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Plantings Along Tucker Add Interest

The project to replace the old Tucker Blvd, filling in the long-abandoned passenger rail tunnel, is nearing completion. Motorists and pedestrians can now travel between Washington Ave and Cass Ave., approximately 3/4 of a mile (map).  Tuesday night the boyfriend and I went for a walk up to Cass and back (I rolled, he walked).

I’d been up/down the new Tucker a few times before but this time I paid attention to the plantings located in bulb-outs at the ends of parking lanes, medians, tree lawn, etc.   Some of the bulb-outs are designed as a rain garden, set up to catch rainwater from the road and sidewalk.

Irrigation in one of the rain gardens along North Tucker Blvd
Irrigation in one of the rain gardens along North Tucker Blvd. I suppose irrigating a rain garden makes sense to keep the plantings looking good during dry spells, and while establishing the plantings.
Very tall weeds have taken over some planting areas along Tucker.
Very tall weeds have taken over some planting areas along Tucker.
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) is just one of many natives planted along Tucker.
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) is just one of many natives planted along Tucker. Other plants spotted include Yarrow, Russian Sage, and native prairie grasses.

I’m excited to see Tucker 100% complete with all the planting areas weeded. I’m also looking forward to seeing development occur along Tucker, especially at Cass.

Looking north from Cass & Tucker the approach to the new Mississippi River Bridge is nearly complete.
Looking north from Cass & Tucker the approach to the new Mississippi River Bridge is nearly complete. The bridge opens in early 2014, click photo for more information.

Since this area lacks a form-based code, or anything else requiring new construction to recognize the existence of the new public sidewalks, I’m afraid it’ll end up being geared only to motorists, ignoring pedestrians completely.   Maybe Paul McKee will do the.. right thing and develop the area with pedestrians and motorists in mind…

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Potential Development Sites Along Proposed Streetcar Line, Part 2: Olive 16th-18th

This is part 2 of a multipart series looking at potential sites for development along the proposed streetcar line that’d run along Olive/Lindell from downtown to the Central West End and the BJC hospital complex as well as north on 14th Street . In Part 1: Olive 15th-16th a week ago I looked at one city block on the north side of Olive between 15th-16th.

That block is underused surface parking, the Campbell House Museum, YMCA and 100 vacant apartments over the YMCA. Potential for both new construction and rehab. The south side of Olive is the 1950s Plaza Square high rise apartments, these will become more desirable after the streetcar line opens.

For this post I want to look at parts of five city blocks rather than just one; they’re bounded by 16th Street on the east, St. Charles St. on the north 18th on the west and Pine on the south. These blocks have a mix of buildings including rehabbed/occupied, non-rehabbed/occupied, vacant buildings, vacant land, a church, a non-public library building, etc.

I’ve organized them by City Block and listed the property addresses.

City Block 509

1700-1706 Olive was built in 1918, it is for sale
1700-1706 Olive was built in 1918, it is for sale. The facade on the base appears to have been modified later, possibly to fit in with the adjacent buildings. Click image for map.
1708 Olive, built in ???, is less than 24ft wide.
1708 Olive, built in 1951, is less than 24ft wide.
1710-1714 Olive, built in ???
1710-1714 Olive was built in 1946
1718 Olive (left) and 1720 Olive (right) are both occupied.
1718 Olive (left) and 1720 Olive (right) are both occupied. 1718 was built in 1900, 1720 in 1926.
1728 Olive was built in 1929
1728 Olive was built in 1929

I like variety & scale of the buildings on this block facing Olive, but with the exception of 1700-06 Olive the density is too low to be on a streetcar line and not tall enough relative to the width of Olive. The two 3-story buildings in the middle might be able to be kept with new construction on either side. However, most of these buildings contribute to the Washington Ave national historic district so rehabilitation should be considered.

The rest of the block is surface parking for the Blu Condominium Association and a dumpy 7-11.

Even though the 7-11 faces 17th, the property address is 1701 Pine.
Even though the 7-11 faces 17th, the property address is 1701 Pine.

City Block 510

1717 Olive occupies the entire block. Originally the Butler Brothers warehouse built in 1908
1717 Olive occupies the entire block. Originally the Butler Brothers warehouse built in 1908, later renamed Plaza Square.

The building does have a few business tenants but overall it is in need of a major rehab. Because of the condition, the rents are low. Care should be taken to not price businesses out of the building/neighborhood. On the other hand, those of us living nearby would appreciate it if it was maintained to a higher standard.

