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Poll: Best Way To Improve Public Transit In North & South St. Louis?

Map source: Explore St. Louis, click to view original
Map source: Explore St. Louis, click to view original

Lately I’ve been posting about the St. Louis Streetcar, a proposed modern streetcar line that’d primarily serve the central corridor from Downtown west to the Central West End. Though the proposed streetcar route includes a spur into North St. Louis, I believe north & south sides of the city have tended to get the short end of the transit infrastructure stick.  Our Metrolink light rail opened 20 years ago serving the central part of the city, and the streetcar will double-down on this area.

I’ll personally benefit since I live downtown, but I’d like better transit options for reaching destinations in north & south city. I recognize many people might live say in north city but work in south city, or vice versa. Existing bus routes like the #70 (Grand) only partially fills the transit needs of the city.

Improvement options I’ve listed in the poll are:

  1. Nothing, doesn’t need improving
  2. Run existing buses more frequently
  3. Reduce/eliminate fares
  4. Bigger articulated buses for the busiest routes
  5. Buses that go from diesel in the county to electric via overhead wires in the city
  6. Bus rapid transit (BRT) lines serving city neighborhoods
  7. In-street modern streetcar lines serving city neighborhoods
  8. In-street light rail lines running through the city to connect to the county

These answers will be presented in random order in the poll (right sidebar), you can select up to 3 choices. You’ll have the option to provide your own answer as well.

A number of years ago East-West Gateway Council of Governments studied light rail lines through North & South St. Louis to reach North & South St. Louis County, respectively, but it went no further.

So please vote in the poll, located to the right, and share your thoughts in the comments below. I’ll share my views when I post the poll results on Wednesday July 3rd.

— Steve Patterson

 

Potential Development Sites Along Proposed Streetcar Line, Part 6: Compton to Vandeventer

As I’ve done for the last month, this is another post on potential development sites along the proposed initial route of the St. Louis Streetcar.  The sections already reviewed are as follows:

  1. Olive 15th-16th
  2. Olive 16th-18th
  3. 14th & Olive To North Florissant & St. Louis Ave.
  4. Olive 18th to Jefferson
  5. Jefferson to Compton

This post will cover the section from Olive & Compton to Lindell & Vandeventer (map). For those unfamiliar with the area, Olive splits off to the north but to motorists Olive becomes Lindell (pronounced Lindle). The entire south side of this stretch of Olive/Lindell is the campus of Saint Louis University (SLU). The north is a mix of SLU, private, and institutional properties.

We’ll start at Compton and head west.

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Massive SLU parking garage could be fronted with a shallow “liner building” to create a relationship with the sidewalk.

The buildings & land on the other side of Lindell from SLU’s Compton Garage are ripe for development, I’m just lacking images of them.

ABOVE:
The intersection where Olive splits off to the right was redone a few years ago.
ABOVE:
gLooking the opposite direction
ABOVE: Looking south at a planned, but unmarked, crosswalk
It shouldn’t take a streetcar to make it safe
hotel.ignacio
Hotel Ignacio is just part of the development activity that has taken place here.
The Field House Pub & Grill is an example of positive things already underway in Midtown
The Field House Pub & Grill at 510 N. Theresa is an example of positive things already underway in Midtown
The streetcar can help the existing momentum and reduce the need for the excessive amount of surface parking.
The streetcar can help the existing momentum and reduce the need for the excessive amount of surface parking.
SLU could reskin this former state office building at 3545 Lindell, adding storefronts and new floors.
SLU could reskin this former state office building at 3545 Lindell, adding storefronts and new floors.
The SLU campus east of Grand has a prison feel, fences everywhere. SLU could remove the fencing to connect to the street, like the campus west of Grand.
The SLU campus east of Grand has a prison feel, fences everywhere. SLU could remove the fencing to connect to the street, like the campus west of Grand.
With a new building on the right, street trees along Grand would make this a pleasant route to take to reach the streetcar
With a new building on the right, street trees along Grand would make this a pleasant route to take to reach the streetcar
slumidtown2
Ideally SLU will build a new building on the SE corner of Lindell @ Grand
ABOVE: The once vibrant urban street corner is now a passive hole in the city
As well as the NE corner. I’d love to see a Trader Joe’s on the ground floor, with apartments above.

