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Readers: Mixed-Use Building Better Than Laclede’s Landing Park

I agree with the majority of the voters in last week’s poll, a mixed-use building would be better than a park in Laclede’s Landing!

The planned park space is to the right of the trucks parked in the alley, click for larger image.
The planned park space is to the right of the trucks parked in the alley, click to view larger image.

Q: Great Rivers Greenway Bought Laclede’s Landing Property, Plans Park. Thoughts?

  1. A mixed-use building would be better 53 [51.96%]
  2. A park is a good idea 21 [20.59%]
  3. A residential building would be better 15 [14.71%]
  4. A Taco Bell with drive-thru would be better 4 [3.92%]
  5. Other: 4 [3.92%]
    1. greenway along the river
    2. “Other Compatable Development” appears to leave much open to consideration.
    3. Park? Restrooms? Sounds like a great place for the homeless!
    4. It’s a nasty dirty area
  6. Unsure/No Answer 3 [2.94%]
  7. A parking garage would be better 2 [1.96%]

Laclede’s Landing is barely a place anymore, with so many holes in the formerly urban fabric. Between grassy blocks are harsh surface parking lots, it’s clear there needs to be a plan to infill some of these holes with new construction. It make take 20 years to happen, but the planning needs to happen now.

The site of the former Switzer Building, recently purchased by Great Rivers Greenway, is shown with the red X. Click to view in Google Maps.
The site of the former Switzer Building, recently purchased by Great Rivers Greenway, is shown with the red X. Click to view in Google Maps.

With such a tiny amount of land between the King & Eads bridges I think every bit should get filled in. Knowing that isn’t likely, the land closer to the south should be filled in while land to the north isn’t as critical to completing streetscapes and urban vistas.

But if Great Rivers Greenway goes ahead with this park next to the Eads Bridge, what should we call it? Eads Transit Park?

Metro dedicated the Eads Transit Park on May 16, 1996. I'm not sure what year they padlocked it.
Metro dedicated the Eads Transit Park on May 16, 1996. I’m not sure what year they padlocked it.

A tiny park next to a massive park that is growing in size by the size of the Arch parking garage and the width of Washington Ave is a huge mistake! This land is an opportunity to add much-needed building mass, people, activity, etc right next to a light rail station. Great Rivers Greenway can’t get into the development business but I’d think they could buy and hold for a developer. If they really have the urge to green up Laclede’s Landing they could unlock Metro’s Eads Transit Park and/or do something with the mess under the King Bridge.

This land needs help that Great Rivers Greenway could provide, a green park extending toward the city from the riverfront leading cyclists up and into Laclede's Landing.
This land needs help that Great Rivers Greenway could provide, a green park extending toward the city from the riverfront leading cyclists up and into Laclede’s Landing.


Hopefully Great Rivers Greenway will reconsider, so the land adjacent to the Eads Bridge might someday see new constriction. Maybe a demonstration is needed to convince them?

— Steve Patterson

 

Private Gate Blocks Public Sidewalk in Midtown, Ties to the Castle Ballroom

Often I encounter annoying things as I make my way around the city, dismissing many as flukes. I took photos of a gate blocking the public sidewalk on November 28, 2012 and again on March 7, 2014.

Looking north, November 28, 2012
Looking north, November 28, 2012 @11:10am
Looking south, November 28, 1012
Looking south, November 28, 1012
Looking north, March 7,  2014
Looking north, March 7, 2014 @ 1:50pm
Looking south, March 7,  2014
Looking south, March 7, 2014

This is the side gate for 2840 Locust St., owned by Barry Adelstein & Scott Gundolf. Years ago the renter of the property was Michael McMillan, former alderman, license collector, and cureently head of the Urban League of St. Louis. To my knowledge he still lives here. This property is directly north of the neglected Castle Ballroom.

The owner of the Castle Ballroom is SAG PROPERTIES LLC, with tax bills sent to 2840 Locust St.  Documents show Scott Gundolf is the President of SAG Properties LLC.   He’s also a licensed real estate broker with One West Associates, Barry Adelstein is also a licensed broker.

Just what is the relationship between Michael McMillan, Barry Adelstein, and Scott Gundolf? McMillan’s close associate, Marlene Davis, became the 19th ward alderman when he was elected to the office of license collector. Adelstein was a partner with Marlene Davis in a failed midtown bar, Gene Lynn’s, which closed in 2008.  Davis was forced to file for bankruptcy in 2010.

Did these associations help get officials to look the other way regarding maintenance of the Castle Ballroom building? And to a lessor degree, feel like it’s ok to block the public sidewalk with a private gate? But wait, there’s more!

The real estate deal in question involves the old Castle Ballroom at 2839 Olive, which Rainford says Reed bought and sold for a large profit, before helping the developer who bought it get a taxbreak. Reed’s campaign says sale was profitable, because it happened during the 2004 market peak; and the tax break was sought by the alderman in that ward, passed unanimously by the board, then signed by Mayor Slay. (KMOX)

A tax break? There’s much more to this, I suspect! Plus I don’t want the gate left open blocking the public sidewalk.

— Steve Patterson

 

Poll: The Number of Stop Signs in St. Louis is…

Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

St. Louis is known for the St. Louis stop:

an action where you come up to a stop sign look both ways but never actually make a complete stop

People complain about them but many also request they be added at their corner. In the poll this week I’d like readers to finish the statement “The number of stop signs in St. Louis is…”

The answers range from not enough to excessive, appearing in random order in the poll in the right sidebar. The poll results and my thoughts on Wednesday March 19th.

