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$4.1 Million Dollar Judgement Against Owner of Condemned Parking Garage

In July 2014 the parking garage at Tucker & Locust closed for repairs. It seemed routine at the time.

On July 1, 2014 I posted this image to Twitter & Facebook saying "Workers are prepping the parking garage at Tucker & Locust for rehab (refresh concrete)"
On July 1, 2014 I posted this image to Twitter & Facebook saying “Workers are prepping the parking garage at Tucker & Locust for rehab (refresh concrete)”

It turns out the damage to the post-tensioned structure was more extensive than originally known. Since my original July 2014 tweet, I’ve posted quite a bit about it:

Central Parking System, who operated the garage, sued the owners — two LLCs that begin with Tucker Parking.  Tucker Parking countersued.

The parking garage at Tucker & Locust on March 24th -- two days after Judge Dowd ruled
The parking garage at Tucker & Locust on March 24th — two days after Judge Dowd ruled

On March 22nd Judge Dowd ruled:

JUDGMENT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW SET FORTH IN THE COURT’S ORDERS OF OCTOBER 13, 2015 AND JANUARY 21, 2016, WHICH THE COURT EXPRESSLY INCORPORATES HEREIN, THE COURT ENTERS JUDGMENT AS FOLLOWS:

1. BY AGREEMENT OF THE PARTIES, THE COURT DISMISSES PLAINTIFF CENTRAL PARKING SYSTEM OF MISSOURI, LLC’S CLAIMS AGAINST DEFENDANTS TUCKER PARKING HOLDINGS, LLC AND TUCKER PARKING EQUITIES, LLC AND DECLARATORY JUDGMENT (COUNT I) AND BREACH OF LEASE (COUNT II) WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

So Central lost on their first two counts against Tucker. Let’s continue…

2. ON PLAINTIFF CENTRAL PARKING SYSTEM PARKING SYSTEM OF MISSOURI, LLC’S CLAIM AGAINST DEFENDANTS TUCKER PARKING HOLDINGS, LLC AND TUCKER PARKING EQUITIES, LLC FOR UNJUST ENRICHMENT (COUNT III), THE COURT ENTERS JUDGMENT IN FAVOR OF PLAINTIFF CENTRAL PARKING SYSTEM OF MISSOURI, LLC AND AGAINST DEFENDANTS TUCKER PARKING HOLDINGS, LLC AND TUCKER PARKING EQUITIES, LLC IN THE AMOUNT OF FOUR MILLION ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-ONE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY-FOUR DOLLARS AND SEVENTY-SIX CENTS ($4,161,424.76).

Ouch. What is “unjust enrichment” anyway? The Wax Legal Dictionary defines it as:

The retention of a benefit conferred by another, that is not intended as a gift and is not legally justifiable, without offering compensation, in circumstances where compensation is reasonably expected. 

The elements of a cause of action for unjust enrichment are:  the enrichment of the party accused of unjust enrichment; that such enrichment was at the expense of the party seeking restitution; and the circumstances were such that in equity and good conscience restitution should be made.  An additional requirement is that the party accused of unjust enrichment must know of the benefit conferred; to ensure that the benefit was not foisted on the recipient and is something for which compensation is reasonably expected.

Recovery on a theory of unjust enrichment typically occurs where there was no contract between the parties, or a contract turns out to be invalid.

The specifics of this principal aren’t clear to me from the ruling.

