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Residents Demand Better Design from Alderwoman & Developer

mcd_protest - 5.jpgLocal residents took over a section of sidewalk along South Grand today to protest a plan to allow a McDonald’s with drive-thru to relocate to an area that forbids drive-thrus.

Citizens carried signs and chanted sayings like, “I’m not lovin’ it.” At issue is the Keystone Place development that was granted tax breaks in the late 90s but has been virtually abandoned by the developer Pyramid Companies. It has only been recently, now that they want something, that they’ve started building houses again. The 42,000sf site had a two-story Sears store but it was razed as part of this development. The redevelopment plan for the area specifically prohibits, by ordinance, drive-thru establishments. A variance has also been granted by the city.

Gravois Park residents filed an appeal on the variance. That appeal will be heard this Wednesday April 19, 2006 at 1:30pm in Room 208 of St. Louis City Hall. A variance is one thing but a conflicting ordinance is quite another.

So how do politicos get around an ordinance which prohibits something they want to do? Simple, amend the ordinance! I’m told the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority (LCRA) will take up the issue of amending the redevelopment ordinance for the area to permit drive-thru establishments. That meeting will be at 3pm on Tuesday April, 25, 2006 at 1015 Locust, 12th floor.

For more photos see my Flickr account and PubDef.

– Steve


Reminder: Protest of Ald. Florida’s Drive-Thru Saturday 12:30pm

Tomorrow, Saturday April 15, 32006, will be the protest of the proposed McDonald’s at the corner of Grand & Winnebago (map). Here is a brief recap:

  • The site in question is part of a larger development area that specifically excluded drive-thru establishments.
  • Ald. Florida, developer Pyramid Companies and McDonald’s have been crafting this plan for a while even though publicly Ald. Florida assured Gravois Park residents that the McDonald’s would not go on this site.
  • A City zoning reviewer has granted a variance to permit a drive-thru on the site, causing concerns of neighbors.
  • Residents have filed an appeal to overturn the variance and are interviewing attorneys.
  • Tomorrow at 12:30pm is your chance to stand up and be counted. We need everyone to show Ald. Florida, Pyramid, McDonald’s, the Mayor and the rest of the city that we don’t want to live among suburban fast-food establishments. We want the city to act like a city and be urban. That means buildings up to the sidewalk and very limited parking in relation to building area.

    If you want to catch up on all my posts on this issue click here. The oldest posts will be at the bottom with the most recent (this post) at the top).

    See you tomorrow!

    – Steve


    Dates Set for Protest & Appeal on McDonald’s Drive-Thru

    Citizens opposed to the proposed Suburban McDonald’s will meet on the sidewalk at 3708 S. Grand at 12:30pm on Saturday April 15, 2006. The media is expected around 1pm. Organizers will have signs but feel free to make your own. A petition will most likely be available as well.

    The protest is a lead-in to the appeal of the conditional use variance for the drive-thru. The appeal of the variance will be heard at 1:30pm on Wednesday April 19, 2006 in Room 208 of City Hall.

    It is important to have a large crowd at both events. We need to send a strong message to Ald. Florida, Pyramid Construction, McDonald’s, Ald. President Shrewsbury, and Mayor Slay that we will not tolerate prior redevelopment ordinances being trampled by a few with enough cash to get what they want.

    On a side note, Ald. Florida’s measure to restrict efforts to recall Aldermen failed at the polls on Tuesday. If I were her I’d be worried, very worried.

    Mark your calendars: Saturday 4/15 @ 12:30pm and Wednesday 4/19 @ 1:30pm.

    – Steve


    A Tale of Two Cities (aka Wards)

    While discussing plans for a hotel in the red hot east Loop area a friend asked why Alderwoman Jennifer Florida couldn’t be more like Alderwoman Lyda Krewson. Good question. If you’ve read my prior posts on Florida you know I’m not a fan but I came to her defense. Lyda Krewson is working with Loop visionary & developer Joe Edwards. Or more correctly, Krewson is assisting Edwards create a vibrant urban street, Delmar.

    Florida, given a Joe Edwards-type visionary, might just come off looking as good as Krewson does. Sadly, Florida is stuck with John Steffen’s Pyramid Companies. So instead of getting hip bowling alleys or boutique hotels like the Delmar Loop, Grand gets a relocated McDonald’s drive through surrounded by a sea of parking.

    The mistake Florida made is to accept what they offer and assume that is the best we can get. Pyramid’s best just flat out isn’t good enough. It a company doesn’t get what an urban street in a city should look like then they shouldn’t be operating in the area. I’m sure some municipality in St. Charles County would love to have this McDonald’s.

    Pyramid’s developers must look at this section of Grand and just see parcels of land. An Edward’s type developer that understands the urban model can look at the same part of Grand and see how many residential streets feed into the area, how it intersects with Gravois and Chippewa, that the region’s most popular bus line serves the area. This type developer can see the benefit of a good long-range plan to build up the street to an urban model, the way it was before the city let just anything be built.

    It is make or break time. Florida is pushing hard for her lack of vision developer Pyramid. If they prevail it will be a sad day for St. Louis. It will mean we are not willing to become a strong urban city but one that will accept anything and everything just to say we’ve had so much development in our ward & city.

    Pyramid’s proposal sickens me. Reminds me of the in-fill housing they built in the city with front facing garages a number of years ago (Delmar west of Vandeventer).

    People won’t literally move away because of the McDonald’s but I think we will continue to lose urbanists to other cities if we keep following this path. Similarly, we will not attract the population that seeks an urban city. Cities that are following a more urban model such as Portland and Madison, WI will continue to gain while we are stagnant.

    – Steve


    Citizen’s Distributing Flyers On Pyramid/McDonald’s Issue in 15th Ward

    Flyer in Opposition to McDonald's
    St. Louis Citizens in opposition to the proposed suburban-style McDonald’s on South Grand are using today’s election as an opportunity to reach active voters in the 15th Ward. The 15th Ward is that of Alderwoman Jennifer Florida who is Volunteers concerned about the future of Grand are distributing a flyer to people at two polling places in the ward:

    Mann School, 4047 Juniata (map)

    Fanning School Gym, 3417 Grace (enter from Giles, map)

    If you can volunteer to help pass out flyers please go to one of the above locations. Polls are open until 7pm. Please help convince our elected officials and greedy developers that we want and demand better development along South Grand.

    – Steve