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Research Notes on the History of Grocery Stores in St. Louis, 35 Years Since Kroger Closed

November 15, 2021 Featured, Local Business, Retail, STL Region Comments Off on Research Notes on the History of Grocery Stores in St. Louis, 35 Years Since Kroger Closed

After visiting the newest grocery store in St. Louis last week, I took a deep dive into the history of grocery stores in St. Louis, spending hours in Post-Dispatch archives through the St. Louis Public Library website. I’ll write about the new store soon, but today is my research incomplete notes.

The Schnucks on Lindell (Lindell Marketplace) was one of two Kroger’s under construction when they left in 1986. National bought this location, Schnucks got it later when they bought out National. Schnucks then closed their Delmar & Kingshighway location, where an ALDI was built less than a decade ago.

It was 35 years ago today (11/15/1986) the first of Kroger’s 54 St. Louis area stores began closing, following their decision to pull out of the St. Louis market after 74 years. Most would reopen as a National, Shop ‘N Save, or Schnucks. These other chains each closed some of their existing locations in older/smaller buildings. Other Kroger locations closed. Cincinatti-based Kroger remains a huge player in the national grocery market.

I moved to St. Louis in August 1990, so Kroger leaving was recent history.  As I recently learned, there’s so much history before Kroger left.  My research is still ongoing, but I wanted to share what I found so far:

  • A & P was already in St. Louis in 1886. A December 20, 1886 advertisement listed 3 locations: 611 Franklin, 1256 S. Broadway, and 712 N. Broadway. [I’d heard of A & P numerous times of the years, but didn’t know anything about it so I turned to Wikipedia: “The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, better known as A&P, was an American chain of grocery stores that operated from 1859 to 2015. From 1915 through 1975, A&P was the largest grocery retailer in the United States (and, until 1965, the largest U.S. retailer of any kind).”  Wow!]
  • A May 5, 1895 A & P ad showed four stores, but one change from 9 years before. The 611 Franklin store wasn’t listed, but 1043 Vandeventer was added.
  • 1901 Straub’s opened, per their website.
  • March 12, 1908 advertisement for Maurer’s meat & grocery stores listed five locations: 8 & 10 S. Jefferson, 2612-14 Franklin, 3858 Garfield, 1402 Market, and 1740 Division.
    9/29/1911 display ad for Maurer-Remley Meat and Grocery Co., 21 locations (not listed)
  • 11/12/1911 David L Remley sues scale co. Recently merged with Jacob Maurer’s stores.
  • 1912 Kroger buys 25 Maurer Remly Meat & Grocery Co. locations. [Maurer & Remley both grew quickly by opening stores or buying out others.  In 4 years Maurer went from 5 to 25 locations before selling out to Kroger. 
  • Saturday  10/12/1912 Kroger bought ground & a plant bounded by Tiffany, vista, rutger, and frisco tracks. Had already purchased 30 Maurer-Remley stores. [25 or 30? stores purchased]
  • Per the Dierbergs website: one store was purchased on Olive, east of the present day I-270. A merchant had opened that store in 1854!
  • Monday 12/16/1935 ad for A&P — the great Atlantic & pacific tea co. 2300 n union, 2905 n Newstead, 4135 shreve, 3127 s. Grand, 3155 Park, 4065 Shaw, 7501  S. Broadway, 5535 S. Grand, 5009 Gravois, 8126 Gravois, 4607 macklind, 118 Lemay Ferry, 5707 Delmar, 6388 Delmar, 6689 Delmar, 6720 w. Florissant, 6208 natural bridge, 8820 St. Charles rock road, 7200 Oakland, 8 s Euclid, 4753 McPherson, 528 n. Taylor, 4389 Laclede, 46 n. Central, 15 s. Florissant in Ferguson, 2533 Woodson Road in overland, 121 n Kirkwood, new store opening 102 Lockwood in Webster groves.
  • Apparently the Schnucks at 10275 Clayton Rd was originally a Bettendorf or a Bettendorf-Rapp store.

    1939 the first Schnucks opened, per their website.

