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St. Louis Galleria To Improve Pedestrian Access, Adding ADA Access Routes From Public Transit Stops

I’m very pleased to announce The Galleria Saint Louis & General Growth Properties, Inc. (GGP) will make substantial site modifications to better accommodate pedestrian visitors to the mall.

Thankfully GGP was very cooperative from day one, they willingly recognized the access issues I raised and quickly agreed to address them.  For the last 18+ months we’ve been working together on a mutually agreeable resolution. GGP and I share a desire to increase accessibility for persons with disabilities.

For those pedestrians arriving at The Galleria via the Richmond Heights MetroLink light rail station, a new pedestrian access route will be completed.

This sidewalk that goes no where will be removed, a sidewalk safely leading pedestrians to the SE corner of Dillard's will be built
This sidewalk that goes no where will be removed, a sidewalk safely leading pedestrians to the SE corner of Dillard’s will be built. See drawing below.
New access route from Brentwood & Galleria Parkway, click image to view full 10-page PDF of construction drawings
New access route from Brentwood & Galleria Parkway, click image to view full 10-page PDF of construction drawings

Additional pedestrian access routes will be constructed as well.

Again, I’m very pleased to be able to make this announcement.

— Steve Patterson

 

An Infuriatingly Avoidable Accessibility Issue

The former headquarters of the Missouri Pacific Railroad reopened on May 12, 2011 as luxury apartments called Park Pacific. The Lawrence Group was the architect as well as owner/developer, they an impressive job.

ABOVE: Ribbon cutting was held on May 12, 2011
The ribbon cutting was held on May 12, 2011, click image to read my post about the reopening of the building

But I’ve had a few issues, such as rolling dumpsters left blocking the Pine Street sidewalk.

Looking west toward 13th
In April of this year the sidewalk was blocked, not the first time. To my knowledge, it hasn’t been blocked since.

In the 2+ years since the building reopened a number of businesses moved in. KMOX radio moved into some commercial office space, for example. At the street-level there are a number of options: frozen yogurt, fine dinning, smoothies, and most recently, Art Saint Louis + Mississippi Mud coffeehouse.

Earlier this week I had a meeting with someone, she suggested we meet at Art Saint Louis + Mississippi Mud. When Art Saint Louis announced their plans to relocate from 555 Washington Ave to the Park Pacific I was interested, the sidewalk entrance from their Washington Ave location wasn’t wheelchair accessible, but at least they also had a 2nd entrance via the lobby.

I snapped this shot in late April showing the step into the retail space. New door, new step, new sidewalk -- all from 2011.
I snapped this shot in late April showing the step into the retail space. New door, new step, new sidewalk — all from the renovation in 2009-2011.

I just assumed with the $109 million dollar building renovation the accessible entrance to their new space must be through the main lobby as well. I thought nobody would build a tenant space with a brand new non-ADA exterior-only entrance. Turns out I was wrong, The Lawrence Group designed, built, & leased a storefront with one public entrance without required wheelchair access as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The architect can’t say the owner made changes without their knowledge — the owner & architect are the same entity!

The sidewalk should’ve been raised up when poured, but it wasn’t. They had two years to fix it while the space was vacant and for lease, but they didn’t. No, it wasn’t until I arrive that it became an issue to fix. The executive director of Art Saint Louis and owner of Mississippi Mud were both apologetic, they genuinely felt bad.  Two staff from the Park Pacific got involved, guiding me through the lobby to a back service corridor, to a back door to the Art Saint Louis space.

Back hall I had to use, they had wood piled up so I barely fit. Very likely s fire code violation.
Back hall I had to use, they had wood piled up so I barely fit. Very likely a fire code violation.

But it was worth the journey, the new space is very nice. Much better than their previous space, which had become very dated.

Gallery inside Art Saint Louis
Gallery inside Art Saint Louis
Mississippi Mud coffeehouse in the front section of Art St. Louis
Mississippi Mud coffeehouse in the front section of Art Saint Louis
Since April the step got yellow paint so guests don't trip.
Since April the step got yellow paint so guests don’t trip.

