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Proposed Rebuild of Kenrick Plaza in Shrewsbury, MO Ignores Walkability & ADA (UPDATED)

I’m not a fan of Walmart, but this post isn’t an attack on the Walmart business model. Instead the purpose of this post is to show how the redevelopment of Kenrick Plaza (map), proposed by G. J. Grewe, as presented, will not meet the minimum requirements of the Americans with Disability Act of 1990 (ADA).

First let’s take a quick look at the area:

Sign for Kenrick Plaza at Watson Rd and Trianomn Parkway Drive
Sign for Kenrick Plaza at Watson Rd and Trianon Parkway Drive, looking east
West side
Sign at Trianon Parkway Drive, looking west
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The now-closed Kenrick Cinema is located on the west side of Trianon Parkway.
The now-closed Kenrick Cinema is located on the west side of Trianon Parkway.

A report prepared by PGAV details how Kenrick Plaza is in bad physical condition, the layout doesn’t work well (former Burger King blocks views of retail space behind, etc.) and it doesn’t work for people with disabilities.

Here’s the proposed site plan, which includes cutting off public access to Watson Rd for many houses, leaving one entrance off of Laclede Station as the sole way in and out, with an exception for cutting through the private “lower Kenrick Plaza” area.

Site plan
Proposed site plan, click image to view larger version on Scribd.

The same report talks about the new proposal…

COMPLIANCE WITH THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN

The Comprehensive Plan for the City of Shrewsbury (the “Comprehensive Plan”) dated March 1970, designates the land use for the Area to be commercial. The Comprehensive Plan, drafted as the Kenrick Seminary lands became open for development, envisioned the land uses immediately adjacent to Watson Road as a commercial corridor that would bring the City’s percentage of commercial land up to 10.4% from a meager 3%. The City was heavily dominated by residential and institutional uses and lacked significant commercial acreage.

The Comprehensive Plan was followed in the original construction of Kenrick Plaza as a commercial district supporting the surrounding residential development that largely lacked retail, entertainment, and restaurant options within close proximity. Also accommodated in the Comprehensive Plan was the construction of one or more television towers. This redevelopment plan maintains the Area as commercial land use consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and accommodates the existing television tower. The map depicting future land use included in the Comprehensive Plan specifically and clearly designates the Area for commercial land use.

Oh good, it complies with the 1970 “Comprehensive Plan”! Apparently nothing in Shrewsbury has changed in the last 43 years. I want to point out a few big red flags about this proposal:

A sidewalk along Watson Rd with "decorative lighting" every 75 feet but you must walk in the auto driveways if you want to shop.
A sidewalk along Watson Rd with “decorative lighting” every 75 feet but you must walk in the auto driveways if you want to shop.
Residents used to driving/walking to Watson Rd will no longer be able to do so, nor can they or their kids/grandkids walk to the store to get bread & milk.
Residents used to driving/walking to Watson Rd will no longer be able to do so, nor can they or their kids/grandkids walk to the store to get bread & milk.
View looking south toward Watson along Trianon Parkway from the last side side street before access to be cut off.
View looking south toward Watson along Trianon Parkway from the last side side street before access to be cut off.

Shrewsbury should be requiring more connections, not fewer.

206 Accessible Routes

206.1 General. Accessible routes shall be provided in accordance with 206 and shall comply with Chapter 4.

206.2 Where Required. Accessible routes shall be provided where required by 206.2.

 206.2.1 Site Arrival Points. At least one accessible route shall be provided within the site from accessible parking spaces and accessible passenger loading zones; public streets and sidewalks; and public transportation stops to the accessible building or facility entrance they serve.

EXCEPTIONS:

1. Where exceptions for alterations to qualified historic buildings or facilities are permitted by 202.5, no more than one accessible route from a site arrival point to an accessible entrance shall be required.

2. An accessible route shall not be required between site arrival points and the building or facility entrance if the only means of access between them is a vehicular way not providing pedestrian access.

 Advisory 206.2.1 Site Arrival Points. Each site arrival point must be connected by an accessible route to the accessible building entrance or entrances served. Where two or more similar site arrival points, such as bus stops, serve the same accessible entrance or entrances, both bus stops must be on accessible routes. In addition, the accessible routes must serve all of the accessible entrances on the site.

