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Chronicle Coffee Now Open, Grand Opening Soon

Last July I posted about a New Coffeehouse Opening Soon on Page Blvd Just East of Grand Ave. It took a white while to open but last month it finally did. A few days ago I met someone there and returned for lunch.  The concept is simple, a nice neighborhood coffeehouse that hires employees from the area.

ABOVE: Chronicle Coffee is located in the corner of a building that also houses the St. Louis Public Housing Authority and a PNG Bank branch.  Click for Google Maps.
ABOVE: Chronicle Coffee is located in the corner of a building that also houses the St. Louis Public Housing Authority and a PNG Bank branch. Click for Google Maps.

But how do you make such an enterprise financially viable? During my visit I was able to chat with the owner, turns out the answer is through acquisition!

Rick Milton, owner of Northwest Coffee Roasting Co., has sold his company to Jason Wilson, the owner of Chronicle Coffee. Chronicle is located just north of Grand Center at 1235 Blumeyer Ave. The sale, completed in December, includes both the Northwest Coffee roasting operation as well as Northwest Coffee cafes in Clayton and the Central West End. (Sauce Magazine)

By buying the well established Northwest Coffee Wilson has quality coffee for Chronicle and a good place to train new employees.

ABOVE: Owner Jason Wilson sat down with us to talk about Chronicle, Northwest and creating jobs in a community in need of work.
ABOVE: Owner Jason Wilson sat down with us to talk about Chronicle, Northwest, and creating jobs in a community in need of more employment opportunities.
ABOVE: Tables & chairs will arrive next month
ABOVE: Tables & chairs will arrive next month

One wall of Chronicle Coffee includes enlarged black & white prints of the former Blumeyer public housing project that once  occupied the immediate area.I know I’ll return when I’m nearby. Wilson is finalizing plans for their grand opening later this month.

— Steve Patterson

 

20th Anniversary of the Julia Davis Library Branch

Twenty years ago the Julia Davis branch of the St. Louis Public Library opened at 4415 Natural Bridge Ave. At the time I lived to the east on Hebert Street in Old North St. Louis.

ABOVE:
ABOVE: The modern building was new construction
ABOVE:
ABOVE: Plaque inside the library notes the date of dedication.

Julia Davis was still living when the branch was dedicated — she was 101 years old.

Born in 1891, Davis graduated from Dumas Elementary, Sumner High and Normal Schools and Stowe Teacher College. She received an M.A. in Education from the State University of Iowa and continued graduate study at Lincoln, Boston, Northwestern, St Louis, Syracuse and New York Universities. From 1913 until her retirement in 1961, she taught in the St. Louis Public Schools. Thirty-five of those years were spent at Simmons Elementary. Among her lifelong interests, Davis pursued research in African-American history. She served actively at Central Baptist church and in national, state, and local Baptist educational programs with the Metropolitan Church Federation. She also served with other civic and cultural groups.

In an effort to raise public awareness of the contributions of African-Americans to American culture, Davis initiated, in 1941, a series of annual exhibits at the St. Louis Public Library. She also published many notable works on African-American history, including a calendar of African-American achievements and a compilation of biographical notes on twenty African-Americans for whom St Louis schools were named.

On November 20, 1961, the day of her retirement from teaching, she established the Julia Davis Fund at the St Louis Public Library. The fund was designed for the purchase of books, manuscripts and other materials related to the African-American contribution to world culture. Thus was initiated the Julia Davis Research Collection on African-American History and Culture. It has grown into a major research collection on the subject. The collection is public and serves a lasting tribute to African-American cultural contributions.

She was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 1981 and celebrated her 100th birthday in November 1991 with a ceremony at Central Library. She died on April 26, 1993. (Wikipedia)

A remarkable life dedicated to education.  The Wikipedia article goes on to say she donated $2,500 to the library at her retirement in 1961 to begin the “Julia Davis Collection of Negro and African Literature and Culture.”  In 2011 dollars that’s over $18,500!!

Thank you Ms. Davis for setting such a great example.

— Steve Patterson

 

Arlington Grove Apartments: An Urban Project In An Unplanned Context

In yesterday’s post, my 9th annual look at Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, I briefly mentioned the now-complete Arlington Grove Apartments. Today is a closer look at this project by McCormack Baron Salazar, the folks behind the North Sarah Apartments.

