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Changes Along St. Louis’ Dr. Martin Luther King Drive

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and for the 11th year in a row, I’m posting about St. Louis’ Dr. Martin Luther King Dr. (MLK herein). Unlike the past couple of years, this year offers no new projects completed or started. To check out changes I rode the #32 MetroBus on Thursday January 15th — the #32 runs on Cass until it merges with MLK West of Grand. Then on Saturday 1/17 I drove the length of the continuous portion of MLK — from East of Tucker to past the city limits.

This post covers the main changes I saw from last year:

  1. Modifications to ADA ramps, new crosswalks
  2. Buildings being torn down or that may be gone before next year
  3. Signalized intersections now 4-way stops
In the car I started at Tucker, the farthest East MLK is continuous, and headed  West past the city limits.
In the car I started at Tucker, the farthest East MLK is continuous, and headed West past the city limits in the suburb of Wellston.

1) DA Ramps & New Points to Cross MLK

MLK goes through multiple wards, areas built at different period and very different grids.  Within the last decade a major traffic calming project on MLK between Jefferson & Grand reduced travel lanes, protected parking lanes, installed new lighting, and replaced sidewalks. As I’ve written before, this multi-million dollar from-scratch project forgot to  make any provisions to cross MLK for the mile-long project. Now, years later, this is finally getting corrected as best they can after the fact.

The Jefferson-Grand had the greatest need, but this new work took place from end to end, where needed. These examples from East to West. For those unfamiliar, I often use public transit with a power wheelchair.

All along MLK Dr I saw evidence of new ramps and crosswalks. Hopefully the city will come back to fill in the asphalt gap -- I often need to report these as I encounter them.
All along MLK Dr I saw evidence of new ramps and crosswalks. Hopefully the city will come back to fill in the asphalt gap — I often need to report these as I encounter them.
One of my criticisms over the years has been a lack of places to cross MLK.This has finally been addressed.
This new crossing point is at N 22nd
Another view of the same. Lack of crosswalks is often an unintended consequence of street removal to create super blocks.
Another view of the same. Lack of crosswalks is often an unintended consequence of street removal to create super blocks.
mmm
I’ve personally had trouble getting to/from the bus stop on the North side of Leffingwell
Looking South-ish at Leffingwell
Looking South-ish at Leffingwell
Just West of Glasgow Ave
Just West of Glasgow Ave, looking North
Same new crosswalk, looking South
Same new crosswalk, looking South
New crosswalk at N Cardinal Ave, has been a 3-way stop for years, just no way to cross
New crosswalk at N Cardinal Ave, has been a 3-way stop for years, just no way to cross
I was driving this day but I'm usually in a wheelchair, I first saw this man East of Jefferson and now he's almost to Cardinal. He's in the street because the new ramps have those huge gaps that can't be crossed until filled with asphalt.
I was driving this day but I’m usually in a wheelchair, I first saw this man East of Jefferson and now he’s almost to Cardinal. He’s in the street because the new ramps have those huge gaps that can’t be crossed until filled with asphalt.
Where MLK meets Cozens a new channel was created for wheelchair navigation, lacks a point to pass when two meet each other. Sorry for the blurry image.
Where MLK meets Cozens a new channel was created for wheelchair navigation, lacks a point to pass when two meet each other. Sorry for the blurry image.
The crosswalk leads to where a new ramp was, based on Google's aerial, but a newer ramp was build midway between Cozens & MLK
The crosswalk leads to where a new ramp was, based on Google’s aerial, but a newer ramp was build midway between Cozens & MLK
Same type of channel to the West where Cass & MLK meet, again no place to meet anyone
Same type of channel to the West where Cass & MLK meet, again no place to meet anyone
Much further West, at Burd Ave, a needed crosswalk is now completed.
Much further West, at Burd Ave, a needed crosswalk is now completed.

If only the civil engineers had considered the basic idea that pedestrians need to places to cross the street.

2) Demolished or will be

I saw no evidence of buildings removed in the last year, but one was actively being razed and others will likely be razed rather than rehabbed/rebuilt.

