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A Look At A TargetExpress In Chicago’s Streeterville Neighborhood

February 18, 2016 Featured, Retail, UrbanReview | CHICAGO Comments Off on A Look At A TargetExpress In Chicago’s Streeterville Neighborhood

The following post was originally published on UrbanReview | CHICAGO:

As chain big box stores go, I’ve long-favored Target. But few Target stores stray from the typical suburban big box. Many years ago I visited the 2-story Target in NW Seattle, a decade ago a new Target replaced an older Target in the City of St. Louis with parking below the store.  Better, but big with lots of free parking.

In July 2012 a CityTarget opened in the former Carson Pirie Scott department store building at State & Madison, designed by Louis Sullivan in 1899.   It’s a terrific store — smaller than most Targets but it covers the basics well. Zero parking. Still, it’s 1.3 miles from the condo where we stay while in Chicago. Too far to stop by quickly for a few things.

In October 2015 the new Streeterville TargetExpress opened at 401 E Illinois St, Chicago, IL — just 4/10ths of a mile away — under a 10 minute walk.

The new Streeterville Target
The new Streeterville Target

The space had previously been occupied by organic grocer Fox & Obel, which closed in October 2013:

In court filings last month, Fox & Obel said that it planned to shut down permanently and sell all assets after its heavy debt made it impossible to maintain operations. The grocer said it received notice that its electricity would be shut off, forcing it to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Fox & Obel closed for a time earlier this year after at least a half-dozen failed health inspections.

Despite its trouble, the store still had a loyal following. (Chicago Tribune)

Fox & Obel closed before we began staying in Streeterville. Besides, for a nearby market we like Treasure Island Foods at 680 N. Lake Shore Drive.  In July 2014 Whole Foods announced it would open a Streeterville location — it opened in late January 2015. The grocery market it good.

The entrance
The entrance
Open until midnight!
Open until midnight!
Long walkway ramps up to main floor level
Long walkway ramps up to main floor level
The Starbucks cafe is near the entrance
The Starbucks cafe is near the entrance
The first Target where you can get a drink -- but you must consume within the cafe -- can't take it around the rest of the store.
The first Target where you can get a drink — but you must consume within the cafe — can’t take it around the rest of the store.
It's well stocked
It’s well stocked
I'm sure the pharmacy will be popular
I’m sure the pharmacy will be popular
Looking from pharmacy past housewares toward food
Looking from pharmacy past housewares toward food
Looking from food back toward the front of the store
Looking from food back toward the front of the store
The checkout area, you wait in line for the next cashier. Or use the self-check registers.
The checkout area, you wait in line for the next cashier. Or use the self-check registers.

It’s not the biggest, nor the fanciest, but it’s very convenient. It’s the ideal Target for the neighborhood.

— Steve Patterson

 

‘Indulge In Urban Living’ At Streets of St. Charles

I had 20 years to eat at Noah’s Ark restaurant in St. Charles before it closed in 2000, but I never did.  With a lot of land and a highly visible location developers were interested. New Urbanist developer Greg Whittaker, of New Town at St. Charles, bought the site. He hired Duany Platter-Zyberk (DPZ) to plan a New Urbanist project to be called Plaza at Noah’s Ark.

December 2006:

The multi-use development is planned on 26.8 acres occupied by the former Noah’s Ark restaurant and motel and a small subdivision. The area was developed in the 1960s, but the restaurant closed in 2000 and the hotel two years later.

Plans include an 18-story high-rise residential complex, an outdoor ice rink, a movie theater, a 150-room upscale hotel, restaurants and a parking garage that could include 1,827 spaces. (Post-Dispatch)

March 2007:

The 26.8-acre high-density development is planned for the site of the former Noah’s Ark restaurant and motel at the southeast corner of the Interstate 70 and South Fifth Street interchange. Plans call for an 18-story residential building with a minimum of 518 units costing about $250,000 each, retail shops, a movie theater, a 10- to 14-story hotel, an outdoor ice rink and a multilevel, vertical parking garage. (Post-Dispatch)

November 2011:

The site plan allows for 17 buildings, as many as 12 of which would be one or two stories tall. None would be taller than six stories.