This building has potential to house offices and residential.

City Block 511

1601 Olive
1601 Olive is a 2-story office building built in 1965, it is vacant and for sale. I’d rather see a larger structure on this corner.
1613 Olive is a vacant lot owned by the city, used for parking.
1613 Olive is a vacant lot owned by the city, used for parking for the building to the west.
1621 Olive is owned by the city, used for parking enforcement offices right now
1621 Olive is owned by the city, used for parking enforcement offices right now
1625 Olive is privately owned and is occupied.  Built in 1948, it has an interesting facade. Retain the facade but build up?
1625 Olive is privately owned and is occupied. Built in 1948, it has an interesting facade. Retain the facade but build up?
1624 Locust is part of the St. Louis Library system
1624 Locust is part of the St. Louis Library system
The 2-story building at 1610 Locust was built in 1917, next door is The Leather Trades Artist Lofts.
The 2-story building at 1610 Locust was built in 1917, next door is The Leather Trades Artist Lofts.

With the exception of the Leather Trades Artist Lofts, the block to very low in height and density. Although I don’t like the building heights, I do like the facades. Those facing Olive should probably be razed for taller structures.

City Block 828

1601 Locust is a privately-owned surface parking lot next to Printers Lofts (1611 Locust). Loftworks had planned new construction to attach to Printers.
1601 Locust is a privately-owned surface public parking lot next to Printers Lofts (1611 Locust). Loftworks had planned new construction to attach to Printers. A great site for new construction.

Although I live in the Printers Lofts building, shown above, I don’t know the legality of building on the lot with respect to the four condos and our common space that face east. Presumably this is addressed in our condo documents and in the recorded information on the vacant lot. I’d love to see new construction on this corner, though my neighbors might object. The beautiful Blackwell-Wielandy building occupied the corner until it burned down in 1988.

City Block 829

1701 Locust is a handsome 4-story building built in 1926. It has had several owners in the last decade. It is vacant.
1701 Locust is a handsome 4-story building built in 1926. It has had several owners in the last decade. It is vacant.
1711 Locust was a power station for the original streetcar system, it is vacant and in disrepair.
1711 Locust was built in 1903 as a power substation for a private streetcar company, it is vacant and in disrepair. It was #5 on the Landmark’s 2010 Most Endangered List, click to view

Both of these buildings are among my favorites. The substation is a creative challenge, but I’m sure someone could come up with a creative use for the space.

Closing thoughts…

Just in this small area there is room for lots of potential development over the next 10-20 years. In this type of exercise you look long-term at what the potential is for the coming decades. Some development will open before the streetcar line does, but most will come after that time. Developers will be eyeing the locations I’m highlighting in this series.

— Steve Patterson

 

Vacant Service Station on Shaw Has Great Potential

About 25-30 years about ago the now-defunct magazine Metropolitan Home had an article on an old service station being converted into a private residence, if I recall it was a contest winner located in Dallas. Since then I’ve been hooked on the reuse of these structures.

In February I posted about a formerly dumpy service station on Tower Grove that is now a trendy restaurant. Recently I passed by another vacant service station just perfect for a similar transformation. I’d passed by this same location many times before without noticing anything other than its sad condition. This time I envisioned another restaurant with a patio out front.

The former service station at 4175 Shaw Blvd is located just a block from the Missouri Botanical Gardens, click image for map.
The former service station at 4175 Shaw Blvd is located just a block from the Missouri Botanical Gardens, click image for map.

Some of you might say no market exists for food establishments in the area but no doubt that was said before Olio, Shasha’s on Shaw, and Mama Josephine’s opened.

I’d love to see this building get a new life as a restaurant, coffeehouse, or perhaps a plant nursery/cafe.  I don’t know the owner’s intentions, or the potential environmental issues, but I know from a purely design perspective the potential is high.

— Steve Patterson

 

Saving Cupples 7: The Importance of Urban Context

The Cupples Station complex is historic:

Name: Cupples Station Complex

Address: 7th to llth, Clark Avenue to Poplar Street

Architectural Firm/Architect: Eames and Young

Alterations: Several of the original buildings were razed for construction of Busch Stadium and Highway 40.

Designation: City Landmark, National Register of Historic Places,

History:

After the completion of Eads Bridge and the tunnel which connected the bridge with the Union Depot railway yards, Samuel Cupples and Robert S. Brookings saw an opportunity to locate warehouses with ready rail access to the yards. Their new warehousing idea saved considerable time in freight handling and was enthusiastically adopted by the local shipping interests. The resulting large group of multi-story buildings transformed a previously useless part of the city into a highly productive area. Since all of the warehouses were not accessible by rail, they were connected by a system of tunnels and bridges. A system of hydraulic elevators was provided for vertical access. The buildings were massively constructed and made as fire resistant as was possible.

