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Roberts Market Place at Kingshighway & Delmar Hostile to Pedestrians

The Roberts Market Place has opened at Kingshighway & Delmar, the site of a former Schnucks. Discount grocer ALDI, the only business so far, is the anchor. Unfortunately, it is designed to be driven to, not walked to.

Roberts Market Place on the NE corner of Kingshighway & Delmar
Roberts Market Place on the NE corner of Kingshighway & Delmar, click image for map link
The same corner back in April
The same corner back in April
Looking east along Delmar
Looking east along Delmar
Looking north along Kingshighway, a stop for the #95 MetroBus is circled in red
Looking north along Kingshighway, a stop for the #95 MetroBus is circled in red. Concrete barriers block the auto driveway.
The fencing blocks pedestrian access, except at the auto driveways
The fencing blocks pedestrian access, except at the auto driveways. Not welcoming at all
Looking east along Enright we see a family leaving ALDI
Looking east along Enright Ave we see a family leaving ALDI
An opening in the fence at the auto driveway.
An opening in the fence at the auto driveway.
At least a walkway was provided at one point
At least a walkway was provided at one point
Not a straight shot or wide enough if you meet someone, but as a bare minimum it works...except...
Not a straight shot or wide enough if you meet someone, but as a bare minimum it works…except…
Who fits between the carts & bollard? Certainly nobody using a cane, walker, scooter, or wheelchair! #adafail
Who fits between the carts & bollard? Certainly nobody using a cane, walker, scooter, or wheelchair! #adafail
Looking back at the problem from the opposite side
Looking back at the problem from the opposite side
Looking west toward Kingshighway
Looking west toward Kingshighway
Looking south toward Delmar
Looking south toward Delmar
Getting closer toward Delmar we can see the fence forces pedestrians to enter/exit via the auto driveway
Getting closer toward Delmar we can see the fence forces pedestrians to enter/exit via the auto driveway

Seriously? The one minimal pedestrian route from a secondary road is blocked by a bollard!?! As I mentioned in April, the site has been divided into three parcels.

Outline of the parcel Aldi purchased.
Outline of the ALDI parcel, the other two are just parking right now.
A hearing will be held on the 20th for a drive-thru fast-food restaurant at the Kingshighway & Enright parcel
A hearing will be held on the 20th for a drive-thru fast-food restaurant at the Kingshighway & Enright parcel

It would’ve been relatively easy to plan a north-south sidewalk through the site connecting Enright to Delmar, with a perpendicular walk connecting to the bus stop on Kingshighway. This would’ve provided a pedestrian route to all three adjacent streets and to all three parcels. Instead we’ve got another development that ignores pedestrians almost entirely.

The #97 (Delmar) bus and #95 (Kingshighway) bus generate lots of pedestrian traffic at this location. Many customers & employees of ALDI, a new drive-thru, and a third place will arrive on foot. Development in our neighborhoods should be designed to welcome motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. This must be mandated, developers aren’t going to do it on their own — especially not in low-income areas where they do as little as possible.

— Steve Patterson

 

This Building Not Approved For Occupancy

November 1, 2013 Accessibility, Featured, Planning & Design, Retail, St. Louis County, Suburban Sprawl, Walkability Comments Off on This Building Not Approved For Occupancy

I’d never heard of Tee’s Golf Grill until Monday when I was driving around the Chesterfield Valley, it closed in July 2012:

The 10,400-square-foot golf center opened in early 2011 at 103 Chesterfield Valley Drive. “We’re doing a full-service sports bar and grill,” Ben Rassieur IV, Tee’s owner with Phil Harris, told Sauce magazine at the time. In addition to the bar and grill, Tee’s had 330-square-foot golf simulators that visitors used to practice their swings. (St. Louis Business Journal)

I’m not sure if the building was constructed new for this tenant, or a previous tenant. I also don’t know why this business closed so soon, but I found a number of issues that should be addressed by the owner before the next tenant leases the space.