The corner of Lindell & Grand should get major new buildings. There are already substantial buildings in the area, especially to the north & west. These two corners were land banked by SLU so the streetcar is the perfect time to withdraw them and put them to good use activating the intersection.

I'd love to see the ground floor of Jesuit Hall activated with a cafe or bakery
I’d love to see the ground floor of Jesuit Hall activated with a cafe or bakery
The Lindell facade of Jesuit Hall also has opportunities for activity.
The Lindell facade of Jesuit Hall also has opportunities for activity.
The Masonic garage ob Olive is awful
The Masonic garage on Olive is awful, I can’t see this staying long-term
This section of Lindell has some stunning buildings, this is SLU's museum
This section of Lindell has some stunning buildings, this is SLU’s museum
The few gaps can be filled in with massive structures, student housing over retail would be nice at Lindell & Spring
The few gaps can be filled in with massive structures, student housing over retail would be nice at Lindell & Spring
Maybe we can widen the sidewalks along Spring
Maybe we can widen the sidewalks along Spring
3699 Olive
Eventually the owner of the auto repair shop at 3699 Olive @ Spring will retire and sell.
The Coronado was vacant for years until the Gill's renovated.
The Coronado was vacant for years until the Gill’s renovated.
Hopefully someone will find the right formula for the lower level space
Hopefully someone will find the right formula for the lower level space, several places have failed
A few years ago SLU razed two buildings here to make room for expansion of the law school. With the law school opening downtown this land plus the old law school are available
A few years ago SLU razed two buildings here to make room for expansion of the law school. With the law school opening downtown this land plus the old law school are available
The various modifications to the 1914 structure at 3765 Lindell has made it rather odd looking.
The various modifications to the 1914 structure at 3765 Lindell has made it rather odd looking.
The Crazy Bows & Wraps location might be developed. This 1961 structure was extensively remodeled in the 90s.
The Crazy Bows & Wraps location might be developed. This 1961 structure was extensively remodeled in the 90s.
In 1978 it was included as a "contributing structure" in the Midtown Historic District, click image to view district nomination.
In 1978 it was mentioned in the Midtown Historic District nomination as a “unfortunate intrusion which should not have been allowed”, click image to view district nomination.
This building was also part of the 1978 midtown historic district. This building should be saved as it contributes to both Lindell & Vandeventer.
This building, originally built for the Brotherhood of Railway & Airline Clerks, contributes to the 1978 midtown historic district. This building should be saved as it contributes to both Lindell & Vandeventer.

An interesting paragraph from the 1978 midtown nomination:

Unfortunately, Midtown is still perceived by many as a dangerous area riddled with street crime and all manner of urban ills, the most prominent of which is the current “black sploitation” fare served at the Fabulous Fox. In spite of this onus, a 1977 walking tour sponsored by the St. Louis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and New Town/St. Louis, Inc. drew hundreds of curious and concerned

St. Louisans to Midtown. The solution for the revitalization of existing structures and the continuing education of the general public will not be easy, but to abandon Midtown is to dismiss one of the strongest concentrations of architecturally significant buildings in St. Louis.

There is more developable area north of Lindell and  west of Spring, both vacant buildings and vacant land.

— Steve Patterson

 

Metro Fails At Retailing

Retailing isn’t easy, successful brick & mortar retailers hire consultants, question focus groups,  and study market trends, to get customers through the door. Store design is an important part of the equation.  Many firms specialize in retail design.

I covered this topic last August after a seeing the transit agency store in Dallas (see Transit Visibility: Metro vs DART). Metro’s MetroRide store on Washington Avenue is pathetic.

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Last August I showed this pic to help illustrate the problem. Which entrance is the transit store?
ABOVE: It's obvious now, right?
Obviously this one, right?

