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A Decade Since Developer Pyramid Construction Collapsed; Guidelines Needed for Development Incentives

April 18, 2018 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on A Decade Since Developer Pyramid Construction Collapsed; Guidelines Needed for Development Incentives
The Hotel Jefferson at Jefferson & Locust is about the only unfinished Pyramid project

A decade ago I was about four hours from St. Louis, still in a rehab hospital after my February 1st stroke. I got a call from a friend, a former Pyramid Construction employee, telling me he heard the heavily-leveraged company was shutting down that day. I immediately called someone still employed at Pyramid, but my call wasn’t returned.  I ran the story Rumor: Pyramid Ceasing Operations based on my source.

Many people lost their jobs that day, some found out about their employer closing here.  While unfortunate, I was just the messenger. Current & formers employees close to the matter felt is was important to get the word out as it was happening — hence the call to me.

From 2010:

For much of this decade, Steffen’s Pyramid Construction Inc. led the way in loft construction and other residential and commercial projects in downtown St. Louis. But overwhelming debts crushed the company, which went out of business in 2008. (Steffen indicted on bank fraud charge)

On a related note, Sunday’s non-scientific poll was about development incentives.

Q: Agree or disagree: The City of St. Louis should end all development incentives (tax increment financing, tax abatement, etc)

  1. Strongly agree 1 [2.63%]
  2. Agree 1 [2.63%]
  3. Somewhat agree 4 [10.53%]
  4. Neither agree or disagree 1 [2.63%]
  5. Somewhat disagree 4 [10.53%]
  6. Disagree 6 [15.79%]
  7. Strongly disagree 21 [55.26%]
  8. Unsure/No Answer 0 [0%]

Wisely a large majority disagreed. Incentives are necessary to produce desired results where the market hasn’t or can’t made the numbers work. What needs to stop is incentives being used in hot areas for high-end projects — the type market conditions would support. That said, incentives where the project is very urban with ground-level retail, underground parking, etc  can make sense.

It appears last year’s efforts to create guidelines failed.

— Steve Patterson

 

Race For St. Louis County Executive Will Be Decided On August 7th

April 11, 2018 Featured, Politics/Policy, St. Louis County Comments Off on Race For St. Louis County Executive Will Be Decided On August 7th
Northwest Plaza is part of the debate in this race, September 2013 photo

Despite seven candidates from four political parties, the race for St. Louis County Executive will be decided in the August 7th primary — between the well-funded incumbent and the well-funded newcomer — both Democrats. Only some sort of scandal after the primary would mean one of the other three might win.

Here are the results of the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Seven candidates are running to become the next St. Louis County Executive, which one would you LIKE to see win in November 2018?

  • Mark Mantovani (D) 9 [45%]
  • Steve Stenger (D) 6 [30%]
  • Daniel Sampson (R) 2 [10%]
  • 3-WAY TIE:  1 [5%]
    • Paul Berry, III (R)
    • Nicholas (Nick) Kasoff (L)
    • Bill Ray (D)
  • Andrew Ostrowski (C) 0 [0%]

After the poll began I realized I forgot to include “unsure” option, resulting in lower than usual responses.

Hopefully voters will research all the candidates, attend debates, and really know each before voting. Hat tip to Andrew Ostrowski — the only one of the seven to contact me after the poll concluded.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Which of the Seven Candidates for St. Louis County Executive Would You LIKE to Win in November 2018?

April 8, 2018 Featured, Politics/Policy, St. Louis County Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Which of the Seven Candidates for St. Louis County Executive Would You LIKE to Win in November 2018?
Please vote below

You’ve likely been seeing political commercials in the race for St. Louis County Executive. The primary for Republican & Democratic candidates will be held August 7th — just over 3 months from now. We already know the unchallenged Libertarian & Constitution candidates will win their primaries.

The seven candidates from four political parties, listed in alphabetical order:

Today’s poll asks which of these seven candidates you’d like to see win in November. Not who you think will win — who you’d like to see win.

This poll will close automatically at 8pm, but will be closed earlier if voting irregularities are detected — such as campaigns to make a candidate the winer by emailing supporters to vote in the poll.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Will Missouri Voters Approve Constitutional Amendment A Returning the City of St. Louis to St. Louis County?

April 1, 2018 Featured, Missouri, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Will Missouri Voters Approve Constitutional Amendment A Returning the City of St. Louis to St. Louis County?

Please vote below

Missouri Secretary of State John Ashcroft has verified a citizen petition for an amendment to the constitution for the statewide August 7th primary ballot. If approved it would make the City of St. Louis a municipality within St. Louis County — reversing the Great Divorce of 1876. A simple majority os needed to pass.

Official Ballot Title
Constitutional Amendment A

[Proposed by Initiative Petition]

Official Ballot Title:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:

Strip the City of St. Louis of status as an “independent city”; 
Redraw the boundaries of St. Louis County so the City of St. Louis is fully within said boundaries;
Eliminate county-level offices in the City of St. Louis;  

Fair Ballot Language:

A “yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to make the City of St. Louis a municipality within St. Louis County. 

A “no” vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution regarding the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County.

If passed, this measure is expected to lower taxes.

Today’s poll is about this effort.

Today’s poll will close at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

Aldermen Approved Failed St. Louis Centre Forty Years Ago

March 16, 2018 Board of Aldermen, Downtown, Featured, Retail Comments Off on Aldermen Approved Failed St. Louis Centre Forty Years Ago

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s also the 40th anniversary of the start of one of St. Louis’ worst decisions: St. Louis Centre

This Day in St. Louis History, March 17, 1978:
The first step towards St. Louis Centre

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved three bills that would set the stage to develop a proposed downtown shopping mall, with the only further step being the acquisition of federal funding. The headquarters of Stx, Baer, & Fuller, which would become Dillard’s just months before the mall’s completion, and Famous-Barr existed with one block separating them between Washington and Locust at 6th Street. The goal was to create an enclosed, urban shopping mall with these two companies as anchors, and the estimated budget was nearly $150 million. St. Louis Centre opened in 1985 as the largest shopping mall in America. It had over 150 stores and 20 restaurants, and was initially a great success. Challenges appeared in the 1990s however, as the Westroads Shopping Center was redeveloped into the St. Louis Galleria and stores began closing. St. Louis Centre closed in 2006, and since then has been redeveloped into a 750-car parking garage and retail center. (From now defunct STL250 Facebook page)

The mall opened seven years later, in 1985.

To any urbanist the idea of razing an entire city block to build one massive internally-focused building is just wrong. Anyone who knew better either kept quiet or were silenced, ignored. Malls in the suburbs are doing great so we must do the same.

St. Louis Centre, April 2006
Looking east along Washington Ave from 7th, February 2006

The mall is now a parking garage with out-facing retail at the sidewalk level. The oppressive bridges over Washington & Locust are gone.

2014

The mistake has been reversed, but the damage was done long ago. Retailing, once a big part of downtown, is almost nonexistent. Restaurants are now the generators of much foot traffic.

I can’t help but wonder where downtown would be if bills weren’t approved 40 years ago.

— Steve Patterson

 

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