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County Market Near Downtown Springfield IL Retrofits A Pedestrian Route

In March I posted about a new grocery store on the edge of downtown Springfield IL (map) that anticipated many customers on foot, but they expected these pedestrians to either use the automobile driveways or walk over curbs and through grass & lots of parking.  A few days after my post, Springfield Journal-Register columnist Dave Bakke wrote Some criticisms of Springfield justified mentioning my criticism, later Bakke followed up with Critique of Springfield’s image touches nerve.

Here's what customers leaving the entrance facing Carpenter see now.
Here’s what customers leaving the entrance facing Carpenter see now.
Back in March the New County Market near downtown Springfield didn't have a route for pedestrians to/from the public sidewalk.
Back in March the New County Market near downtown Springfield didn’t have a route for pedestrians to/from the public sidewalk. The only provision was to reach disabled parking.

From this angle the change isn’t significant, no paint on asphalt will keep a distracted driver from hitting a pedestrian.  But look out toward the street and you’ll see new concrete.

From the public sidewalk you can see the new route they added.
From the public sidewalk you can see the new route they added so pedestrians don’t have to compete with cars.

I appreciate the after the fact gesture, but this is a good example why pedestrian access, just like automobile access, must be planned from the beginning. The new concrete walk does not meet ADA guidelines, it is too steep in places. I didn’t have my digital level with me on our Mother’s Day trip, but I could tell by walking it.

This route shown above is a consolation prize for pedestrians, it connects to Carpenter St only, not to 2nd St. Even if they retrofitted a route to 2nd it still wouldn’t be considered pedestrian-friendly. As I pointed out in my original post, the County Market in Champaign-Urbana is the model that should’ve been built in Springfield. It was built on a corner with direct access from both sidewalks. It also has a parking lot behind the building, with another entrance. Same number of entrances as the Springfield location, just arranged so customers arriving on foot or car are equally accommodated.

From the mezzanine you can see the route able-bodied pedestrians will likely take, cutting across the parking lot at a diagonal.
From the mezzanine you can see the route able-bodied pedestrians will likely take, cutting across the parking lot at a diagonal.

Springfield, like St. Louis and most cities, should not allow parking between the public sidewalk and buildings in areas where they seek to be pedestrian-friendly. In all other areas where public sidewalks are present/required they should require developers to actually connect to them. Public sidewalks are not window dressing, people actually use them.

If motorists were treated like pedestrians, no parking lot would have a driveway connecting to the public street. You’d be forced to drive over multiple curbs and through grass. All cars could be able to enter & exit, but 4X4 vehicles would have an easier time. While people could use parkings lot this way, they’d soon realize it wasn’t friendly and is potentially  damaging their vehicle. Those with high-clearance SUVs wouldn’t understand why a person driving a vintage MG Midget would complain, besides how often do you see one of those on the road… Why build costly driveways for the few people who have low cars?

Municipal zoning & building codes in cities coast to coast go to great lengths to detail every aspect of our arrival at developments by car: driveways, width of aisles, parking space dimensions, number of spaces, etc. Few say a word about arrival on foot.

It is no wonder so few people walk given our built environment.

— Steve Patterson

 

Poll: How Will Macy’s Closing Their Downtown Location Affect Downtown St. Louis In The Long-Term?

Macy's in the Railway Exchange building
Macy’s is located on 3 floors of the Railway Exchange building

You likely heard the news last week about the Macy’s store downtown:

Retailer Macy’s will close its downtown St. Louis in the Railway Exchange Center later this summer.

A final closing sale will begin June 2 and last 10 weeks. (KSDK)

Immediately following the announcement people were upset, but clearly not enough to keep the store open. The poll this week asks: How will Macy’s closing their downtown location affect downtown St. Louis in the long-term? The provided answers are:

  • Very negatively
  • Negatively
  • Neutral
  • Positively
  • Very positively
  • Unsure/no answer

These answers will be presented in random order in the poll (right sidebar) so the order doesn’t influence the results. You the comments below to share your thoughts.

— Steve Patterson

 

Accessing Food Truck Events

I love patronizing food trucks, street food is part of the reason I live downtown. Food trucks are often located at various downtown locations, right next to the sidewalk. Very convenient.