An earlier plan called for 27 buildings ranging from one to 18 stories and set aside 374,200 square feet for commercial space and 759,600 for residential units.

Under the current plan, commercial square footage will range from 561,575 to 1,147,275. Residential square footage can be from 505,000 to 602,000, with an average unit size of 971 square feet.

Construction of the second building is expected to begin sometime in 2012, Buralli said. The 300,000-square-foot building would include the site’s 196 residential units. Cullinan doesn’t plan to sell any of the residential units for now. (Post-Dispatch)

April 2013:

Peoria, Ill.-based Cullinan bought the property in January 2007 from Whittaker Homes, which had acquired the site for a project then called the Plaza at Noah’s Ark. Cullinan renamed it and reached a new development agreement with the city, but the recession delayed construction. The City Council in January 2010 approved $40 million in bonds to help get it going, and in July 2011 approved a revised plan calling for more commercial square footage, less residential space and fewer buildings than Whittaker proposed. (Post-Dispatch)

A few years ago I saw it after the first building was completed, earlier this month I returned when we were in the area.  My reaction is best described as mixed.

Looking North from 5th & Main. Note the banner on the tall retaining wall "Indulge in Urban Living"Looking North from 5th & Main. Note the banner on the tall retaining wall "Indulge in Urban Living". Click image for official website
Looking North from 5th & Main. Note the banner on the tall retaining wall “Indulge in Urban Living”. Click image for official website
From 5th Street
From 5th Street
Up the hill from the QT, still room for future buildings .
Up the hill from the QT, still room for future buildings .
Beale Street has multi-story buildings on both sides with street-level retail storefronts
Beale Street has multi-story buildings on both sides with street-level retail storefronts
Another view of Beale Street. The first building is on the left, has offices over retail
Another view of Beale Street. The first building is on the left, has offices over retail
The AMC theater is strikingly modern compared to the other buildings
The AMC theater is strikingly modern compared to the other buildings
A new 1-story PF Change is under construction to the North of the original building
A new 1-story PF Change is under construction to the North of the original building
Further North is another 1-story building with Missouri's first Pieology pizza chain. Click image for Sept 2015 article
Further North is another 1-story building with Missouri’s first Pieology pizza chain. Click image for Sept 2015 article
Despite what appears to be decent pedestrian circulation, there are several areas that aren't accessible to everyone
Despite what appears to be decent pedestrian circulation, there are several areas that aren’t accessible to everyone

Drury plans a 180-room hotel.

As I said, I have mixed feelings on this project. As a 25+ year resident of the City of St. Louis, their slogan “Indulge in Urban Living” is laughable to me. But I know I’m not their target market. To most residents of St. Charles County this is more urbanity than they ever thought they’d see on their side of the Missouri River.

A decade or more ago this site would’ve been developed as a big box with an even bigger parking lot. Smaller buildings would’ve dotted the perimeter. Visitors would’ve been expected to arrive via car and to drive to reach other buildings on the site.  From my brief observations, it appears the planners have made sure pedestrians can reach every building via a sidewalk.

While I’m not going to give up my downtown loft to live here, it’s an improvement over old-school development patterns.

I’d love to visit in my wheelchair so I could experience it as a pedestrian. It appears I can catch the St. Charles Area Transit’s I-70 Commuter bus at North Hanley, which I’ll do in the coming month or two. A few hours exploring the site, touring a model apartment, having lunch will give me a better feel of the project.

— Steve Patterson

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Porano Pasta Is Just What Downtown Needed

February 5, 2016 Downtown, Featured, Retail 5 Comments

The closing of two long-time downtown restaurants last month got a lot of media attention, so did the new restaurant that opened: Porano Pasta.