Paper over the windows, only car is my rental
Paper over the windows, only car is my rental. But look, no ramp to access the front door! Click image to view on Google Maps. 
The ramp is off to the side, requiring the disabled to go into the driveway to access it. I prefer ramps when walking with my cane, so do folks who use walkers.
The ramp is off to the side, requiring the disabled to go into the driveway to access it. I prefer ramps when walking with my cane, so do folks who use walkers.
There's a ramp & crosswalk out to the sidewalk that connects to other development, but no ramp to access it.
There’s a ramp & crosswalk out to the sidewalk that connects to other development, but no ramp to access it.
We can see the walk to the entry is minimal width.
We can see the walk to the entry is minimal width.
This sticker was affixed to both entrances to this building. I wonder if the City of St. Louis uses something like this to improve compliance?
This sticker was affixed to both entrances to this building. I wonder if the City of St. Louis uses something like this to improve compliance?

This building shares the same site with a multi-tenant building to the south, yet there isn’t an ADA-compliant accessible route connecting them, as required.

I will attempt to share the above issues with the owner and St. Louis County.

— Steve Patterson

 

Carrollton: A Walkable Suburban Subdivision In 1956

Today cul-de-sac subdivisions are designed exclusively for the automobile. For example, my brother’s gated subdivision in Oklahoma City has internal sidewalks that don’t lead you outside the gates. A major grocery store occupies one corner on the outside, but you need a car to get there.

My brother's house is so close to a large grocery store, but you can't walk there. Source: Google maps
My brother’s house “A” is so close to a large grocery store, but you can’t walk there. One of the two gates is in the upper right corner. Source: Google maps

My parents built a new custom home in 1965-66, moving in just months before I was born. I was told the streets of the new subdivision in the former farm field were still getting paved as our house was being built. Unlike where my brother lives now, we could at least reach a convenience store from a street connected to our subdivision. Had more commercial been built on land set aside by the developers we would’ve had many more options.

I grew up in a 1960s subdivision that lacked sidewalks, but there was a store I could walk/bike to (upper left),
I grew up in a 1960s subdivision that lacked sidewalks, but there was a small store I could walk/bike to (upper left), and room for more commercial development that has never materialized.

However, many in the St. Louis region grew up in a 1950s subdivision that planned for walking, with sidewalks and a shopping center connected to the housing. I posted yesterday about the Carrollton subdivision decimated for runway expansion at Lambert International Airport, today is a look at the thought and planning that went into it.

The following is from page 547 of the 1970 book This is Our Saint Louis by Harry M. Hagen:

Ground breaking for the Carrollton Shopping Plaza in 1959
Ground breaking for the Carrollton Shopping Plaza in 1959, click image for map

When “Johnny Came Marching Home” at the close of World War II, he found one thing to his advantage, prosperity and jobs,  and one disadvantage, a tremendous shortage of housing. For many returning GI’s and their prides, their first home was a rented room or shared quarters with their in-laws.

The building industry, stopped by the priorities of war, was turned loose, and developers looked to the suburbs for the land they needed to build homes. There was land, lots of land, and many home builders built square little box-like homes marching in soldierly fashion down square little streets. These houses sold as fast as they could be completed since young marrieds and young families were desperate for adequate housing.

With the convenience of the automobile, no location in St. Louis County was too distant. Sub-division after sub-division sprung up and was quickly populated.

Out of this building frenzy, one team emerged with a visionary approach to suburbia. Ed and John Fischer, along with brother-in-law Lawrence Frichtel added a dimension to home building that won national acclaim for their firm, Fischer and Frichtel. Instead of building several blocks of homes in in regimented manner, they built a community.

The firm amassed a large tract of land in northwest St. Louis County and in 1956 opened Carrolton, a planned community with gently curving streets, cup-de-sacs and open space. Instead of one or two home models, they offered a variety so that every other home would not look the same. They did not utilize every square foot for homes –they planned areas for churches, schools and parks that were built and used as the population grew. To make the community as self-sufficient as possible, they constructed a small shopping center so that necessities of living could be purchased within walking distance. And to complete their community, they built a swimming pool and a large recreation building, bringing free-time activities practically to the front door of residents.

Carrollton had a mixture of award-winning homes–and it was a community that offered residents more than any other single housing development in the area at that time. It was planned to make living in the suburbs enjoyable for the entire family — and its departure from the conventional set the standards followed by other developers.

