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Dead at 33: North 14th Street Pedestrian Mall (1977-2010)

The North 14th Street Pedestrian Mall, in a vegetative state for 20+ years of it’s short life, has died. The plug was finally pulled but nobody is mourning the passing.

ABOVE: 14th & Montgomery, 1972 (pre-mall), photo by Robert Spatz
ABOVE:  14th & Montgomery, Spring 1991
ABOVE: 14th & Montgomery, Spring 1991

In fact, today from 4pm-8pm is a celebration.

ABOVE: 14th & Montgomery, July 2010
ABOVE: 14th & Montgomery, July 2010

In a bit of irony, 14th Street will not be opened until after a street party.  The center of the newly redone 2-block area is 14th & Montgomery, one block south of Crown Candy Kitchen. The area is easily reached by transit (via #30 & #74) bus routes.  Congrats to everyone in Old North St. Louis for finally reopening North 14th Street!

– Steve Patterson


History bulldozed on this day in 1963

ABOVE: MLK & Leffingwell, Franklin no longer goes through, July 2010

One of my favorite books is St. Louis Day by Day by Frances Hurd Stadler (1989). The entry for July 24th takes us back to 1963, forty-seven years ago today:

Bulldozers moved in to demolish the large cast-iron watering trough at the triangle formed by the intersection of Franklin, Easton and Leffingwell avenues. Made of fourteen sections bolted together, the trough had long served as a refreshment spot for some of the city’s busiest draft horses. Franklin and Easton, now Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, had formed part of the first road to St. Charles. As the nation expanded west, this link became vital, joining with roads beyond St. Charles up the Missouri River, and eventually branching off onto the Santa Fe Trail.

Within the city, Easton was an important business thoroughfare, and the Y formed by the three streets was the logical place for trade wagons to halt and for horses to drink. The only remaining St. Louis example of this once-common feature of equine architecture can be found at Alabama, Virginia, and Ivory avenues, where neighborhood residents have built a small park and planted the old watering through with flowers.

Today the triangle of Franklin, Easton & Leffingwell isn’t a triangle. The Franklin side was removed when Dr. Martin Luther King Drive received new curbs and sidewalks, around 2004.

Since the book was published the flowers have been replaced by a fountain at the Ivory Triangle:

ABOVE: Horse trough used as a fountain in the Ivory Triangle

I wonder if the trough that was removed in 1963 would be an interesting community spot had it remain?

– Steve Patterson


New grocery co-op offers rare product in north city neighborhood: fresh vegetables

ABOVE: Old North Co-Op
ABOVE: Old North Co-op at 13th & St. Louis Ave

Last Saturday hundreds turned out for the ribbon cutting on the Old North Grocery Co-op.

veggies at the Old North Grocery Co-Op
veggies at the Old North Grocery Co-op

They were still stocking the shelves but it was far better than when I saw the very raw space a week earlier. Congrats to everyone that made the store a reality!  You do not need to be a co-op member to purchase from the store so be sure to visit after you stop at the North City Farmers’ Market (Saturday before noon).  The farmers’ market is located at 14th & St. Louis Ave (across from Crown Candy Kitchen) and the co-op is a block east at 13th & St. Louis Ave.  Both are easily accessed from the #30 or #74 bus lines.

At the opening of the grocery co-op I talked with many people, two on camera.  First is farmer Rusty Lee of Lee Farms LLC:


Second is Dr. Jon Hagler, Director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture:

The Old North Grocery Co-Op is initially open Monday-Thursday 3-7 pm , Friday 3-6:30 pm, and 9-3 on Saturday. Closed on Sunday.

13th Street Community Garden
13th Street Community Garden

Next door to the co-op is the 13th Street Community Garden.

chicken coop at the 13th street community garden
chicken coop at the 13th street community garden

Tonight at the garden “find out how to prepare your garden harvest.”  This event is at 7pm tonight, Friday July 23rd.

– Steve Patterson


Many readers pleased with Judge Dierker’s ruling on the NorthSide TIF

July 14, 2010 NorthSide Project, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Many readers pleased with Judge Dierker’s ruling on the NorthSide TIF

Last week there were 314 votes in the weekly poll.
Q: How do you feel about Judge Dierker tossing out the $390m TIF for Paul McKee’s $8.1b NorthSide project?

  1. Great, now voters need to toss out the Aldermen that voted in favor of the TIF 113 35.99%
  2. Bad, the area needs redevelopment 56 17.83%
  3. Mixed feelings 53 16.88%
  4. Good, too much public subsidy 49 15.61%
  5. Horrible, TIF is a good way for the public to partner in such a project 32 10.19%
  6. Other answer… 8 2.55%
  7. Unsure/no opinion 3 0.96%

Other Responses were:

  1. the area needs the development but Mckee could have gotten a sum thru investors
  2. The idea was a bold and positive one. The TIF was too large of an area, however.
  3. Great, plan wasn’t concrete enough; not enough guarantee of financial succe
  4. New ordinances needed
  5. Paul McKee had not an ounce of good intentions for the area in question, greed.
  6. Good – a new plan w/ more community-based redevelopment needs to be made.
  7. We need the north side redevelope.
  8. Good: Needs more details

So what to make of these votes? I personally fall into the “mixed feelings” group, although I wouldn’t mind seeing many of our elected officials replaced with some fresh faces. The city stopped setting a vision for much of the area in the large TIF boundary, something had to be done.  I share the feeling that the community should have input into the planning of such a large area of the city.  McKee says the project will move forward:

In his 51-page ruling, Dierker raised questions about the development’s economic projections, the city’s approval process, city officials’ reliance on market studies provided by the developer and McKee’s ability to pull off the project and deliver on his promises to transform 1,500 acres. McKee wants to partner with homebuilders and other developers to build up to 4.5 million square feet of office space, 1 million square feet of retail space, 2,200 new single-family homes and 7,800 apartments over the next two decades – a plan that Dierker said puts the “idea of rosy scenarios to shame.”  Full story: Paul McKee: ‘I’m too German and too Irish to walk away from it’ – St. Louis Business Journal

Stay tuned!

– Steve Patterson


Poll: thoughts on Judge Dierker’s ruling on the NorthSide TIF

You’ve probably heard the news by now:

“A St. Louis judge threw out a city ordinance Friday that authorized $390 million in tax increment financing — the largest in the city’s history — for Paul McKee Jr.’s $8.1 billion NorthSide redevelopment.”

The poll this week is about the decision of Judge Dierker with respect to the TIF ordinance.  The provided answers give you two levels of positive and negative as well as a neutral — they are presented in a random order. You can also provide your own answer and add your comment below.
Happy 234th Birthday America!
– Steve Patterson