2618 MLK
In November 2014 fire destroyed The Hit Zone at 2618 MLK, just West of Jefferson. According to city records he 2-story building was built in 1996. Click image for KSDK story on the fire
2618 MLK East side
East side view of the destroyed bar at 2618 MLK

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mlk201518
5088 MLK, just West of kingshighway, had a big fire in the fall It was inspected/condemned on 10/30/2-14
1495 Stewart Pl, built in 1890, was condemned 12/24/2013 -- over a year ago.
1495 Stewart Pl, built in 1890, was condemned on 12/24/2013 — over a year ago.
mlk fav
I’ve been watching 5716 MLK for years, I love the design. After seeing daylight through a side window I drove down the side street (Shawmut) to see the back.
back
Unfortunately the roof has collapsed over the Western half of the building.
LRA 5746 MLK built in 1907
5746 MLK being razed brick by brick, built in 1907. A city (LRA) property
October 2009, Source: GEO St. Louis
October 2009, Source: GEO St. Louis
Last remains of the State Bank of Wellston, in Wellston. Click image for more information
Last remains of the State Bank of Wellston, in Wellston. Click image for more information
Passing by on MetroBus, April 2013
Passing by on MetroBus, April 2013

Many of these neighborhoods are depressing; lots of poverty, few jobs in the area. I’d imagine many residents would like a way out. Yet, efforts to bring investment and jobs would be labeled as gentrification. Not sure how to change the situation in these neighborhoods, but I don’t like watching them crumble.

3) From Signalized to 4-Way Stop

Two intersections that have traffic signals, now shut off, are 4-way stops.

MLK & Euclid is now a 4-way stop, the signals are turned off.
MLK & Euclid is now a 4-way stop, the signals are turned off.

The other is MLK & N. Sarah.

Peace…

— Steve Patterson

 

1893 House on Delmar Blvd Getting Rehabbed

I like to end each week with a positive post and nothing is more positive than a favorite building, long written off, getting rehabbed. A large house on Delmar, with unique dormers, has been in disrepair for years.  A few months ago a friend posted on Facebook that work was starting on the building. Earlier this month I took the #97 MetroBus to photograph the progress.

Work was still ongoing on my December 12th visit.
Work was still ongoing on my December 12th visit.
Diagonally across Delmar & Pendleton
Diagonally across Delmar & Pendleton, click image for map
This March 2014 photo from GEO St. Louis shows the old fire escape from when the house was divided into multiple units.
This March 2014 photo from GEO St. Louis shows the old fire escape from when the house was divided into multiple units.

City records indicate 4270 Delmar Blvd was built in 1893 and contains 5,687 sq ft. This property is just a couple of blocks West of another favorite building, that also recently got rehabbed, now known as Freedom Place. Fingers crossed someone will take on the building at the East end of Fountain Park.

— Steve Patterson

 

Last Blumeyer High Rise Tower Coming Down

Now that residents of the last tower at the former Blumeyer public housing project have been relocated, see New Phases of North Sarah Apartments, Buildings on Vandeventer, the balding is being razed.

The last Blumeyer tower being razed
The last Blumeyer tower being razed, demolition started on October 23rd
bbb
3501 Franklin in March 2012
Blumeyer Elderly Apartments, January 2007
Most of the Blumeyer towers were razed years ago, photo from January 2007

A 2011 article says the site will become “green space.”  I doubt it’ll be quality park space, just a green-ish rectangle.

— Steve Patterson

 

Housing For Homeless Veterans Nearing Completion At 4011 Delmar

I February 2010 I posted I would live at 4005 Delmar, then a vacant & boarded building, I was dreaming of it being renovated.

Boarded storefronts at sidewalk level
Boarded storefronts at sidewalk level, February 2010

The building at 4005-4011 Delmar has since attracted the attention of a developer, who also dreams:

We believe being a dreamer is every bit as important as being a do’er. In our personal and our professional lives, the members of The Vecino Group are dedicated to imagining a better world and then working to make it happen. 

I too agree it is important to dream, I’ve shared mine here for over 9 years.

Last year:

A housing developer from Springfield, Mo., has embarked on a $12.7 million project to renovate the building as 68 affordable apartments for homeless vets. The five-story building, at 4011 Delmar Boulevard, is in the city’s Vandeventer neighborhood, about three blocks from the John Cochran VA Medical Center.