One person said they could grind off the step, though it would be steeper than the ADA allows. On Tuesday post some were shocked when I said I was ok with the city using asphalt to deal with a problem where a sidewalk sank, causing a bit of a lip less than this one. It was suggested I have a double standard.

Well, yes and no.

The sidewalk situation I posted about Tuesday has several parties involved, hard to determine who’s at fault for the sidewalk sinking next to a water vault lid that didn’t sink.  Here we know clearly who’s responsible — and they received tax incentives to do the project. The mayor and other elected officials were present at the ribbon cutting.  So yes, I hold this project to a higher standard, but I wouldn’t call it a double standard.

At this point I want the entrance fixed precisely conforming with the ADA — not a fraction of an inch out of compliance. I have a digital level I’ll bring to test the solution. The Lawrence Group should know better, they cannot claim ignorance. They created the problem for themselves during the renovation, they didn’t address it for the 2 years the space was vacant.

Unfortunately the very nice people at Art Saint Louis + Mississippi Mud will be inconvenienced while this is busted out and redone in compliance with the ADA. If you plan to lease space for a business please make sure it is ADA-compliant. You can’t assume just because the owner of the building is an architecture firm that they got it right, bring along an independent 3rd party to verify before you sign the lease.

I emailed Lawrence Group partner Steve Smith that same day, saying I was “angry & disappointed.” Infuriating!!

— Steve Patterson

 

Competing Visions for Forest Park Avenue Corridor

Forest Park Ave from Kingshighway to Grand (map) is 1.6 miles long with the potential to be a dense urban corridor. Developers, however, would like to make it a typical low-density big box chain retail corridor. I’d like to show you why I believe two big box retail developments at Forest Park Avenue & Vandeventer are out of character, why these will undo the work others have done recently.

I had enough photos of various buildings along Forest Park Ave to write this post, but Saturday I spent about 90 minutes taking around 150 photos as I traveled the entire length in my wheelchair. Why go to such trouble? I believe cities can’t be properly understood driving through in a car, or worse, relying on Google street view. You’ve got to hit the pavement to really get what an area is about.

I got off the bus on Forest Park Ave at the first stop east of Kingshighway and returned downtown from the Grand MetroLink station, about 2 miles of travel.  Don’t worry, I’m only going to show you a small percentage of the images I took.

