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Opinion: We Must Invest Beyond The Central Corridor

January 23, 2019 Featured, North City, Politics/Policy, St. Louis County, STL Region Comments Off on Opinion: We Must Invest Beyond The Central Corridor
Campbell House Museum on Locust, the last mansion from Lucas Place

From the early days to St. Louis’ founding in 1764, being up from the Mississippi River was a good thing. Namely, those who spread along the banks north & south of the original spot were subject to flooding. Those uphill from the center weren’t subject to floods.

Following the cholera epidemic and fire in 1849, wealthy citizens became convinced that it was no longer desirable to live in downtown St. Louis. James Lucas and his sister Anne Lucas Hunt soon offered a solution. They developed the idea of the “Place,” a neighborhood with deed restrictions that ensured it remained apart from the city and general population. The main thoroughfare was aptly called Lucas Place. Originally Lucas Place (now Locust Street) extended between 13th and 16th streets when the city limits were just one block to the west between 17th and 18th streets. When established, Lucas Place was west of the developed portion of the city, making it St. Louis’ first “suburban” neighborhood.

Lucas priced the lots so that only the wealthy could afford the live there. He also built restrictions into the deeds so that the properties could not be used for commercial purposes. (Campbell House Museum)

As the city’s population ballooned Lucas Place was no longer the desirable location it once was, so the wealthy moved further west.

Originally, the streets around the intersection of Lindell and Grand featured row after row of stately houses, mansions, and even a private street. By the late 19th century, the area had become the wealthiest neighborhood in the city, home to some the most important members of St. Louis society.

Sitting west of the central city and along major streetcar routes, Midtown proved highly desirable to those fleeing the coal-fueled pollution further east. Sitting on a hill, upwind from the central city, the neighborhood began to receive the accouterments befitting its tony status in St. Louis. Vandeventer Place, a private street on the northern edge of the neighborhood, served as the crown jewel of the rapidly expanding area.

Platted by the famous German-American surveyor Julius Pitzman, Vandeventer Place exacted strict obedience from the affluent homeowners who purchased plots along its regal tree-lined boulevard. The new mansions that filled the private street conformed to rigid design and expense requirements that only the wealthiest industrialists in St. Louis could afford. Interestingly, the governance of the street required unanimous votes to change the street’s charter. (St. Louis Magazine)

In 2014 I posted about the dire economic disinvestment in the north county area at Chambers and Lewis & Clark. Click image for May 2014 post.

The Central West End was next, and this continues today. Reinvestment has been seen throughout this “Central Corridor” for a few decades now. As North St. Louis continues to hallow out, we’re seeing North St. Louis County experience devastating disinvestment. With typical suburban development patterns, North St. Louis County is a very large area. It still has nice neighborhoods, but the signs of change are all around. Take Spanish Lake, for example:

When three nearby Shop ‘n Save stores closed in November, it left shoppers fewer options and created what the USDA classifies as a food desert.

Spanish Lake is in the northeast corner of unincorporated St. Louis County. The cities of Florissant and Ferguson are on its west side; the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers are on the east.

The population is just under 20,000 and has been shrinking for decades, while the poverty rate has increased.

Until recently, Spanish Lake residents had several options for grocery shopping. Three Shop ‘n Save stores located along the western edge of the community provided easy access to fresh, affordable produce. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Those who’ve been on the fence about moving elsewhere are going to reconsider. I can’t say that North St. Louis County has reached a tipping point, but it feels like it’s close.

The recent non-scientific Sunday Poll was about reinvesting in areas north & south of the Central Corridor.

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis’ “Central Corridor” (West from Arch) has always been a high priority, areas North & South should just accept this.

  • Strongly agree: 2 [6.06%]
  • Agree: 6 [18.18%]
  • Somewhat agree: 3 [9.09%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 2 [6.06%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 3 [9.09%]
  • Disagree: 9 [27.27%]
  • Strongly disagree: 8 [24.24%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

No, we should not accept this. We can’t afford, as a region, to write off huge areas. Unfortunately, I think the regional pattern was set long before any of us were born. That’s not to say we can’t rethink our approach. I just don’t see the leadership or willpower to take on the change that would be necessary.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Should City & County Police Merge?

