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Readers: City & County Will Show Population Loss In 2020

March 15, 2017 Featured, St. Charles County, St. Louis County Comments Off on Readers: City & County Will Show Population Loss In 2020

In a non-scientific Sunday Poll two years ago, just over half the respondents thought the city’s population would decline in the 2020 census.  In the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll I asked about the city AND county population.

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis (city) AND St. Louis County will both lose population in the 2020 Census.

  • Strongly agree 6 [16.67%]
  • Agree 8 [22.22%]
  • Somewhat agree 8 [22.22%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree 6 [16.67%]
  • Disagree 6 [16.67%]
  • Strongly disagree 1 [2.78%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 [2.78%]

More than 60% think both city & county will lose population when the next census is held in 3 years. I agree.

The city’s 2010 loss was less than 10%
In 2010 St. Louis County experienced a population decline for the first time since St. Louis City left in 1876

The factors that led to the declines in both remain — the county had its first decline in 2010. Since the 2010 census St. Charles County has continued to grow. school districts are struggling to keep pace with more students. The middle class continues to leave St. Louis County for St. Charles County and the city’s poor continue to move to St. Louis County for better schools & housing.

It was very different 55 years ago, as noted by a 2013 STL 250 Facebook post:

This Day in St. Louis History, March 15, 1962:
St. Louis County overtakes St. Louis City in population

The American Statistical Association’s St. Louis Chapter Metropolitan Census Committee listed the population of St. Louis County as 762,000, and the population of St. Louis City at 740,000. For the first time in history, the population of St. Louis County exceeded that of St. Louis City. The recent creation of the Interstate Highway System would drastically change the lives of American cities forever, with St. Louis taking a particularly extreme stance as those with means fled outwards from the center. St. Louis County’s population had begun rising steadily around the turn of the century, but in the post-World War II years, it jumped with shocking speed. From 1950 to 1960, the population of St. Louis County jumped from 406,349 to 703,532. Meanwhile, St. Louis City had experienced its first population loss in history in the 1960 census. Dark days were still ahead… from 1970 – 1980, St. Louis City would lose 27% of its population.

In the 1947 Comprehensive Plan Harland Bartholomew had predicted St. Louis’ population would reach 900k by 1970:

The City of St. Louis can anticipate a population of 900,000 persons by 1970, based on these assumptions:

  1. That the population of the St. Louis Metropolitan District continues to maintain its present proportion to total urban population of the United States.
  2. That an attractive environment for living will be developed throughout the city to counteract current decentralization trends.
  3. That the city is, nevertheless, a maturing urban center that can never expect to attain the tremendous past growth of certain earlier periods.

Bartholomew knew the big population increases wouldn’t happen, but he still anticipated modest gains in 1960 & 1970 — not the huge losses that actually occurred. I’ll be highly surprised if both city & county don’t show continued loss of residents.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

I’m Opposed To Sales Tax For Zoo, Expand Zoo-Museum District And/Or Charge Admission

St. Louis Zoo
St. Louis Zoo

Two mornings a week admission to the Missouri Botanical Garden is free to those who live in St. Louis city & county — who pay property taxes to the Zoo-Museum District. The rest of the time admission is charged. The zoo, however, is free.

In 1972, the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District – the Zoo Museum District – was formed. Through the District, the citizens and taxpayers of St. Louis City and County make possible the extraordinary quality of five institutions that are essential to life in St. Louis: the Zoo, Art Museum, Science Center, Botanical Garden and History Museum. (Zoo-Museum District)

Limiting the district to city and county made sense, that’s where the bulk of the population lived:

In 1970, the large majority of St. Louisans came together to save the cultural institutions. Today, less than half of the citizenry is left to carry the tax burden that fulfills the dream. There are actually 220,000 fewer residents today than there were in 1970 within the combined borders of the city and county, while the metropolitan area has grown by more than 400,000. (St. Louis Magazine, March 2009)

Yes, in 2009 the population of city & county is less than what it was at formation of the district.

