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Old Gas Station, New Use

Nearly two years ago, March 18, 2011, ground was broken on a rehab & new construction project called Botanical Grove, west of Botanical Heights and part of the area once known as McRee Town. The main focus that day was residential — rehab of existing buildings and new modern infill. I was there and thrilled by the ambitious plans of the developers. The work continues but many of the residential units are occupied by homeowners. I was also skeptical about the future of a tiny little former gas station at the corner of McRee & Tower Grove Ave.

ABOVE:
ABOVE: The gas station I saw on March 18, 2011

I could see the appeal and potential but I knew the lending climate that existed, would anything come of the idea to remake the gas station? In a word, yes!

ABOVE:
ABOVE: On February 16, 2013 I visited Olio with friends. Olio had been open a few months at this point. Click image for Olio’s website.
ABOVE: Interior of Olio
ABOVE: Interior of Olio retains & exposes much of the old structure
ABOVE: Baked yogurt dessert
ABOVE: Baked yogurt with honey & compote dessert

Some will say gentrification, the affluent are pushing out the poor. I see a once decrepit structure brought back to live bringing in tax revenue for the city and employing people. Botanical Heights to the east employed the cleared earth strategy of urban renewal but Botanical Grove kept and rehabbed many existing structures and infilled on vacant lots. Many housing types were offered as a result.

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers: Rams Should Pay For Their Own Facility In STL Region

Two-thirds of readers last week thought the Rams should pay for any new facility, but they’d like them to stay in the region. Here were the results:

ABOVE: Edward Jones Dome as seen from The Laurel Apartments
ABOVE: Edward Jones Dome as seen from The Laurel Apartments

Q: Arbitrators ruled in favor of the Rams regarding the EJ Dome lease, what outcome would you like now?

  1. Rams to pay for their own facility, but staying in the region 134 [67%]
  2. For the Rams to move elsewhere 31 [15.5%]
  3. Other: 19 [9.5%]
  4. City/county/state pay build a new facility 9 [4.5%]
  5. CVC/city/county/state pay for the Dome modifications 7 [3.5%]
  6. Unsure/No Opinion 0 [0%]

Many of the 19 “other” answers indicated some sort of public-private split:

  1. 50/50
  2. New stadium financed partially by Kroenke and partially by tax dollars
  3. they all pay.
  4. Rams, City, County and fans pay for new facility in downtown
  5. build a new stadium southwest of busch
  6. Rams Owners to pay off the OLD facility, then move away to wherever!
  7. Public-Private partnership for a new stadium
  8. to get the G4 from the NFL and HELP pay for the NEW DOME in STL
  9. Rams pay majority to rehab the Dome. Must get more use out of a 17 yr old bldg.
  10. It will be a combination of city / county / state / NFL & Rams money – new stadi
  11. Los Angeles Relocation
  12. Move to Maryland Heights
  13. Rams build stadium on illinois riverfront
  14. city state and rams pay. keep stadium downtown
  15. Agreement for both parties to contribute to a new stadium not downtown
  16. Rams and CVC/city/county/state pay for Dome modifications
  17. Stan signs long term lease with no changes needed to current dome : )
  18. Rams, NFL, CVC/city/county/state pay for facility
  19. Rams stay, hybrid financing – team + NFL + taxpayers

So why didn’t I include such an option in the poll?

CVC leaders immediately said that it was unlikely the state, St. Louis city and St. Louis County would agree to such an expense. The three are still paying a combined $24 million a year toward the bonds taken out to build the Dome. (stltoday.com)

Because we haven’t paid for the facility we have! The bond holders still expect to get paid regardless of where the Rams play after March 2015. If the Rams want to pay off the remaining debt on the Edward Jones Dome then I suppose some sort of shared effort to finance a new facility could be discussed.

The one topic I’ve not seen covered in all this is the PSL – personal seat license. The City of Charlotte is going through a very similar process with the Carolina Panthers:

Belong Forever.

That’s the Carolina Panthers’ marketing campaign to persuade fans to buy Permanent Seat Licenses, which gives someone the right to buy season tickets for a “lifetime” of football at Bank of America Stadium.

But as the team negotiates with the city of Charlotte for $125 million in public money for stadium renovations, some fans have questioned what their PSLs guarantee them.

The truth: A PSL is only permanent and forever for as long as the team stays in Bank of America Stadium. (Charlotte Observer)

Does it make a difference to Rams PSL holders if the dome gets a major overhaul versus building a new facility in Fenton, for example?

The only site  I can think of in the City of St. Louis large enough for a football stadium is the former Pruitt-Igoe public housing project at Cass & Jefferson.

— Steve Patterson

Ballpark Village Phase One Started

In December 2009 I suggested the then-stalled Ballpark Village site should be broken up and built in phases rather than all at once, here’s a quote:

As big multi-block projects gets harder to finance and build as a single package we need to break it up into smaller pieces. Legal mechanisms exist to ensure the total vision will be realized once all the parcels have been built out. It might take 10-15 years by the time it is fully built out but great spaces and great spaces seldom happen at once.