Advisory 206.2.1 Site Arrival Points Exception 2. Access from site arrival points may include vehicular ways. Where a vehicular way, or a portion of a vehicular way, is provided for pedestrian trvel, such as within a shopping center or shopping mall parking lot, this exception does not apply.

206.2.2 Within a Site. At least one accessible route shall connect accessible buildings, accessible facilities, accessible elements, and accessible spaces that are on the same site.

EXCEPTION: An accessible route shall not be required between accessible buildings, accessible facilities, accessible elements, and accessible spaces if the only means of access between them is a vehicular way not providing pedestrian access.

Advisory 206.2.2 Within a Site. An accessible route is required to connect to the boundary of each area of sport activity. Examples of areas of sport activity include: soccer fields, basketball courts, baseball fields, running tracks, skating rinks, and the area surrounding a piece of gymnastic equipment. While the size of an area of sport activity may vary from sport to sport, each includes only the space needed to play. Where multiple sports fields or courts are provided, an accessible route is required to each field or area of sport activity. (2010 ADA Standards)

 

In short this says it is ok to require pedestrians to use an auto drive to a facility like a Starbuck’s but that exception isn’t applicable to a shopping center. Elsewhere in the same link as above, the term “shopping center” is defined as:

(A) A building housing five or more sales or rental establishments; or

(B) A series of buildings on a common site, either under common ownership or common control or developed either as one project or as a series of related projects, housing five or more sales or rental establishments. For purposes of this section, places of public accommodation of the types listed in paragraph (5) of the definition of “place of public accommodation” in section § 36.104 are considered sales or rental establishments. The facility housing a “shopping center or shopping mall” only includes floor levels housing at least one sales or rental establishment, or any floor level designed or intended for use by at least one sales or rental establishment.

 

Developer G. J. Grewe and Architect TRi should be ashamed for submitting such a plan, this isn’t 1970 despite the fact Shrewsbury’s comprehensive plan hasn’t been updated.

As I was finishing this post yesterday I received an email from Shrewsbury Mayor Felicity indicating “accessibility is being addressed with sidewalks from the bus stop to the stores.”  The site plan on the Shrewsbury website is a preliminary concept. I requested an updated copy but I have not received it.

UPDATE 5/22/2013 @ 3:30pm:

At 3pm I received from Shrewsbury Director of Administration, Jonathan Greever, a PDF copy of “of the current special use permit site plan. This document is limited in that it does not address the entire site and its intended use is not for construction. The purpose for this document is different than that of a fully engineered plan. As stated previously, the final engineered plans have not been generated.” You can view it on Scribd here.

— Steve Patterson

 

Former River Roads Mall Site Vacant, the Few New Buildings Aren’t Pedestrian Friendly

River_Roads_LogoRiver Roads Mall was located in the north St. Louis County municipality of Jennings, MO:

Opened in 1962, the mall originally featured St. Louis-based Stix, Baer & Fuller as its main anchor store, as well as a Kroger supermarket and a Woolworth dime store. Walgreens operated a store in the mall as well. A 1970s expansion brought JCPenney as a second anchor store. Dillard’s bought the Stix, Baer & Fuller chain in 1984, converting all Stix, Baer & Fuller stores to the Dillard’s name. However, the River Roads Mall store was closed not long afterward in 1986 at the end of the lease. JCPenney converted its store to a JCPenney outlet in 1984. Woolworth closed the River Roads location (along with locations at West County Mall and in South St. Louis City) in early 1991 during one of the chain’s earliest rounds of store closures. By the early 1990s, the mall was briefly renamed St. Louis Consumer Center. (Wikipedia)

Two decades after opening it was already in decline. The surrounding residential neighborhoods remain a decent place to grow up.

Homes facing the former mall remained tidy in 2007
Homes facing the former mall remained tidy in 2007

I love that sidewalks were provided, those didn’t exist in the 1960s subdivision where I grew up, but they’re meaningless because the sidewalks didn’t lead anyone to nearby retail. You see in the 1960s America thought driving everywhere was the future. Cart the kids around until they get a license then they can drive themselves.