St. Louis and St. Louis County residents already pay property taxes that raise more than $70 million a year for the region’s five cultural institutions. The zoo gets $20 million a year, as does the St. Louis Art Museum. The Missouri Botanical Garden, Missouri History Museum and St. Louis Science Center each receive about $10 million annually. (Post-Dispatch, October 2013)

From last month:

Zoo lobbyists are now working in Jefferson City to get legislation passed. The bills would allow county councils to put the tax on county ballots, perhaps as early as next spring.

But a variety of regional leaders have asked the zoo to consider an entry fee for nonresidents instead.

Charging St. Louis and St. Louis County residents with two taxes is unfair, said Ben Uchitelle, a former board member of the Zoo-Museum District, which collects and distributes the existing property tax. He’s also worried about accountability with a new tax. The Zoo-Museum District “carefully studies and holds accountable” the five regional institutions, including the zoo, that receive property tax dollars. Who would collect the new tax? Who would monitor its use? (Post-Dispatch)

In the non-scientofic Sunday Poll a majority supported a sales tax in five counties.

Q: The St. Louis Zoo may propose a 5-county 1/10th of a cent sales tax. Support or oppose?

  • Strongly support 10 [27.78%]
  • Support 8 [22.22%]
  • Somewhat support 2 [5.56%]
  • Neither support or oppose 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat oppose 3 [8.33%]
  • Oppose 5 [13.89%]
  • Strongly oppose 7 [19.44%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 [2.78%]

Support was 55.56 % to 41.66% for opposition. Count me among the opposition. We already have a good model for regional cooperation, we just need to expand it the way population has.

— Steve Patterson

 

A Detailed Look at the Streets of St. Charles

Last month I posted about the Streets of St. Charles after driving through it, see Indulge In Urban Living’ At Streets of St. Charles. In that post I wrote:

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 didn’t feel I could be too harsh based on just driving through. So, later in February, I returned in my power wheelchair so I could spend more time there —  to see how well it works…or doesn’t. Within the project boundaries it works fairly well, they’ve made a much better effort than most developments to make sure each business is accessible as a pedestrian. Attempting to reach adjacent & nearby developments proved difficult, though the blame for that isn’t necessarily the fault of this developer.

To reach the Streets of St. Charles I took the St. Charles Area Transit's I-70 bus from the North Hanley station in St. Louis County, click image to see post in new tab/window
To reach the Streets of St. Charles I took the St. Charles Area Transit’s I-70 bus from the North Hanley station in St. Louis County, click image to see post in new tab/window

I arrived at just before 10am — in need of a bathroom. I knew the adjacent Quik Trip would be a good choice.  Just how to get to it.