We are close to four years of the site being vacant and we don’t know how many more years it will remain so. Had the site been platted as individual building sites we may have already seen a new structure or two in the area. (It takes a village, or does it?)

What did the Cardinals & Cordish announce  at Friday’s groundbreaking?

ABOVE: Site plan for BPV Phase 1 released 2/8/2013
ABOVE: Site plan for BPV Phase 1 released 2/8/2013. Click site plan image to view the full PDF press release

Phase one will have “two large buildings” facing Busch Stadium, one on each side of an entertainment space.

“The first phase will also include the construction; all of the streets, parking and infrastructure to support the remaining blocks of the project in future phases.  That means that in just over a year from now, this about this, in addition to having one hundred thousand square feet of  new retail and entertainment downtown, we will also have several very attractive pad-ready development sites. Ballpark Village will be a premier location for offices, entertainment and housing.” — stated at groundbreaking

This is how the site should’ve been planned all along! From the press release:

Ballpark Village will serve as an entertainment center for the region, attracting 6 million-plus visitors year-round. The $100 million first phase also includes all of the streets, parking and site infrastructure to support the future phases of the seven-block mixed-use project, allowing the city to market pad-ready sites ripe for development. The development team expects future phases of Ballpark Village to include additional retail and entertainment venues, as well as commercial office space and residential units.

Questions still remain about phase one, mostly around the street grid. Currently 8th Street (west edge) is one-way southbound (down) until Clark Ave. where it’s then two-way.

Looking north at 8th Street from the pedestrian bridge that will be removed.
Looking north at 8th Street from the pedestrian bridge that will be removed.
ABOVE: The curving 7th Street from Clark Ave to Walnut St will be eliminated
ABOVE: The curving 7th Street from Clark Ave to Walnut St will be eliminated
ABOVE: This southward view shows 8th with 7th to the left but with 2-way traffic south of Clark Ave.
ABOVE: This southward view shows 8th with 7th to the left but with 2-way traffic south of Clark Ave.

Hopefully 8th Street will become two-way all the way up to Washington Ave., but I doubt it.Will the new east-west street shown in the site plan be a public or private street?It should be public since the city is giving up 7th, a good chunk of real estate.

ABOVE: I posed for a picture with Fredbird after the groundbreaking.
ABOVE: I posed for a picture with Fredbird after the groundbreaking.

Phase One is scheduled to be completed by opening day 2014 (March 31?).

— Steve Patterson

Signs: Not Just For Blocking Sidewalks Anymore

Businesses have to attract customers to stay in business, I get that. I’ve written before about Shrinking Sidewalks where businesses place their sign directly  in the pedestrian route. Earlier this week the problem was moved to the crosswalk at 14th & Washington Ave.

ABOVE:
ABOVE:  The sign is placed right at the point where the ramp meets the crosswalk.
ABOVE:
ABOVE: Here you can see looking across 14th that the sign is placed directly in the way

This is the only time I’ve seen this sign in the crosswalk, later in the week it was on the sidewalk mostly out of the way. Hopefully it won’t be back in the crosswalk.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Needs True High-Speed Rail To Chicago

Earlier this month we learned of a St. Louis firm moving to Chicago:

St. Louis-based construction firm Clayco Inc. is moving its headquarters to Chicago, attracted by ease of air travel, proximity to clients, access to young professionals and the potential to land city business as Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushes ahead with public-private partnerships for infrastructureimprovements, its top executive said Thursday. (Chicago Tribune)

ABOVE: MidwestHigh Speed Rail Association Executive Director Rick Harnish speaking in St. Louis in November.
ABOVE: Midwest High Speed Rail Association Executive Director Rick Harnish speaking in St. Louis in November.

Clayco is keeping their St. Louis building and many employees:

Clayco’s founder Bob Clark moved to Chicago in 2010. He’s close with hard-charging Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Privately held Clayco will retain its large office on Interstate 170 but Clark and the company bosses will operate from their new HQ in a Wacker Drive skyscraper. (stltoday.com – Chicago lures Clayco with air connections and young professionals

Ah the consolation prize, for now.

Lambert airport just can’t compete with the number of flights from Chicago’s two airports. But we don’t have to just sit back and watch company after company leave St. Louis. Nor do we have to just sit back and do nothing as young talent graduating from our higher ed institutions leave the St. Louis region to work in more vibrant cities like Chicago.

We need a vibrant and urban city of St. Louis — not just a few urban blocks scattered about.

Transportation wise we’re not going to get Lambert on par with Chicago, but we can support efforts to connect to Chicago by high-speed rail:

Right now, it takes five-and-a-half hours to get from St. Louis to Chicago by train but the director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association says a two-and-a-half hour ride should be the goal, arguing that it is critical to economic development. (KMOX)

A 2.5 hour train ride from downtown St. Louis to downtown Chicago with wifi the entire time would be a game changer, we’d be better connected to the Great Lakes Megalopolis.  Many are working to make this a reality, including:

I look forward to being able to quickly get to many cities via rail through Chicago. This connection will make St. Louis more attractive to young workers as a place to live and those seeking to hire them.

— Steve Patterson

 

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