A March 2007 view looking south to Jennings Station Rd from River Roads Mall showed no consideration for pedestrians.
A March 2007 view looking south to Jennings Station Rd from River Roads Mall showed no consideration for pedestrians.
When I visited the site in March 2007 the mall had been closed for over a decade but the attached grocery store remained open during the demolition process.
When I visited the site in March 2007 the mall had been closed for over a decade but the attached grocery store remained open during the demolition process.
They had to place signs to make it clear they were open
They had to place signs to make it clear they were open
A corner of the former mall
A corner of the former mall
The mall was located far from Jennings Station & Halls Ferry, not designed to welcome pedestrian shoppers
The mall was located far from Jennings Station & Halls Ferry, not designed to welcome pedestrian shoppers

But we know better now, right? We need to design places to accommodate multiple modes of mobility: car, bike and foot. So you’d think the few new buildings that have been constructed in the last 5-6 years on the edge of the site have improved things for area residents. Well, you may not think so but I expected to see an improvement.

Boy was I disappointed on my first visit in 6+ years.

Pedestrians heading to McDonald's (customers & employees) but go over curbs, through grass and navigate cars. Wheelchair users must use the auto entrances/exits.
Pedestrians heading to McDonald’s (customers & employees) must go over curbs, through grass and navigate cars. Wheelchair users must use the auto entrances/exits, bicyclists must improvise to secure their bikes.
Neighbors wanting to visit Neighbors Credit Union should drive to do so, they've made no provisions to arrive on foot.
Neighbors wanting to visit Neighbors Credit Union shouldn’t walk since they’ve made no provisions for customers to arrive on foot.
Surely senior apartments with accessible units will have a good connection to the sidewalk
Surely senior apartments with accessible units will have a good connection to the sidewalk
The River Roads Manor website brags about being near public transit, too bad residents can't get to it.
The River Roads Manor website lists being near public transit as an amenity, too bad residents can’t get to it without walking in/out auto driveways.

River Roads Manor was a Pyramid Properties project, completed prior to the collapse of the company on April 18, 2008 (see Five Years Since Pyramid Properties Ceased Operations). The McDonald’s & Neighbors Credit Union were started.  So John Steffen’s Pyramid Properties is to blame for not raising the bar in this area.

I just hope  Stacy Hastie of Environmental Operations, the entity that now owns the mall site, will take pedestrian access into consideration in the future. I also hope Jennings will realize their residents do walk places and that new construction should include provisions for them as well as for motorists.

Some of you will say nobody walks, everyone drives. Why then is the area serviced by MetroBus is everyone drives?  All we have to do is take a look at Google Street View to spot pedestrians.

Pedestrian in front of Neighbors Credit Union
Pedestrian in front of Neighbors Credit Union
Pedestrian in front of McDonald's
Pedestrian in front of McDonald’s
Many pedestrians waiting to catch the #16 MetroBus
Many pedestrians waiting to catch the #16 MetroBus

Massive efforts go into accommodating motorists, from municipal codes to vast amounts of paving and land. I just want a pedestrian connection to adjacent streets, I think that’s fair.

— Steve Patterson

 

Retrofitting A Pedestrian Access Route To The Former Schnucks In Des Peres, MO

Based on comments on Monday’s post (Walking To The “Flagship” Dierbergs & Schnucks Locations In Des Peres, MO) many of you think the auto-centric suburbs will never be walkable. Well, you’re wrong. They’ll likely never  be ideal urban settings but they can be retrofitted to enable people to function without having to drive. This is important because we need to walk more:

There is a growing recognition that Americans must increase physical activity, including walking or bicycling, if we are to nudge the needle on ballooning health care costs, reducing obesity and overweight, cardiovascular and other chronic illnesses linked to a lack of exercise. Over the last decade, a growing number of communities have gotten the message, and begun to retrofit their more dangerous roadways to be safer for people on foot, on bicycles and in cars.

Still, most Americans continue to live in places where walking is risky business for their health and safety, where roads are designed solely to move speeding traffic and where pedestrians are viewed as an obstacle.

