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The New QuikTrip at Gravois & Chippewa Should Be An Urban Prototype

The general consensus is the relocation of an existing QT from the Bevo area up the street to the wedge at Gravois & Chippewa is OK. Assuming that to be these case, let’s discuss the design options for the site.

But it is a gas station you say, implying options to do not exist for the site layout. After all, everyone knows you place the building as far back on the site and put all the pump islands out front. What is to debate?

Well, that very assumption!

Yes, I’m calling for QT to build an urban gas station like those required in other cities around the world. Not only are the design options interesting and more urban, it makes better use of the land which can return higher profits. Here is the basic argument: flip the typical site plan around — put the building next to the street and the pumps in back.

First, let’s see just how wasteful QT is with land development.

Existing QT on Gravois at PestalozziAt we can see from the existing QT to the east on Gravois they have made little attempt to maximize the site. As a result, a very large land area that was originally many smaller parcels is reduced to only serving one function: the QT. This is not an urban model and is well suited to far suburban areas but not in an urbanized city environment.

But this post is not about what they did wrong at this site and what it could look like if rebuilt. I’m showing the example at right to demonstrate wasteful site planning practices common among such entities as large gas stations.

Alternate QT for Gravois & ChippewaAt left is my crude diagram of the [proposed] site [at Gravois & Chippewa]. The teal color represents the canopy over the gas pumps with the red rectangle representing QT’s standard building design. The blue triangle represents an urban opportunity. Here is what I picture: a 2-3 story building with street-level retail and small living spaces above. These might be rental, perhaps condo? The building might be designed to create some live/work spaces. The building might end up being more than a single building.

What does all this change accomplish? Several things. First, an urban building at the corner reduces the visual impact of the gas station while still providing that service. The urban corner building also begins to place some “community” in the area where, according to Ald. Kirner, none exists. This would be an incremental step toward rebuilding what was once two highly pedestrian friendly urban corridors.

I am not calling for QT to design a special building to house their function —- I’m tolerant of the standard formula. They actually do a decent job of connecting their buildings to public sidewalks which could be easily accomplish in the site plan mockup I’m showing. And the urban building?

I’m guessing folks are going to say two things. One being there is no demand for either retail or living spaces in the area and second that QT is not in the business of building such buildings. True, demand may not exist at the moment or even five years. But if QT builds their facility in the manner I’m suggesting and plants some evergreen trees behind the building it certainly wouldn’t look any worse than coming down Gravois looking at nothing but gas pumps. As demand increases and say MetroLink ends up on Gravois or the tracks nearby then we are ready to do some urban in-fill without having to relocate or rebuild the QT — we’d be that much ahead. And I wouldn’t expect QT to build the building — I’d expect them to sell or lease the land. A non-profit housing group could lease the land from QT on a long term lease so that QT got a good tax write off and then build some smaller living spaces without any off-street parking. This would be great for those who either can’t drive or don’t want to drive. On-street parking could serve the retail spaces.

Think of this as land banking — we are saving this corner that might normally be wasted through typical sprawl planning and holding it until we are ready for something a bit more urban. To move the process along I’d favor some sort of tax incentives to QT so they could offer this land on the cheap to a developer that completed a structure that met some basic urban criteria. This could be a win for the city and QT.

– Steve


Ald. Kirner: “Very Little Community” at Gravois & Chippewa

Ald. Dorothy Kirner, D-25th Ward, was recently quoted in the Suburban Journal about the plan for the QuikTrip to move from near Gravois and Delor (14th Ward) to the former used car lot of McMahon Ford:

“There is very little community in there. It’s all businesses,” Kirner said. “I don’t see any problem with the residents.”

The message is basically we’ve long since wiped out any residents of the area and therefore nobody is around to object to yet another over-scaled gas station on a prominent city corner. In cities where urbanity is valued, not derided, such a site would become a mixed-use project with street-level retail and housing — helping to create community where it may not currently exist. Such limited view thinking will continue to prevent St. Louis from reaching its full potential as a vibrant urban center.

– Steve


Time To Review Campaign Finance Reports

With a major primary election to be held August 8th many political eyes are focused on races such as the close contest for State Senate in the 4th District. I’m reading the news accounts on these races but that is not my focus when I visit the Missouri Ethics Commission website. Nope, I’m checking out local reports for all 28 aldermen, city-wide officials such the Comptroller and the various ward committees.

