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St. Louis’ IKEA Will Be Just Like Kansas City’s IKEA

November 17, 2014 Big Box, Featured, Retail, Travel 2 Comments

My husband and I recently visited the newly opened IKEA in the Kansas City area.

IKEA Merriam
IKEA Merriam KS

I’d researched the location prior to our trip, more on that later. As we entered the top level it hit me — it’s just like the 2nd Chicago-area IKEA (Bolingbrook, IL). I emailed IKEA spokesman Joseph Roth while we were shopping:

Steve Patterson: “It looked like it was the Bolingbrook location over parking. I’m guessing the St. Louis location now under construction will be similar?”

Joseph Roth: “Correct. Essentially, there is mostly just one version of the store; but where the size of the site is smaller, we elevate the store above parking — as we did in Merriam, KS and are doing in St. Louis.”

Thus, by visiting the IKEA in Merriam KS we got a preview of the St. Louis location that will open in the Fall of 2015. Before we look at the store let’s look at the site — similarities and differences with the St. Louis site.

The demolition of a vacant shopping center that will become the future home of the area’s first Ikea store is set for Wednesday in Merriam.

The 60,000-square-foot building, which was initially planned for a Circuit City electronics store, will be razed and replaced by an Ikea home furnishing store that will be about six times as large. (Kansas City Star)

Razing an old shopping center for a new retail project isn’t a big deal, but a new, never occupied, shopping center was leveled!

In 2004, the city approved a plan by DDR Corp. (then called Developers Diversified Realty) to erect a fancy new “urban village.” Up went the strip mall. Then down went the U.S. economy. At the time of its completion, Merriam Village had signed only one tenant: Circuit City. But the electronics retailer collapsed into bankruptcy before it could occupy its brand-new store, leaving only “CIRCUIT CI” on the mall’s otherwise blank marquee, a ghost visible to highway drivers long after the deal fell apart. (Pitch)

You can see photos of the strip shopping center here.

Aerial of Merriam Village.
Aerial of Merriam Village from Apple Maps, click to view a current aerial in Google Maps.

You can’t get much more suburban than this site! Still, the area is served by public transit. The area has good sidewalks and the Merriam Village shopping center did a good job of connecting to the public sidewalk out front. Employees are far more likely than customers to arrive via public transit.

Pedestrians on the public sidewalk have a straight shot to the front door.
Pedestrians on the public sidewalk have a straight shot to the front door.
The site is so compact they built structured parking to the south of the building
The site is so compact they built structured parking to the south of the building
The north side of IKEA as seen from the new QT down the hill.
The north side of IKEA as seen from the new QT down the hill. The retaining walls from the razed shopping center were…retained
Looking toward the south
Looking toward the south
Looking toward the north
Looking toward the north

The St. Louis location, despite being closer to downtown, isn’t as tight. We’ll have lots more surface parking, here’s the site plan for St. Louis:

Proposed site plan for the IKEA, I marked the area to the east to indicate the proposed retail development. Click image to view larger.
Proposed site plan for the IKEA, click image to view larger version.

The Kansas City IKEA is the 7th IKEA location I’ve shopped at over the last 24+ years but I realize many of you may not have been in one.  My 15+ times visiting IKEA have always been while traveling, several times I’ve packed my car to the headliner. It’ll be nice having a store so close where I can just get a little something, I can easily go back to get more.

The top level is the showroom, with model rooms set up to show you ideas for using their products. After you make your way through this floor you’ll find the main restaurant. Down one level you’ll find the products.

Let’s start by parking under the store.

