boutique projects or models to have significant municipal impact).

In the 2nd post, above, I listed the major institutions in the area. Between them they hire out for many goods & services. It’ll take a lot of effort to do what Cleveland has done, but I don’t think we have a choice in the matter.  There’s no guarantee this will work, it certainly isn’t a magic bullet to solve all the ills. If you’ve got another idea I’d love to hear it.

— Steve Patterson

 

Schnucks Semi Truck Heckled at Annie Malone Parade

The annual Annie Malone parade on Sunday was a nice family event, but one entry drew jeers not applause from spectators.

Schnucks parade entry was an undecorated semi
Schnucks parade entry was an undecorated semi
One man near us stood to voice anger over the closing of the North Grand Schnucks location, click image to see prior post
One man near us stood to voice anger over the closing of the North Grand Schnucks location, click image to see prior post on the subject

It was nice to see his passion, especially after all the businesses in the parade. After visiting the now-closed Schnucks store I understand the business decision. I do think Schnucks, through their development company DESCO, could’ve been working on building a new location for years. Closing the north Grand location because a new store opened nearby would’ve gotten Schnucks a different reaction from those at the parade.

— Steve Patterson

 

Columbus Square: 9th & 10th Streets

Recently I suggested the 9th & 10th one-way couplet should be returned to two-way traffic. I emailed numerous official a link to the post along with a brief summary, I heard back from only two; Ald. Tammika Hubbard replied within a day and a few days later St. Louis Traffic Commissioner Steve Runde replied.  Runde confirmed it was doable, but traffic signal work can be costly.  Both said it’s up to the neighborhood. That meant it was up to me if anything was going to change.

Looking north on 9th from O'Fallon St, lanes aren't marked but wide enough for at least 3
Looking north on 9th from O’Fallon St, lanes aren’t marked but wide enough for at least 3

The one-way couplet exists in two neighborhoods, in two wards: Downtown in the 7th Ward and Columbus Square in the 5th Ward, with Cole Street the dividing line (in more ways than one).

So I’ve started trying to figure out who to reach out to the Columbus Square neighborhood, which is fragmented by different developments:

  • Bottle District (unbuilt)
  • Cambridge Heights I & II
  • Cochran Plaza
  • Columbus Square
  • Courtyards at Cityside apartments
  • Neighborhood Gardens Apartments
  • Senior Living at Cambridge Heights
  • And a few more…

Many of these apartments are managed by McCormack Baron Ragan so I’ll contact them to find people to talk to.

I’ve also started gathering data, the width of various streets are different points. Thankfully my fiancé DJF was able to help by operating the measuring wheel.

DJF measuring 9th Street at MLK, the convention center in the background
DJF measuring 9th Street at MLK, the convention center in the background

Here are the results:

  •  9th @ MLK: 39 feet
  • 9th @ Manhattan Pl: 44 feet
  • Manhattan Pl @ 9th: 24 feet
  • 10th @ Blair: 34 feet
  • 10th just south of Cole St: 40 feet
  • Locust St @ 16th: 42 feet (in front of our loft, previously one-way, for comparison)

I was surprised when we saw that 9th Street is 5 feet wider in the Columbus Square neighborhood, compared to downtown. Tenth Street varied widely, we need to measure in more places.

Next we need to know how wide a lane should be, from Great Streets St. Louis:

Vehicular Travel Lane Width:

Based on the perception that wider lanes are safer, the St. Louis region has historically used 12-foot travel lanes for many thoroughfares. Recent studies show that at speeds of 35 mph or less, there is very little difference in substantive safety performance for lane widths of ten, eleven, and twelve feet. Narrower travel lanes can also have a TRAFFIC CALMING effect on a thoroughfare by causing vehicles to drive slower. Conversely, wider lanes often encourage motorists to travel above the facility’s target speed. If narrower lanes are chosen, it is important to carefully design the pavement (whether flexible or rigid) to maximize pavement life cycle. Pavement selection for narrower lanes should focus on durability to offset the effects of a confined wheel track space, which can produce early fatigue.

Design narrow lanes. Because slower speeds are desirable, lane widths under twelve feet are recommended, with 10′ as the minimum. Tables 6.2 and 6.3 of the ITE publication Context Sensitive Solutions in Designing Major Urban Thoroughfares for Walkable Communities provides excellent design parameters for ARTERIAL and COLLECTOR streets. These tables recommend a lane width of 10-11′ for the majority of place types, including those discussed in this guide. Chapter 9 of the ITE publication also provides useful guidance on lane width. 