Foods trucks at Third Degree's recent open house
Foods trucks at Third Degree’s recent open house

Food truck events, on the other hand, aren’t so convenient for those of us who’re disabled. Walking across grass, which is often uneven, is not an easy task. For some, it’s impossible.

The able-bodied can easily line up in grass.
The able-bodied can easily line up in grass.

For a few years now cities coast to coast have wrestled with accessibility of popular food truck events, so no citizens are excluded from participation. In 2011 Napa, CA halted a friday night event until a more accessible location could be found (source).

I’m asking local organizers to consider everyone when planning a food truck event.

— Steve Patterson

 

Proposed Rebuild of Kenrick Plaza in Shrewsbury, MO Ignores Walkability & ADA (UPDATED)

I’m not a fan of Walmart, but this post isn’t an attack on the Walmart business model. Instead the purpose of this post is to show how the redevelopment of Kenrick Plaza (map), proposed by G. J. Grewe, as presented, will not meet the minimum requirements of the Americans with Disability Act of 1990 (ADA).

First let’s take a quick look at the area:

Sign for Kenrick Plaza at Watson Rd and Trianomn Parkway Drive
Sign for Kenrick Plaza at Watson Rd and Trianon Parkway Drive, looking east
West side
Sign at Trianon Parkway Drive, looking west
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The now-closed Kenrick Cinema is located on the west side of Trianon Parkway.
The now-closed Kenrick Cinema is located on the west side of Trianon Parkway.

A report prepared by PGAV details how Kenrick Plaza is in bad physical condition, the layout doesn’t work well (former Burger King blocks views of retail space behind, etc.) and it doesn’t work for people with disabilities.

Here’s the proposed site plan, which includes cutting off public access to Watson Rd for many houses, leaving one entrance off of Laclede Station as the sole way in and out, with an exception for cutting through the private “lower Kenrick Plaza” area.

Site plan
Proposed site plan, click image to view larger version on Scribd.

The same report talks about the new proposal…

COMPLIANCE WITH THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN

The Comprehensive Plan for the City of Shrewsbury (the “Comprehensive Plan”) dated March 1970, designates the land use for the Area to be commercial. The Comprehensive Plan, drafted as the Kenrick Seminary lands became open for development, envisioned the land uses immediately adjacent to Watson Road as a commercial corridor that would bring the City’s percentage of commercial land up to 10.4% from a meager 3%. The City was heavily dominated by residential and institutional uses and lacked significant commercial acreage.

The Comprehensive Plan was followed in the original construction of Kenrick Plaza as a commercial district supporting the surrounding residential development that largely lacked retail, entertainment, and restaurant options within close proximity. Also accommodated in the Comprehensive Plan was the construction of one or more television towers. This redevelopment plan maintains the Area as commercial land use consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and accommodates the existing television tower. The map depicting future land use included in the Comprehensive Plan specifically and clearly designates the Area for commercial land use.

Oh good, it complies with the 1970 “Comprehensive Plan”! Apparently nothing in Shrewsbury has changed in the last 43 years. I want to point out a few big red flags about this proposal:

A sidewalk along Watson Rd with "decorative lighting" every 75 feet but you must walk in the auto driveways if you want to shop.
A sidewalk along Watson Rd with “decorative lighting” every 75 feet but you must walk in the auto driveways if you want to shop.
Residents used to driving/walking to Watson Rd will no longer be able to do so, nor can they or their kids/grandkids walk to the store to get bread & milk.
Residents used to driving/walking to Watson Rd will no longer be able to do so, nor can they or their kids/grandkids walk to the store to get bread & milk.
View looking south toward Watson along Trianon Parkway from the last side side street before access to be cut off.
View looking south toward Watson along Trianon Parkway from the last side side street before access to be cut off.

Shrewsbury should be requiring more connections, not fewer.

206 Accessible Routes

206.1 General. Accessible routes shall be provided in accordance with 206 and shall comply with Chapter 4.

206.2 Where Required. Accessible routes shall be provided where required by 206.2.

 206.2.1 Site Arrival Points. At least one accessible route shall be provided within the site from accessible parking spaces and accessible passenger loading zones; public streets and sidewalks; and public transportation stops to the accessible building or facility entrance they serve.