The garage under the store isn't special, though brighter than under the Target at Hampton & Chippewa
The garage under the store isn’t special, though brighter than under the Target at Hampton & Chippewa
Looking toward the entry
Looking toward the entry
Losding areas are outside and in the covered garage. Unlike other IKEA stores, you can wheel carts to your car.
Losding areas are outside and in the covered garage. Unlike other IKEA stores, you can wheel carts to your car.
Conveyor belt helps you get down from the checkout to the parking level
Conveyor belt helps you get down from the checkout to the parking level
Once at the main level you are directed up to the showroom level
Once at the main level you are directed up to the showroom level via the escalator or elevator
The start of the showroom level
The start of the showroom level
Besides living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, etc., they also are big in everything you need for a new kitchen.
Besides living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, etc., they also are big in everything you need for a new kitchen.
The large restaurant is cafeteria style
The large restaurant is cafeteria style
On the lower level is where you'll find the products to fill your  bag or cart.
On the lower level is where you’ll find the products to fill your bag or cart.
Bed & bath linens
Bed & bath linens
Lighting ia one of my favorite sections, many are now LED.
Lighting ia one of my favorite sections, many are now LED.
Then you'll find the warehouse area where you'll find the flat-packed furniture you saw displayed in the showroom above.
Then you’ll find the warehouse area where you’ll find the flat-packed furniture you saw displayed in the showroom above.
Seasonal merchandise is displayed near the checkout lines...and expect lines on weekends. Their bistro is just past the checkout
Seasonal merchandise is displayed near the checkout lines…and expect lines on weekends. Their bistro is just past the checkout

In the past I’ve told people to plan at least 4 hours to visit an IKEA the first time, but it’ll be different having a store so close. It’ll be easy to visit often a year from now. If you want a preview of the coming St. Louis IKEA just visit the suburban Kansas City IKEA.

— Steve Patterson

 

Poll: Do You Plan To Shop On Thanksgiving Day?

November 16, 2014 Featured, Retail, Sunday Poll 6 Comments
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

Some retailers have announced they’ll be open Thanksgiving Day, while others proclaim they’ll be closed.

Kmart, J.C. Penney, Toys R Us and Walmart are all opening their doors on Thanksgiving this year, but that doesn’t mean everyone is asking workers to report for Black Friday duty a day early.

At least 13 large retailers have decided to remain closed on Thanksgiving. In various statements, the companies have cited the questionable benefits of opening on Thursday and the importance of preserving the holiday for employees and customers alike. (Huffington Post)

I’m curious if readers will be out shopping, at home shopping online, or not shopping at all. The poll is in the right sidebar (desktop layout).

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Three Infill Projects Accomodate Pedestrians and Motorists

I’m a huge fan of Retrofitting Suburbia, the redevelopment of formerly auto-centric suburban retail sites. In late September, while on my honeymoon, I got to see three different examples in the Denver area. Two site once had traditional enclosed malls, the third was previously an airport. We started with the oldest and finished with the newest.

Englewood, CO

In June 2000 the CityCenter Englewood project opened, replacing Cinderella City mall that had opened just 32 years earlier:

The mall was completed and officially opened for business on 7 March 1968 and once held the distinction of being the largest covered shopping center west of the Mississippi River. It featured four sections: Rose Mall, Gold Mall, Shamrock Mall and Cinder Alley. In addition, the Center Court area was known as the Blue Mall. It was demolished in 1999. (Wikipedia)

Englewood was founded in the 19th Century but largely developed in the Post-WWII era. Like many post-war suburbs, it lacked a downtown. By the 1980s newer malls had eclipsed Cinderella City. In the late 1990s they saw the replacement of the mall and the coming of light rail as an opportunity to build a downtown:

CityCenter Englewood replaced Cinderella City with a transit-oriented development (TOD).  This TOD is a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use concept that includes retail, entertainment, residential, office, civic and open space elements with a transit focal point.  The former Foley’s building was renovated into the new Englewood Civic Center, which houses the City Hall offices, the Library, Municipal Court, and the Museum of Outdoor Arts.  The Civic Center was the first feature of CityCenter Englewood to open when it made its debut in June 2000.

The Civic Center creates the cornerstone of the redevelopment of Cinderella City that includes Wal-Mart, Trammell Crow apartments with first floor retail, Office Depot, the Sports Authority, IHOP, Qdoba, and other retail and commercial businesses, second floor office with first floor retail, an RTD light rail station, and a Bally’s Fitness Center.  (City of Englewood)

You can see a current aerial here, and a 1991 aerial here. In the Southwest corner of the site an anchor store building was retained, as was part of the structured parking. The adjacent street grid was brought through the site. Apartments were added nearest the new light rail station, big box stores added to the east end of the site. All connected by a grid of streets and sidewalks.