This has left us with a dilemma: Public health officials encourage Americans of all ages to walk and bike more to stem the costly and deadly obesity epidemic – yet many of our streets are simply not safe. Americans get to pick their poison: less exercise and poor health, or walking on roads where more than 47,000 people have died in the last ten years. (Dangerous by Design 2011)

Des Peres and other St. Louis suburbs have had sidewalks along major roads for years, yet few pedestrians.  The lack of connection from the public sidewalk to the businesses set back behind parking lots has been a major hurdle. When these older commercial buildings are retrofitted or replaced we have the opportunity to make incremental improvements to improve the walkability.  For example, the location of the old Schnucks grocery in Des Peres.

Schnucks was there for over 40 years but, like the new location, it didn’t have any pedestrian route to the store. Now the building has a new facade and two new retailers and a pedestrian access route.

ABOVE: An auto entrance to the former Schnucks in Des Peres
ABOVE: In the reuse of the vacant grocery store, a sidewalk was added to so pedestrians had an access route.
ABOVE: The new pedestrian access route gives pedestrians a safe way to get from the public sidewalk to the businesses.
ABOVE: A crosswalk is provided where the access route crosses the auto drive.
ABOVE: The view looking south toward Manchester Rd. at Lindeman Rd.
ABOVE: Pedestrians have a route to the new free-standing fast food restaurant on the property.

This is not great urbanism, nor is it my idea of walkable. But, I was able to easily get to the businesses without feeling like I might get hit by a careless motorist. It’s incrementally more walkable than it’s been for the over four decades. Walkability doesn’t happen overnight. Des Peres will not become a great walkable community by 2014, but it might by 2032.

I’ve posted the following video before but it’s worth watching over and over.  Ellen Dunham-Jones shows us ways to retrofit the suburban sprawl few like but that many call home. Well worth 20 minutes of your time.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPkalOtT6i4

Continuing with a laissez-faire development strategy will, however, guarantee Des Peres and similar suburbs won’t be much different in 20 years. In 20 years the marketplace will pass up suburbs that require an automobile to function.  Within the next two decades those communities where various modes of mobility are embraced will be the desirable “location, location, location” places. This includes walking, biking transit and yes, driving.

— Steve Patterson

 

THF Big Box vs. Planned Creve Coeur Downtown

This story caught my eye back in July:

THF Realty, a major developer of Walmarts and other big-box stores, is sniffing around the Orchard Lakes subdivision just north of Creve Coeur and near busy Olive Boulevard and Interstate 270.

A company representative met with subdivision trustees on June 3 to discuss a potential buyout of the entire subdivision, according to a subsequent letter from the trustees to subdivision homeowners. (STLToday)

Not surprising since vacant highway-adjacent parcels no longer exist. The subdivision of 256 single family homes is adjacent to I-270, extending more than half the distance from Olive to Page.

ABOVE: Blue box indicates Orchard Lakes, click to view map in Google Maps

THF Realty wants to make sure all those motorists driving on I-270 can see the generic big box development they are planning.

ABOVE: View of I-270 from Orchard Lakes subdivision

I knew where the subdivision was located but had never driven any of it’s streets, so last month I drove each street in the subdivision.

ABOVE: Orchard Lakes entrance sign

I grew up in a subdivision of similar vintage as Orchard Lakes. From a check of St. Louis County records these houses were built between 1961-66.   There is nothing particularly unique about the homes or the subdivision itself. With a few exceptions, all the homes looked well maintained. Many have newer windows and roofs.

The ranch houses of Orchard Lakes are typical of others from the period in the St. Louis region.

Few sidewalks exist in this subdivision, it’s not at all urban. Not rural either, decidedly suburban. There is no orchard, probably never was.

ABOVE: The only "lake" at Orchard Lakes is a decent pond at best.

There are lots of very nice mature trees though.

ABOVE: Leaving Orchard Lakes to the south the sign reads: Creve Coeur welcomes you.

Orchard Lakes is in unincorporated St. Louis County – barely. Creve Coeur has annexed commercial property along Olive Blvd but they didn’t want the adjacent residential areas. For a while now Creve Coeur has been planning to remake Olive & Ballas into their downtown.