  • Wednesday 3/21/1956: New Detroit based food group ACF-Wrigley purchased Fred P. Rapp Inc includes 10 stores and a warehouse. ACF formed in December 1955 by merger of wrigley stores and big bear super markers of Detroit, standard food and humpty dumpy & subsidiaries of okc, A Wolf Inc, a Detroit wholesaler. They later acquired 13 supermarkets operated by food town stores of Cleveland.  Five new Rapp stores planned for STL in 1956. By early 1957 this will give ACF 40 total stores. Sale includes warehouse at 8590 Page, supermarket at 8455 Gravois. Others leased. Rapp began about 1930 with a small neighborhood store. Opened 2 more in the following 2 years. In 1935 the first 2 were sold. The third, at 3111 Watson Rd converted into a supermarket to begin the chain.
  • December 20, 1956 ad Schnucks giant value markets 4135 Shreve, chambers & west Florissant, 9474 lackland, 9120 Manchester, 4356 Manchester, 6301 St. Louis Ave. [This was the first I found on Schnucks, despite their claim of opening in 1939.]
  • December 1957 meat cutters union dispute with all grocery stores.
  • Thursday 10/2/1957 merger of Bettendorf and Rapp completed today. Both owned by ACF-Wrigley Inc of Detroit. They purchased Rapp in 1956 and Bettendorf earlier in 1957. 
  • 1983 coupon war started by Kroger. They also announced plans to build 5 new stores.
  • Tuesday 10/7/1986: Kroger to sell/close all 54 stores, sell distribution center. Was 3rd largest STL chain. Schnucks (53 existing units) to buy 8 Kroger locations, close 6 existing. Schnucks is #1, National is #2. Independents served by Wetterau are #4. Wetterau is a distributor that services 2,400 independent grocery stores in 26 states! Kroger started doubling & tripling coupons in 1983, causing a price war. Kroger first expanded beyond Cincinatti to St. Louis in 1912 when it bought 25 Mauer Remly Meat & Grocery Co. Kroger cited large number of discount warehouse & independent grocers as reason for closing.
  • Wednesday 10/8/1986: Wetterau Inc to buy 10 of Kroger’s 54 St. Louis stores. These will become Shop ‘N Save. National to buy 26 stores and 560k sf distribution center at 6050 Lindbergh. Two Krogers still under construction: Sarah & Lindell, and north Florissant in Ferguson.  National’s 360k sf distribution center on page will eventually close. National had 45 stores, plus 26 will give it 63 in the metro, plus 8 outside. Heard national would close 9 existing locations. National is owned by Toronto based Loblaw. Schnucks buying Kroger’s at river Des Peres road on south side, Maryland heights, Alton, Cahokia, granite city, and Wentzville. Plus under construction in south county and Brentwood.
  • 11/12/86 elderly upset about Kroger at 3865 Gravois Ave closing. National buying it, but closing. National also buying 4617 Chippewa, will reopen.

Obviously there are huge gaps in my notes. I presume Schnucks bought Bettendorf-Rapp locations from ACF at some point. Eventually I hope to fill in other major mergers/consolidations.

— Steve Patterson

 

Jamestown Mall Site Part 2: Laying Groundwork For New Development Over The Coming 10+ Years

July 22, 2021 Featured, Planning & Design, Retail, St. Louis County, Walkability Comments Off on Jamestown Mall Site Part 2: Laying Groundwork For New Development Over The Coming 10+ Years
Aerial view of the site and immediate surroundings. Source: Apple Maps. Click image to view aerial in Google Maps.

Last week I outlined the problems with the vacant Jamestown Mall, its massive 144.51 acre site, and the surroundings. See Jamestown Mall Site Part 1: Analyzing the Site, Problems, and Options. When you look at the problems the solution becomes obvious.

Problems > solutions include:

  • Vacant 422,533 square feet enclosed mall > tear down mall.
  • Lack of a major grocery store > include site for ALDI-sized grocery store on edge of master plan. Building should be easily connected to new sidewalk network.
  • MetroBus stops along both sides of Lindbergh Blvd adjacent to the site are just shoulder on a state highway, discouraging pedestrian use. No pedestrian infrastructure or access to site > reroute MetroBus through the redesigned site and/or add pedestrian infrastructure along this stretch of Lindbergh Blvd.
  • The Fox Manor subdivision is immediately south of the site, downhill. It only has one way in/out — onto Lindbergh Blvd for cars only > connect the two dead end subdivision streets to new public streets on the site.

Finding a single developer to build out the nearly 145 acre site is proving difficult. Of course, it’s massive. It’s way too much for one entity to take on. Yet most people think if one developer won’t build the mixed-use neighborhood that area residents want then one developer should be allowed to development an awful warehouse complex. Wrong!

The best places in the St. Louis region weren’t built at one moment, by one developer. No, land owners subdivided their land and created building lots, putting in streets & utilities to support those who would eventually buy a lot and build on it.  This is how downtown St. Louis was developed, as well as Kirkwood MO, Florissant MO, Belleville IL. Nearly every pre-WWII downtown or commercial district developed in this manner, over time. New Town at St. Charles was planned by one developer, who also built some buildings. But not all.

