In early November I visited the site of a new grocery store opening on January 4th, Fields Foods. I was disappointed with respect to pedestrian access:
I’m very glad to see the store nearing completion. It’ll provide needed jobs, though jobs may be lost elsewhere as people change where they buy groceries. Sadly, it doesn’t appear any consideration to the many who will arrive daily on foot, some pushing strollers, and even the occasional wheelchair user. <snip>
Hopefully, somehow, I’ll be proven wrong when the grocery store opens January 4th.
I visited again last Thursday, and with the site work done I can say it isn’t what I expected: it’s both better and worse!
Last Thursday I contacted several St. Louis officials to alert them to the issues I discovered. I suggested they withhold the occupancy permit until the walkway is retrofitted to be ADA-compliant with a curb ramp, crosswalk, and curb ramp on the building side. Providing pedestrian access not accessible to all is a very clear ADA violation. I gave my card to the BSI employee I talked to last week, he said he’d give it to the owner. I’ve not heard back from anyone.
It would’ve been fairly easy to design & build this to be highly accessible/walkable from all directions, new construction shouldn’t need to be retrofitted. When the city is vacating public streets pedestrian access from that direction should be provided.
The parties involved in the project are collectively incompetent with respect to pedestrian access. The ADA is more than grab bars in the bathroom. I’ll be there on January 4th to see if the situation is improved.
— Steve Patterson
UPDATE 12/23/2013 @ 9:45am — I just talked with Fields Foods owner Chris Goodson, he said workers are correcting the situation. The sidewalk shown wasn’t part of the original design, it was added after the fact after my November post.
I’ve been checking to see any change and finally the other day something was different: a temporary ramp. I snapped the following photo and continued.
I was told by a tenant employee the building’s owner, The Lawrence Group, is “curing wood” to be used for their final solution. It’ll need to extend three times as far out to be ADA-compliant, the sides will also need to be sloped. This is necessary because the architects at The Lawrence Group forgot it was necessary to make this tenant space accessible as part of the $70 million dollar renovation of the building that opened in 2011.
Once I spot the next wood ramp in place I’ll check the slopes, take pics, and post again.
An overwhelming majority of readers like bike lanes, at least according to the unscientific poll last week:
Q: Which of the following best fits your view of bike lanes:
Bike lanes are important, should be incorporated into street designs 75 [48.7%]
Bike lanes are a great idea that needs to be taken to the next level 44 [28.57%]
Bike lanes help keep cyclists out of my way when driving 16 [10.39%]
Bikes are traffic, shouldn’t be segregated to the side 10 [6.49%]
Bike lanes aren’t needed, give novice riders a false sense of security 3 [1.95%]
Bicyclists should use sidewalks, not have their own lane 3 [1.95%]
Doesn’t matter to me 2 [1.3%]
Unsure/no answer 1 [0.65%]
This is despite some serious flaws in how they’re often implemented, especially in St. Louis.
The bike lane often becomes part of the automobile right turn lane, novice cyclists move over the right instead of holding their position. A cyclist going straight ahead shouldn’t be to the right of a car turning right — that’s a formula for conflict. Other cities do a much better job.
Bike lanes are great at keeping the cyclist to the right of vehicles, but leave the novice cyclist at a loss as to how to make a left turn. To turn left a skilled cyclist on the roads will make their way from the right lane, to left lane, to the left turn lane — just as you would if driving a car. However, with bike lanes present, motorists get upset with cyclists who don’t stay in their bike lane. How do you get from point to point without left turns?
If we’re going to have bike lanes I think they need to be designed far better, not just be a way to deal with excess roadway width.
In April 2006 it looked like Opus Development would be moving forward on a high-rise condo tower at the NE corner of Lindell & Euclid. They’d revised the base and been granted a variance to permit the height. However, the project was abandoned even before the economy crashed.
Now Opus is back with a new proposal for the corner, Ald. Lyda Krewson tweeted on December 6th “Lindell Residences proposed for Lindell/Euclid – 217 first class apts.” with this pic attached:
Back in 2006 the historic code required heights to be relative to other buildings. The language, like many of our historic codes, was poorly written. Today the Central West End’s form-based code isn’t wishy-washy: maximum of 12 stories at this location.
The new form-based code and the mixed-use project one block south with apartments over a Whole Foods likely renewed interest in this conner. Ok, it is apartments instead of $300k condos. No big deal, when I rented an efficiency in The President 2 doors to the east in 1990 an A.G. Edwards VP rented the large apartment next door! Rental apartments aren’t a bad thing at all.
While a tall tower makes the skyline more interesting, the latest proposal will have a bigger positive impact. The decision to go underground with most of the parking makes the base more appropriate.