3. ON DEFENDANTS TUCKER PARKING HOLDINGS, LLC AND TUCKER PARKING EQUITIES, LLC’S COUNTERCLAIM AGAINST PLAINTIFF CENTRAL PARKING SYSTEM OF MISSOURI, LLC FOR BREACH OF LEASE (COUNT I), THE COURT FINDS IN FAVOR OF PLAINTIFF CENTRAL PARKING SYSTEM OF MISSOURI, LLC IN PART AND IN FAVOR OF DEFENDANTS TUCKER PARKING HOLDINGS, LLC AND TUCKER PARKING EQUITIES, LLC IN PART. SPECIFICALLY, TO THE EXTENT DEFENDANTS BASE THEIR BREACH OF LEASE CLAIM ON CENTRAL PARKING’S ALLEGED OBLIGATION TO REPAIR THE GARAGE’S POST-TENSIONING SYSTEM BEFORE THE END OF THE LEASE TERM, THE COURT FINDS IN FAVOR OF PLAINTIFF CENTRAL PARKING SYSTEM OF MISSOURI LLC. TO THE EXTENT DEFENDANTS BASED THEIR BREACH OF LEASE CLAIM ON CENTRAL PARKING’S ALLEGED OBLIGATION TO REPAIR DETERIORATION OR DELAMINATION TO THE GARAGE’S CONCRETE SURFACE BEFORE THE END OF THE LEASE TERM, THE COURT FINDS IN FAVOR OF DEFENDANTS TUCKER PARKING HOLDINGS, LLC AND TUCKER PARKING EQUITIES, LLC. HOWEVER, THE COURT FINDS THAT TUCKER CANNOT PROVE ANY DAMAGES FOR THIS BREACH BECAUSE, AS SET FORTH IN THE COURT’S ORDER OF OCTOBER 13, 2015, THE GARAGE IS AT THE END OF ITS USEFUL LIFE, THE GARAGE’S POST-TENSIONING SYSTEM IS BEYOND REPAIR, AND THE FAILURE OF THE POST-TENSIONING SYSTEM WAS DUE TO NORMAL OR ORDINARY “WEAR AND TEAR.” AS A RESULT, THE COURT ENTERS JUDGMENT IN FAVOR OF PLAINTIFF CENTRAL PARKING SYSTEM OF MISSOURI, LLC AND AGAINST DEFENDANTS TUCKER PARKING HOLDINGS, LLC AND TUCKER PARKING EQUITIES, LLC.

Above we can get the message — the garage can’t be repaired.

4. ON DEFENDANTS TUCKER PARKING HOLDINGS, LLC AND TUCKER PARKING EQUITIES, LLC’S COUNTERCLAIMS AGAINST PLAINTIFF CENTRAL PARKING SYSTEM OF MISSOURI, LLC FOR WASTE (COUNT III), NEGLIGENCE (COUNT IV), AND DECLARATORY JUDGMENT (COUNT V), THE COURT ENTERS JUDGMENT IN FAVOR OF PLAINTIFF CENTRAL PARKING SYSTEM OF MISSOURI, LLC.

5. BY AGREEMENT OF THE PARTIES, THE COURT DISMISSES DEFNDANTS TUCKER PARKING HOLDINGS, LLC AND TUCKER PARKING EQUITIES, LLC’S COUNTERCLAIM AGAINST CENTRAL PARKING CORPORATION FOR SUIT ON GUARANTY (COUNTII), WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

6. COSTS ARE ASSESSED AGAINST DEFENDANTS TUCKER PARKING HOLDINGS, LLC AND TUCKER PARKINGS EQUITIES, LLC PURSUANT TO RULE 77.01. SO ORDERED: 32929-JUDGE DAVID L. DOWD

So who owns this garage, who is behind these two Tucker Parking LLCs?

Both were created in Missouri on April 19, 2007, indicating a home state in Delaware. TUCKER PARKING EQUITIES LLC was formed in Delaware two days earlier. City records indicate tax bills are mailed to 24 Church Street, Montclair NJ.

The legal battle may continue for a while. Still, we can accept some facts:

  • The existing garage is unusable, it’ll need to be razed eventually.
  • The owner isn’t in St. Louis.
  • The owner of the adjacent former Post-Dispatch building would like to have parking for tenant use.
  • Many downtown residents, myself included, don’t want any surface parking or even more obvious parking garages.

