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Annual Look at Dr. Martin Luther King Drive

Today is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day so, like the previous 11, I’m taking at look at his namesake road in St. Louis. Unlike some previous years, very little appears to have changed since last year.

I started downtown, drove out to the Wellston Loop at the city limits, and drove back.

The corners of MLK & 14th are getting new curb cuts -- was needed.
The corners of MLK & 14th are getting new curb cuts — was needed.
Imo's new headquarters
Imo’s new headquarters
This modest structure being rehabbed was once a boarding house, in 1891 Henry Miller founded what is today the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Once finished it'll be a museum will open to honor him. Click image for more information.
This modest structure being rehabbed was once a boarding house, in 1891 Henry Miller founded what is today the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Once finished it’ll be a museum will open to honor him. Click image for more information.
Chronicle Coffee closed "temporarily for renovations and restructuring on 10/13/2014.", it still appears closed.The phone number is no longer in service.
Chronicle Coffee closed “temporarily for renovations and restructuring on 10/13/2014.”, it still appears closed.The phone number is no longer in service.
The SW corner of MLK & Taylor, 4500 MLK, was being razed. Was Taylor & Easton Drug. Click for map.
The SW corner of MLK & Taylor, 4500 MLK, was being razed. Was Taylor & Easton Drug. Click for map.
Same corner in January 2007, was built in 1905.
Same corner in January 2007, was built in 1905.
In 2015 bike lanes were added to part of MLK. Click image for information from Great Rivers Greenway
In 2015 bike lanes were added to part of MLK. Click image for information from Great Rivers Greenway
Last year I didn't think this building would make it to 2016
Last year I didn’t think this building would make it to 2016
Lots of buildings have been razed to provide parking lots for churches.
Lots of buildings have been razed to provide parking lots for churches.
Another building I didn't think would survive is still here is one of my favorites. Located just East of Goodfellow.
Another building I didn’t think would survive is still here is one of my favorites. Located just East of Goodfellow.

With the exception of the IBEW museum, this year was very depressing.

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers Split on MSD Plan To Raze Vacant Buildings To Reduce Water Runoff

Focus area, click image to view larger PDF
Focus area, click image to view larger PDF

In the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll readers were split on MSD’s plan to raze vacant buildings to reduce water runoff.

  • Support side 18
  • Oppose side 17
  • Neutral+Unsure 7

Below is the breakdown:

Q: To reduce water runoff, the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) plans to raze vacant buildings. Oppose or support?

  • Strongly support 8 [19.05%]
  • Support 3 [7.14%]
  • Somewhat support 7 [16.67%]
  • Neither oppose or support 5 [11.9%]
  • Somewhat oppose 2 [4.76%]
  • Oppose 3 [7.14%]
  • Strongly oppose 12 [28.57%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 2 [4.76%]

As you can see, the “strongly oppose” answer got the biggest response. Supporters weren’t as enthusiastic. Much of the demolition would happen in neighborhoods struggling to remain relevant.

While it could take several years to spend down the money, even the longest spending scenario would amount to a near doubling of St. Louis’ demolition budget. And areas where MSD sees the most benefit in terms of runoff and watersheds also are the areas – primarily in north St. Louis – where the city’s vacant properties are concentrated. 

Those areas are part of the Bissell watershed, where the Environmental Protection Agency has told MSD to better manage stormwater. (Post-Dispatch)

Each time a building is razed it gets harder to convince remaining owners to invest in their properties, to get residents to stay. Still, I need to read more about MSD’s Project Clear.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Support or oppose MSD plan to raze vacant buildings to reduce water runoff?

Please vote below
Please vote below

In the news recently:

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District wants to spend $13.5 million of its own money to tear down vacant properties. Grassy lots would let stormwater slowly percolate into the ground instead of rushing into the combined sewer system that serves much of St. Louis.

While it could take several years to spend down the money, even the longest spending scenario would amount to a near doubling of St. Louis’ demolition budget. And areas where MSD sees the most benefit in terms of runoff and watersheds also are the areas – primarily in north St. Louis – where the city’s vacant properties are concentrated. (Post-Dispatch)

So I want to know if this is something you support or oppose?

This unscientific poll will remain open until 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

Wellston Loop Family Reunion & Exhibit Saturday November 21, 2015

November 20, 2015 Events/Meetings, Featured, MLK Jr. Drive, North City Comments Off on Wellston Loop Family Reunion & Exhibit Saturday November 21, 2015

An event ia taking place tomorrow afternoon in a once-thriving commercial district: The Wellston Loop.

“Wellston Loop Family Reunion & Exhibit” will take place on Saturday, November 21 from 1 to 3pm. A sidewalk exhibition of recent photographs and historic documents will highlight the community. The event will offer free food, drink, music and videos. The primary venue will be the former J.C. Penney Department Store (on the National Register of Historic Places) at 5930 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, St. Louis, Missouri 63112.

We’re inviting members of the surrounding community (past or present) who would like to share stories, photographs or videos of the neighborhood (Wellston Loop, Hamilton Heights and Wells/Goodfellow) from any era to submit them for inclusion and display.

Another significant building in the former shopping district is the Wellston streetcar transfer station from 1909. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places. This building has recently been awarded funding for a complete historic restoration scheduled to begin December 2015. It is the only building of its kind (streetcar station building) left standing in St. Louis.

See the Facebook event Wellston Loop Family Reunion & Exhibit for more detail.

July 1963 image of The Wellston Loop from page 59 of the district nomination to the National Register, click to view
July 1963 image of The Wellston Loop from page 59 of the district nomination to the National Register, click to view
Just inside the city limits is the old Wellston Loop streetcar building, 2013 image
Just inside the city limits is the old Wellston Loop streetcar building, 2013 image
The main location Saturday will be In front of the former JC Penny store at 5930 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, click for map
The main location Saturday will be In front of the former JC Penny store at 5930 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, click image for map. 2013 photo

For further reading. see Reflections: In Wellston, a ‘family reunion’ explores faded riches, realities – and possibilities.

— Steve Patterson

 

North 14th Street Reopened To Traffic 5 Years Ago Today

Five years ago today people were able to do what they hadn’t in 33+ year — drive on two blocks of North 14th Street.

From 1977-2010 two blocks of N 14th was a "pedestrian mall". By Spring 1991 it was already long-dead.
From 1977-2010 two blocks of N 14th was a “pedestrian mall”. By Spring 1991 it was already long-dead.
After many years of trying to un-mall 14th, a ribbon cutting for the new street was held on July 29, 2010. But since new streetlights hadn't arrived, vehicular traffic wasn't allowed to drive down it.
After many years of trying to un-mall 14th, a ribbon cutting for the new street was held on July 29, 2010. But since new streetlights hadn’t arrived, vehicular traffic wasn’t allowed to drive down it.
The new streetscape is friendly to both pedestrians & motorists, need not be mutually exclusive
The new streetscape is friendly to both pedestrians & motorists, need not be mutually exclusive
This photo is from a May 1972 thesis, taken before 14th was malled. Source: "A rehabilitation of a small commercial district: 14th Street in Murphy-Blair" by Norman Robert Spatz
This photo is from a May 1972 thesis, taken before 14th was malled. Source: “A rehabilitation of a small commercial district: 14th Street in Murphy-Blair” by Norman Robert Spatz

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