Fisher and Frichtel was probably the number one home-building firm of the post-war era — and the reason for its success was simply that it gave the grass-cutting, snow-shoveling, house-painting, leaf-burning, tree-pruning public a product that was both excellent in quality and different in setting. The firm has been recognized and published in every major magazine and newspaper relating to homes, neighborhoods and conventional living throughout the country. Unquestionably, these men and their organization represent and give tribute to the great spirit of St. Louis.

Self-sustaining? Walking distance to necessities? Yes, single-family homes on cul-de-sacs can be walkable. Well, at least they tried in 1956.

The original Carrollton Shopping Plaza has had face lifts since the early 60s and the neighborhood it served is now vacant
The original Carrollton Shopping Plaza has had face lifts since the early 60s and the neighborhood it served is now vacant
This bowling alley was built at the same time as the original Carrollton Shopping Plaza
This bowling alley & retail space (now a pizza parlor) was built at the same time as the original Carrollton Shopping Plaza
A couple of years later a new Schnucks grocery store was built
A couple of years later a Schnucks grocery store was added to the shopping center
The sidewalks connecting the houses to the commercial remain.
The sidewalks connecting the houses to the commercial remain. Though not ideal, or ADA-compliant, this was way better than most subdivisions of the 1950s
In 2005 Schnucks closed the Carrollton store and opened a bigger store on St. Charles Rock Rd at Lindbergh
In 2005 Schnucks closed the Carrollton store and opened a bigger store on St. Charles Rock Rd at Lindbergh

However, decade after decade since Carrollton was platted, subdivisions have gotten progressively more hostile to pedestrians. I’m not sure how this happened, my guess is each subsequent generation got used to their environment and eventually only grandpa remembered walking to the store for milk.

Thanks for the book Sheila!

— Steve Patterson

 

Gas Station Replaced Rock Hill Church Built By Slaves

For more than a century a modest stone church stood in what later became the City of Rock Hill. Built by slaves in the 19th century, it couldn’t compete with a gas station + convenience store in the 21st century.

rock hill church
Rock Hill Church, 2011
Same view two years later
Same view two years later
Now on the corner a sign notes current gas prices and a monument notes the history that was lost
Now on the corner a sign displays gas prices and a monument notes the history that was lost
Close up of the plaques on the stone monument
Close up of the plaques on the stone monument

I’ve been told the church was “fully integrated” because the Marshall family required their slaves to attend the church they built. A little feel-good revisionist history?

There’s nothing to feel good about on this site. This is now a sprawl corner like thousands of others in St. Louis County. What once made a positive contribution to the sidewalk experience has been reduced to a monument few will read as that would require exiting their car and actually walking a bit.

— Steve Patterson

 

Competing Visions for Forest Park Avenue Corridor

Forest Park Ave from Kingshighway to Grand (map) is 1.6 miles long with the potential to be a dense urban corridor. Developers, however, would like to make it a typical low-density big box chain retail corridor. I’d like to show you why I believe two big box retail developments at Forest Park Avenue & Vandeventer are out of character, why these will undo the work others have done recently.

I had enough photos of various buildings along Forest Park Ave to write this post, but Saturday I spent about 90 minutes taking around 150 photos as I traveled the entire length in my wheelchair. Why go to such trouble? I believe cities can’t be properly understood driving through in a car, or worse, relying on Google street view. You’ve got to hit the pavement to really get what an area is about.

I got off the bus on Forest Park Ave at the first stop east of Kingshighway and returned downtown from the Grand MetroLink station, about 2 miles of travel.  Don’t worry, I’m only going to show you a small percentage of the images I took.