January 6, 2019 Featured, St. Louis County, STL Region Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should City & County Police Merge?
Please vote below

A few local news stories caught my eye last week, but one was more thought-provoking than the others:

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar has a plan to take over policing in St. Louis, but leave the 52 municipal police departments in the county intact — a move that appears to contradict efforts underway to erase the city and county’s fractured government structure.

The goals outlined in Belmar’s plan, titled “Law Enforcement: A Regional Approach,” include: “Increase the effectiveness of police services across the region; increase the equity of police services in the region; and recalibrate the public safety image of St. Louis.”

The idea stands in contrast to a campaign to consolidate municipal governments and police departments throughout St. Louis County with the city. That effort is headed by Better Together, a nonprofit group that has spent years studying how fragmented government affects the region. The task force is expected to release its report and corresponding plan this month. (Post-Dispatch)

Today’s poll is on Belmar’s proposal:

This non-scientific poll will automatically close at 8pm tonight. Wednesday I’ll share the results and my thoughts.

— Steve Patterson

 

Economic Impact of PGA Championship Won’t Be Felt Where Needed Most; St. Louis Looked Favorable To A Wide Audience

August 15, 2018 Economy, Featured, St. Louis County Comments Off on Economic Impact of PGA Championship Won’t Be Felt Where Needed Most; St. Louis Looked Favorable To A Wide Audience

When it comes to economic impact estimates I’m largely a skeptic. Such was the case with last week’s PGA Championship:

The 100th PGA Championship Aug. 9-12 is expected to have an economic impact felt well beyond Bellerive Country Club’s picturesque course, up to $100 million, according to some estimates. Hotels are filling up downtown, nearly 20 miles from the course that’s situated in a mostly residential area with few hotels nearby. (Post-Dispatch)

Two key words: “Up to…” OK, so $100 million is the estimated maximum impact. What’s the very minimum? $10 million? $25 million? $50 million?   And “bel beyond?” I seriously doubt it’ll be felt in the region’s poorest zip codes.

I took a photo of my TV on Sunday

I’m not the only one questioning these estimates.

This month’s PGA Championship in St. Louis will generate $102 million in economic benefits for the state of Missouri.

Actually, it won’t. But inevitably, many fans watching or reading about the PGA Championship will hear or see that figure thrown about.

As in every sport these days, big events bring big claims of economic windfalls for the host cities. Tourism officials on Long Island projected the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills would generate $120 million in economic benefit. (Or maybe it was $130 million. Who’s counting?) A similar number was floated by the Angus (Scotland) Council this year with regard to the British Open at Carnoustie. Over the years, the Masters has been said to bring in a comparable nine-figure haul to Augusta, Ga. (GolfWeek)

The reasons are numerous. A lot of the fans that crowded into Bellerive Country Club were local. The money they spent on tickets, merchandise, food, etc would’ve likely been spent within the region anyway. Much of what they spent will leave the region, Visitors to St. Louis did spend money, hotels corporations will enjoy the profits. Some local businesses, such as those near parking venues, saw an uptick in business.

The 47,000 square-foot Championship Shops merchandise venue is located at the Main Entrance along the spectator walkway. This merchandise shopping experience offers men’s, women’s, and children’s apparel and headwear from major brands including Ralph Lauren, Nike, Adidas, Cutter and Buck, Under Armour, FootJoy, Travis Mathew, Forty Seven Brand, New Era, and many more! The Championship Shops also offers a major selection of exclusive accessories, gifts, and memorabilia. (PGA)

Hopefully the new money added to our economy meets or exceeds the money leaving our economy. Though I view televised golf as an event that too often delayed the news or 60 Minutes, I know championship events likely never benefit low income areas. How would they?  Golf and say North St. Louis have no connection. Oh wait…

Bellerive Country Club began in 1897 in north St. Louis as a nine-hole course with 166 members. In 1910, the membership incorporated as Bellerive Country Club, naming the club after Louis St. Ange De Bellerive, the last French commander in North America.

That same year, Scotsman Robert Foulis designed the “new Bellerive” in Normandy where the club remained for 50 years.

Led by Hord Hardin and Clark Gamble, the membership decided to move west in 1955, and allowed renowned architect Robert Trent Jones, Sr. to pick a prime farm location for the new site.

