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Giving Away Parking at City Hall

April 11, 2011 Downtown, Parking 66 Comments

Saturday April 2nd I noticed the main portion of the parking lot south of city hall was full while the part closer to 14th St was empty.  The Cardinals had an away game this day so I’m not sure why all the cars.  I thought it was good to see the parking lot bringing in revenue on a Saturday rather than just sit vacant.

But wait, the gates are wide open! Of course on a Saturday there probably isn’t enough turnover to staff the booth.  The Treasurer’s Office needs to enter the 21st century and get technology to automate the process to collect the parking fee. Of course the Treasurer also has downtown parking meters at no charge on weekends but some [refer lots and would pay.

– Steve Patterson



U.S. Bank Plaza To Remain A Dead Space?

March 29, 2011 Downtown, Parking, Plazas 4 Comments
ABOVE: U.S. Bank Plaza as seen from the former St. Louis Centre November 2010

Back in 2008 it was announced that the plaza at 7th & Locust would be replaced with a parking garage (Tough Decisions: Useless Plaza Vs. Another F-ing Parking Garage).  The plaza unfortunately replaced the Ambassador Theater.

Since the 2008 announcement St. Louis Centre is being converted into a parking garage with ground-level retail. So the plaza remains a lifeless hole downtown. Don’t even think about sitting on the grass at lunch, the guard will run you off. The grass, and the entire plaza space, are for show only — not use.

The Ambassador filled the space beautifully but it has been gone more than 15 years now.  Mercantile Bank, later bought by U.S. Bank, wanted to create a welcoming entrance to the tower.  A massive dead space isn’t welcoming! The solution?

In the short term invite vendors to sell food from carts & trucks at lunchtime.  A vendor truck can just pull into the circle drive.  Also, invest in a few tables, chairs and umbrellas.  Encourage people to sit on the grass and play in the fountain. Basically the opposite of what they’ve done for 15+ years.

Longer term the grassy area should be replaced with a highly  modern glass & steel building of at least 2 stories in height. I’m thinking a restaurant space, perhaps with more seating on the roof.  The auto access for the circle drive could be removed and the plaza repaved to eliminate the curbs, part being used for seating of the restaurant.

We just can’t afford dead corners like this to remain lifeless, no matter how green the grass is even in November.

– Steve Patterson


Parking Garage Contributes to Dead Zone

Continuing my look at the vast dead pocket of downtown St. Louis that is north of Washington Ave and west of the convention center.  Last week I looked at buildings at 10th & Convention Plaza (formerly Delmar).  See posts from Tuesday & Friday.

ABOVE: 10th Street looking north toward Cole St

The blocks between Lucas Ave and Cole St are an unfriendly zone between the residential neighborhood north of Cole and the improving core of downtown. This garage is the only structure on the block bounded by 9th on the east, Martin Luther King Dr on the south, 10th on the west & Cole  on the north (aerial)

ABOVE: as if the garage wasn't bad enough, a chain link gate makes it worse

Cities can handle poor planning here and there, but multi-block areas just can’t be absorbed.  These must be redone.  That doesn’t mean raze everything within the area and start over, just take a close look at the area and plan for fixes to the problems.  Changes to zoning & sign codes would eventually improve the area.

ABOVE: dead zone is bounded by 9th, Lucas Ave, Hadley & Cole. Source: Google maps, click to view

I suggest a detailed look and the issues in the small area bounded by th, Lucas Ave, Hadley & Cole.  Both sides of the boundary streets would be included in the evaluation because the blank wall of the convention center along 9th is dreadful.  A larger downtown plan can’t address this area at the level of detail it needs.

– Steve Patterson


Car Blocked Hydrant On 9th At Olive

December 30, 2010 Downtown, Parking 15 Comments

Recently I posted about an illegally parked city vehicle (City Employee Parks City Vehicle Next To Fire Hydrant) but many of you felt it was a non-issue.  The car wasn’t that close to the hydrant and the curb wasn’t painted yellow.  The other night I saw a clear example.

ABOVE: Red Mazda RX8 is clearly illegally parked on 9th at Olive

No question this car is blocking the fire hydrant. But no, the red Mazda RX8 isn’t a city-owned vehicle.  This illegally parked car belongs to an on-duty police officer!

ABOVE: Hang tag from mirror identifies owner as an officer

Yes, I called the police non-emergency number to report the vehicle. I also reported this to Charles Bryson, Director of Public Safety. I doubt the officer got a ticket.

– Steve Patterson


City Employee Parks City Vehicle Next To Fire Hydrant

ABOVE: City vehicle parked in no-parking area in front of fire hydrant on 11/10/2010

If you or I parked blocking a fire hydrant it wouldn’t be long before our car was ticketed and towed away, resulting in big fees.  But a city employee driving a city-owned vehicle, it seems, can get away with doing what we can’t.

ABOVE: City vehicle parked in no-parking area between disabled space and fire hydrant on 11/10/2010

I’m sure it was just for a few minutes but anyone could use the same excuse.  The fact is the city isn’t going to ticket or tow away it’s own vehicle.  This employee likely didn’t face any disciplinary action for how they parked.  As a matter of policy, city employees operating city vehicles need to be held to the same standard as anyone else.

Some vehicles mention the department on the door but this one didn’t so I assume it is a pool vehicle that can be checked out as needed.  This makes me wonder, who manages the vehicles? What does the employee agree to when they check out a car?

– Steve Patterson