I contacted 7th Ward Alderman Jack Coatar via email, who said:

It is my understanding that this garage has reached the end of its lifespan and that it would be extremely expensive to shore up this garage and make it safe to use. I would like to see the garage demolished and replaced with another parking structure that includes a first floor retail component.

I would like the development committee of the Downtown Neighborhood Association’s Planning and Zoning Committee to take an active role in the planning for any future use of this site.

If a new garage is built, I’d like it to be enclosed with an exhaust system rather than being open.

— Steve Patterson

 

Too Easy To Meander Inside Many Parking Garages

Lately the issue of safety in parking garages has been in the local news:

There are surveillance cameras at the parking garage on N. 7th street near Washington Ave., however the company that owns and operates the garage, SP Plus, told the victim in a voicemail, “The cameras are not operational”

Now, two years later, it’s the same story. According to an email sent to News 4 by the victim of the sexual assault that happened two weeks ago, SP Plus told her “There are no cameras at 701 N. 7th Street. We apologize for the inconvenience.” (KMOV)

I’m no fan of parking garages — except when I want to take pictures from them. They can often provide some of the best vantage points. Well. assuming I can access them.

Structural repairs being made to one of the Kiener garages in 2010
Structural repairs being made to one of the Kiener garages in 2010

From a photography perspective I like that I can easily access many downtown parking garages without being stopped, but that’s not good for the personal safety of those who park in them. Newer garages seem to do a better job of keeping out people who aren’t retrieving their vehicle.  Still, with any public garage a person can get access if they drive in.

— Steve Patterson

 

Kiener Parking Garages Need A Major Facelift

Work has started on the $19 million revamp of Kiener Plaza”, which will help guide visitors to the upcoming city-facing entrance to the museum under the Arch. With the 1980s Arch parking garage razed visitors will be directed to existing parking garages in the central business district (CBD) — largely the two Kiener garages — across Chestnut Street from Kiener Plaza.

The East & West Kiener garages are highly visible
The East & West Kiener garages are highly visible
From Market & Broadway
From Market & Broadway

After investing a billion in changes to improve the Arch experience and connectivity to downtown, the first & last thing many will see are the Kiener garages. Today I want to discuss the problems and how we might solve them.

The Problems

  • They’re privately owned
  • Owner has little financial incentive to make them more attractive
  • They’re in too good of condition to buy & replace
All four sides of two city blocks are covered in the most awful concrete panels
All four sides of two city blocks are covered in the most awful concrete panels
6th Street is awful with a garage on each side
6th Street is awful with a garage on each side
The layout is dated
The layout is dated
They were built in 1964 (East) and 1966 (West). The garage in the background was used for Famous-Barr for decades -- built in 1962. Photo is approximately 1963-64, from my personal collection
They were built in 1964 (East) and 1966 (West). The garage in the background was used for Famous-Barr for decades — built in 1962. Photo is approximately 1963-64, from my personal collection
The pedestrian entry/exit points require walking into deep walkways, the materials, lighting, elevator, etc don't add up to a positive impression
The pedestrian entry/exit points require walking into deep walkways, the materials, lighting, elevator, etc don’t add up to a positive impression
The East garage pedestrian entry
The East garage pedestrian entry

 

There is some good news…

Built with ground floor retail on all four sides of each -- very rare in the mid-60s.
Built with ground floor retail on all four sides of each — very rare in the mid-60s.
The structures have been maintained. This is structural repairs being made in 2010
The structures have been maintained. This is structural repairs being made in 2010
The concrete exterior panels are attached to the structure, not part of it.
The concrete exterior panels are attached to the structure, not part of it.

The Solutions

With the ugly concrete panels being attacked to the structure one solution is to remove them and reskin it. Easier said than done, but worthy of discussion. Before I go any further let me say I don’t know how this would be paid for. The city has offered facade grants to building owners before, but otherwise using public money on a private building has issues. Perhaps tax abatement if the owner does it? I think this can be figured out — let’s discuss the design.