Each time I visit the MetroRide store to buy transit passes I realize it is the result of a quasi-government agency that has zero competition. Where is the hungry merchant trying to drum up sales to cover the rent payment? It’s like the exclusive restaurant

I took this similar pic a few days ago, it was impossible  to even tell if the lights were on.
I took this similar pic a few days ago, it was impossible to even tell if the lights were on.

Sure, those of us who seek it out don’t need a big neon sign or even a simple “open” sign in the window, but it might help get the attention of others walking by. Tourists might inquire about the downtown trolley and what else they can see without a car.

I’d like to see Metro make it obvious to anyone walking, or driving, past the MetroRide store to know it is a place to buy transit passes and pick up  schedules.  As a fan of gift shops, I’d also like to see St. Louis transit-related merchandise: t-shirts, postcards, magnets, calendars, etc. I still have a puzzle of the Philly transit map I bought on vacation in 2001, but I have almost nothing for St. Louis. I’d love a toy MetroBus.

Step up your retail game Metro!

— Steve Patterson

 

Potential Development Sites Along Proposed Streetcar Line, Part 5: Jefferson to Compton

This is the fifth post in a series looking at potential development sites along the proposed initial route of the St. Louis Streetcar.  The first four parts were:

  1. Olive 15th-16th
  2. Olive 16th-18th
  3. 14th & Olive To North Florissant & St. Louis Ave.
  4. Olive 18th to Jefferson

This post will cover the 0.6 mile stretch of Olive from Jefferson to Compton (map). Let’s start with the North side of Olive at Jefferson:

2601 Olive, well known as Sam Light Loans, was built in 1924 according to city records.
2601 Olive, well known as Sam Light Loans, was built in 1924, according to city records. I wonder if the building got a makeover in the 40s or 50s, it looks too modern foe the 20s.
2617 Olive
I posted about 2617 Olive in March 2012, it dates to 1883. Click image to see my prior post.
2621 Olive
AT&T recently built an addition on the long-vacant lot at 2621 Olive
AT&T Communications at 2651 Olive
That addition was on the east side of this AT&T Communications building at 2651 Olive
The small insurance office at Locust & Jefferson was built in 1956.
The small insurance office at Locust & Jefferson was built in 1956.
AT&T owns much of the block on both sides of Locust, used for parking.
AT&T owns much of the block on both sides of Locust, used for parking.
Across the street is more AT&T parking on the left. Loft apartments on Washington Ave can be seen in the background.
Across the street is more AT&T parking on the left. Loft apartments on Washington Ave can be seen in the background.
The Wells Fargo lot between Beaumont & Leffingwell could be easily developed if many employees begin riding the streetcar. Perhaps give them the option of a parking pass or a transit pass...
The Wells Fargo lot between Beaumont & Leffingwell could be easily developed if many employees begin riding the streetcar. Perhaps give them the option of a parking pass or a transit pass… More on Wells Fargo when I get to the south side of Olive below.
The building on the left is from 1929, the one on the right from 1913. A vacant 30ft lot is to the right @ Leffingwell.
The building on the left is from 1929, the one on the right from 1913. A vacant 30ft lot is to the right @ Leffingwell.
2823 Olive was built in 1880, though set back from the street it would be an interesting contrast to keep this structure. Parking is on each side, though the parking on the left is owned by the next building's owner.
2823 Olive was built in 1880, though set back from the street it would be an interesting contrast to keep this structure, while filling in on each side. The side on the left belongs to the next property to the west.
This 1925 building at 2831 Olive would look even better with a new glass storefront....and a rooftop restaurant
This 1925 building at 2831 Olive would look even better with a new glass storefront….and a rooftop restaurant
Castle Ballroom
The Castle Ballroom should get renovated with a streetcar right out front. Click image to see my post from 2011.
These buildings in the 29xx block of Olive no longer look like they did 100+ years ago
These buildings in the 29xx block of Olive no longer look like they did 100+ years ago
The Locust Business District recently completed a fenced surface parking lot, this needs to be replaced ASAP
The Locust Business District recently completed a fenced surface parking lot, this needs to be replaced ASAP
The Treasurer's parking lot at 3019 Olive also needs a building, not a garage.
The Treasurer’s parking lot at 3019 Olive also needs a building, not a garage.
At Cardinal Ave we have a one story structure from 1997, too new to replace right away
At Cardinal Ave we have a one story structure from 1997, too new to replace right away
The last buildings on the north side of Olive before Compton
The last buildings on the north side of Olive before Compton