Others reporting on campaign reports simply look at the summary page and repeat how much was raised, how much as spent and how much is left. The predictable conclusion is supposed to be the candidate with the most money wins. Yawn.

Instead I’m digging through the many local reports to see who is giving to which candidate, do the reports jive from one candidate to another and are there any glaring conflict of interest issues. Right out of the gate I found one minor issue.

The July quarterly report (covering April, May & June) from the Dorothy Kirner campaign shows a $25 contribution to Jennifer Florida’s campaign in June and a $15 contribution in July. Well, the July contribution is a quarterly report too soon Ms. Kirner. But, the $25 contribution from June is valid. However, Jennifer Florida’s report for this quarter doesn’t show any receipts at all — not even the $25 from office-mate Dorothy Kirner.

[UPDATE 7/26/06 – In reading Kirner’s report closer I see the $25 was to FX Daly, not Florida. Only one contribution was reported by Kirner to Florida and that is in the current period we are in now which will be reported on October 15, 2006. My apologies to Ms. Florida for the error on my part. – SLP]

Reports were due at the Missouri Ethics Commission by July 15th. However, it looks like Freeman Bosley Sr. from the 3rd Ward has been distracted by the recent recall effort and has failed to submit a report. As of today the Missouri Ethics Commission does not show a report was received on behalf of Bosley or the 3rd Ward Democrats. Same is true for Terry Kennedy, Lewis Reed, Charles Quincy Troupe, and Dionne Flowers. A number of other reports were received after the July 15th deadline, including several today. Two aldermen, Flowers and Williamson, do not show any report submitted for the 1st Quarter due April 15th.

I’ll have a thorough report for you hopefully next week after I’ve had a chance to examine all the reports.

– Steve


Rumor: QuikTrip to Relocate Bevo Location

This just in, apparently QuikTrip corporation is planning to close its location on Gravois just south of Delor in the Bevo neighborhood and relocate up the street at Gravois & Chippewa.

I’m told this was revealed at a Clifton Heights neighborhood meeting recently. The site in question is the southwest corner of Gravois & Chippewa, currently a pre-owned lot for McMahon Ford.

The site in question is in the 25th Ward, where I unsuccessfully ran for alderman last year against incumbent Dorothy Kirner. A quick check of campaign finance reports shows QT contributed $300, the maximum amount, to Kirner’s campaign just days after the primary election last year. I have not reviewed other documents to look for additional contributions.

My questions are two-fold. Will they build solely on the existing auto dealer parking lot? Also, what will become of their old site?

– Steve


I’m still here

October 24, 2005 25th Ward 1 Comment

Work has kept me very busy of late…

Real estate sales have been up and down with more of my business focusing on downtown loft sales. It would be great to see the level of interest of downtown lofts in more of our neighborhoods — including those in the 25th ward. The momentum downtown is picking up speed while some areas remain stagnant.

Here are a few thoughts on some things in the 25th Ward:

> Java Joe’s, a locally owned coffeehouse, opened at the corner of Meramec & Virginia. I have a few issues with the design of the space and the products served but I hope they succeed as it is important for the neighborhood. Stop by and check it out on your own.

> The deli that had opened on Virginia at Taft closed. Not surprising, it was over priced and not a good value for the money.

> On the other hand everywhere I go people are raving about our own Iron Barley. This unassuming place is bring lots of people the area that most likely would not visit for any other reason.

> The Stork Inn, also at Virginia & Taft, is still for sale — listed with my good friend Jane Quartuccio. This is a spectacular building and an excellent value.

> Work continues at the old 7-11 at Virginia and Delor but I still don’t know what is going on at the location. Workers had put up some metal frames over the old mansard roof but those have now been removed.

> The former Western Bowl on Bingham remains closed and for sale. The property is now listed with another commercial broker.

> And finally is the Virginia Mansion. It has been sold to a developer looking to turn the property into four condos.

As I said work has kept me busy. In addition to real estate I have a major design project that will occupy much of my time for the next year. The Riverfront Times recently recognized my primary blog, Urban Review – St. Louis, as the “Best Civic-Minded Blog” in their best of issue. I’ve also become certified as a bicycle safety instructor by the League of American Bicyclists.

For over six months I’ve also been writing a monthly column for The Healthy Planet. I will be writing the occasional column for a local weekly publication as well. And finally I will appear as a regular guest each month on KDHX’s Collateral Damage program hosted by DJ Wilson and Fred Hessel.

– Steve