St. Louis County needs to master plan the entire site, put in connecting streets & utilities, rezone the site and adopt a form-based code to guide the build out over the next 10-15-20 years. Subdivide the land so a grocery store could own their parcel.  An insurance agent might build their housing unit over their office space. A multi-family housing company might build a few buildings with apartments. A home builder might build on some single family lots.

“There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time” — Desmond Tutu

Ok. don’t eat an elephant…or even kill one. And don’t expect developers to bite off more than they can chew.

For comparison most of downtown’s central business district would fit in the same 145 acre site: From the Arch grounds to 8th, from Market to Washington Ave.

Ballpark Village is 10 acres and the Cardinals had to split that up into multiple phases because they learned they couldn’t do it all at once.  The Streets of St. Charles project is a 27 acre suburban mixed-use project and it is being phased in.

The Streets of St. Charles, 2016

Below is my crude schematic showing new streets (blue) connecting to all 7 existing site access points, including 2 dead end streets in the residential subdivision to the south. The pink is commercial and/or mixed use, the orange is residential without commercial. The green around the perimeter is a green buffer around the perimeter with a walking path, water, fruit trees, etc.

Click image to see larger version.

My roads shown above in blue would be initial roads. Maybe. At a minimum three of the seven site access points should be connected: one off Lindbergh Blvd, one off Old Jamestown Rd, and one of the two dead end streets in the Fox Manor subdivision. My idea the initial streets 1) have an intersection in the commercial area and 2) connect to the residential subdivision.

Eventually there would potentially be many more streets given the size of the site, but that can happen over time as demand warrants.

A concept from a decade ago with more of the site built out than what I envision.

My main point is the St. Louis County Port Authority, as property owner, should plan it out, put in some streets and utilities and begin to sell the land lot by lot. I think most everyone would agree a well-connected mixed-use neighborhood with a grocery store is the best possible outcome. I just don’t see it happening all at once, but incrementally over time.

— Steve Patterson

 

Jamestown Mall Site Part 1: Analyzing the Site, Problems, and Options

July 15, 2021 Featured, Retail, St. Louis County, Suburban Sprawl Comments Off on Jamestown Mall Site Part 1: Analyzing the Site, Problems, and Options

My blog posts about Jamestown Mall are few. In 2011 a poll followed by the poll results with a few thoughts. In 2016 I posted that it had been two years sine the mall permanently closed. My 2011 visit was done while the mall was open, I arrived via MetroBus using my power wheelchair.   As it had been over a decade since my last visit, we recently drove up to the dead mall to reacquaint and get current photos.  Driving allowed me to take in more of the overall area.

The first site entrance going clockwise is the southern entrance off of Old Jamestown Road. Designed for vehicles pedestrians from the areas to the south have also used this entrance despite lacking an accessible route into the site.

Some things have changed in the last decade, others have not. Today I want to share with you my approach to analyzing the site, its surroundings, listing the various problems I see, and what options exist for moving forward. The 2nd part will be my conclusion, offering a solution.

Aerial view of the site and immediate surroundings. Source: Apple Maps. Click image to view aerial in Google Maps.

First, a little history courtesy of Wikipedia:

Construction began on the mall in 1972. Its anchor stores at the time were Sears and Stix Baer & Fuller, a local chain based in nearby St. Louis. The Stix store was converted to Dillard’s in 1984 after Dillard’s acquired the chain. Famous-Barr (now Macy’s) was added as a third anchor in 1994, and two years later, JCPenney relocated to the mall from an existing store in Florissant. A movie theater was also added in the 1990s.

Jacobs Group sold the mall to Carlyle Development Group in 2003. At the time, the complex was approximately 30 percent vacant. In April 2006, Dillard’s Inc. announced the closure of the Jamestown Mall store, and Sears closed two years later.

Carlyle announced redevelopment plans in 2008. Under these plans, the former Dillard’s would be converted to offices, and its wing would be closed to retail. A year later, St. Louis County hired researchers from the Urban Land Institute to analyze the mall’s viability as a retail center. The study found that the center was no longer viable as a shopping mall because it overlapped with existing retailers in the area. These plans were canceled in 2009 when the mall developers lost financial support from the county following an attempt to auction the former Dillard’s store. Further plans in 2010 called for the demolition of everything except the JCPenney and Macy’s stores, with the rest of the complex to be re-developed as a mixed-use center. In June 2011, a furniture store called Central States Liquidation opened in the former Dillard’s. The JCPenney Outlet store, which was renamed JC’s 5 Star Outlet, csed in late 2013.