Some existing buildings aren’t as tall as would be nice but their age/height will be a nice contrast to the new construction we should see go up over the twenty years. In short, lots of opportunities for new construction on vacant land.

OK, let’s cross Olive at Compton and return east to Jefferson. It would be impossible to look at this section of the proposed route without discussing the urban renewal clearance of Mill Creek Valley:

By World War II, Mill Creek’s tenements and faded town houses were home to nearly 20,000 people, many of them poor blacks who had migrated north from the cotton fields. More than half the dwellings lacked running water, and 80 percent didn’t have interior bathrooms.

Tucker proposed knocking over nearly everything and starting over. In 1955, city voters overwhelmingly approved a $10 million bond issue for demolition, on the promise that the federal government would reimburse most of it. The local NAACP endorsed the idea. Work began on Feb. 16, 1959, at 3518 Laclede Avenue, where a headache ball smashed a house that dated to the 1870s.

The bulldozers swiftly transformed the city’s “No. 1 Eyesore” into an area derided as “Hiroshima Flats.” Among the few buildings spared was the old Vashon High School, now part of Harris-Stowe State University. When work began in 1961 on University Heights Village apartments, only 20 original families still called Mill Creek home. (stltoday.com – A look back • Clearing of Mill Creek Valley changed the face of the city)

The area from Union Station to Grand was cleared. This area got new construction like the A.G. Edwards HQ, now Wells Fargo Advisors, LaClede Town (razed), Heritage House senior apartments, and the “flying saucer” gas station on Grand at Forest Park, now a Starbucks. n

The block between Cardinal & Compton
The block between Cardinal & Compton
This facade was built after the front of the building was removed when Olive was widened. I'd like to see this endure
This facade was built after the front of the building was removed when Olive was widened. I’d like to see this endure
A pocket park along the route would be nice, if it could be accessed.
A pocket park along the route would be nice, if it could be accessed.
The former Berea Presbyterian Church is now a SLU event space
The former Berea Presbyterian Church is now a SLU event space
The central glass on the front of this church always looked too modern but I never knew the story.
The central glass on the front of this church always looked too modern but I never knew the story.
February 1909 Sanborn Map showed the stone (blue) church at 3015 Pine. Click image to see more.
February 1909 Sanborn Map showed the stone (blue) church at 3015 Pine (vacated), between Garrison (vacated) on the east and Cardinal (dead end) on the west. The end facing Olive today was the back! 
Click image to see more of this map.
I'd like to see Pine St replatted from Jefferson to Compton
I’d like to see Pine St replatted from Jefferson to Compton, it would go right through here.
Sigma-Aldrich owns the land from the old church to Ewing.
Sigma-Aldrich owns the land from the old church to Ewing. Given how the land is platted and fenced it appears they’re leaving a strip along Olive for future development.
Ewing Ave looking south toward Market. Wells Fargo Advisors on the left, Sigma-Aldrich on the right. This street should be lined with storefronts catering to employees of both, as well as students at Harris-Stowe.
Ewing Ave looking south toward Market. Wells Fargo Advisors on the left, Sigma-Aldrich on the right. This too-wide street should be lined with storefronts catering to employees of both businesses, as well as students, faculty, & staff at Harris-Stowe, and residents at Heritage House.
A non-propfit was formed in 1964 to build & operate low-income senior apartments, Heritage House opened in 1967.
A non-propfit was formed in 1964 to build & operate low-income senior apartments, Heritage House opened in 1967.
The building is well maintained but not well connected to Olive
The building is well maintained but not well connected to Olive
I'd like to see an addition between the sidewalk and tower with underground parking and street-level retail.
I’d like to see an addition between the sidewalk and tower with underground parking, street-level retail, 2nd floor apartments.
An alley remains between Olive & Pine. I can imagine both sides being infilled over the coming decades.
An alley remains between Olive & Pine. I can imagine both sides being infilled over the coming decades, see diagram below.
My thought of the order Wells Fargo might instill parking lots and finally raze a parking garage.
My thought of the order Wells Fargo might instill parking lots and finally raze a parking garage. The two orange squares are owned by the Beffa family, the purple by Provident.
A parking garage for Wells Fargo Financial Advisers dominates the intersection of Jefferson & Olive.
A parking garage for Wells Fargo Advisers dominates the intersection of Jefferson & Olive.
Close up
A brick wall sorta hides equipment