The old anchors into the structure might not support a new skin after the concrete skin is cut off. Despite being open in the center the exterior walls should continue to allow for airflow — natural ventilation eliminates the need for costly mechanical systems.

I think creative types could come up with some interesting ideas on how to reskin these. I want to share one such parking garage I saw in Cincinnati in November.

This colorful screen appears to be rather simple in construction, click image to view in Google Street View
This colorful screen appears to be rather simple in construction, click image to view in Google Street View
From the sidewalk
From the sidewalk
At night
At night

This screen on an old garage was the work of artist Julian Stanczak, it is titled “Additional”. I like that the Cincinnati garage only had this colorful side facing 6th St.

In St. Louis each of the two Kiener garages could have something unique for each, for each side, or both. I think everyone would agree the South facades facing Kiener Plaza are the most visually important.  All facades should look good day & night — same for the pedestrian entrances for each.

In the past people have mentioned giant video screens but those are costly, cut off airflow, and contribute to light pollution. Steel mesh, colored aluminum, LED lights, etc. are just some of the materials that come to mind. I’d like to see solar panels on the South facade and a new roof canopy to generate power for new LED lighting.

Thanks to reader “Mark-AL” for technical advice.

— Steve Patterson

 

Car Illegally Parked Blocking Fire Hydrant

January 26, 2016 Downtown, Featured, Parking 1 Comment

On the way to the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse a couple of weeks ago I stopped to photograph a car illegally parked on 11th Street at Market St.

Ford has a spotlight but regular Missouri plates. Click image to view the non-space on Google Street View
Ford has a spotlight but regular Missouri plates. Click image to view the non-space on Google Street View

This location on 11th Street is next to the Carnahan Courthouse:

The Carnahan Courthouse is the former federal courthouse building located at 1100-1114 Market Street in St. Louis. The Carnahan Courthouse provides office space and facilities for the Twenty-Second Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri. Additionally, the Carnahan Courthouse provides office space for the City of St. Louis Sheriff’s Department, the City of St. Louis Circuit Attorney, the City of St. Louis Circuit Clerk, the City of St. Louis Public Defender, the City of St. Louis Personnel Department, the City of St. Louis Internal Audit Department, and other City offices.

Many vehicles that park around the courthouse belong to those doing business inside. We have many spots downtown where parking isn’t allowed but it probably should be. But there’s no excuse for parking in front of a fire hydrant.

I’ll send a link to this post, as well as the plate number, to various officials. Hopefully parking enforcement isn’t afraid to ticket court officials who block fire hydrants.

— Steve Patterson

 

New Parking Payment Stations Finally Added To South Side of 11xx Block of Locust Street

Scaffolding next to the condemned parking garage at Tucker & Locust prevented the adjacent parking meters on the South side of Locust Street from being upgraded with the rest of downtown. Until last week, the old meters remained on the South side of Locust between 11th & Tucker (12th). The North side got new individual meters last year.

New multi-space pay stations were installed on January 12th
New multi-space pay stations were installed on January 12th
The meters just before Tucker had long been blocked by scaffolding for the condemned parking garage, but the scaffolding came down in November
The meters just before Tucker had long been blocked by scaffolding for the condemned parking garage, but the scaffolding came down in November
A few days later the old meters were gone, the new pay stations unwrapped. Locking a bike here may be a challenge given the proximity to the new pay station.
A few days later the old meters were gone, the new pay stations unwrapped. Locking a bike here may be a challenge given the proximity to the new pay station.

The other side of the street has new individual meters, not the multi-space pay stations added to the South. This is far from the only block that has both individual meters and multi-space pay stations. I guess having lots of one-way streets and streets that are closed for a block wasn’t confusing enough — now we have two different types of electronic payment machines to understand.

— Steve Patterson

 

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