EXCEPTIONS:

1. Where exceptions for alterations to qualified historic buildings or facilities are permitted by 202.5, no more than one accessible route from a site arrival point to an accessible entrance shall be required.

2. An accessible route shall not be required between site arrival points and the building or facility entrance if the only means of access between them is a vehicular way not providing pedestrian access.

 Advisory 206.2.1 Site Arrival Points. Each site arrival point must be connected by an accessible route to the accessible building entrance or entrances served. Where two or more similar site arrival points, such as bus stops, serve the same accessible entrance or entrances, both bus stops must be on accessible routes. In addition, the accessible routes must serve all of the accessible entrances on the site.

Advisory 206.2.1 Site Arrival Points Exception 2. Access from site arrival points may include vehicular ways. Where a vehicular way, or a portion of a vehicular way, is provided for pedestrian trvel, such as within a shopping center or shopping mall parking lot, this exception does not apply.

206.2.2 Within a Site. At least one accessible route shall connect accessible buildings, accessible facilities, accessible elements, and accessible spaces that are on the same site.

EXCEPTION: An accessible route shall not be required between accessible buildings, accessible facilities, accessible elements, and accessible spaces if the only means of access between them is a vehicular way not providing pedestrian access.

Advisory 206.2.2 Within a Site. An accessible route is required to connect to the boundary of each area of sport activity. Examples of areas of sport activity include: soccer fields, basketball courts, baseball fields, running tracks, skating rinks, and the area surrounding a piece of gymnastic equipment. While the size of an area of sport activity may vary from sport to sport, each includes only the space needed to play. Where multiple sports fields or courts are provided, an accessible route is required to each field or area of sport activity. (2010 ADA Standards)

 

In short this says it is ok to require pedestrians to use an auto drive to a facility like a Starbuck’s but that exception isn’t applicable to a shopping center. Elsewhere in the same link as above, the term “shopping center” is defined as:

(A) A building housing five or more sales or rental establishments; or

(B) A series of buildings on a common site, either under common ownership or common control or developed either as one project or as a series of related projects, housing five or more sales or rental establishments. For purposes of this section, places of public accommodation of the types listed in paragraph (5) of the definition of “place of public accommodation” in section § 36.104 are considered sales or rental establishments. The facility housing a “shopping center or shopping mall” only includes floor levels housing at least one sales or rental establishment, or any floor level designed or intended for use by at least one sales or rental establishment.

 

Developer G. J. Grewe and Architect TRi should be ashamed for submitting such a plan, this isn’t 1970 despite the fact Shrewsbury’s comprehensive plan hasn’t been updated.

As I was finishing this post yesterday I received an email from Shrewsbury Mayor Felicity indicating “accessibility is being addressed with sidewalks from the bus stop to the stores.”  The site plan on the Shrewsbury website is a preliminary concept. I requested an updated copy but I have not received it.

UPDATE 5/22/2013 @ 3:30pm:

At 3pm I received from Shrewsbury Director of Administration, Jonathan Greever, a PDF copy of “of the current special use permit site plan. This document is limited in that it does not address the entire site and its intended use is not for construction. The purpose for this document is different than that of a fully engineered plan. As stated previously, the final engineered plans have not been generated.” You can view it on Scribd here.

— Steve Patterson

 

Press Release: More Strikes Hit St. Louis’ Largest Fast Food Chains

The following is from a press release:

MORE STRIKES HIT ST LOUIS’ LARGEST FAST FOOD CHAINS

Inspired by New York City and Chicago Fast Food Walkouts, St. Louis Workers Strike Major National Chains

First-ever St. Louis Fast Food Walkout; STL Can’t Survive on $7.35 Campaign Launches Calling For $15 and the Right to Form a Union without Retaliation; Aims to Get St. Louis’ Economy Moving Again

ST. LOUIS— Workers walked off their jobs at Jimmy John’s and McDonald’s Wednesday in the first-ever fast-food strike to hit St. Louis and more 100 workers are expected to join them today. In their one-day strikes of major national brands like McDonald’s, Jimmy Johns, Domino’s, Hardees and Wendy’s are on strike, the employees are calling for wages that support their families and the right to form a union without retaliation.