In late 2012, gas service to the mall was shut off but later restored. The mall’s closure was announced in November 2013 due to the heat being shut off. The closure of the Macy’s store was announced in January 2014, leaving the mall with no anchors. Jamestown Mall finally closed it doors on July 1, 2014.

For a long time one or more anchor stores had different owners than the remainder of the mall, but in 2017 the St. Louis County Port Authority acquired ownership of the mall and parking to make redevelopment easier. The exception is a small outparcel strip between the two driveways connections to Old Jamestown Rd., on the west side of the site. Appropriately, this is owned by a funeral home.

Here are some basics for analysis:

  • Municipality: None, unincorporated St. Louis County
  • School District: Hazelwood
  • Fire Protection District: Black Jack
  • Mall building: 422,533 square feet
  • Main site: 142.42 acres
  • Outlot building: 2,509 square feet
  • Outlot site: 2.09 acres
  • Total area of combined site: 144.51 acres (0.2258 square miles)
  • Site access points: seven total from public streets, five mall drives plus two dead end streets in Fox Manor subdivision. One of the five mall drives includes a signalized intersection. Photos of each below.
  • Surrounding areas include older & newer suburban housing, largely stable middle class. Part of the surroundings become rural very quickly. The area is lacking a major grocery, the nearest is 3.6 miles from the site.
  • Vehicular access is excellent, but pedestrian access is poor. The only pedestrian access is the public sidewalk on the east side of Old Jamestown Rd., this connects to the south. There are numerous MetroBus stops in both directions along Highway 67 (aka Lindbergh Blvd) but no pedestrian infrastructure exists to get to/from the stops.  Photos of some orphaned bus stops below.
  • Topography: Mostly flat where mall sits, otherwise gently sloping downhill to the south. Prior to the mall the area was rural, with ponds and nothing altering the natural flow of rainwater to Coldwater Creek on the south, just beyond the site boundaries. The topography isn’t what it was before the mall, it was changed to create a mostly level spot for the building a parking lots.

By comparison the mixed-use Streets of St. Charles project is 27 acres.  Again, the Jamestown Mall site is 144.51 acres — more than 5 times larger!

The most recent proposal was for the mall site a massive warehouse operation, which was met with local opposition.

The St. Louis County Port Authority, which owns the 145-acre site near Missouri highways 67 and 367, will issue a request for proposals next month for a contractor to abate the property, Chairman John Maupin said, calling it the first step to tearing down the former mall building.

Demolition would be a “very expensive process,” Maupin said, but it is necessary to attract potential buyers, as the building is blighted “beyond any sort of redemption. Pressed for a cost estimate, Maupin said clearing the entire site could cost up to $10 million.

The announcement comes a week after a Kansas City-based developer’s plans to turn the mall into a large warehouse site were scrapped amid opposition by Councilwoman Shalonda Webb, who represents the area. Webb said residents overwhelmingly prefer a mixed retail site or community center. (Post-Dispatch)

I’m very happy the awful warehouse proposal is dead, and glad the old mall will be razed and the site cleaned up. It’s excellent area residents didn’t give into the tired notions that “anything is better than nothing” and “anything is better than what it there now.”

So what are the options:

One option is do nothing after demolition, let nature take over the land again. Another is to reopen it up to bidders for whatever they propose.  A variation is reopen for bidders with some limitations, such as including a mixed-use component. It’s very clear the area residents prefer a mix-use project, not a single use. They also would like a grocery store, which is necessary given how far away the nearest is.

In the meantime, below are recent photo of the 7 site access points. Also below are examples of bus stops just on a highway shoulder.

The northern mall entrance off Old Jamestown Rd
Looking north toward Lindbergh Blvd
Bus stop on eastbound Lindbergh Blvd, just east of Old Jamestown Rd. This bus stop wouldn’t work for those of us who use a mobility device.
Contining east on Lindbergh Blvd another auto drive
Next entrance is a signalized intersection
Followed by another bus stop of limited use. As this is a state-controlled highway they should be the ones to install pedestrian infrastructure.
And the final mall entrance…for vehicles
Up next is the Fox Manor subdivision. The only vehicular entrance is this onto four fast lanes of Lindbergh Blvd.
Brown Fox Dr has nice mature trees, but only 9 houses before dead ending at the mall site. The original developer planned to expand this direction.
Fox Chase Dr also has nice mature trees and 10 houses.
It also dead ends at the mall site. The Fox Manor has numerous cultural-de-sac streets that back up to the mall site, but two streets were planned for expansion.
Houses on the cul-de-sac of Silver Fox Dr are the closest to the existing mall structure.