— Steve Patterson

 

Chippewa Road Diet, Bike Lanes, Pedestrian Lane

Late last year Chippewa got a road diet using paint, not concrete. Four traffic lanes were reduced to two with a center turn lane, and a bike lane was added in each direction.  Under the railroad bridge between Gravois & Meramec was the part that confused me, with a wide lane to the right of the new bike lane. The other day I was finally in a place where I could get some photos.

Looking east you see the westbound  bike lane to the right of the orange cones.
Looking east you see the westbound bike lane to the right of the orange cones.
Looking west toward Morgan Ford
Looking west toward Meramec

Because of the railroad tracks pedestrians haven’t been able to  walk in an east-west direction along Chippewa. Up top the tracks are a barrier and the underpass was designed decades ago only for vehicles.  Online I found Chippewa Bike Lanes: A Review:

The pedestrian lane under the viaduct seems like a creative and appropriate solution to the problem of pedestrian connectivity along aging infrastructure. It is important that the pedestrian lane be separated from automobile traffic, and the traffic cones are obviously a temporary fix. We look forward to seeing the permanent configuration, and will update this post as the project evolves. 

Hopefully the traffic cones are just temporary, but replaced with what? The excellent images on the post Chippewa Bike Lanes: A Review show how lanes shift, with the risk of motorists ending up driving in the bike/pedestrian lanes.

— Steve Patterson.

 

Edwardsville School Board Considering $1.3 Million for Elementary School Parking Lot, Razing Historic Church

Parking is a perceived issue all over the region, even in small towns like Edwardsville IL. The public school district is considering purchasing a historic church, and an adjacent house owned by the church, to create more parking for Columbus elementary school:

The general terms of the proposed sale, which are all subject to approval by both the First Presbyterian Church congregation and the District 7 Board of Education, are that the district will pay First Presbyterian Church $1.3 million from impact fees over a 10-year period. Impact fees are money collected from developers who build homes in Edwardsville and Glen Carbon. The fees can only be used for new construction or the purchase of property.

The other terms of the negotiation are that First Presbyterian Church would have four years to vacate the existing church facility, and the church would be responsible for preparing the ground to leave a clean, level site. (District 7 looks to turn church into parking lot)

The $1.3 million is just for the land, it’ll cost more to actually develop the parking lot.

Columbus Elementary just east of Main Street in downtown Edwardsville, click for map
Columbus Elementary just east of Main Street in downtown Edwardsville, click for map
Graphic showing staff parking (left) and parent parking (right)    Source: Edwardsville Intelligencer, click for story
Graphic showing staff parking (left) and parent parking (right)
Source: Edwardsville Intelligencer, click for story

A friend drove me over to Edwardsville last week so I could check it out in person. What we found is the school has a small parking lot for staff, a large asphalt playground, and has use of a couple of small parking lot owned by the church. No doubt when the church has a weekday event, like a funeral, parking gets tight. Otherwise both appear to have coexisted for decades.

Looking west on College, the church-owned lot on the left wasn't full at 9:15am last Thursday morning
Looking west on College, the church-owned lot on the left wasn’t full at 9:15am last Thursday morning
Back parking lot of school appeared full
Back parking lot of school appeared full
Parking on school grounds on the west side of the building was completely vacant
Parking on school grounds on the west side of the building was completely vacant

I don’t live in Edwardsville, nor am I a parent, so I turned to the Edwardsville School District 7 Parents group on Facebook to see the discussion. There were several postings, here’s some quotes I selected from hundreds:

Feb 26: “Anyone know why Columbus needs a $1.3 million parking lot? More than say, teams, all tenth graders on campus, enough honors classes, a daily middle school band/orchestra program?” — LW

“because there is ZERO parking at the school and the church next door was kind enough to let the school “share” their parking lot. The church is moving and the new owners may not be as accommodating!” — LC 

“We always parked in that lot…..sad to see the church go…I went to preschool in that church” — JG

“The church isn’t moving unless the building is purchased. We’ve always worked with the district for parking and that’s not a big deal. My ‘big deal’ is a $1.3 million parking lot. I have a 7th grader who can’t have team teaching or have band every day because there’s no money, a junior who spent 40 minute a day last year being transported off campus because there weren’t enough classrooms, and it makes no sense financially. If there’s money to buy property and or build something with, maybe an addition to the high school would be a goal to look toward.” — LW

Feb 26: “Is it true that the Presbyterian Church property was assessed at $750,000? If so, wouldn’t that lend one to believe that the tax payers are indeed paying for demolition?” — TM

It appears the parents in the district are split; some say the parking situation is poor, while others say parking has always been bad but the district has higher priorities. I do know the school & church have managed to share parking in the area for years but it the church is razed much of the parking will sit empty each day.

This is all possible because some members of the dwindling congregation at the First Presbyterian Church of Edwardsville want to build a new church nearly 4 miles away. This isn’t new, they bought 28+ acres of farmland in January 2000, paying $390,000. In November 2006 I posted how they voted to build on the farmland.

The future church location is on the far east edge of town, away from downtown and the new sprawl shopping.
The future church location is on the far east edge of town, away from downtown Edwardsville and their new shopping area. Click image to view map.
The church hopes to sell 20 acres to partially  fund the new building on the remaining land
The church hopes to sell 20 acres to partially fund the new building on the remaining land
First Presbyterian was founded in 1819, moved to this site in 1885. The current building was dedicated on the same site in 1924.
First Presbyterian was founded in 1819, moved to this site in 1885. The current building was dedicated on the same site in 1924.

Attendance at the church has reportedly dropped in the 7 years since voting to proceed with the plan to build a new church.  I can see the church agreeing to sell  — but in four years still not having a new building ready. Then what? Also, does the school district not have more pressing building needs?

— Steve Patterson

 

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