I know the QT is on the other side of this, office building -- the first built on the site
I know the QT is on the other side of this, office building — the first built on the site
Staying on the sidewalk near the office building i end high up, overlooking the QT
Staying on the sidewalk near the office building i end high up, overlooking the QT
Continuing I'm down lower, but no access route from here
Continuing I’m down lower, but no access route from here
Back on the West side, on the lower sidewalk heading right toward the QT
Back on the West side, on the lower sidewalk heading right toward the QT
Even though planned and built simultaneously, nobody thought to connect them! Pavers were added to keep people out of the planter -- but that doesn't work for me.
Even though planned and built simultaneously, nobody thought to connect them! Pavers were added to keep people out of the planter — but that doesn’t work for me.
So I turn West, towered 5th St, to see if I can find a way into the QT
So I turn West, towered 5th St, to see if I can find a way into the QT
Looking back
Looking back
Crossing the drive heading South
Crossing the drive, heading South
The sidewalk on the QT side of the drive looks like it wants to go into the development -- but no.
The sidewalk on the QT side of the drive looks like it wants to go into the development — but no.
On the South (far) side of the QT now
On the South (far) side of the QT now
Found it!
Found it!
From the back side of the QT, looking North toward the office building -- no pedestrian connection
From the back side of the QT, looking North toward the office building — no pedestrian connection
From the front side of the QT, looking North toward the office building -- no pedestrian connection
From the front side of the QT, looking North toward the office building — no pedestrian connection
Back out along 5th St I see signs for the charming historic district ahead -- too early for lunch. Oh never mind, the sidewalk doesn't continue past this driveway
Back out along 5th St I see signs for the charming historic district ahead — too early for lunch. Oh never mind, the sidewalk doesn’t continue past this driveway
I'm back along the North St that connects 5th to Main, this woman parked in the parking lot, right, then walked through the planter to reach the crosswalk. Nobody seemed to plan a way for motorists to walk from their cars to the buildings!
I’m back along the North St that connects 5th to Main, this woman parked in the parking lot, right, then walked through the planter to reach the crosswalk. Nobody seemed to plan a way for motorists to walk from their cars to the buildings!
I headed toward Main St, the East edge of the development, The sidewalk here seemed narrow.
I headed toward Main St, the East edge of the development, The sidewalk here seemed narrow.
The parking garage entrance
The parking garage entrance
The pedestrian entry to the garage, the movie theater on the left
The pedestrian entry to the garage, the movie theater on the left
I went up to the top level of the garage. Here we see the back of the residential building -- which hides the garage from view
I went up to the top level of the garage. Here we see the back of the residential building — which hides the garage from view
Looking North from the top level of the parking garage we see site prep underway for the Drury Hotel to be built soon, I-70 beyond. My lunch destination is just out of view to the left.
Looking North from the top level of the parking garage we see site prep underway for the Drury Hotel to be built soon, I-70 beyond. My lunch destination is just out of view to the left.
Back on the sidewalk, heading East toward Main St
Back on the sidewalk, heading East toward Main St
Looking South along Main St
Looking South along Main St
But I want to see if I can get to the historic Main Street from here, since I couldn't via 5th St
But I want to see if I can get to the historic Main Street from here, since I couldn’t via 5th St
Heading North, about to go under I-70. The Ameristar Casino complex can be seen in the upper right
Heading North, about to go under I-70. The Ameristar Casino complex can be seen in the upper right
I must cross over to the East side of Main St to continue heading North
I must cross over to the East side of Main St to continue heading North
Good crosswalk, though pedestrian refuge in the middle would've been comforting
Good crosswalk, though pedestrian refuge in the middle would’ve been comforting
Looking back
Looking back
After going under I-70 the sidewalk suddenly ends -- just shy of the casino & hotel entrance drive and the South end of the historic district. So I turn around and head back.
After going under I-70 the sidewalk suddenly ends — just shy of the casino & hotel entrance drive and the South end of the historic district. So I turn around and head back.
As you can see I was close. The distance between this new development and the casino is only a half mile.
As you can see I was close. The distance between this new development and the casino is only a half mile.
I stayed on the East side of Main St, the AMC theater is on the left, the new hotel will be on the right
I stayed on the East side of Main St, the AMC theater is on the left, the new hotel will be on the right
The pedestrian crossing sign had been run over
The pedestrian crossing sign had been run over
It still wasn't 11am so I stopped and had a hot chocolate at Picasso's, ground floor of the residential building
It still wasn’t 11am so I stopped and had a hot chocolate at Picasso’s, ground floor of the residential building
I leaned public restrooms are in the adjacent hallway connecting the parking garage to the street
I leaned public restrooms are in the adjacent hallway connecting the parking garage to the street
There are several of these places to cross the center of the street or sit on a bench --- not ADA-compliant,
There are several of these places to cross the center of the street or sit on a bench — not ADA-compliant,
Heading North for lunch, the hotel will be built to the right
Heading North for lunch, the hotel will be built to the right
Looking West at restaurants under construction. In the foreground is another non-ADA crossing
Looking West at restaurants under construction. In the foreground is another non-ADA crossing
My destination is Pieology Pizza
My destination is Pieology Pizza
I can cross here, a raised crosswalk
I can cross here, a raised crosswalk
Construction workers to the West managed to put cones in the pedestrian path. I was able to move the first and go around the others
Construction workers to the West managed to put cones in the pedestrian path. I was able to move the first and go around the others
This is what most developments miss -- being able to access every building on the site. A Noodles & Co will open in the space next door
This is what most developments miss — being able to access every building on the site. A Noodles & Co will open in the space next door
Accessible crossing toward the future hotel
Accessible crossing toward the future hotel
Pieology Pizzeria is one of several quick pizza chains where each is made right in front of you
Pieology Pizzeria is one of several quick pizza chains where each is made right in front of you
My pizza & salad
My pizza & salad
After lunch I noticed the center median has a path, but it isn't really accessible because vertical heights are too tall
After lunch I noticed the center median has a path, but it isn’t really accessible because vertical heights are too tall
In the end, the feeling of urbanism is very limited to this block.
In the end, the feeling of urbanism is very limited to this block.