The biggest problems with Arlington Grove is the context: crossing Martin Luther King Drive on foot and recent non-urban developments.

ABOVE: The urban Arlington Grove Apts as seen from the auto-centric gas station across the street
ABOVE: The urban Arlington Grove Apts as seen from the auto-centric gas station across the street

The gas station across the street is a 4,300 square foot building on a 52,087 square foot lot, built in 2007.  It is massive and destroys urban potential of the three-story buildings facing MLK Dr.

ABOVE: The Arlington Grove project will occupy the entire city block.  Image: Google Maps (click to view)
ABOVE: Aerial view of the site before construction began. Image: Google Maps
ABOVE: Aerial after construction completed. Image: Google Maps
ABOVE: Aerial after construction completed, note the solar panels. Image: Google Maps

Arlington Grove contains 112 1, 2 & 3-bedroom apartments in 22 new buildings and a renovated 3-story school on two parcels totaling 213,800 square feet. At the scale of the gas station, this large site would contain just 17,650 square feet of interior space. Each floor of the renovated school contains nearly 15,000 square feet!  The school, without the 22 new buildings, was already far denser than the gas station.

In other words, these two are radically different visions for the community. The 112 new apartments doesn’t detract from the gas station, but the gas station is a major detractor from the new residential neighborhood.  An urban gas station like this one in Milwaukee would’ve been ideal to create a 3-story front to MLK while also providing a place for people to fuel their cars. Update 1/122 @ 9:25am: See this example of an urban gas station on Google maps here.

Artist rendering of people easily crossing MLK
ABOVE: Artist rendering of people easily crossing MLK
ABOVE: The actual street is missing places to safely cross.
ABOVE: The actual street is missing places to safely cross.
ABOVE: The nearest place to cross MLK is the west side of Clara Ave that runs next to the gas station. Arlington Grove can be seen in the far right.
ABOVE: The nearest place to cross MLK is the west side of Clara Ave that runs next to the gas station. Arlington Grove can be seen in the far right.

The next place to cross is Arlington Ave four blocks to the east! Someone needs to look at this area and make it easier/safer to cross the street.

Ok, back to the development itself. Like I said, the Arlington School, built in 1900, is the centerpiece.

img_2521
ABOVE: In 2011 work had begun on adapting the Arlington School to apartments
ABOVE:
ABOVE: The renovated school building now full of apartments
ABOVE: The old Arlington School is the centerpiece of the development
ABOVE: The old Arlington School is the centerpiece of the development

The one flaw I found with Arlington Grove is wheelchair access to the school building. A wheelchair ramp is provided in back — very convenient for anyone driving a $45,000 van.

ABOVE: Pedestrians entering from the pedestrian entry off Cote Brilliante don't have a direct path, a curb is a barrier.
ABOVE: Pedestrians entering from the pedestrian entry off Cote Brilliante Ave don’t have a direct path, a curb is a barrier (foreground).
ABOVE: What could've been an excellent pedestrian route is easily fixed
ABOVE: From the opposite view, what could’ve been an excellent pedestrian route is easily fixed. I had a leasing person come out to see the problem.
arlingtongrove8
ABOVE: The blue line shows how the current ramps force wheelchair users to go out of their way and into the auto drive rather than just crossing it at a less busy point.
ABOVE: I like that one of the two 3-story buildings facing MLK has storefront spaces
ABOVE: I like that one of the two 3-story buildings facing MLK has storefront spaces
The 22 new buildings have similar materials but unique designs.
The 22 new buildings have similar materials but unique designs.

I realize the entire 5+ mile stretch of Dr. Martin Luther King Drive can’t be lined with 3-story buildings, some with storefronts. But with some advanced planning the Arlington Grove development could’ve been anticipated prior to the construction of the gas station in 2007. That would’ve allowed for the plans to create similar building scales on both sides of MLK with either an urban gas station or with the gas station located a little further away.

But we don’t plan, we do piecemeal.