An on-street parking lane needs 8 feet, or 16 feet for both sides. Ten feet is a good width for a local neighborhood street. Both 9th & 10th have extra width,though the amount varies. How should this extra width get used up: bike lane, median, wider parking/travel lanes? Maybe residents like having 9th & 10th as one-way streets, though I doubt it.

In a future post I’ll look at 9th & 10th south of Cole Street, including going back to a traffic study from December 2005.

— Steve Patterson

 

Institutions & Businesses That Might Help Plan Rejuvenation of North Grand Blvd

In a post last week called Rethinking the North Grand Corridor for Jobs, Economic Opportunity I introduced the idea of a collaborative effort to do a corridor study of North Grand from Delmar to I-70, roughly 2.5 miles.

Looking south on Grand from N. Florissant  Ave.
Looking south on Grand from N. Florissant Ave.

Today I’ll continue this line of thought by identifying institutions/businesses/amenities on or near Grand that might be helpful in this process.

Map of North Grand showing institutions, click image to view interactive map
Map of North Grand showing institutions, click image to view interactive map

Here is the list, starting from  Delmar (lower left):

  1. Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis
  2. Grand Center
  3. Cochran VA Hospital
  4. Clyde Miller Career Academy (SLPS)
  5. Justine Petersen
  6. St. Alphonsus Church
  7. Chronicle Coffee
  8. S. Louis Housing Authority
  9. PNC Bank (Page)
  10. Save-A-Lot
  11. Vashon High School (SLPS)
  12. CHIPS Health and Wellness Center
  13. Lindell Bank
  14. Herbert Hoover Boys & Girls Club
  15. ALDI
  16. Fairground Park (St. Louis Parks Dept)
  17. Beaumont Career & Technical High School (SLPS)
  18. St. Louis Public Library, Divoll Branch
  19. PNC Bank (Grand @ N. Florissant)
  20. Grace Hill Settlement
  21. Grace Hill Water Tower Health Center
  22. North Grand Water Tower (coronation column)
  23. Bissell Water Tower
  24. Bissell Mansion

There are likely many more places that can serve as anchors. Grand from Natural Bridge to I-70 is the The Grand Boulevard Vending District, so perhaps this can become an area where retail activity is organized, concentrated, & marketed. Maybe the 2.5 mile length is branded as one district or maybe it it broken up into segments.

It passes through four city neighborhoods:

  1. College Hill
  2. Fairground
  3. JeffVanderLou
  4. Grand Center

It primarily passes through two wards: 3 & 19. Two more wards have a few blocks each: 2 & 4. And a few more wards are very close to North Grand: 5, 18, & 21.

Metro is a big part too with eight MetroBus lines in the area:

  • 70 (Grand)
  • 4 (Natural Bridge)
  • 30 (Soulard)
  • 32 (ML King-Chouteau)
  • 41 (Lee)
  • 74 (Florissant)
  • 94 (Page)
  • 97 (Delmar)

So I’ve identified most of the players that could be involved in coming together to closely examine North Grand, developing a master plan, a marketing plan, etc.

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Rethinking the North Grand Corridor for Jobs, Economic Opportunity

Grand Boulevard is one of, if not the most, important north-south streets in St. Louis. It connects north & south St. Louis to the east-west central corridor.  It carries our busiest MetroBus route, the #70.

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North Grand at 20th, click for map

After visiting the soon-to-close Schnucks at Grand & Kossuth last week it occurred to me the North Grand corridor could benefit from some comprehensive planning to bring needed jobs, housing, retail, etc to north St. Louis. This post isn’t a comprehensive solution it’s an introduction to the idea of concentrating efforts in a linear fashion along Grand north of Delmar.

POSITIVES:

  1. Despite massive population loss in the city, especially north city, the areas near Grand remain populated, in-part because of the #70 MetroBus route.
  2. The #70 MetroBus route will get five (5) higher-capacity articulated vehicles starting in June, by the end of summer all 12 will be articulated.
  3. Vacant land ready to build on.

NEGATIVES

  1. Few major institutions to help build support
  2. Numerous problems: crime, poverty, unemployment, aging infrastructure & building stock
  3. Lack of hope

We could list more negatives, as well as positives. In fact, taking stock of the area is a good first step.

Looking north from Grand & Delmar, click for map

Bringing real jobs to this area won’t be easy. I don’t think we should just sit back and watch as jobs and people continue to leave the area. This is a chance to do some grassroots planning.  Done right North Grand can have a more prosperous future.

 — Steve Patterson

 

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