The workers’ campaign, STL Can’t Survive On $7.35, seeks to put money back in the pockets of the 36,000 men and women who work hard in the city’s fast food restaurants, but still can’t afford basic necessities like food, clothing, and rent. The Self-Sufficiency Standard for an adult with one child living in St. Louis County is $14.84 per hour working full time. If workers were paid more, they’d spend more, helping to get St. Louis’ economy moving again.

“There are days I wonder, ‘how am I going to get home’ because I can’t afford my bus fare,” said Patrick Leeper, who has worked at Chipotle for more than three years, “Sometimes I walk for more than an hour just to save my train fare so I can spend it on Ramen noodles. I can’t even think about groceries.”

Fast food workers bring $1 billion a year into the cash registers of St. Louis, yet most of these workers earn Missouri’s minimum wage of $7.35, or just above it, and are forced to rely on public assistance programs to provide for their families and get healthcare for their children. They’re coming together for $15 per hour and the right to form a union so they can support their families, and put money back into the economy.

“I’ve been at Jack in the Box for four years, cleaning and prepping food and all I get paid is $7.55 without any benefits,” said Anita Gregory, a mother of one, who is expecting her second child in the next few weeks. “I’m tired of having to struggle to survive while working so hard.”

It would take a typical St. Louis fast food worker minimum-wage full-time worker more than 1,300 years to earn as much as the CEO of YUM! Brands, which owns Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, made in 2012.

The two days of strikes here in St. Louis come just weeks after hundreds of fast food and retail workers went on strike in Chicago and hundreds more walked off their jobs in New York City. The strikes by low-wage workers began on Black Friday back in November, with hundreds of Walmart workers walking off their jobs. It spread weeks later to fast food, with workers embarking on the first-ever strike to hit the industry.

Low-wage jobs have accounted for the bulk of new jobs added in the recovery, and fast food positions are among the fastest-growing in St. Louis. Workers here, like those around the country, are increasingly joining together to fight for higher wages that will lift the economy.

“Workers in fast-food jobs are no longer freckle-faced teenagers looking for some summer pocket change,” said the Rev. Martin Rafanan, director of STL $7.35. “Increasingly, fast food jobs are the only options for St. Louisans, but these workers can’t even afford to pay for rent, food and bus fare. If the workers earned more, fast food workers would spend that money at local businesses here in St. Louis and help lift our economy.”

Founded in February of 2013, the St. Louis Organizing Committee is an independent union of fast food workers. The workers’ STL Can’t Survive on $7.35 campaign seeks a $15 an hour wage and the right to form a union without retaliation. The STL Can’t Survive on $7.35 campaign is supported by a coalition of dozens of community, labor and faith-based groups including: ACTION; Adorers of the Blood of Christ; St. Louis AFL-CIO; AFSCME Illinois Council 31; Aquinas Institute; ARAW/Jobs with Justice National; Ascension Episcopal; Bethel Lutheran; Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, St Louis, Central Reform Congregation; Central Reform Congregation; Eastern District Laborer Council 110; Eden Seminary; Epiphany UCC; Episcopal Diocese; Families USA; Gethsemane Lutheran Church; Jobs with Justice Workers’ Right Board; Kirkwood UCC; Missouri Jobs with Justice; MO Health Care For All; MORE; National Nurses United; New Life Evangelistic Center; Parkway United Church of Christ; People’s World; Personal UFCW655; Presbyterian Church USA; PROMO; ProVote; SEIU Health Care; SEIU Local 1; St John’s Catholic Church; St John’s Episcopal; St Joseph’s Catholic Church; St Margaret of Scotland; St Mark Lutheran; St Peter’s United Church of Christ; St. Pius; St Thomas United Church of Christ; Teamsters 688;The Bridge at Newtown; United Church of Christ in Afton; United Food and Commercial Workers 655; United Food and Commercial Workers 88; Wayman African Methodist Episcopal Church; Westminster Presbyterian; Westside Baptist; Young Activists United

 

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