In part 2 I’ll explore my preferred option.

— Steve Patterson

 

Long-Vacant Retail Space Now A Police Substation

June 14, 2021 Crime, Downtown, Featured, Retail Comments Off on Long-Vacant Retail Space Now A Police Substation

In October 2012 I posted about a state-owned retail space used rent-free for hotel storage (see Hotel Has Used State-Owned Retail Storefront Rent-Free For A Decade). In August 2013 it was finally ready to lease — the space was emptied and a “for lease” sign in the window. It wasn’t long before the sign was gone, I guess everyone just gave up.

It has been vacant until recently. The space isn’t numbered, but it’s on N 9th between Locust St and Washington Ave.

The long-vacant storefront is now marked as a police substation.
The vacant space in August 2012, the paper hid hotel furniture being stored here.
In December 18th the furniture stored inside for years was being moved out.
In August 2013 the space was listed with a commercial broker.

The downtown police unit has a space two blocks south, at 215 N 9th St.

I have yet to see police enter or exit the new substation.

— Steve Patterson

 

Pandemic St. Louis Style: Policy Fragmentation & Cognitive Dissonance

November 28, 2020 Featured, Metro East, Missouri, Politics/Policy, Retail, St. Charles County, St. Louis County, STL Region Comments Off on Pandemic St. Louis Style: Policy Fragmentation & Cognitive Dissonance

Early this week the KMOV News (CBS/4.1) had a story on the Jefferson County Health Department approving a mask mandate — and the upset group protesting outside. The very next story was the St. Louis Area Task Force saying hospital beds, including ICU, beds were filling up with COVID-19 patients.

People were protesting wearing masks in public while area hospitals are announcing they’re filling up quickly. There’s a term for this: cognitive dissonance.

The mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information. The unease or tension that the conflict arouses in people is relieved by one of several defensive maneuvers: they reject, explain away, or avoid the new information; persuade themselves that no conflict really exists; reconcile the differences; or resort to any other defensive means of preserving stability or order in their conceptions of the world and of themselves. The concept was developed in the 1950s by American psychologist Leon Festinger and became a major point of discussion and research. (Britannica)

Metro requires riders to wear masks on buses and trains. Metro doesn’t serve Jefferson or St. Charles counties.

How does this relate to masks?

Because of the intense polarization in our country, a great many Americans now see the life-and-death decisions of the coronavirus as political choices rather than medical ones. In the absence of a unifying narrative and competent national leadership, Americans have to choose whom to believe as they make decisions about how to live: the scientists and the public-health experts, whose advice will necessarily change as they learn more about the virus, treatment, and risks? Or President Donald Trump and his acolytes, who suggest that masks and social distancing are unnecessary or “optional”? (The Atlantic)

I don’t like wearing masks, but it’s the right thing to do around anyone other than my husband. The worst days are when I have treatment at Siteman Cancer Center, my mask is on for hours.

Then on Wednesday I saw a news story at Lambert airport on holiday. An airport spokesperson was explaining how everyone inside the terminal had to wear a mask — except she was inside the terminal and not wearing a mask! Two different travelers inside the terminal, both with masks, said they weren’t concerned because they were taking precautions — but their nostrils were visible!

My mom was a waitress for many years, so I feel for food service employees and restaurant owners. A recent story showed an owner upset at recent St. County restrictions prohibiting indoor dining. They argued it was unfair, if people could go into Target & shop they should be able to dine in. Uh, except that shoppers have to keep their masks on in retail stores — inside bars & restaurants the masks come off after being seated. Apples to oranges.

As I was writing this yesterday I saw a story on dine in supporters in St. Louis County. I wish as much effort was put into improving the carryout experience (ordering & packaging).

We’re back to limits on items because some placed their own important over that of the community.

A lot of this cognitive dissonance is due to the vastly different pandemic policies in different jurisdictions in the region. At least the Illinois side of the region has one uniform policy imposed by Governor Pritzker.  Here in Missourah Gov Parson has taken a hands-off approach, resulting in an infection rate double that of Illinois.   As a result each county has to go at it alone even though residents frequently cross over borders. Other than the hospital’s pandemic task force we have no regional leadership.

Our hospitals are full and their workers are exhausted. All because people aren’t willing to wear a mask in public or eat their restaurant dinner at home.

– Steve Patterson

 

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