The former anchor store that remained is nope the Englewood Civic Center
The former anchor store that remained is nope the Englewood Civic Center
The light rail station is to the left, the Walmart down the road to the right. Yes, a Walmart is across the street from a large 3-story apartment building that has street-level retail.
The light rail station is to the left, the Walmart down the road to the right. Yes, a Walmart is across the street from a large 3-story apartment building that has street-level retail.

Not bad for an early example of such a project. We saw people walking as we drove through, others can be seen in Google Street View.

Lakewood, CO

The Villa Italia mall opened two years before Cinderella City, in 1966. By the 1990s Lakewood officials saw both malls dying off, they didn’t want a vacant mall in their city.

A referendum was held in 1997, which authorized “urban renewal” to redevelop Villa Italia into a more conventional downtown district, something that the post-war suburb had never had.

In 1998, Lakewood entered into a joint venture with Denver-based Continuum Development. Continuum purchased the land beneath the mall from the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation in September 1999 and acquired the buildings and ground leases from Equitable in early 2001. The site was rezoned (from that of an enclosed shopping center to a mixed-use development) and the redevelopment plan put in motion.

Villa Italia closed in July 2001, demolition began the following January. Belmar opened in 2004. Like CityCenter Englewood, streets were cut through the site. Not private driveways, public streets with public sidewalks. The pedestrian grid was as equally important as the vehicular grid, not an afterthought.

You can view an old aerial here and a current one here.

A new street at Belmar
A new street at Belmar
The new buildings have a variety of uses and architectural styles
The new buildings have a variety of uses and architectural styles
It too has big boxes, this is the side view of Target.
It too has big boxes, this is the side view of Target.

A former anchor department store building was kept, it’s now a Dick’s Sporting Goods store. New housing is on the perimeter of the site, surrounding the retail core.

Stapleton

When Denver decided to build a new airport east of the developed region the question became what to do with the old airport.

b

A wide variety of new housing is part of Stapleton, including single family homes, apartments, townhouses, etc
A wide variety of new housing is part of Stapleton, including single family homes, apartments, townhouses, etc
An internal street in the venter of the retail area
An internal street in the center of the main retail area called The Shops at Northfield Stapleton
Another view
Another view
Another street in the core of the retail area
Another street in the core of the retail area, note the on-street parking
Despite plenty of free parking on the perimeter, to park in the center requires payment. The silver Ford Focus was our rental for 3 days of our 7-day honeymoon
Despite plenty of free parking on the perimeter, to park in the center requires payment. The silver Ford Focus was our rental for 3 days of our 7-day honeymoon
Looking out at the street from our lunch table
Looking out at the street from our lunch table
Just beyond the center you can see big box stores and large parking lots.
Just beyond the center you can see big box stores and large parking lots.
Like the two previous examples, pedestrian connectivity was planned from the start to connect everything together.
Like the two previous examples, pedestrian connectivity was planned from the start to connect everything together.
The urban-ish area on the left, big box to the right. All walkable & drivable.
The urban-ish area on the left, big box to the right. All walkable & drivable.
Another view from the retail center looking toward the big boxes on the perimeter.
Another view from the retail center looking toward the big boxes on the perimeter.
Target is among the many big box stores at Stapleton
Target is among the many big box stores at Stapleton
Looking out from Target, their walkway connects to the Stapleton pedestrian network beyond Target's parking lot.
Looking out from Target, their walkway connects to the Stapleton pedestrian network beyond Target’s parking lot.
The street where we parked terminated in
The street where we parked terminated in a Bass Pro Shops store, also connected to the sidewalk system

The overall site is massive, as you might expect from a former airport. It has many residential neighborhoods, distinct retail areas, and a business park.

Final thoughts

All three are variations on the New Urbanist/Retrofitting Suburbia theme. While I wouldn’t want to live at any of the three I know someone like me, who uses a wheelchair often, can get to businesses at each development on a sidewalk network. All three remain very car friendly, I drove to all three. Providing the option to walk doesn’t make them less appealing to motorists. Some pedestrians probably arrived by car but decide to explore on foot rather than drive from store to store.