In April 2002, the City of Creve Coeur adopted the Comprehensive Plan. Together, with the Pedestrian Plan and Design Guidelines, these plans set a standard for protecting community assets and strength- ening community character. Among the numerous recommendations made in the Comprehensive Plan are several for the Central Business District. Specifically, the Comprehensive Plan recommends the creation of a downtown (or town center) in the vicinity of the Olive-New Ballas intersection. (Plan PDF)

Orchard Lakes is just north of their proposed downtown/central business district:

The strong real estate market in Creve Coeur is anticipated to continue to be a basis for strengthening residential areas while at the same time stimulating major reinvestment in aging or underutilized commercial areas.

Clearly Creve Coeur’s planners didn’t envision the surrounding residential getting replaced by high traffic big box. To a degree this is what Creve Coeur gets for incorporating only the commercial areas along Olive, but not the adjacent residential to the north. Will be interesting to see if either gets built.

– Steve Patterson

 

Readers Split on New Urbanist Village at Nearly Dead Jamestown Mall

ABOVE: Two of four anchors remain open at Jamestown Mall; Macy's & JC Penny

As I expected, there was no consensus among readers on the poll last week:

Q: Thoughts on the Plan to Raze Jamestown Mall and build a New Urbanist Village?

  1. The sooner we rebuild auto-centric suburbs into walkable communities the better 23 [21.7%]
  2. Nice concept but will probably require too much public subsidy 18 [16.98%]
  3. Huge waste of time, money and energy to try to make the suburbs walkable 16 [15.09%]
  4. The mall is privately owned, St. Louis County shouldn’t be involved at all 14 [13.21%]
  5. New Urbanism is artificial urbanism 13 [12.26%]
  6. Other answer… 11 [10.38%]
  7. Government must change the zoning to do anything different with the site. 6 [5.66%]
  8. unsure/no opinion 4 [3.77%]
  9. Jamestown Mall should not be razed 1 [0.94%]

For a while the huge waste of time answer was in the top spot, glad to see it drop to #3.  The reason St. Louis County is involved is the property is located in unincorporated St. Louis County.  The county is taking a proactive step in figuring out what is best for the area so that zoning and other land-use laws can be modified to ensure what happens at the site is what the community wants.

  1. the development area is in a far corner of NoCo, right idea, wrong place
  2. Seems too far removed from major pop. to be worth the money.
  3. The plans formulated today will someday fail just as those of our forefathers.
  4. They should build an Ikea there instead
  5. Return it to greenspace
  6. Wrong location, location, location.
  7. If we don’t redevelope, we’ll soon be a community of empty shopping ce
  8. Turn it into something different.
  9. Downzone to agriculture/mix. Anything but this dumb idea!
  10. Location, location, location!
  11. Work with the active business owners to create a revitalization plan

To me the site is the ideal location for such a retrofit. I visited the mall before my original post, arriving on a MetroBus from the Hanley MetroLink station.  I was impressed how busy the bus was all along Lindbergh. I’ve visited the area again during the poll, this time I drove up 367 from North St. Louis and then south on Lindbergh (67) when I left. Google Maps is a great resource but it is no substitute for seeing a place first hand.

ABOVE: The area north of Lindbergh Rd is still pretty rural

To many living in a new home where they can walk to shops and be surrounded by a green ring is idea, very English.

ABOVE: New home under construction less than 3/4 of a mile west of Jamestown Mall

And new homes are being constructed very close to the mall, mostly along Lindbergh Blvd.  The above example is on Misty Crossing Ct, in the Misty Hollow subdivision.

Pure economics dictate the mall site will never be agriculture or green space ever again, the four concepts for the site included one that was pretty green.

ABOVE: The "Garden Suburb" is one of four concepts for the site. Click image for PDF report

The “Garden Suburb Plan” is the most green of the four, although most leave the SW tip undeveloped. Note the existing houses immediately to the south and west of the site (aerial view). Two dead end streets for the existing Fox Manor subdivision would be connected to the redeveloped site in this plan and two others. Currently the adjacent Fox Manor subdivision has only one way in or out – directly onto Lindbergh Blvd. These existing homes would now be connected to other homes and businesses.

The comments on the post were interesting but often way off base like these poll answers.

– Steve Patterson

 

 

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