I’m glad the 26-story building proposed in 2006 didn’t happen, the new proposal was worth the wait.
Cortex is a district created by a collaboration of numerous research institutions, self-described as:
Founded in 2002, Cortex is mid-America’s premiere hub for bioscience and technology research, development and commercialization, anchoring St. Louis’ growing ecosystem of innovative startups and established companies. Providing state-of-the-art facilities to support the nation’s most promising technological advances, Cortex offers custom lab and office space, proximity to world-class research institutions, a highly-trained tech workforce, access to venture capital…all surrounded by amenity-rich urban neighborhoods.
Cortex is conveniently located next to I-64 and easily accessible via private or public transportation. The area is home to some of St. Louis’ most exciting attractions and neighborhoods. In addition to being neighbors with other leading science and technology companies, you are within easy reach of Forest Park, which is larger than New York’s Central Park, the St. Louis Science Center, the St. Louis Zoo, The Muny and many other cultural and entertainment centers. Midtown is also home to charming sidewalk cafes, galleries, antique shops, boutiques and pubs. The area has been described as a little European, a little New York, and totally St. Louis.
For a while now Cortex has been working to add a new transit station along the existing MetroLink light rail line. I don’t know if it has been given the green light, but it has been studied at great length. Here are some quotes from a June 2013 ULI Technical Assistance Panel Report:
By placing the station as close to Boyle as possible, riders would be welcomed to the District by the Commons, thereby creating an impressive and distinctive park-like ‘front door’ to the District. The station would be also easily visible from Boyle, making way-finding easier and promoting future ridership by virtue of its visibility to auto traffic.
While the station should be placed close to Boyle, the Panel still felt strongly that the station should be accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists via entrances at Boyle and Sarah, providing riders with two options for ingress/egress. Directional signage should also be placed on and highly visible from both streets to assist passengers with finding the station entrance. (p5)
Of immediate note was the current state of the streets and pedestrian experience in the District. There is a significant amount of overgrowth in the area, particularly along sidewalks, which leaves visitors with a sense that the area is largely ignored or abandoned. To truly operate as a District, care should be taken to maintain the sidewalks and streetscapes throughout the area, not just those in the immediate vicinity of current or complete development. (p10)
With the station nearing reality and additional businesses planning to bring innovation and employees to the District, the members of Cortex are faced with another opportunity to come together once again to solve a need. In this instance, the challenge is parking in the District. By creating a parking district or ownership/management entity consisting of the five Cortex members, a more thoughtful and comprehensive strategy can be put in place which will address future parking needs, create a unified parking solution that is in keeping with the design and operational principles of the District, and help determine the most advantageous pricing strategy that will meet the needs of the consumer, fund the parking entity, and ultimately provide for a system of parking that is successful and sustainable. (p12)
The report also talks about Cortex’s plan to make Duncan Ave a pedestrian-oriented street. I know from personal experience it’ll need a lot of work to get to that point. Cutting off Duncan before it reaches Vandeventer isn’t a good idea, though IKEA could be used a nice terminus.
However, St. Louis has more than two decades of experience with light rail stations surrounded by anything but good transit-oriented development (TOD). Now’s the opportunity to change. I’ve yet to see any evidence, ULI study included, that anyone has looked at the route(s) pedestrians would take to get to/from this proposed station and all the building sites within the district.
Are there barriers to pedestrian circulation within the district? (hint, yes)
Is the pedestrian network sized and designed to handle expected foot traffic at build out? (no)
Does the existing pedestrian network have ADA-compliance issues? (Big YES)
Does the existing pedestrian network encourage transit use and/or walking? (no)
How will pedestrians get from the proposed MetroLink station to the proposed Midtown Station retail development across Vandeventer? (see below)
With these asked and identified new work can be built to reduce problems, not create new ones, and gradually improve the area. Let’s take a look at some specifics:
IKEA’s Reed Lyons told me they tried different configurations, including pushing the building out to the corner so it would be more urban. I believe him, but this is the “show-me” state so I’d like to see these rejected configurations. It’s like in school when you had complicated math problems — you had to show your work.
I also want to explore the width of Forest Park and Vandeventer. Both have a parking lane, roughly 10ft wide, that will become useless since there isn’t a reason to park on the street. Will this lane but used to direct traffic into the IKEA or can we do curb bulbs or other treatments to reduce the width of the roadway? There’s no reason to leave unused paving.
I do have one idea on how to get pedestrians from the proposed MetroLink to Vandeventer and the proposed Midtown Station retail project — a pedestrian route next to the tracks.
I’m excited about IKEA and realize it and Cortex have a lot of potential for St. Louis and the region. I also know just plopping in a light rail station doesn’t automatically create a vibrant & walkable neighborhood/district. Planning today will pay off in the long run.
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