Looking east toward Euclid Ave we see numerous multi-story buildings, including medical, hotel, & apartments
Looking east toward Euclid Ave we see numerous multi-story buildings, including medical, hotel, & apartments, all recent structures
One low-rise strip center exists on the NE corner at Taylor Ave. If the St. Louis Streetcar gets built expect this 1985 building to be replaced with something more dense
One low-rise strip center exists on the NE corner at Taylor Ave. If the St. Louis Streetcar gets built expect this 1985 building to be replaced with something more dense
The Parkview Apts next door contain 192 units on a lot just 65% bigger than the strip center.
The 1972 Parkview Apts next door contain 192 units on a lot just 65% bigger than the strip center.
This 3-story apt building was built in 1930, it contains 24 units
This 3-story apt building was built in 1930, it contains 24 units. The building next door was built in 1908
Across Forest Park is the Rehab Institute, I had some outpatient physical therapy here.
Across Forest Park is the Rehab Institute, I had some outpatient physical therapy here.
Back on the north side of Forest Park we have a 242 unit building built in 1977
Back on the north side of Forest Park we have a 242 unit building built in 1977
This block contains older buildings as well
This block contains older buildings as well, all 2-3 stories
Same is true on the south side of Forest Park Ave
Same is true on the south side of Forest Park Ave
This is a very pleasant place  to be a pedestrian even with many cars passing by
This is a very pleasant place to be a pedestrian even with many cars passing by
The 3-story Cortex building from 2006 faces Forest Park Ave
The 3-story Cortex building from 2006 faces Forest Park Ave
Unfortunately this 2-story structure at S. Boyle, built in 1919, will be razed for a wide pedestrian mall leading to a new MetroLink station to be built 2 blocks south
Unfortunately this 2-story structure at S. Boyle, built in 1919, will be razed for a wide pedestrian mall leading to a new MetroLink station to be built 2 blocks south
Across the street a similar building was successfully renovated for an independence center and upscale resale store
Across the street a similar building was successfully renovated for an independence center and upscale resale store. This was built in 1931.
One of the few 1-story buildings, this one dates to 1912 and has many windows on the street-facing   facade. Currently a dialysis center.
One of the few 1-story buildings, this one dates to 1912 and has many windows on the street-facing facade. Currently used as a dialysis center.
The general rule, however, is 2-levels up to 6 or more at times. All front Forest Park Ave
The general rule, however, is 2-levels up to 6 or more at times. All front Forest Park Ave
Former Ford plant is now apartments with street-level retail
Former Ford plant is now apartments with street-level retail
Two of the four storefronts are still available.
Two of the four storefronts are still available.
The 3-story warehouse from 1901 is now part of the Center for Emerging Technologies
The 3-story warehouse from 1901 is now part of the Center for Emerging Technologies
A long-time Salvation Army facility, 3-stories facing Forest Park Ave
A long-time Salvation Army facility, 3-stories facing Forest Park Ave
A 2-story Laclede Gas building
A 2-story Laclede Gas building
A 2-story firehouse at Vandeventer
The 2-story firehouse at Vandeventer was built in 1965
A former warehouse facing Forest Park and another facing Laclede are apartments geared toward SLU students. The parking garage was set back enough to permit a shallow liner building.
A former warehouse facing Forest Park, and another facing Laclede, are apartments geared toward SLU students. The parking garage was set back enough to permit a shallow liner building.
At Spring Ave millions have been invested in existing urban buildings
At Spring Ave millions have been invested in existing urban buildings
Microbrewer Six Row is in the urban building on the SE corner at Spring Ave
Microbrewer Six Row is in the urban building on the SE corner at Spring Ave
Finally at Grand we have one of SLU's residence halls
Finally at Grand we have one of SLU’s residence halls, though not oriented to Forest Park Ave

As you can see each block for the last 1.5 miles from Kingshighway has buildings fronting Forest Park Ave, nearly all 2 or more floors. Seems like every decade since the early 20th century new buildings have followed this pattern. But now Pace wants to change the pattern drastically, a new vision.

Pace Properties wants to build a retail center, called Midtown Station, on Forest Park Ave. between Vandeventer and Spring.

Pace says the site is ideal because of its proximity to St. Louis University and Washington University, as well as major employers like Ameren Missouri, BJC and Wells Fargo. (KSDK)

From the development flyer:

Pace wants to have the backs of big boxes facing Forest Park Ave & Vandeventer Ave
Pace wants to have the backs of big boxes facing Forest Park Ave & Vandeventer Ave
This big box development (yellow) coupled with another to the west purple will completely undo the hard work and investment of  others along the Forest Park Ave corridor
This big box development (yellow) coupled with another to the west (purple) will completely undo the hard work and investment of others along the Forest Park Ave corridor

Next to Saint Louis University should be walkable retail shops, not the blank walls of the back of big boxes. I’m not opposed to retail, I’m opposed to the form these developments will likely take. I’m gathering examples of how this could be done much better, look for another post next month.

I don’t want this new suburban big box vision to reverse the urban corridor.

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers: Downtown Grocery Store Very Convenient

August 21, 2013 Downtown, Featured, Retail 5 Comments

Some people have the attitude if I don’t like Culinaria I should just shop elsewhere and not complain. When regular customers complain to a business they’re helping that business, going elsewhere without feedback doesn’t help the business, or the employes.

View of Culinaria from upstairs mezzanine
View of Culinaria from upstairs mezzanine

Over the last 4 years Culinaria has improved greatly, especially in the last year. Why? Because myself and others have complained, explaining what we like and dislike. The example I mentioned in the post introducing last week’s poll — flour.  When Culinaria opened 4 years ago with the marketing tag line: “Bring out the foodie in you” but only flour offered was Schnucks bleached flour.