— Steve Patterson

 

Accessibility Error at Yorkshire Village Shopping Center Addressed

Back on July I posted about a problem accessing Yorkshire Village Shopping Center, recently completed construction had created a new obstacle! I contacted the property owner about the problem, we even met at the site once.

A new curb!?!
July 2014: a new curb kept the path between buildings from being accessible. I don’t know how stuff like this gets built more than two decades after the ADA, but it does all too often
The developer fixed the problem on October 23rd, I visited again on the 31st.
The developer fixed the problem on October 23rd, I visited again on the 31st.
Looking the other way, toward the new CVS
Looking the other way, toward the new CVS

It’s a small change, but was much more expensive after the fact than if it had been done correctly in the first place. Their architect/engineer still insists it was compliant the way it was first built, but it wasn’t. The fact the building was existing is irrelevant:

Because barrier removal under the ADA is a continuing obligation, an accessible route may need to be provided at a later date, if a route for the general public develops or is created, and the provision of an accessible route is readily achievable. For instance, if a new bus stop is established near a site, an accessible route may have to be provided if pedestrians commonly walk between the new bus stop and the entrance to the facility. Similarly, if a sidewalk or walkway is provided between the facility and the new bus stop, an accessible route may be required. (Dept of Justice)

I’ve taken readings of the ramp, based on the slope it needs handrails on both sides to be fully compliant with ADA guidelines. If it weren’t as steep handrails wouldn’t be necessary.

Thanks to Matthew Stack of Koch Development for recognizing the problem and taking corrective action.

— Steve Patterson

 

Returned To The City: Mercedes-Benz Dealership

October 30, 2014 Featured, Retail, STL Region 9 Comments

After nearly a two decade absence (see Last Downtown St. Louis Auto Dealership Closed in 1995), a Mercedes-Benz dealership is once again located within the City of St. Louis.  Two more exist in the region, one in St. Louis County and one in St. Charles County. None in the Metro East.

Mercedes-Benz of St. Louis opened recently at Hampton Ave. & Clayton Ave., I stopped by for a visit earlier this month.

The new Mercedes-Benz of St. Louis at Hampton & Clayton
The new Mercedes-Benz of St. Louis at Hampton & Clayton

Before we take a closer look at the finished dealership, we need to revisit the before and during.

KTVI's studios previously occupied the site. October 2012
KTVI’s studios previously occupied the site, not remotely urban. October 2012 photo
By July 2013 the old KTVI building had been razed, the site fenced. August 2013 photo
By July 2013 the old KTVI building had been razed, the site fenced. August 2013 photo
The steel structure for the main showroom going up in February 2014
The steel structure for the main showroom going up in February 2014
View from Hampton
View looking north along Hampton
View looking east along Clayton
View looking east along Clayton
View from near the east-facing showroom entrance, looking down the accessible route to the Clayton Ave public sidewalk
View from near the east-facing showroom entrance, looking down the accessible route to the Clayton Ave public sidewalk. See Mini of St. Louis, it is possible to comply in a graceful way!
Inside the showroom
Inside the showroom
Southern view of dealership. Service work is done in the level below the showroom. Customers drop off their cars on the main level though...
Southern view of dealership along Berthold Ave. Service work is done in the level below the showroom. Customers drop off their cars on the main level though.
Customers dropping off or picking up their Mercedes-Benz do so up on the main level, but visiting the parts department requires a short flight of stairs that lack handrails. The grade change on Berthed Ave would've permitted an accessible entry.
Customers dropping off or picking up their Mercedes-Benz do so up on the main level, but visiting the parts department requires a short flight of stairs that lack handrails. The grade change on Berthed Ave would’ve permitted an accessible entry.

For nearly 20 years this dealership, then called TriStar Imports, was located in suburban Ellisville at 16360 Truman Rd Ellisville, Missouri 63011.  Their old location is listed for $4.5 million. The far west county demographics just weren’t what they hoped they’d be.

Welcome back!

— Steve Patterson

 

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