Plans call for the building, named Freedom Place by the developer, to be redone as 20 studio apartments, 24 one-bedroom units, 16 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units. Monthly rents are scheduled to range from $369 to $640. (stltoday)

According to city records, the building had 100 one-bedroom apartments and three “other” units. Hopefully the new mix of units will work well.

I pass by this project on the #97 MetroBus, but recently I was in the area photographing for my post on the North Sarah Apartments so I got a closer look at the progress.

New windows greatly improve the appearance
New windows greatly improve the appearance

I’m curious to see how the ground-level will be used. Will a neighborhood coffeehouse be able to open?  A small local market perhaps? The area desperately needs economic activity to create jobs for the veterans that will live here, as well as others.

Directly across the street a 1945 commercial building is vacant. With its side parking lot this could be a good market.
Directly across the street a 1945 commercial building is vacant. With its side parking lot this could be a good market for the area.
At 4035 the later commercial store front in from of a 19th century house has collapsed.
At 4035 a commercial storefront  addition in from of a 19th century house has collapsed.

Housing for these vets is huge, but we must also finds ways to rebuild the local economic base to create jobs. One local effort is Bridge Bread:

Bridge Bread is a social entrepreneurship initiative designed to provide job opportunities for guests of The Bridge. The goal of the initiative is to help disadvantaged guests engage in a financially rewarding effort that enhances self-worth, promotes dignity and enables the guests to help themselves.

It takes much more than a shelter cot to rebuild the lives of the homeless. Kudos to the people behind The Vecino Group!

— Steve Patterson

 

New Phases of North Sarah Apartments, Buildings on Vandeventer

In June 2012 I posted about Excellent Urban Infill: North Sarah Apartments By McCormack Baron Salazar. Since then the project has expanded, across Sarah to the west, and at Vandeventer, to the east. The ribbon cutting on the new phase was Friday afternoon, but I visited Wednesday.

New construction on the west side of Sarah (right) gives an urban feel missing in the original only on the east side of Sarah.
New construction on the west side of Sarah (right) gives an urban feel missing in the original only on the east side of Sarah. The #42 (Sarah) MetroBus line is popular.
Some of the original live/work units have businesses in them. Not a busy retail street, but a start. The new building on the west side of Sarah also features live/work units.
Some of the original live/work units have businesses in them. Not a busy retail street, but a start. The new building on the west side of Sarah also features live/work units. In time I hope we’ll see more than closed blinds…
When I was here in 2012 the landscaping wasn't complete. These rain gardens will be problematic with grass instead of perennials
When I was here in 2012 the landscaping wasn’t complete. These rain gardens will be problematic with grass instead of perennials.

In 2012 I noted the rough surface of the impervious concrete sidewalks. They’ve not held up well, they’re even rougher, broken, etc. Pervious concrete works well for parking areas, but not for public sidewalks. I mentioned this to city officials after I experienced it in 2012, it wasn’t used again for recent sidewalks at this project. I returned to the area because I’d been seeing construction on North Vandeventer as I crossed on the #97 Delmar bus. I waited until I thought the work was complete.

Heading north on Vandeventer from Delmar, the new buildings are visible in the background,
Heading north on Vandeventer from Delmar, the new buildings are visible in the background, an Urban League building on the left looks out of place now.
Here 3-story buildings were used at Vandeventer & CD Banks Ave
Here 3-story buildings were used at Vandeventer & CD Banks Ave, click image for map

Two blocks of urban buildings on one side of Vandeventer is a start, but the corridor needs more of this. Unfortunately, due to a lack of coordinated planning, it seems unlikely even in the next 15-20 years. The church across the street was built in 2000, the car wash in 1981, the Urban League in 1990. In the block to the north is a single-story building set back behind parking built in 2009.

The Urban League at 965 N. Vandeventer was built in 1990
The Urban League at 965 N. Vandeventer was built in 1990
The car wash at 1036 N. Vandeventer was built in 1981
The car wash at 1036 N. Vandeventer was built in 1981

Without a corridor plan to guide development, North Vandeventer will remain a hodgepodge. In time more phases will fill in the area between Vandeventer and Sarah. They’ll likely remain a nice island unless groups come together to plan how Sarah & Vandeventer should look & feel in the coming decades.

— Steve Patterson

 

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