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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

 

Some Possible Reasons Why the North Grand Schnucks Didn’t Make a Profit

Local grocery store chain Schnucks made a big announcement on Monday regarding a store they acquired in their 1995 purchase of the National chain:

Next month, the region’s leading grocer will have only one store in the city north of Delmar Boulevard.

The Maryland Heights-based company announced Monday it is closing its grocery at North Grand Boulevard and Kossuth Avenue, effective 6 p.m. May 10. (stltoday)

Here is the press release:

ST. LOUIS – Leaders of Schnuck Markets, Inc. today announced they will not renew the lease on the Grand and Kossuth Store (4127 N. Grand, 63107) in north St. Louis. The store will close permanently at 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 10. No jobs will be lost; all 65 teammates will be transferred to nearby Schnucks stores.

According to Schnucks President and CEO Todd Schnuck, the 28,000-square-foot store has consistently operated in the red since it was purchased as part of the 1995 National acquisition. “Closing any store is a difficult decision particularly when we have invested so substantially in the 45-year-old facility including a $200,000 Pharmacy remodel just one year ago. Nothing we’ve done has helped improve the store’s performance.”

“Store Manager Roger Hines and Co-Manager Sharon Evans lead an experienced and dedicated team. Yet despite their best efforts and strong rapport with customers, the store continues to lose money,” Schnuck said. “While customers appreciate the offering we bring to the neighborhood, sales at this store will not offset needed repairs, escalating labor, utility and insurance costs.”

Currently, operating a total of nine stores within the city limits (including Grand and Kossuth), Schnucks continues to demonstrate its commitment to city residents. “In this particular location, we are challenged by lack of population growth and the opportunity to attract new customers,” said Schnuck. “We thank our customers and community partners for their support over the years and we will continue to look for more ways in which to deliver needed services to our customers in St. Louis City.”

Schnuck says that should the landlord entice another grocer to the site, Schnucks would leave the majority of the store’s fixtures in place. In the meantime, the company will start a sell down of goods prior to the May 10 close.

Pharmacy customers may continue to have their prescriptions filled through May 10. Additional information will be provided prior to the close.

Founded in St. Louis in 1939, Schnuck Markets, Inc. operates 101 stores (including Grand and Kossuth) and 95 in-store pharmacies in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa.

# # #

I’d been by this store numerous times, when it was a National I lived not far away in Old North St. Louis, but I’d never been inside. So the day after the announcement I boarded the #41 MetroBus, which stops on Kossuth right next to the store property.   Between downtown (14th & Washington) and the Schnucks a couple of passengers boarded the bus that got off at the Kossuth & Grand stop to do their grocery shopping.   Let’s take a critical look at this store to see why they couldn’t attract new customers.

View from the Kossuth bus stop
View from the Kossuth bus stop, a beauty supply &  laundromat are next door
Looking toward Grand from the front of a building on the same property
Looking toward Grand from the front of a building on the same property, a #70 MetroBus is in the background
The laundromat attached to the Schnucks
The laundromat attached to the Schnucks
Once at the Schnucks access to the south entranced is blocked by the carts
Once at the Schnucks access to the south entranced is blocked by the carts
The view from Grand
The view from Grand
The separation between the Grand sidewalk and the parking lot is almost nonexistent
The separation between the Grand sidewalk and the parking lot is almost nonexistent
The north entrance is close to Lee Ave but a dish-drainer type bike rack blocks direct access
The north entrance is close to Lee Ave but a dish-drainer type bike rack blocks direct access
The entry is just as impressive as the rest of the exterior
The entry is just as impressive as the rest of the exterior
Immediately you get the idea this Schnucks wants to be an ALDI or Save-A-Lot.
Immediately you get the idea this Schnucks wants to be an ALDI or Save-A-Lot.
The fresh produce dept, including greens,  was very nice though
The fresh produce dept, including greens, was very nice though
The pharmacy that was recently added or updated.
The pharmacy that was recently added or updated.
Throughout the store ceiling times were missing or water stained.
Throughout the store ceiling times were missing or water stained.

Now you’ve seen the store, inside and out. Think anyone goes out of their way to shop here? Nope! Anyone pass other grocery stores on the way home from work shop here? Nope! Those who live near this Schnucks likely shop elsewhere if they have a car or access to another bus route.

An ALDI is located  just the other side of Fairgrounds Park, it was built in 1999, the Schnucks was built in 1968. Those who use the #70 route can just as easily go to the much nicer ALDI. Those who drive likely pass other grocery stores on the drive home from work, so they have nicer options. I worked at Union near I-70 when the Schnucks at Union & Natural Bridge opened in 1998, I’d go by sometimes at lunch to get a salad.

The Kossuth Schnucks lacks profitable departments like salad/olive bars, deli, prepared foods, floral, etc. The store is only 28,000 sq ft, about half of most newer Schnucks, but larger than the 21,000 sq ft Culinaria store downtown that has all those departments. A ALDIs doesn’t have prepared foods, floral, etc and manage with 17,000 sq ft stores, but their model is very different from Schnucks.

And hours is another big difference. The Schnucks at Union & Natural Bridge is open, like many Schnucks, from 6am-midnight every day. This allows customers to shop before or after work. The Kossuth store hours have been “Mon-Sat 7am-9pm, Sun 8am-8pm” which means many can’t shop there even if they wanted to.

Is Schnucks the bad guy here? For the most part, no. Schnucks doesn’t own the property, they’re a tenant.

The North Grand building is owned by Marvin Holdings LLC, which lists Mishaal Taqui as its organizer. It acquired the building in the fourth quarter of 2013 and offered to do about $100,000 in roof repairs, said Taqui’s spokesman, Glenn Jamboretz.

Taqui wanted a multiyear lease from the retailer and a small rent increase to offset the cost of the repairs. It had been renting the building year-to-year for about $6,100 a month, Jamboretz said. A sales incentive clause sometimes bumped that monthly payment up to around $6,500.

Schnucks said no thanks to the multiyear lease, and soon after, announced it would close. (stltoday)

The closure of this store will leave a void on the market, the Schnucks carries products the nearby ALDI simply doesn’t stock. Those who get their prescriptions here will need to find another pharmacy, perhaps the Schnucks at Union & Natural Bridge. I can imagine some who are transit-dependant moving closer to another grocery store or a different bus line. The landlord will need to do lots of work to attract a quality store, even then it doesn’t seem likely.

The site is ideal for a 3-5 story urban building with 100,000 sq ft of ground floor retail, much of which could be a grocery store. I’d like to see local upstart Fields Foods consider such a store.

— Steve Patterson

 

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