The “Green Monster of Ladue” opened on Memorial Day, 1960. (Bellerive Country Club)

I wanted to know more, so I dug deeper:

The club opened 121 years ago in 1897 as The Field Club, founded by several St. Louis sportsmen who wanted a place for golf and other leisure activities. Northwest of St. Louis, the course featured nine holes until another nine were added some years later. It was built on land leased from the estate of War of 1812 war hero Daniel Bissell.

In 1910, the club moved to nearby Normandy and renamed the Bellerive Country Club after Louis Groston de Saint-Ange de Bellerive, the last French governor of Illinois Country in 1765. With a Georgian-style clubhouse, Bellerive’s first notable event was the 1949 Western Amateur Championship. Four years later, it hosted the PGA Tour’s Western Open, won by E.J. “Dutch” Harrison.

In 1957, Bellerive put its 125-acre (0.5 km2) Normandy site on the market for $1.3 million. At the same time, the Normandy School District began discussing the need for establishing a junior college as an affordable alternative to the privately-owned Washington University and Saint Louis University. The club lowered the price to $600,000 and the Normandy Residence Center opened in a renovated clubhouse in 1960 with classes taught by the University of Missouri; the campus became the University of Missouri–St. Louisin 1963 and the nearby village is Bellerive. (Wikipedia)

A local site offers a little more specifics:

1897 St. Louis Field Club builds a 9 hole course near the Bissell Mansion. Triple A Club is organized. The First City Championship is held and E.E. Steedman of The Country Club is the winner. (STLGolfHistory)

I did find one more document with some great info:

ST. LOUIS FIELD CLUB.—On the Burlington Railroad, near St. Louis; a Field Club station is on the links. Organized and incorporated, 1897. Entrance fee, $25. Annual dues, $25. Membership, 127. The course consists of nine holes, which were laid out in October, 1897, by D. O. Ives and A. L. Kenneth.

President, D. O. Ives; vice-president, Harry S. Cullin; secretary, F. R. Bissell, 306 Wainwright Building, St. Louis; treasurer, Jno. S. Carter; governing committee, above officers and A. T. Perkins; greenkeeper, Ed. McNamara. (Official Golf Guide 1899)

At first I thought perhaps it became O’Fallon Park, but it opened in 1908.  I’d love to know a specific location for the course and train station. If anyone knows please comment oj this post on Twitter or Facebook.

Back to the recent PGA Championship — the television ratings, thanks to Tiger Woods, were impressive:

PGA Championship TV ratings are in and you won’t be surprised to learn that CBS is extremely happy with how they turned out. The network is the latest to reap the benefit of Tiger Woods’ latest comeback, announcing a 6.1 rating for Sunday’s final round, up 69 percent from 2017. Woods finished runner-up, but stole the show with a 64 that included a dizzying three-under par front nine in which he failed to hit a single fairway.

The final round peaked between 7:00-7:15 p.m. ET with an 8.3 rating. And St. Louis, where Bellerive Country Club is located, was the No. 1 market during the broadcast with an 11.5. The 6.1 also tied for the highest non-Masters TV rating since the final round of the 2012 U.S. Open. (GolfDigest)

I was one of those who tuned in (briefly) on Sunday.

While I’ll like to see more realistic numbers and an attempt to share the wealth through the region, I cannot stress enough how valuable it was for golf fans worldwide to see St. Louis in a positive context. Not sure if that’ll lead to anything, but can’t hurt how we’re perceived by those outside the region.

— Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis County Voters Can Get Sample Ballots For August 7th Primary Based On Their Address

July 27, 2018 Featured, Politics/Policy, St. Louis County Comments Off on St. Louis County Voters Can Get Sample Ballots For August 7th Primary Based On Their Address

A week ago I took a look at issues & candidates facing voters in St. Louis City on August 7th, today is a brief look at St. Louis County. Brief because St. Louis County is highly fragmented with many municipalities, school districts fire protection districts, etc. The County’s ballot content report is 36 pages! County voters can click here for a page that’ll show a sample ballot based on their address. Ballots for each voter isn’t that long, so be sure to review your ballot ahead of time & vote on August 7th.

