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Traffic Backup at Noon

ABOVE: Traffic backed up to Washington Ave at 11:45am

Friday the 15th I observed an unusual sight, traffic backing up on Washington Ave at 11:45am. At the moment some cars were sitting on Washington Ave waiting to turn onto  16th Street. Obviously some big event at City Museum was attracting lots of people, and their cars.

Other than before and after events, downtown has no traffic to speak of.  It would be nice if more people would use transit or at least not try to park in front of the door of their destination. Most of these people probably ended up parking a block or two away anyway. I see the same thing at other venues all the time, drivers on 18th street waiting to turn onto Clark Ave to reach Scottrade Center. Really? What are they thinking?

If you are driving to a major event downtown please don’t try driving to the exact spot where the event is held, target a block or two in any direction. Better yet, take a bus or train.

– Steve Patterson


25 Year Old Gateway Parking Facility To Be Razed

ABOVE: Arch garage at the north end of Arch grounds

The multi-level parking garage at the north end of the Gateway National Expansion Memorial site will be razed as part of the City+Arch+River work to better connect the Arch to it’s surroundings.

While I agree the structure needs to be razed, it never should have been constructed in the first place.  More shocking is the structure is only 25 years old.

ABOVE: Gateway Arch Parking Facility Constructed 1986 plaque

I guess I knew the garage dated to 1986 but I forgot until I saw the above plaque last week. The garage was a joint effort of the city, National Park Service and Bi-State Development (now Metro).

ABOVE: Top level of the Arch garage, August 2010

The garage is a major barrier between the Arch and the Eads Bridge, MetroLink and Laclede’s Landing.

ABOVE: an suv exits the Arch garage onto Washington, October 2010

But isn’t it sad that we are having to undo decisions made just 25 years ago?

ABOVE: pedestrians from Laclede's Landing and MetroLink are directed to the Arch via this recent path, Oct 2010

– Steve Patterson


Sidewalks Reopened Around Former St. Louis Centre

ABOVE: Former walkway over Washington Ave, looking west from 6th on May 19, 2010

St. Louis Centre, the former failed downtown enclosed mall, was an assault on the sidewalk and the pedestrians that use them.  In typical mall fashion, retail was turned inward rather than facing the sidewalk.  The walkways over Washington & Locust blocked views on both streets in both directions. 1980s thinking at it’s worst!

In the last year the structure has been transformed ground level retail and enclosed parking.  The work is nearly complete.

ABOVE: Looking west from 6th on December 10, 2010

Storefronts now face the public sidewalks on all sides of the building which occupies the city block bounded by Washington Ave on the north, 6th on the east, Locust on the south and 7th on the west.  During the last year the sidewalks were closed during construction.

ABOVE: Looking west from 6th on April 14, 2011

Thursday evening I was able to do a complete circle around the building. The only sidewalk not open is the raised part, shown above. Usually you don’t want to place steps between the main sidewalk and retail businesses because that can cut down on foot traffic, but sometimes you have no choice given the grades.

– Steve Patterson


On-Street Parking on Clark Ave

April 14, 2011 Downtown, Parking 10 Comments
ABOVE: looking east on Clark Ave toward Tucker

On-street parking exists on Clark Ave. between Tucker (12th) and 14th Street but it is all off limits to the general public.

ABOVE: example of permit only sign

I’m not complaining, the spaces have been designated for police and others in the area, such as the medical examiner.  I’ll be interested to see what happens once the St. Louis Police move their  headquarters to a building on Olive (see post). Will most be made available to the general public? What will become of the old police headquarters?

– Steve Patterson


Parking Needed for Restoration and Occupancy of the Municipal Courts Building?

On April Fool’s Day Paul Hohmann had an excellent post suggesting the city was going to raze the vacant Municipal Courts Building and replace it with a parking garage.

ABOVE: Hohmann's mock-up of the joke (bottom)

The city isn’t going to raze the building but what are we going to do with the structure? There have been numerous ideas over the last decade but it seems the lack of a large source of dedicated parking is problematic.  Downtown has an excess of parking but the oversupply isn’t where it is needed.  I’ve got an idea.

ABOVE: View of the south side of the Municipal Courts as seen from 14th & Clark.

I still miss the old city jail that occupied the NE corner of Clark Ave & 14th Street, why not build a mostly underground parking structure with street-level storefronts facing both 14th & Clark Ave? The parking could serve the need of tenant(s) in the Municipal Courts, City Hall, Scottrade Center, Busch Stadium and the Peabody Opera House (formerly Kiel).  Retail & restaurants could serve all the above as well as the Sheraton Hotel located one block south and the many daily transit riders at the Civic Center bus & light rail station, also a block south.

ABOVE: Satellite view from Google Maps

Activating the sidewalks along both 14th and Clark Ave would do wonders for improving the walkability of the area.  I’m thinking 3-4 floors of occupied floors about grade. If parking was above grade it should be fully enclosed.  Ideally the bulk of the parking would be below sidewalk level, not above.

The big picture would be to evaluate all 10 blocks of Clark Ave from Busch (8th) to Union Station (18th), finding opportunities to improve the many people who currently walk all or part of this stretch.  Way back in July 2006 I posted about building over the existing MetroLink lines between 15th-18th, also facing Clark Ave.

The Municipal Courts Building would be a premier location for one or more law firms.  Treasurer Larry Williams has the ability to fund the structure, leasing some space to future firns in the Municipal Courts.

– Steve Patterson