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The Proposed QuikTrip Doesn’t Work In An Urban City

Chouteau Ave, an East-West roadway, was once like most St. Louis streets — lined with urban buildings on both sides.

Chouteau West of Jefferson in 1908, click image to see full size source
Chouteau West of Jefferson in 1908, click image to see full size source
Vin de Set and PW Pizza are popular destinations, causing people to cross Chouteau often. April 2012
Vin de Set and PW Pizza, right, are popular destinations in an urban building — a former brewery. April 2012 photo
In the of Chouteau where the new QuikTrip is proposed you can see urban buildings on both sides of the street. When I was in real estate I represented the owner inn the purchase of the 3-story building on the left.
In the 26xx block of Chouteau, where the new QuikTrip is proposed, you can see urban buildings on both sides of the street. When I was in real estate I represented the owner inn the purchase of the 3-story building on the left. The QT would be to the East of the building on the right. May 2013 photo

The prevailing pattern on both Chouteau & Jefferson is urban — buildings built up to the property line. Sure, more holes exist now than 100 or even 50 years ago — but that’s no reason for the entire street to become the image of a suburban arterial. Even suburbs now are trying to urbanize their unsustainable development patterns.

Urban buildings in the 26xx block of Chouteau being razed, July 2011
Urban buildings in the 26xx block of Chouteau being razed, July 2011
The two buildings remaining to be razed aren't worthy of the National Register of Historic Places, but they do date from the late 19th century.
The two buildings remaining to be razed aren’t worthy of the National Register of Historic Places, but they do date from the late 19th century. April 2012

Chouteau is the southern boundary of my neighborhood of 7+ years: Downtown West. In April 2012 I wrote about a need to study Chouteau Ave, here are a couple of quotes from Chouteau Needs To Go On A Diet:

Chouteau Ave has four travel lanes plus generous parking lanes, it’s too wide. I couldn’t find the curb-to-curb width but the public right-of-way (PROW) is a massive 80 feet, encompassing the road and adjacent sidewalks.

Recent road diet projects on Grand and Manchester had the number of travel lanes reduced from four to two. I don’t think that’s necessary or even a good idea on Chouteau. It’s not lined with shops, although some do still exist in places. No need to make Chouteau into a low volume shopping street but there is no reason it’s can’t accommodate the current volume of vehicular traffic AND be less hostile to pedestrians.  This takes a corridor study.

Chouteau Ave extends east to the river and west until it becomes Manchester as it crosses Vandeventer, 3.4 miles long.  The far east end isn’t as wide and is located in what will become Chouteau’s Landing. A corridor study should focus on the 3 mile stretch from S. 4th on the east to Vandeventer Ave on the west.


A corridor study of the 3 mile length of Chouteau Ave would identify key points where crosswalks are needed. Those not at intersections, like Mississippi Ave, would have a yellow caution light flashing overhead. In the 6/10th of mile between Truman Parkway and Jefferson Ave I’d suggest two pedestrian crossing points: Mississippi Ave and 22nd Street, this would equally space them 2/10th of a mile apart. Too far apart for a commercial district but adequate for this area.

My main focus was on improving pedestrian amenities, but a corridor study would also look at building form. From end to end urban buildings remain — the key to having the corridor be more urban 20-25 years from now is to retain existing urban buildings or replace them with new buildings that are at least as urban. At the time Kacie Starr Triplett had been reelected to a new term a year before. After Triplett resigned I suggested to the newly-electred Ald Christine Ingrassia that Chouteau needs to be studied — she said it wasn’t a priority.

Her priority, it appears, is playing the same games aldermen have played for decades: pretend to be pro-city while introducing anti-city legislation. When called on it crying “I thought we were friends…” You see, they want to be friends so you won’t publicly oppose their bad public policy. I encountered this a decade ago when Jennifer Florida supported a new McDonald’s on Grand (McDonald’s eventually gave up, a multi-story urban building now occupies the site). At that time I referred to guidelines in other cities pushing for more urban fast-food buildings. So I found it funny when Ald Ingrassia told me “As an aside I’m looking at introducing a bill requiring an urban design for gas stations in the city (similar to one in Ottawa – see attached info sheet).”

Ok, so you work for a year on a gas station opposed by many — that you yourself say “Needs a lot of work” — then after getting pushback to the legislation sent to the mayor for signature you ask for urban help and say you plan to require that future gas stations be urban — just not this one. Sorry, that’s not how a smart city does business. A smart city, like Ottawa, develops guidelines to ensure new construction contributes to the environment they seek.

Yes, she talked with residents immediately to the West & South — they wanted police for security and a ban on hard liquor sales. This is the type of feedback when you talk to neighbors, the bigger planning issues never come up or if they do the project is presented as basically a done deal — just help make it better.  Here, we’ll allow you to rearrange the Titanic’s deck chairs…

The proposed QuikTrip (see site plan) has no business being built anywhere in the City of St. Louis — especially not at Jefferson & Chouteau. If built, how long before it’s on QuikTrip’s list of surplus properties? Probably 20 years. They can quickly depreciate their real estate then try to do a sale leaseback to maximize profits on their $11 billion plus in annual revenues.

QuikTrip can afford to develop an urban prototype and we have no incentives to allow them to build the planned location. It’s not like we must drive out to the suburbs to purchase a hot dog, chips, soda, or fuel. They want to build here because they can generate a profit in the location. Fine — let them build & profit — but let’s also not reduce the urban form on Chouteau or Jefferson in the process.