Looking east toward Euclid Ave we see numerous multi-story buildings, including medical, hotel, & apartments
Looking east toward Euclid Ave we see numerous multi-story buildings, including medical, hotel, & apartments, all recent structures
One low-rise strip center exists on the NE corner at Taylor Ave. If the St. Louis Streetcar gets built expect this 1985 building to be replaced with something more dense
One low-rise strip center exists on the NE corner at Taylor Ave. If the St. Louis Streetcar gets built expect this 1985 building to be replaced with something more dense
The Parkview Apts next door contain 192 units on a lot just 65% bigger than the strip center.
The 1972 Parkview Apts next door contain 192 units on a lot just 65% bigger than the strip center.
This 3-story apt building was built in 1930, it contains 24 units
This 3-story apt building was built in 1930, it contains 24 units. The building next door was built in 1908
Across Forest Park is the Rehab Institute, I had some outpatient physical therapy here.
Across Forest Park is the Rehab Institute, I had some outpatient physical therapy here.
Back on the north side of Forest Park we have a 242 unit building built in 1977
Back on the north side of Forest Park we have a 242 unit building built in 1977
This block contains older buildings as well
This block contains older buildings as well, all 2-3 stories
Same is true on the south side of Forest Park Ave
Same is true on the south side of Forest Park Ave
This is a very pleasant place  to be a pedestrian even with many cars passing by
This is a very pleasant place to be a pedestrian even with many cars passing by
The 3-story Cortex building from 2006 faces Forest Park Ave
The 3-story Cortex building from 2006 faces Forest Park Ave
Unfortunately this 2-story structure at S. Boyle, built in 1919, will be razed for a wide pedestrian mall leading to a new MetroLink station to be built 2 blocks south
Unfortunately this 2-story structure at S. Boyle, built in 1919, will be razed for a wide pedestrian mall leading to a new MetroLink station to be built 2 blocks south
Across the street a similar building was successfully renovated for an independence center and upscale resale store
Across the street a similar building was successfully renovated for an independence center and upscale resale store. This was built in 1931.
One of the few 1-story buildings, this one dates to 1912 and has many windows on the street-facing   facade. Currently a dialysis center.
One of the few 1-story buildings, this one dates to 1912 and has many windows on the street-facing facade. Currently used as a dialysis center.
The general rule, however, is 2-levels up to 6 or more at times. All front Forest Park Ave
The general rule, however, is 2-levels up to 6 or more at times. All front Forest Park Ave
Former Ford plant is now apartments with street-level retail
Former Ford plant is now apartments with street-level retail
Two of the four storefronts are still available.
Two of the four storefronts are still available.
The 3-story warehouse from 1901 is now part of the Center for Emerging Technologies
The 3-story warehouse from 1901 is now part of the Center for Emerging Technologies
A long-time Salvation Army facility, 3-stories facing Forest Park Ave
A long-time Salvation Army facility, 3-stories facing Forest Park Ave
A 2-story Laclede Gas building
A 2-story Laclede Gas building
A 2-story firehouse at Vandeventer
The 2-story firehouse at Vandeventer was built in 1965
A former warehouse facing Forest Park and another facing Laclede are apartments geared toward SLU students. The parking garage was set back enough to permit a shallow liner building.
A former warehouse facing Forest Park, and another facing Laclede, are apartments geared toward SLU students. The parking garage was set back enough to permit a shallow liner building.
At Spring Ave millions have been invested in existing urban buildings
At Spring Ave millions have been invested in existing urban buildings
Microbrewer Six Row is in the urban building on the SE corner at Spring Ave
Microbrewer Six Row is in the urban building on the SE corner at Spring Ave
Finally at Grand we have one of SLU's residence halls
Finally at Grand we have one of SLU’s residence halls, though not oriented to Forest Park Ave

As you can see each block for the last 1.5 miles from Kingshighway has buildings fronting Forest Park Ave, nearly all 2 or more floors. Seems like every decade since the early 20th century new buildings have followed this pattern. But now Pace wants to change the pattern drastically, a new vision.

Pace Properties wants to build a retail center, called Midtown Station, on Forest Park Ave. between Vandeventer and Spring.

Pace says the site is ideal because of its proximity to St. Louis University and Washington University, as well as major employers like Ameren Missouri, BJC and Wells Fargo. (KSDK)

From the development flyer:

Pace wants to have the backs of big boxes facing Forest Park Ave & Vandeventer Ave
Pace wants to have the backs of big boxes facing Forest Park Ave & Vandeventer Ave
This big box development (yellow) coupled with another to the west purple will completely undo the hard work and investment of  others along the Forest Park Ave corridor
This big box development (yellow) coupled with another to the west (purple) will completely undo the hard work and investment of others along the Forest Park Ave corridor

Next to Saint Louis University should be walkable retail shops, not the blank walls of the back of big boxes. I’m not opposed to retail, I’m opposed to the form these developments will likely take. I’m gathering examples of how this could be done much better, look for another post next month.

I don’t want this new suburban big box vision to reverse the urban corridor.

— Steve Patterson

 

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