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Thinking about the former Ackerman Toyota site on South Kingshighway

February 11, 2019 Featured, Planning & Design, South City Comments Off on Thinking about the former Ackerman Toyota site on South Kingshighway

For decades Ackerman Toyota was located on South Kingshighway Blvd, between Tholozan Ave on the North, and Beck Ave on the South. In 2015 they announced they’d build a new dealership on the NE corner of Hampton & I-44, the site of the former MSD headquarters.

Ackerman Toyota, the southern outpost of the decades-old string of St. Louis car dealerships on South Kingshighway, is hitting the road.

After nearly 27 years at 3636 South Kingshighway, the dealership plans to move to 2000 Hampton Avenue. The three-acre site owned by the city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority is the former headquarters of the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District at Hampton and Interstate 44.

Jerry Ackerman, the dealership’s owner, said Thursday he hopes to begin construction by December and open his new location as early as June. (Post Dispatch, August 2015)

Today’s post isn’t about their new location, this is about the location they recently vacated.

Their old address was listed as 3636 S. Kingshighway — the address for the building on the South, at Beck Ave. It dates to 1940, per city records online. The other building on Kingshighway, at Tholozan Ave. is from 1929. Both have been remodeled so many times neither has any historic value.  A 3rd building, an anonymous service structure,  facing Tholozan, was built in 1948.

The North building, at Tholozan, was their Scion showroom until Toyota pulled the plus on that youth-oriented brand. 2012 photo
That same building yesterday, all boarded up. Again, this structure was built in 1929. Note how it comes out to both Tholozan & Kingshighway. The city says the address here is 3608 S. Kingshighway.
The South building is mostly set back from the property line.
However, the corner at Beck Ave is out to the sidewalk. South of Beck Ave is Southtown Centre.

The former car dealership contains over 145k square feet, roughly 3.3 acres. It is made up of 6 different parcels. These could be combined, or developed separately. The most likely scenario is one developer will buy all six parcels and, after consolidating them into one, develop the total site.

Aerial view, from Apple Maps. The East edge of the site is a former railroad right of way, still owned by Union Pacific.

The bottom right section is 2 of the 6 parcels, it was still a field as late as 1971. It got paved for parking sometime between 1971 and 1991, based on historic aerials of the site. In the 2015 article, linked above, Jerry Ackerman is quoted as indicating they were seeing a franchise from another manufacturer for a dealership at this location. Given that they’ve boarded the buildings my assumption is that didn’t pan out.


This site needs to cease being about the sales & service of cars. It needs to be a mix of uses, including some residential. Two and three story buildings are very common on this stretch of Kingshighway, so a dense/urban site plan would be appropriate.

It’ll be interesting to watch to see what, if anything, becomes of this site.

— Steve Patterson


Lottery Machine Does Not A Casino Make

Late last month a bar owner filed suit to stop enforcement of the smoking ban following the expiration of a previous exemption, which expired on January 2nd. Judge Dowd grated a temporary restraining order (TRO) until a hearing could be conducted — that hearing is scheduled for 10am today.

The exemptions are expiring for bars that make 25 percent or less of their income from food, are no larger than 2,000 square feet and do not allow anyone under 21 inside. But exemptions exist indefinitely for casino gaming areas, private clubs with no employees and tobacco retail stores. Bar owners who participate in Missouri Lottery’s keno program claim they can be considered a casino gaming area. The game requires the bars to be licensed as such. (Post-Dispatch)

So the argument is because they have a Club Keno game from the Missouri Lottery they should be exempt — just like a casino. Judge Dowd will, no doubt, look at St. Louis ordinance and Missouri law. Let’s take a look ourselves.

The Trophy Room, 5099 Arsenal. Click image to view location in Google Maps
The Trophy Room, 5099 Arsenal. Click image to view location in Google Maps

St. Louis’ Smoke Free Air Act, passed in 2009, can be found here. In the definitions we see:

3. “Casino gaming area” means the area of a state-licensed gambling facility where gaming is allowed for those 21 years of age or older, including any VIP lounge, accessible only through the game floor, whether or not gaming is allowed in the VIP lounge.

Casino gaming area, not lottery area.

Section 7 of the Smoke Free Act is where “smoking is not regulated”, in the list is:

6. Casino gaming areas as defined by this Ordinance.

The ordinance uses the word “casino”, not lottery. Missouri law for the lottery is under different sections than for casinos, the Gaming Commission is totally separate from the Lottery Commission.

As you may know, the number of casino licenses in Missouri is limited to 13, from December 2010:

The Missouri Gaming Commission gave the green light to Creve Coeur-based Isle of Capri Corp. to build the state’s 13th casino just north of downtown Cape. After hearing passionate pitches for months, the commission made its decision quickly, quietly and unanimously. (Post-Dispatch)

The City of St. Louis went from two to one licensed casino when the casino on The President Casino on the Admiral closed.

Judge Dowd will, presumably, consider the legislative intent behind the Smoke Free Act — to exempt the two, now one, casino.

— Steve Patterson


Readers Split on MSD Plan To Raze Vacant Buildings To Reduce Water Runoff

Focus area, click image to view larger PDF
Focus area, click image to view larger PDF

In the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll readers were split on MSD’s plan to raze vacant buildings to reduce water runoff.

  • Support side 18
  • Oppose side 17
  • Neutral+Unsure 7

Below is the breakdown:

Q: To reduce water runoff, the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) plans to raze vacant buildings. Oppose or support?

  • Strongly support 8 [19.05%]
  • Support 3 [7.14%]
  • Somewhat support 7 [16.67%]
  • Neither oppose or support 5 [11.9%]
  • Somewhat oppose 2 [4.76%]
  • Oppose 3 [7.14%]
  • Strongly oppose 12 [28.57%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 2 [4.76%]

As you can see, the “strongly oppose” answer got the biggest response. Supporters weren’t as enthusiastic. Much of the demolition would happen in neighborhoods struggling to remain relevant.