Cupples Station played a major role in maintaining the preeminence of St. Louis as a railroad center in the first half of the twentieth century.

Architecturally, the Cupples Station buildings are of national importance. Although treated in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, the buildings are strikingly modern in feeling. Rounded brick cornices and soaring arches are common features of all of the buildings and serve to unify them. Each building, however, is different from the others in detail. Originally, there were 20 buildings in the complex. (source)

More important than being historic, the remaining buildings have a nice urban feel to them.

South wall of the Cupples 7 warehouse
South wall of the Cupples 7 warehouse
Another view of the south wall
Another view of the south wall
Residents sit on their balcony in the loft building to the east (right)
Residents sit on their balcony in the loft building to the east (right)
The narrow walkway between the buildings is now closed.
The narrow walkway between the buildings is now closed.

From my post Thoughts on Cupples #7 from December 2011:

In 2000 when Bank of America owned several of the Cupples buildings a tank collapsed causing a hole in the roof of #7. The hole was known five years later when McGowan & Walsh bought three of the warehouses, including #7. They attempted to tarp over the roof, right?

Wrong, they did nothing! Water poured in a small hole in the roof for five years prior to their ownership causing structural damage to get to the point where it is today — which is mostly in the basement. They’ve been irresponsible owners for years and now they are maneuvering to blame the city if this historic structure collapses.

The city certainly has failed, I’ve had to resolve issues like peeling paint or end up in court! Where has the city been? They condemned the structure in 2008 and that then did…nothing. Everyone has been covering their own ass, but nobody has been trying to stabilize the building.

If this building collapses or is razed it will be a huge loss to the area. Walking east on Spruce St it helps from the street when you cross 11th Street (map)

— Steve Patterson

 

Thinking Ahead To When The Kids Leave The Nest

Dining & entertainment just blocks from many lofts.
Dining & entertainment just blocks from many lofts.

Recently a friend of 40+ years, living in suburbia, posted on Facebook she didn’t know what she’ll do when her two boys move out of the house.   I had to confirm with her, but the oldest is not yet 13.

Empty Nest Syndrome refers to feelings of depression, sadness, and/or grief experienced by parents and caregivers after children come of age and leave their childhood homes. This may occur when children go to college or get married. Women are more likely than men to be affected; often, when the nest is emptying, mothers are going through other significant life events as well, such as menopause or caring for elderly parents. Yet this doesn’t mean that men are completely immune to Empty Nest Syndrome. Men can experience similar feelings of loss regarding the departure of their children.

More mothers work these days and therefore feel less emptiness when their children leave home. Also, an increasing number of adult children between 25 and 34 are now living with their parents at home. Psychologist Allan Scheinberg notes that these “boomerang kids” want the “limited responsibility of childhood and the privileges of adulthood.” Children may also return home due to economics, divorce, extended education, drug or alcohol problems or temporary transitions. (Psychology Today)

From a 2011 story on Census data:

According to the data set, entitled America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2011, the number of 25 to 34 year olds living with mom and dad has risen among both sexes since 2005: the number of young men living with parents is up from 14% to 19% and the number of young women is up from 8% to 10%. The Census’ graphs indicate that the numbers of older Generation-Yers living under their parents’ roofs — a number that had already been trending up before the “Great Recession” — continued to shoot up following the financial meltdown of 2008, specifically from the beginning of 2009 onwards. (Forbes)

If this continues my friend may not find out what an empty nest is like.

My loft building has all age groups, including many Baby Boomers, that sold their suburban homes for a walkable life downtown. Not for everyone, but the 10,000 a day who turn 65 are impacting the marketplace:

America’s aging population is already placing different demands on the housing market and affecting what developers will likely be focused on providing, according to Terry Holzheimer, director of economic development in Arlington County, Virginia. He’s expecting to see more infill housing, more housing in areas that are walkable, and more pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods with high levels of services and amenities. (The Atlantic Cities)

Some of you will likely argue why empty nesters will keep the suburban nest rather than relocate to a more walkable area. Certainly, many will stay in the home where they raised their kids. Others, like neighbors of mine, will switch places. The kids now with kids of their own will move into the parents house and the parents will move into the kids loft.

— Steve Patterson

 

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