— Steve Patterson

 

Little Change on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive

This is my ninth look at St. Louis’ Martin Luther King Jr. Drive on Martin Luther King Day.  As before, the street doesn’t do the man justice. For the previous eight years I started downtown, west to the city limits and returned. That was done by car or motor scooter, but I longer have a car.  Recently returning to St. Louis in a rented car I had the foresight to exit I-44 at Jamison, making my way over to McCausland and Skinker to the west end of MLK Dr.

The following are sixteen images from my drive east to downtown.

ABOVE: Commercial district continues west off the city limits
ABOVE: Commercial district continues west off the city limits line
ABOVE: Just inside the city limits is the old Wellston Loop streetcar building
ABOVE: Just inside the city limits is the old Wellston Loop streetcar building
ABOVE: Across the street the once bustling district is largely vacsant
ABOVE: Across the street the once bustling district is largely vacsant
ABOVE: The former JC Penny store continues to deteriorate
ABOVE: The former JC Penny store continues to deteriorate
ABOVE: But businesses do exist today, still serving the needs of area residents
ABOVE: But businesses do exist today, still serving the needs of area residents
ABOVE: Just east of Goodfellow is one of my personal favorites
ABOVE: Just east of Goodfellow is one of my personal favorites
ABOVE: Housing development Arlington Grove is now open -- and fully occupied. More on this tomorrow.
ABOVE: Housing development Arlington Grove is now open — the residential units are fully occupied. More on this tomorrow.
ABOVE: Surprised to see this building still standing, even more surprised to see the front being tuck pointed.
ABOVE: Surprised to see this building still standing, even more surprised to see the front being tuck pointed.
ABOVE: Two of the four corners of Union & MLK have former gas stations, a third is currently a gas station.
ABOVE: Two of the four corners of Union & MLK have former gas stations, a third is currently a gas station.
ABOVE: A new tenant is in the retail space at MLK & Kingshighway, but it wasn't even built with a connection to the public sidewalk just a few feet away
ABOVE: A new tenant is in the retail space at MLK & Kingshighway, but it wasn’t even built with a connection to the public sidewalk just a couple of feet away
ABOVE: Boards over former windows is a too common sight
ABOVE: Boards over former windows is a too common sight, auto-related businesses dominate the area east of Kingshighway
ABOVE: Across from the renovated buildings of Dick Gregory Place is a nice looking restaurant
ABOVE: Across from the renovated buildings of Dick Gregory Place is a nice looking restaurant, Arkansas Fried Chicken. Click image for Yelp listing
ABOVE: The corner of one building is collapsing
ABOVE: The corner of one building is collapsing
ABOVE: Another favorite building waiting for a new use.
ABOVE: Another favorite building waiting for a new use.
ABOVE: Nearby is yet another favorite, in very original condition.
ABOVE: Nearby is yet another favorite, in very original condition.
ABOVE: Skipping ahead from Vandeventer to Tucker we have the ongoing project to fill in the former railroad tunnel.
ABOVE: Skipping ahead from Vandeventer to Tucker we have the ongoing project to fill in the former railroad tunnel.

A few bright spots exist along this 5.7 mile stretch (map), but a more comprehensive approach is needed to address the myriad of problems that exist. The piecemeal approach isn’t going to do much beyond the immediate areas that have seen reinvestment.

We must find ways to get sources of good employment in the area again. It’s easy for you tell tell me the reasons why reality is that won’t happen, why jobs left and won’t return. I know why.  I want to know ideas for bringing new jobs in the future.

Tomorrow I’ll take a closer look at the Arlington Heights Apartments.

— Steve Patterson

 

Never Know What You’ll See Out The Bus Window

One of the great things about riding the bus is being able to observe the city as you pass through it…

ABOVE: An odd scene at Cass & Jefferson
ABOVE: An odd scene at Cass & Jefferson, click image for map.

…and being able to photograph something that strike’s you as odd.  A military truck parked on a pill of dirt/rocks is such an example.

This site had a building on it as recently as 1971, verified via historicaerials.com. That spot where the truck is parked was vacant in 1909 but buildings existed to the left and right. The building in the background was already there, it was Brown Shoe’s “Blue Ribbon factory”, via Sanborn maps.

The NW corner of the vacant Pruitt-Igoe site is across the street.

— Steve Patterson

 

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