Home » North City » Recent Articles:

Forget A Football Stadium, North Riverfront Neighborhood Needs A Plan For Redevelopment

The Rams are retuning to Los Angeles. I think many forgot how we got them here in the first place. Without an NFL team since 1988 we attempted to get an expansion team, but that effort ended in December 1993 when Jacksonville FL got the 2nd expansion team. With a new dome underway political leaders had to find a way to pay for what was going to be a career-ending white elephant.

In January 1995 the Los Angeles Rams were negotiating a relocation to St. Louis, but NFL owners rejected the relocation in March ’95. Following legal threats against the NFL, the owners approved the relocation the following month:

St. Louis has has been without an NFL team since 1988, when Cardinal owner Bill Bidwill, tired of being a secondary tenant to the baseball Cardinals in outdated Busch Stadium, moved his team to Phoenix.

St. Louis was considered a lock for an NFL expansion team in 1993, but conflicting ownership groups and financial problems doomed that bid, and Charlotte, N.C., and Jacksonville, Fla., were awarded franchises.

Fans thought New England Patriots owner James Orthwein, a St. Louis native, would move his team to St. Louis in early 1994, but New England businessman Robert Kraft purchased the team at the last minute and kept it in the Boston area.

And St. Louis city and county officials nearly blew their chance at luring the Rams last summer because, until September, they couldn’t wrest control of the new stadium lease from a stubborn beer distributor who had the desire, but not the money, to buy an NFL team.

But the city finally cleaned up its act when, after Shaw broke off talks with St. Louis in August, former U.S. Sen. Thomas Eagleton stepped in and convinced aspiring owner Jerry Clinton to turn over his 30% share of the stadium lease for $8 million and the use of a luxury suite for 20 years.

The new stadium, under construction downtown, is scheduled to be completed in late October, meaning Ram home games for the first half of their first season in St. Louis might be played in Busch Stadium.

The Rams weren’t here permanently —  they were just on loan. Our desperation to fill the Dome we were building resulted in a too good to pass up deal for the Rams. We borrowed them for 21 seasons and one Super Bowl. Hell, they would’ve left a decade earlier if Georgia Frontiere wouldn’t have waived the right to go year to year after the Dome failed to be in the top tier after the first check in 2005.

Despite his claims otherwise, Kroenke likely planned to move the Rams when he purchased a majority stake. To think otherwise is foolish, he owned sports teams all over the country — it’s no big deal to fly to Los Angeles in your private jet. The writing on the wall was obvious to everyone but football nuts and elected officials worried about getting reelected if they didn’t show an effort to keep the Rams from doing the inevitable.

So $16+ million public dollars were spent so elected officials could say “see, we tried.” In doing so, a large swath of the Near North Riverfront was targeted for demolition. This left property owners uncertain about the future. The William A. Kerr Foundation posted the following on Facebook:

Perhaps enough dust has settled that we can breathe a sigh of relief that our little green building no longer faces immanent demolition. During this past year’s great folly to build an NFL worthy stadium in this area, we received many words of support and admiration for what the WAKF has accomplished here and hopes that it would continue to exist. We are very touched and grateful for this outpouring of support and are pleased that many people and organizations will continue to be able to use and enjoy this space. Now we hope that you and the powers that be will put some focused energy and money into revitalizing this whole north riverfront area. Thank you for all your good wishes and support!!

Agreed — we should keep focusing on the North Riverfront — revitalizing — not razing the area.  Unlike in the early 90s, it doesn’t appear targeted properties were bought out. Nothing was razed.  But owners are likely leery about investing out of fear of being targeted again.

The Laclede Power building, just North of the Ashley Street Power House, is a contributing building in a small historic district.
The Laclede Power building, just North of the Ashley Street Power House, is a contributing building in a small historic district.
Warehouses in the along Ashley between 2nd and Lewis.
Warehouses in the along Ashley between 2nd and Lewis.
After a $10 million dollar investment, the Stamping Lofts opened in April 2013. Also part of a historic district.
After a $10 million dollar investment, the Stamping Lofts opened in April 2013. Also part of a historic district.

As a region we need to:

  1. Accept we will not have another NFL team.
  2. Be content with existing sports: MLB, NHL, MASL, USL, NCAA.
  3. Consider attracting other sports, but not with a publicly-owned facility.
  4. Build on the investment in planning a stadium by planning how to be life, investment, jobs, etc to the North Riverfront.

Schlafly Beer is looking for a location for a third brewery, perhaps the North Riverfront? Let’s put together a plan for the area, find a way to begin updating streets, sidewalks, lighting, etc. Market the hell out of the area to tun vacant properties into occupied buildings.

In the non-scientific Sunday Poll just over 20% said we should continue with the stadium plan — really folks!?!  Thankfully more than 3/4 don’t think we should.

Q: Agree or disagree? We should continue the North Riverfront stadium plan

  • Strongly agree 3 [5.08%]
  • Agree 5 [8.47%]
  • Somewhat agree 4 [6.78%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 1 [1.69%]
  • Somewhat disagree 1 [1.69%]
  • Disagree 6 [10.17%]
  • Strongly disagree 38 [64.41%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 [1.69%]

The first step is to remove the target from the North Riverfront.

— Steve Patterson

 

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

 

Advertisement



FACEBOOK POSTS

Where am I? The specific business...

ANSWER: The Mudhouse, 2101 Cherokee
... See MoreSee Less

16 hours ago  ·  

Where was I?

ANSWER: Chippewa & Watson. Wasn’t going to cross here, just walking back to a friend’s rental car.
... See MoreSee Less

2 days ago  ·  

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe