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Accessing Yorkshire Village Shopping Center

In March I took MetroBus out to the suburban Yorkshire Village shopping center to meet my then-fiancé, now husband, for lunch. I hadn’t been in this area since I sold my car and the Sappington Farmers Market closed, both in 2012. Although the parking lot had been improved with planted islands in the last decade, I didn’t think a pedestrian access route existed. I’d looked at an aerial and at Google’s Street View, but I know for sure after a personal visit.

Google's Street View in March 2014 showed a spot where I could access the parking lot from the bus stop, no designated route. Click image for map link
Google’s Street View in March 2014 showed a narrow spot behind the bus shelter where I could access the parking lot, no designated route though. As of today the aerial is updated to show demolition of the old corner, the Street View remains the one I saw in March. Click image for map link

Based on a friend’s recommendation, we planned to meet at a newish place called Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, located on the far west end of the shopping center. When I arrived on March 21st what I encountered was very different than what I had expected, the entire corner of the old shopping center was gone, with a new building going up.

View from the bus stop
View from the bus stop, my only option was to head to Laclede Station to try to enter that way.
The construction zone separated the two wings, preventing me from reaching my destination that way. I ended up rolling along the Watson Rd shoulder until reaching an auto drive.
The construction zone separated the two wings, preventing me from reaching my destination that way. I ended up rolling along the Watson Rd shoulder until reaching an auto drive.
The new building is a CVS. Disclosure: we'd bought a small number of shares a month earlier when they announced they'd stop selling cigarettes.
The new building is a CVS. Disclosure: we’d bought a small number of shares of CVS a month earlier when they announced they’d stop selling cigarettes.
After lunch I got as close as I could to the construction, wondering if they'll provide an access route to the bus stop, connect the new separate buildings.
After lunch I got as close as I could to the construction, wondering if they’ll provide an access route to the bus stop, connect the now separate buildings.
When I passed by the new entry while on the shoulder I didn't see any evidence of a public sidewalk or access route to the shopping center
When I passed by the new entry while on the shoulder I didn’t see any evidence of a planned public sidewalk or access route to the shopping center
Across Watson waiting for a return bus you can see the overview.
Across Watson waiting for a return bus you can see the overview, and a pedestrian walking on the shoulder as I had to do.

It’s the suburbs and during construction everyone will be inconvenienced. My husband returned to Fuzzy’s a couple of times since our initial visit, after he said construction was completed we decided to meet again on Friday July 11, 2014. What would I encounter?

Looking west there was no public sidewalk along Watson
Looking west there was no public sidewalk along Watson
I was so pleased to see a proper access route, in concrete to contrast with the asphalt paving!
Looking inward I was so pleased to see a proper access route, in concrete to contrast with the asphalt paving! The planter helps to protect the route from vehicles.  Bravo!!
I quickly checked and found a great connection to the north building across the drive through lane
I quickly checked and found a great connection to the north building across the drive through lane
So I head west alongside the new CVS. so far so good.
So I head west alongside the new CVS. so far so good.
And a connection to the west...but what's that I see?
And a connection to the west…but what’s that I see?
A new curb!?!
A new curb!?! Not sure who’s fault this is: engineer/architect, contractor, or owner, but someone screwed up an otherwise adequate access route.
I had to roll behind 13 parking spaces to reach a ramp, one car nearly backed into me.
I had to roll behind 13 parking spaces to reach a ramp, one car nearly backed into me.
Looking back from in front of the shops you can see the new concrete, this could've easily sloped to provide access.
Looking back from in front of the shops you can see the new concrete, this could’ve easily sloped to provide access. Again, nobody caught the mistake.

Had it been done right initially the cost would’ve been zero, no different than what they spent.  Did the drawings show it correctly but the contractor missed it? Why didn’t Webster Groves’ inspectors catch it? I can’t answer these questions but I’ll be emailing a link to this post to Matthew Stack at Koch Development Co and Webster Groves, the various parties can figure out who’s responsible for the costs to bust out the new concrete and redoing it correctly.

Koch Development originally built Yorkshire Village shopping center in 1951.

— Steve Patterson

 

Rehabbed Corner Storefront Now A Bright Spot In Fox Park Neighborhood

In November 2011 I posted about a Saturday in Fox Park, the city park in the neighborhood of the same name. At that time a storefront building just across California Ave from the park (map) was vacant, boarded up, and for sale. Neighborhood resident and blogger Mark Groth and I discussed that cold morning how nice it would be to have a restaurant across from the park.

The vacant commercial building in the background on November, 2011
The vacant commercial building in the background on November, 2011 as neighbors work in the park
The building at 2800 Shenandoah on January 24, 2012. Source: Geo St. Louis
The building at 2800 Shenandoah on January 24, 2012. Source: Geo St. Louis

I know what you’re thinking, two bloggers dreaming again.  Show me the money, right? The demographics aren’t right, or some other negative viewpoint. To the rest of us, we look at the above and see potential. We may not have the ability to rehab the building but there are rehabbers that share our vision. One such rehabber bought the building and renovated it. Michelle Veremakis, originally from upstate New York, came to St. Louis in 2008 after five years in California.  I asked Veremakis how she decided to buy and restore this building:

It was listed on the MLS. I had looked at it and was a worried that it would be more work than it was worth, considering the condition of the building and the immediate neighborhood. Instead, I put an offer in on a ‘safer’ building in McKinley Heights… But I just couldn’t shake the feeling I got standing inside 2800 Shenandoah. So, I followed my gut, ended the contract on the other building and began negotiations with DeSales.

For many who buy & rehab buildings it is about that “gut” feeling they get. Veremakis rehabs property in the city and county, preferring the “worst of the worst.” She closed on the property in December 2011 and completed the rehab by October 2012.

Long-time Fox Park resident Brooke Roseberry had been thinking about opening a neighborhood restaurant. Brooke and her husband Tony considered the former Tanner B’s space, but in 2013 decided to lease the newly-renovated storefront space at California & Shenandoah. After a delayed build out of the interior, The Purple Martin opened a few months ago.

The same building today
The same building today
At night the interior lights illuminate the life the building now contains. Source: The Purple Martin
At night the interior lights illuminate the life the building now contains. Source: The Purple Martin
Inside looking out. Source: The Purple Martin
Inside looking out. Source: The Purple Martin

My last question to Michelle Veremakis, the owner of the building: When you first looked at the building did you have a vision for what would go into the first floor?

Everything in reference to that building was motivated by vision.  Having purchased one of the most prominent buildings in Fox Park, we felt that we were in the unique position to benefit and inspire the neighborhood; first by revitalizing the neglected building and secondly by choosing a business (and business owners) that had the energy, intention, and vision to create something great.  After completing construction we advertised the space to the public, specifically targeting eating establishments, feeling that food creates community, and that community could bring this corner to greatness.  But money talks, right?  Unfortunately, it does which made deciding to turn away paying commercial tenants because their business type failed to meet our vision, particularly painful.   However, my genetically inherited stubbornness paid off, and V2 properties could not be more proud or excited to have The Purple Martin at 2800 Shenandoah.   Brooke and Tony are exactly what this neighborhood needs and deserves… they share in the vision, but more importantly, they are all heart.

I think Fox Park and St. Louis are lucky to have these two businesswomen! Here’s information on The Purple Martin:

Try the lablabi!

— Steve Patterson

 

Food Trucks Now Welcomed By Downtown Organization

For years the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis opposed food carts/trucks, saying they were unfair competition to brick & mortar restaurants.

Food truckle on Locust for a Partnership for Downtown lunchtime event
Food truckle on Locust for a Partnership for Downtown lunchtime event on Tuesday

I’m glad to see they’re finally on board with mobile food. Here’s the info from Tuesday:

Lunchtime Live!
What: Lunchtime Live! Concert Series

Where: Old Post Office Plaza (8th & Locust)

When: Every Tuesday, May – September (11:30 am – 1:30 pm)

More Information: 314-436-6500 ext. 237 or [email protected]

The Partnership for Downtown St. Louis is scheduled to present Lunchtime Live!, a concert series at the Old Post Office Plaza, occurring every Tuesday, May – September. The Old Post Office Plaza is a unique 30,000 square-foot open space that is surrounded by restaurants, hotels, office and residential buildings, right in the heart of Downtown.

Each week, a different band will perform and an assortment of Food Trucks will be featured. This week (6/10) we invite you to listen to the musical stylings of the Trixie Delighter and enjoy delicious food from Bombay Food Junkies, Guerilla, My Big Fat Greek Truck and Sweet Divine! (source)

Given that no food establishments face their Old Post Office Plaza the options for food are limited. Brick & mortar restaurants aren’t going to prepare food, set up tents, during the lunch rush hour to sell to a smallish crowd.  I think more activities and more food trucks will attract more people, benefitting everyone. I’m glad to see they’ve changed their policy.

— Steve Patterson

 

Chesterfield Valley May Add Shelters At Inaccessible MetroBus Stops

June 9, 2014 Accessibility, Featured, Planning & Design, Public Transit, Retail, St. Louis County, THF Realty Watch, Walkability Comments Off on Chesterfield Valley May Add Shelters At Inaccessible MetroBus Stops

I applaud Chesterfield’s continued support of pubic transportation. Last week I read about more potentially good news:

Chesterfield’s City Council on Monday night gave initial approval an cooperation agreement between the city, Metro, and the Chesterfield Valley Transportation Development District for of bus stop shelters in Chesterfield valley and in other areas of the city in which there are Metro bus routes. A final vote on the legislation is set for June 16. (stltoday)

Bus shelters are an improvement, but what about getting to/from the shelters?

One of five MetroBus stops along Chesterfield Airport Rd serving retail in the Chesterfield Valley, just a sign on the shoulder
One of five MetroBus stops along Chesterfield Airport Rd serving retail in the Chesterfield Valley, just a sign on the shoulder (below highway 40 sign). Click image for map.
The other side of the same stop shows the grass that must be crossed to/from the stop. A sidewalk exists at this spot but not all stops have a sidewalk nearby.
The other side of the same stop shows the grass that must be crossed to/from the stop. A sidewalk exists at this spot but not all stops have a sidewalk nearby.

I took these images in October when I checked out the area in a rental car. My conclusion was Chesterfield Valley is an ADA nightmare, taking MetroBus to shop wouldn’t be possible in a wheelchair. Given that everything was built since the big flood of 1993, it should be ADA-compliant.  I checked Chesterfield’s ADA Transition Plan, there’s no mention of their responsibility in the public right-of-way.

I’d love to meet former Chesterfield Mayor & Metro President John Nations and current mayor Bob Nation at one of these MetroBus stops to have them see the challenges the transit-using public, including the able-bodied, face in navigating this area on foot.

— Steve Patterson

 

Neighborhood Retail In Older Suburbs

Driving around the inner ring suburb of Overland recently I was struck at the number of corner retail buildings adjacent to the residential streets. Unlike more recent suburbs, where retail is miles away from housing, these were very close. End of street close. Today when we think of retailing in the suburbs it’s easy to assume it was always big boxes or enclosed mall, but like the inner city, it started off with stores within walking distance.

Lackland at Ashby, click for map
This storefront building facing Lackland, just east of Ashby, was built in 1950. Click for map
This building was built in 1952, to the east of the previous.
This building was built in 1952, to the east of the previous.
The 1952 building even included a 2-story section
The 1952 building even included a 2-story section
Most of the housing in this area are modest one-story  homes from the 1920s-1960s, this house across the street was built in 1844
Most of the housing in this area are modest one-story homes from the 1920s-1960s, this house directly across Lackland was built in 1844
The commercial building a block east, at 10236 Lockland, was built in 1936. I don't know the prior uses, my guess was a market.
The commercial building a block east, at 10236 Lockland, was built in 1936. I don’t know the prior uses, my guess was a market.
The 21,000+ square foot commercial building at Lackland Rd & Bryant Ave was built in 1947
The 21,000+ square foot commercial building at Lackland Rd & Bryant Ave was built in 1947

This is far different than the 1960s subdivision in Oklahoma City where I grew up. The 1960s subdivisions I’ve seen here are very similar, by that time commercial development was further away  and with lots more parking than these examples. Suburbs & their subdivision development seemed to continue on this trajectory, except for New Urbanist developments like New Town St. Charles.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

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