In the last Sunday Poll nearly 70% of the readers wanted an urban form or outright rejection:

Q: QuikTrip wants to build a typical QT at Jefferson & Chouteau, St. Louis should:

  1. Allow it, but require an urban form w/building at the primary corner 23 [38.98%]
  2. Deny it completely 18 [30.51%]
  3. Let them build what they want 14 [23.73%]
  4. Allow it, but require a few minor changes 4 [6.78%]
  5. Unsure/No Opinion 0 [0%]

Can we please stop electing faux progressives?

— Steve Patterson


I’d Love An Eataly St. Louis

February 18, 2015 Featured, Retail, Travel Comments Off on I’d Love An Eataly St. Louis
Eataly Chicago is 63,000 square feet on two levels.
Eataly Chicago is 63,000 square feet on two levels. Clock image for website.

During my nearly week-long visit to Chicago I shopped at three very different grocery stores: local chain Treasure Island, national chain Whole Foods, and Italian-based global chain: Eataly.

The only other Eataly in North America is in NYC. Most are in Italy, other cities with a location include Tokyo , Dubai, and Istanbul.

The Italian businessman Oscar Farinetti opened the first Eataly in an old vermouth factory in Turin, Italy, in 2007. Twenty-six outlets later, the word Eataly has been spoken so many times from Turkey to Tokyo—and now in River North—that you may have forgotten how silly it is. An Italian superstore called Eataly! That would be like an American food bazaar called United Plates. [Chicago Magazine]

Investors such as Mario Batali are looking to expand to cities like Boston, Philadelphia, etc.

i doubt we’ll see an Eataly in St  louis, but I also didn’t expect us to get an IKEA  The best location for an Eataly in St. Louis would be Ballpark Village because it offers a high concentration of people much of the year. However, Eataly seems to prefer going into existing buildings.

— Steve Patterson


Local Pizzeria Returns To The Delmar Loop, Located Between Two National Chains

Eight years ago many people were upset when Noodle’s & Company and Chipotle Mexican Grill, both chains, were granted approval to move into a building that long-housed a record store — the lease expired.

Late last month the University City Council granted conditional-use permits to the eateries, a decision that fomented a swiftly organized revolt to place a cap on the number of formula restaurants and retail chains that can be allowed to do business in the Loop. 

Such rebellions are nothing new among the Loop’s specialty set. When Qdoba Mexican Grill moved to Delmar a couple of years ago, sound and fury ensued. But this time, some merchants insist, the stakes are higher. (RFT)

I don’t recall if a cap was put into place or not.

Locally-owned Racanelli's Pizza is located between twi national chains.
Locally-owned Racanelli’s Pizza is banjo on the Delmar Loop — now  located between two national chains.

I was very glad to see Racanelli’s return to the Delmar Loop  — it began just down the street in 1994. Since first opening, this has been among my favorite local pizza places. Hopefully the Loop has achieved a local/chain balance.

— Steve Patterson


Market Open Across From Emerson Park Light Rail Station In East St. Louis

January 23, 2015 Featured, Metro East, Retail 1 Comment

St. Louis has had very little success with transit-oriented development since our original light rail line, MetroLink, opened in 1993. From the start the Emerson Park station in East St. Louis, which opened in May 2001, was different. The station includes some storefront space and around the station homes & apartments have been added over the years, a recent addition is Eco Jazz, see New Senior Housing A Bright Spot In East Saint Louis.

And a few months ago Jazz Ensemble Market opened for business:

Jazz Ensemble Market believes that food is the connection that brings us all together. When we sit at the dinner table, we share our moments with family, friends and food gives us opportunities to connect.

Serving the East St. Louis Community is our core business philosophy.  We are locally owned. Any purchase that is made in the store, stays in East St Louis. We are locally operated. All employees come from within East St. Louis. We are neighbors serving neighbors, the way it should be.

Our community involvement is vast. We are partnering with local vendors, local producers, local outreach groups to give each other a helping hand up. We are working with other local organizations to develop and implement solutions to their challenging problems.

Jazz Ensemble Market will never be on the side lines of the community.

For far too long East St. Louis has been a food insecure area, and we are the foundation to turn that around.

Let’s take a look…

The Jazz Ensemble Market as seen from the MetroLink platform, it opened last Fall in the ground floor of the new  Jazz at Walter Circle senior housing building
The Jazz Ensemble Market as seen from the MetroLink platform, it opened last Fall in the ground floor of the new Eco Jazz./Jazz at Walter Circle senior housing building
Looking toward the transit station from the market's door we see a WB train
Looking toward the transit station from the market’s door we see a WB train
Inside the market has a small deli
Inside the market has a small deli
Some produce near frozen foods
Some produce near frozen foods
More produce next to dairy
More produce next to dairy
Room for more produce!
Room for more produce!

The nearest larger grocery store is a Schnuck’s at 25th & State — a 1.5 mile/30 minute walk from the station.  The number of people walking to/from the market and station was encouraging. A seating area up front lets you enjoy your deli purchase while looking at the station, the free wi-fi let’s you stay connected.

This adds up to be a great subject for Good News Friday (#gnf)!

— Steve Patterson


Restrooms Are For Customers Only

December 18, 2014 Featured, Retail 3 Comments

We’ve all encountered businesses that keep their public restroom(s) under lock & key, requiring you to ask for a key at the counter. The other day I had lunch with a couple of friends but the restroom access was simple while keeping out non-customers.

Restroom sign & lock at the Chipotle at the "Flying Saucer" on Grand.
Restroom sign & lock at the Chipotle at the “Flying Saucer” on Grand.

Each receipt has a restroom code, the deadbolt you lock on the inside shows to others if the restroom is occupied or vacant. Great solution! I’m not sure how often they change the code, still probably easier than messing with a key on a stick or letting non-customers use the restrooms.

— Steve Patterson




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