While it could take several years to spend down the money, even the longest spending scenario would amount to a near doubling of St. Louis’ demolition budget. And areas where MSD sees the most benefit in terms of runoff and watersheds also are the areas – primarily in north St. Louis – where the city’s vacant properties are concentrated. 

Those areas are part of the Bissell watershed, where the Environmental Protection Agency has told MSD to better manage stormwater. (Post-Dispatch)

Each time a building is razed it gets harder to convince remaining owners to invest in their properties, to get residents to stay. Still, I need to read more about MSD’s Project Clear.

— Steve Patterson


St. Louis Doesn’t Care About Pedestrians, Recycling Bins Still Blocking Sidewalk

Over two years ago I posted about recycling dumpsters blocking a public sidewalk on the West side of Target, At the time Clifton Ave was being resurfaced so I wasn’t sure if they were on the sidewalk temporarily.

The six recycling bins, oriented to the street, viewed from across Clifton Ave
September 2013: The six recycling bins, oriented to the street, viewed from across Clifton Ave

In the time since I’ve noticed them still on the sidewalk, but I was passing by on Chippewa and couldn’t get a picture. Yesterday, Target had the Chippewa entrance to the lower level parking closed, so we turned onto Clifton Ave. — so I stopped the car to get a pic.

December 27, 2015. Click image to view in Google's Street View
December 27, 2015. Click image to view in Google’s Street View

Recycling is important, but so are pedestrians!  All pedestrians should be able to go from Chippewa to Bancroft — that’s why the sidewalk exists.

Here’s what needs to happen:

  1. Move the bins into the street, OR
  2. Add more sidewalk behind the bins, OR.
  3. Relocate the bins elsewhere

I’d love to know who made the decision to block the public sidewalk.

— Steve Patterson


New Saint Louis University Hospital An Opportunity To Build A Great Urban Mixed-Use Campus

On Tuesday SSM Health took over Saint Louis University Hospital from Saint Louis University, at the same time announcing plans to construct a new facility:

SSM Health plans to invest $500 million to build a new St. Louis University hospital and ambulatory care center. 

The new facilities, which will be situated in the immediate vicinity of the current 365-bed hospital near the midtown campus of St. Louis University, will be completed within five years, SSM officials said. (Post-Dispatch)

Uncertainty of the existing Desloge Tower left many wondering if it might be razed.

Desloge Tower in 2011
Desloge Tower in 2011

First, some background:

Going back in the history books, Firmin Desloge Hospital was officially dedicated on November 3, 1933, rising 250 feet and topped by a French Gothic roof of copper-covered lead. Over the next several weeks, it began admitting its first patients. It was unique for its time, offering patients private or semi-private rooms instead of the open ward model common in most hospitals. Desloge Tower served as the main hospital building of the Saint Louis University Medical Center until 1959 when Firmin Desloge Hospital, the Bordley Memorial Pavilion and the David P. Wohl Sr. Memorial Institute were collectively renamed Saint Louis University Hospital.

Desloge Tower is also home to the chapel of Christ the Crucified King, commonly known as Desloge Chapel, which was designed by Gothic revivalist architect, Ralph Adams Cram, who was a prolific and influential American architect of collegiate and ecclesiastical buildings. The chapel was designed to echo the contours of the St. Chapelle in Paris, which was Louis IX’s palace chapel, and in 1983, Desloge Chapel was declared a landmark by the Missouri Historical Society.

Desloge Tower continues to serve SLU Hospital with physician offices, gastroenterology, interventional radiology and the cardiac catheterization lab.

Its image is a well-recognized part of the St. Louis skyline, and is often the symbol of the hospital itself. (SLU Hospital)

With a fresh start nearby, it does mean the future is uncertain. The future of the old Pevely Dairy just to the North is more certain — it’ll likely be gone.

The former Pevely Dairy at Grand & Chouteau, 2011
The former Pevely Dairy at Grand & Chouteau, 2011

I’m fine with the Pevely coming down — as long as the new facilities are very urban in form. This is on the route of the busiest MetroBus route in the region — the #70 (Grand), and the #32 (ML King-Chouteau) runs in Chouteau. Just to the North is the Grand MetroLink (light rail) station.

Westbound #32 MetroBus on Chouteau just barely west of Grand. The Pevely bldg is to the left. 2012
Westbound #32 MetroBus on Chouteau just barely west of Grand. The Pevely bldg is to the left. 2012
#70 MetroBus riders at the Grand MetroLink station, August 2012. Dislodge Tower can be seen in the distance
#70 MetroBus riders at the Grand MetroLink station, August 2012. Dislodge Tower can be seen in the distance

What many in St. Louis, especially at City Hall, fail to realize is facilities can be friendly to motorists and pedestrians — these are not mutually-exclusive. The street grid need-not be decimated to create a campus.

Looking east along Erie St at Fairbanks, Chicago IL
Looking east along Erie St at Fairbanks, Chicago IL

When we visit Chicago next month, our 4th time in 2015, we’ll be staying in a friend’s condo located within the Northwestern Medicine/Northwestern Memorial Hospital campus. The sidewalks are packed with people visiting street-level restaurants. The internal walkway system and lots of parking garages hasn’t made the sidewalks a ghost town.

SSM Health is going to build a new complex. Now’s the opportunity to look at how medical campuses in other cities can be vibrant active places that are also convenient to those using cars. Dislodge Tower could become a mixed-use building with retail, restaurants, offices, and residential.

— Steve Patterson