Bleached flour has a slightly lower protein content than unbleached flour because of the chlorination process it goes through. Protein develops into gluten, which provides structure in baked goods. Less protein in bleached flour means less gluten and a softer, lighter texture and finer grain, just the qualities you want in more delicate pastries like cakes, pastry dough, muffins and shortcakes.

According to Shirley Corriher, author of Bakewise (Scribner, 2008), there’s “a major difference due to protein content—products are significantly tougher and drier with unbleached flour.” Another reason to use bleached flour is when you want a truly white color, like in a white cake.

Unbleached flour is better for sturdier baked goods, like yeast breads or pizza dough. Its higher protein content allows the yeast to rise and still support the structure of the dough.

If you prefer using only unbleached flour but want a lower-protein flour occasionally, you can create your own by substituting potato starch for 10 percent of the flour. (Source)

Trying to bake bread with bleached white flour will produce disastrous results.

When Culinaria opened 4 years ago the only flour choice was Schnucks bleached flour, today there are many choices.
When Culinaria opened 4 years ago the only flour choice was Schnucks bleached flour, today there are many choices.

As you can see above they now offer a wide variety of flours.  The gluten-free section has gone from zero to decent as well. Clearly Culinaria’s management didn’t know what to stock early on. They’ve learned by listening to customer requests and seeing what sells.

Q: Thoughts on Culinaria (Downtown Schnucks grocery) – pick up to 3

  1. Very convenient 68 [27.53%]
  2. Right size 37 [14.98%]
  3. Glad to have a pharmacy downtown 30 [12.15%]
  4. I still miss the historic Century Building 28 [11.34%]
  5. My primary grocery store 22 [8.91%]
  6. My secondary grocery store 22 [8.91%]
  7. Tried it once or twice, haven’t been back 9 [3.64%]
  8. Other: 9 [3.64%]
  9. Too small 7 [2.83%]
  10. Not convenient 6 [2.43%]
  11. I should give it a try again 5 [2.02%]
  12. Unsure/no opinion 4 [1.62%]

The “other” answers provided by readers were:

  1. More expensive
  2. 9pm is way too early to close.
  3. Needs more space
  4. It’s a good resource for downtown, despite the loss of the Century.
  5. obnoxious checkers
  6. poor selection
  7. Stopped going after they doubled prizes of freshly made salads.
  8. AHH! Subsidies. Free parking. Parking in front of store. No one got freebies
  9. good to see a local company taking risk

At least the asparagus is in trays with water.

— Steve Patterson

 

State-Owned Retail Space on 9th Street Finally For Lease

August 15, 2013 Downtown, Featured, Retail 6 Comments

In October last year I posted about a downtown hotel that used a state-owned retail storefront rent-free for a decade. Then in December I noted the storefront was being emptied of the hotel’s stuff, they used it for long-term storage. Since December I kept expecting to see a for lease sign go up. Finally on Monday I spotted the sign!

The space on 9th between Locust & Washington Ave is finally for lease, click image for listing
The space on 9th between Locust & Washington Ave is finally for lease, click image for listing
This is a busy sidewalk with many pedestrians going to/from Culinaria located a block south
This is a busy sidewalk with many pedestrians going to/from Culinaria located a block south

From the flyer:

  • 3,663 SF retail space available
  • Great spot for causal restaurant
  • Surrounded by office building and hotels
  • AT&T Corporate Campus, Renaissance St. Louis Grand Hotel, Mayfair Plaza, Thompson Coburn
  • Located in the St. Louis Convention Center Hotel Garage
  • With 5 blocks radius: 3,965 residents, 30,700 workers, 6,448 hotel rooms
  • Visibility from Locust
  • One block North of Schnucks Culinaria, the #1 downtown grocery store

Short-term on-street parking is still needed in front of this space, and the retail spaces in the former Board of Education building to the immediate south. Right now the city has the  parking lane marked as no parking but also no driving, I don’t get the logic behind leaving a full lane completely unused.

Hopefully this will get leased soon so the state can get revenue ($54,945/year) and a long-vacant storefront gets activated.

— Steve Patterson

 

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