News of this restaurant broke a year ago:

Chef Gerard Craft of Niche and its affiliated restaurants will open a fast-casual concept called Porano Pasta & Gelato at the Mercantile Exchange downtown. Porano will draw on the food served at Craft’s Clayton restaurant Pastaria and follow what he calls the “Chipotle format.”

[snip]

Porano will be open for lunch and dinner. Diners will build their meals by choosing a base (organic semolina pasta, gluten-free pasta, farro, focaccia or lettuce), a protein (slow-roasted beef brisket, pork shoulder, pork meatballs, grilled free-range chicken, Calabrian-spiced tofu or roasted seasonal vegetables) and a sauce (pomodoro, pomodoro with smoked pork or roasted red pepper) or salad dressing.

Diners can further customize their meal with such toppings as cheese, anchovies and pickled chiles. Pastaria gelato will be available in single-serve cups (complete with wooden spoons).

Porano will take over the space at 634 Washington Avenue previously occupied by Takaya New Asian. Craft projects a summer opening date.

They didn’t make their original schedule — it has only been open for a few weeks. Right now they’re only open for weekday lunch, but hours will soon be extended into the evening and weekends.

Porano Pasta at 7th & Washington Ave is inviting
Porano Pasta at 7th & Washington Ave is inviting
The place filled quickly on my visit on Wednesday
The place filled quickly on my visit on Wednesday
You go through a line where you pick your items and the staff assemble your dish. It moved very quickly.
You go through a line where you pick your items and the staff assemble your dish. It moved very quickly.
I got the organic semolina pasta, pomodoro sauce, half spicy tofu & half seasonal veggies two kinds & crunch garlic.
I got the organic semolina pasta, pomodoro sauce, half spicy tofu & half seasonal veggies two kinds & crunch garlic. $8.95
As "fast casual" you don't use fine dinnerware. but everything I used can be recycled. -- including the bowl & fork
As “fast casual” you don’t use fine dinnerware. but everything I used can be recycled. — including the bowl & fork
A staff person is often around to help, but I noticed recyclable items in the trash container on the right.
A staff person is often around to help, but I noticed recyclable items in the trash container on the right.

Fast casual pasta has been tried downtown before — remember 10th Street Italian or Pasta House Pronto!? Both of those were failed concepts, but Porano Pasta has nailed the concept. While $8.95 isn’t cheap, the same meal on good china with metal silverware would cost twice as much and take at least twice as long.

The location is ideal, lots of daily foot traffic. With a great mix of restaurants & a theater, the MX is a happening spot. Soon the Blues Museum will open across the street.

My one suggestion is a new sign over the recycling bin that has images of what can be recycled.

— Steve Patterson

 

Two Downtown Restaurants Closing This Weekend

January 25, 2016 Downtown, Featured, Retail 1 Comment

I’ve lived in St. Louis for more than 25 years now, the last 8+ downtown (Downtown West). In this time, many restaurants have come and gone all over the region.  Anniually publications highlight closings & openings — RFT’s 2013 Openings & Closings, for example.

Restaurants close for a variety of reasons.

According to a frequently cited study by Ohio State University on failed restaurants, 60% do not make it past the first year, and 80% go under in five years. (Food Network Chef Robert Irvine Shares The Top 5 Reasons Restaurants Fail)

At the end of this month two longtime downtown restaurants will close: Mike Shannon’s Steaks & Seafood and Harry’s Restaurant & Bar.

On the heels of Mike Shannon’s Steaks and Seafood (closing Jan. 30), Prime 1000, the Dubliner and Joe Buck’s shuttering, comes word that Harry’s Restaurant & Bar will close after a celebration Jan. 29-30.

Harry’s co-owner Tim Pieri confirmed to the Post-Dispatch that the sprawling complex at 2144 Market Street will close after nearly two decades. Harry’s includes a dining area along with a patio and the Horizon at Harry’s nightclub. (Post-Dispatch)

Shannon’s will focus on their two other locations — Edwardsville & the airport. Harry’s only has the one location.