The internal site issues are pretty easy to correct, including a direct connection toward QT. Other problems, beyond the site, are more complex. St. Charles City, St. Charles County, MoDOT, etc all need to play a role in better connecting this site to its surroundings.

— Steve Patterson

 

St. Charles County & St. Louis County Connected Via Public Transit

Five days a week people take public transit to/from St. Louis & St. Charles counties! No, MetroLink light rail wasn’t secretly extended over the Missouri River. No, MetroBus doesn’t serve St. Charles County either. “How”, you ask?

Just the way Madison County Transit enters the City of St. Louis, St. Charles Area Transit (aka SCAT), enters St. Louis County. In late February I took the last morning SCAT bus from the North Hanley Transit Center into St. Charles. Over four hours later, I took the first SCAT bus back.

The shuttle type bus used by SCAT.
The shuttle type bus used by SCAT at North Hanley. They can’t/don’t get close to the sidewalk for easy boarding via wheelchair. No curb ramp exists on the end so I had to backtrack to find the nearest ramp. .
I'm now at the nearest ramp to reach the white bus. Metro needs to add a curb ramp and/or SCAT needs to pull closer to the sidewalk.
I’m now at the nearest ramp to reach the white bus. Metro needs to add a curb ramp and/or SCAT needs to pull closer to the sidewalk.
The I-70 Commuter bus makes six stops in St. Charles plus one at North Hanley
The I-70 Commuter bus makes six stops in St. Charles plus one at North Hanley
I got off on the last stop -- the Streets of St. Charles, the driver is putting the wheelchair lift away. I'll post about that development on Thursday. Click image to see my initial post on it from February.
I got off on the last stop — the Streets of St. Charles, the driver is putting the wheelchair lift away. I’ll post about that development on Thursday. Click image to see my initial post on it from February.

We departed North Hanley on time — here’s the official schedule for the last SCAT bus leaving St. Louis County:

  • 8:55am North Hanley
  • 9:19am St. Joseph Health Center/Main St St. Charles
  • 9:24am Ameristar Casino
  • 9:31am Cave Springs Commuter Lot
  • 9:38am Zumbehl Commuter Lot
  • 9:46am Fairgrounds Commuter Lot
  • 9:50am Streets of St. Charles — where I got off
  • 10:16am last morning drop off at North Hanley

The route, logically, is designed to serve St. Charles residents needing to get into St. Louis County for the day. Just 30 minutes to go from the Fairgrounds Commuter Lot to North Hanley four times each weekday morning, starting at 5:44am!  Still, my bus from North Hanley into St. Charles had about 10 other passengers — people I presume were going to work.

In the afternoon the SCAT I-70 bus runs four times, starting at North Hanley at 1:38pm, the last on 5:59pm.

  • 1:38pm North Hanley
  • 1:45pm Fairgrounds Commuter Lot
  • 1:52pm Zumbehl Commuter Lot
  • 2pm Cave Springs Commuter Lot
  • 2:11pm St. Joseph Health Center/Main St St. Charles
  • 2:16pm Ameristar Casino
  • 2:20pm Streets of St. Charles — where I got on
  • 2:42pm arrival at North Hanley — next departure is 2:48pm

I’m so glad to see the City of St. Charles operating transit buses, connecting to the rest of the region — via St. Louis County. However, the webpage and route maps need improvement. Online maps for the four St. Charles routes must be viewed separately. No system map exists, at least not online.  Still, it’s a start.

— 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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