As last week, I suggested voting no Proposition A.

U.S. Senate & state-level candidates are the same as lsat week. U.S. House District 1 & State Sen District 4 are also in part of St. Louis County. Speaking of U.S. House 1, last Saturday night we attended the birthday party & rally for candidate Cori Bush. The main guest was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex – the 28 year-old who defeated a 10-term incumbent in NY’s 14th U.S, House District. Both women are considered new faces of the Democratic Party.

Cori Bush (left) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (right) at The Ready Room on Manchester.

The following morning Ocasio-Cortez was on Face the Nation with SEn. Bernie Sanders, both in Kansas campaigning for progressive Democrats.

The main race is for the Democratic nomination for County Executive. The television ads for Steve Stenger and Mark Mantovani have been relentless and brutal. I think they’re both right about the other. Will the 3rd candidate on the Democratic ballot pick up votes out of distaste for the two big rivals?

The race that might have a bigger impact is for prosecuting attorney. Ferguson councilman Wesley Bell is challenging Robert McCulloch.

Four years after Ferguson erupted, Bell says bringing reforms to the St. Louis County prosecutor’s office is long overdue. He wants to reform the county’s bail system, moving it to what he calls a “risk-based” process rather than a “cash-based” one. He also wants to expand the county’s drug courts and diversion programs — programs that he claims McCulloch “has never been committed to.”  (RFT)

Wesley Bell is worth considering, his website is votewesleybell.com

Illinois’ primary was back in March, so television ads for governor will just increase between now and November 6th.

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Our First Visit to Mau Haus Cat Cafe & Lounge

April 13, 2018 Featured, Local Business, Retail, St. Louis County Comments Off on Our First Visit to Mau Haus Cat Cafe & Lounge

Last weekend David and I were going to be in Maplewood, so we decided to visit Mau Haus — a cat cafe & lounge. We have some food & beverage while spending an hour in a room with 18 cats and about 15 strangers. It was a wonderful time, we’re ready to go back. You’re probably asking yourself what a cat cafe is…

A cat cafe is a combination of all things good; cats, coffee, and a relaxing cafe environment. You can relax and pet cats, and it’s great socialization for them too! The cats are adoptable, which means if you fall in love, you can apply to take them home!

A cat cafe is perfect for cat lovers who need a feline fix. Whether you can’t have cats at home, or you’ve already got some and are looking for more, we’ve always got great cats here!

We partner with Stray Haven Rescue for all adoptable cats at the cafe. All cats are up to date on shots, spayed / neutered, and microchipped. Learn more about their mission and how you can get involved here. (Mau Haus contact page)

The space is a typical urban corner storefront. Because they don’t wan the cats to get out the old main entrance is now an emergency exit only. The side entry is the only public entry — and it’s wheelchair accessible. There are no cats in the ordering section or kitchen. After you’ve signed the waiver, ordered, and space is available you go through the double door vestibule into the main area.

Inside Mau Haus the cats can climb on many areas designed just for them
This is Loreli — one of two resident cats. Click image to see the adoptable cats and Loreli’s brother Taylor — he’s huge!
The bookcase wall lacks books but it does have steps and holes for the cats
While she were there one cat climbed way up top by the front window
David takung a pic of one cat that jumped up on our table.
Crates near the entrance had new adoptable cats getting acclimated ro other cats, humans, etc.

Mau Haus is located at 3101 Sutton Blvd in Maplewood.  Note that reservations are recommended:

Reservations to spend time in the cafe are highly encouraged. We do allow walk-ins, but it’s likely that you will have to wait for a spot to open up. There is a minimum spend or donation of $5 for all walk ins. A reservation ensures that there will be a spot waiting for you!

There is a $10 per person reservation fee that gets you an hour in the lounge. It helps us cover the cost of maintaining the cat lounge and caring for the cats. As a bonus, you will get a free beverage (per person) and 20% off any food or additional beverages purchased. (Man Haus reservations page)

Just being in this space with strangers and lots of friendly cats was very relaxing, we’re looking forward to going again. We told our neighbor down the hall when we saw them at the elevator. Her first question was “does it smell?” No, the entire place smells like any cafe and the place was just as clean.

— Steve Patterson

 

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