I’m excited about the possibly having a modern streetcar line a block away from my loft, but the redevelopment potential in midtown is phenomenal. I’ve been losing sleep for the past week as I picture what this could look like at full build out.  The vision must come before the bricks and mortar.

— Steve Patterson

 

Potential Development Sites Along Proposed Streetcar Line, Part 4: Olive 18th to Jefferson

Today I’ll continue looking at potential development sites along the proposed St. Louis Streetcar route. So far in this series I’ve covered:

  1. Olive 15th-16th
  2. Olive 16th-18th
  3. 14th & Olive To North Florissant & St. Louis Ave.

With the north-south section covered, I’ll resume heading west on Olive starting at 18th. For information on properties I checked city records on GEO St. Louis, it is generally reliable.

1800 Olive, built in 1962, contributes nothing
1800 Olive, built in 1962, contributes nothing. It is owned by the Salvation Army, which owns the Railton Apartments next door.
The corner burger joint dates to 1954, per city records.
The one-story White Knight Diner at 1801 Olive dates to 1954, but it makes a positive contribution to the public realm. This place was featured in the 1990 film “White Palace” with Susan Sarandon & James Spader, click image for more information on this film.
MERS/Goodwill owns much of this city block
MERS/Goodwill owns much of this city block

b

The Currency Exchange owns the building at 1809 Olive, it has no parking despite being surrounded by parking.
The Currency Exchange owns the building at 1809 Olive, it has no off-street parking despite being surrounded by parking. It was built in 1926.
The surface parking lot between the Currency Exchange and 19th Street belongs to the police, came with the building that'll be the new HQ next year. This reduces development potential unless they can get by with the parking in the building.
The surface parking lot between the Currency Exchange and 19th Street belongs to the police, came with the building that’ll be the new HQ next year. This reduces development potential unless they can get by with the parking located within the building.
This building faces Olive, 19th, & Pine. It was most recently a charter school.It should become occupied and hopefully altered, see below.
This building faces Olive, 19th, & Pine. It was most recently a charter school.It should become occupied and hopefully altered, see below.
A doorway could be added to to enter the ground floor without a need for a ramp or steps. This could be for retail  and/or restaurant.
A doorway could be added to to enter the ground floor from Olive without a need for a ramp or steps. This could be for retail and/or restaurant.
Four buildings, four owners. Three from 19th century, one 20th century. The beige one-story building is from 1896!
Four buildings, four owners. Three from 19th century, one 20th century. The beige one-story building is from 1896, but it has been significantly altered.
The large parking lot fronting Olive, 20th & Pine is owned by an out of state entity, it should be more valuable developed.
The large parking lot fronting Olive, 20th & Pine is owned by an out of state entity, it should be more valuable developed.
2001 Olive was actually built in 1892, as a one-story building. In 1909 it was surrounded by taller buildings.
2001 Olive was actually built in 1892, as a one-story building with 4 storefronts facing Olive and 3 facing 20th. By 1909 it was surrounded by taller buildings. Click image to view 1909 Sanborn map.
The narrow building at 2011 Olive was built in 1919.
The narrow building at 2011 Olive was built in 1919. The empty lot on the east (right) is owned by the owner of the previous building.
This space at 2015 Olive is west of the previous building and has the same owner. This would make s nice patio/beer garden.
This space at 2015 Olive is west of the previous building and has the same owner. This would make s nice patio/beer garden.
The rest of this block-face to 21st is these two buildings with the same ownership. The one on the left was built in 1903, the former Hamilton-Brown Shoe Factory. The one-story building on the right is from 1955. A taller building could replace the one on the right.