Only photo I could find of 620 Market, where Shannon's was located on the ground floor. February 2012. Click image for map.
Only photo I could find of 620 Market, where Shannon’s was located on the ground floor. February 2012. Click image for map.

City records online don’t list the date the building was constructed. In 1969 the Spanish Pavilion (briefly) opened on the block, this building appears on a 1971 aerial.  In the early 1990s the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, our Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), was located on the 2nd floor.  I have no recollection what was on the 1st floor prior to Shannon’s relocating here 10-15 years ago. They installed new windows along Market — making a strong connection to the public realm. Pedestrians could see the beautiful dining room & bar — though both were slightly higher. I ate there once 5-8 years, a friend was treating. Great food & service. Convenient location, we arrived as pedestrians.

The location is excellent, very close to Busch Stadium. Unfortunately, the city allowed the Cardinals/Cordish to build Ballpark Village without pedestrian access from 7th Street. So anyway wanting to eat here before or after a baseball game were forced to walk in auto driveways or a circuitous route to stay on marginal sidewalks.  This didn’t cause them to close, but it didn’t help. It also presents physical challenges for the next tenant of the space.

Harry's address is 2144 Market St, but the entry is on 22nd St, click image for map
Harry’s address is 2144 Market St, but the entry is on 22nd St, click image for map
Looking North on 22nd toward Market. FBI on left, Harry's on right
Looking North on 22nd toward Market. FBI on left, Harry’s on far right

On paper Harry’s location is also good: surrounded by hotels and at a highway on/off ramp. The building was built in 1964, for years a Mercedes-Benz dealership was across 22d  Street — now the FBI.  I remember the auto dealership, but I don’t recall what was in the Harry’s building. The dealership closed in 1995 — about the same time Harry’s opened.

I’ve never eaten at Harry’s — never had any desire. The building isn’t inviting. They took the on-street parking for valet use. Though I live closer to Harry’s than to Shannon’s, pedestrian access is basically impossible. Not the building — getting there. I was able to photograph the conditions in June 2010:

The sidewalks between Harry's and Union Station aren't friendly to the able-bodied -- impossible for the rest of us.
The sidewalks between Harry’s and Union Station aren’t friendly to the able-bodied — impossible for the rest of us.
Another example
Another example

Even a guest at the hotel across Market St from Harry’s would have a challenge walking to dinner. But again, even if it was a walker’s paradise the building isn’t inviting.

One photo from their website. Seriously?
One photo from their website. Seriously?

I looked at their menus and photos — how did they stay open this long?

[Harry’s owner] Pieri cited a familiar scenario: “It’s the economy, the highway closing, Ballpark Village. Downtown is just a dead area right now, unfortunately. Obviously, the sad part is nobody is talking about it. Iconic places are going out of business, and nobody cares.

“Ballpark Village was the nail in the coffin. It shut down Washington Avenue and took 70 percent of our business. We thought it would be more like 10 or 20 percent. It took the people left who were coming to downtown.”

He said the closing of Highway 40 (Interstate 64) for construction in various stages between 2007 and 2009affected Harry’s because “St. Louisans are creatures of habit. When it was closed for 2½ years, they went elsewhere.”

Pieri thinks there’s a downward swing that will continue until downtown books more conventions and brings crime under control. “People are afraid to come downtown,” he said. (Post-Dispatch)

The closing of Harry’s isn’t a shock to me.

— Steve Patterson

 

SUV Blocked Pedestrian Path At The Boulevard

Last Saturday morning we drove out to The Boulevard to get a gift at Crate & Barrel.  When we arrived and left a large SUV was parked blocking the crosswalk.

The owner was sitting in his SUV blocking the crosswalk when we arrived and when we left
The owner was sitting in his SUV blocking the crosswalk when we arrived and when we left

A person was inside, but I didn’t confront him other than giving him a dirty look as I slowly walked around with my cane.

This person was either:

  1. Waiting to pick up someone who was shopping, or
  2. Security

I emailed the property manager at Pace Properties, asking if this person was security. I’ve not heard back.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

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