The rest of this block-face to 21st is these two buildings with the same ownership. The one on the left was built in 1903, the former Hamilton-Brown Shoe Factory. The one-story building on the right is from 1955. A taller building could replace the one on the right.
The 3rd floor is for lease but offices occupy the ground floor. The owner occupies most of the building, perhaps they can reconfigure so the ground floor becomes restaurant/retail space.
The 3rd floor is for lease but offices occupy the ground floor. The owner occupies much of the building, perhaps they can reconfigure so the ground floor becomes restaurant/retail space.
The remaining buildings on the south side of Olive, west of 20th, were built in 1926. This is within another proposed Northside Regeneration job center.
The remaining buildings on the south side of Olive, west of 20th, were built in 1926. This is within another proposed Northside Regeneration job center.
The block bounded by Olive, Pine, 21st, & 22nd, was cleared for the unbuilt 22nd Street Parkway.  21st & 22nd were vacated, these should be reopened.
The block bounded by Olive, Pine, 21st, & 22nd, was cleared for the unbuilt 22nd Street Parkway. 21st & 22nd were vacated, these should be reopened.
St. Louis Brewery, owner of the Tap Room, owns this parking lot at 21st & Olive. Easily developed or turned into a beer garden.
St. Louis Brewery, owner of the Tap Room, owns this parking lot at 21st & Olive. Easily developed or turned into a beer garden.
Both of these buildings have the same owner and have been renovated within the last 5-10 years. Not sure if additional floors are an option.
Both of these buildings have the same owner and have been renovated within the last 5-10 years. Not sure if additional floors are an option.
The State of Missouri owns the vacant land at 22nd, part of the 22nd Parkway right-of-way.
The State of Missouri owns the vacant land at 22nd, part of the 22nd Parkway right-of-way.
I've long thought 22000 Locust was ripe for redevelopment. May 2010 photo.
I’ve long thought 22000 Locust was ripe for redevelopment. May 2010 photo.
It's getting renovated right now.
It’s getting renovated into apartments right now, click image for more information.
Unfortunately the corner lot at 2201 Olive, just cleared of a non-urban building, will become a new surface parking lot for the development.
Unfortunately the corner lot at 2201 Olive, just cleared of a non-urban building, will become a new surface parking lot for the apartment development.
The building at 2209 Olive (right) was built in 1906, but you can't tell it. Expect lots of changes in this block.
The building at 2209 Olive (right) was built in 1906, but you can’t tell it. Expect lots of changes in this block.
The 1922 building at 2231 Olive contributes to the Locust Olive Historic District, click image for nomination.
The 1922 building at 2231 Olive contributes to the Locust Olive Historic District, click image for nomination.

b

2200 Olive occupies a large parcel of land.
2200 Olive occupies a large parcel of land. The largely blank walls were common in 1963 when it was built.
The Lincoln Arms Hotel provides low rent rooms by the week, serving a need. But walk by in the summer and the smell is awful. The physical form is ideal along a streetcar line.
The Lincoln Arms Hotel, built in 1928, provides low rent rooms by the week, serving a niche market. Walk by in the summer and the smell is awful. The physical form is ideal along a streetcar line.
Firestone owns this location built in 1964, not sure if they'd cash out the real estate.
Firestone owns this location built in 1964, not sure if they’d cash out the real estate.
2301olive
I’d long assumed this surface parking lot belonged to the company in the building across the alley.
This 1968 building at Olive & Jefferson is interesting, but also low-density.
This 1968 building at Olive & Jefferson is interesting, but also low-density.

There are many more development sites, to the north & south, between 18th & Jefferson. I expect this to be a high activity area for development.

 

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