We Saved Money On Our Electric Bill By Switching Rate Plans

 

 For years there was no financial incentive to reduce electricity use during peak periods. Running the dryer &  air conditioning while cooking dinner at 5pm weekdays cost the same as doing them at other times.  With Ameren Missouri’s new smart meters and Tine of Use (TOU) rate plans reducing electric …

Mid-70s Downtown Office Tower Getting Needed 21st Century Update

 

 Office vacancy rates are high now, especially in downtown St. Louis. Office vacancy is up across the metro area, averaging 16.9% in the second quarter of 2021 compared with 11.8% in 2020. Rents for offices outside of downtown declined nearly 4% from the end of 2020 through the second quarter …

Jamestown Mall Site Part 2: Laying Groundwork For New Development Over The Coming 10+ Years

 

 Last week I outlined the problems with the vacant Jamestown Mall, its massive 144.51 acre site, and the surroundings. See Jamestown Mall Site Part 1: Analyzing the Site, Problems, and Options. When you look at the problems the solution becomes obvious. Problems > solutions include: Vacant 422,533 square feet enclosed …

Jamestown Mall Site Part 1: Analyzing the Site, Problems, and Options

 

 My blog posts about Jamestown Mall are few. In 2011 a poll followed by the poll results with a few thoughts. In 2016 I posted that it had been two years sine the mall permanently closed. My 2011 visit was done while the mall was open, I arrived via MetroBus …

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Eads Bridge Pedestrian Path Finally Accessible Again After 4+ Years Inaccessible

May 14, 2020 Accessibility, Featured, Planning & Design, Walkability Comments Off on Eads Bridge Pedestrian Path Finally Accessible Again After 4+ Years Inaccessible
 

The renovation of the Arch grounds a few years back greatly improved accessibility for the public. Going from the top of the steps down to the riverfront used to be a major challenge if you were pushing a stroller, or using a wheelchair. New ramps now make it very easy.

But the project accidentally cut off access to the pedestrian walkway on the Eads Bridge, as early as May 2015. This month it was finally rectified, though the solution created another problem.

Looking west heading into St. Louis from the Eads Bridge. May 13, 2020

Let’s do a quick recap of the problem caused when a contractor busted through into the light rail tunnel below.

The earliest I can find the issue on Google Street View is from May 2015, how much earlier it began is uncertain.

May 7, 2017 is my oldest photo of the problem. This is when I began conversations with various officials about being able to access the pedestrian walkway in my wheelchair.
By March 16, 2019 the broken concrete had been removed but the height from steel plate to bridge sidewalk was too much for 99.9% of wheelchairs.

In January of this year I posted about the problem, see Eads Bridge Remains Inaccessible Years After Arch Project “Completed”. I was told a fix was in the works, but I’d been hearing excuses since 2017.

A week ago a friend sent a pic to me showing work happening. Yay, finally! Yesterday I went by to see the result, approaching from the North.

Approaching from Laclede’s Landing. I’m happy to see a smooth transition to the bridge, but the width of the crosswalk markings have no relationship to the width of the ramps on either end. 

I’m happy to report the accessibility is better than it ever was. The slopes, cross-slopes, ramps, etc. are all improved. I was very relived to be able to access the bridge. I then went to head West toward downtown.

Approaching the corner from the Arch grounds. At left is the point to cross the street to head into downtown proper.
Here’s a more direct view. Like before, the crosswalk is much wider than the ramp, but that’s not the main problem.
The stupid “beg button” for a walk signal is set back too far from the curb — only by leaning and stretching could I reach it.

Walkable areas shouldn’t have buttons to get a walk signal — they should always come up in the cycle. But if you’re going to make us press these damn buttons at least place them where they can be reached! I can see bottlenecks here post-covid with lots of tourists coming and going.

— Steve Patterson

Aloe Plaza Nudes Unveiled Eight Decades Ago, MLS Coming

May 11, 2020 Downtown, Featured, Parks, Planning & Design Comments Off on Aloe Plaza Nudes Unveiled Eight Decades Ago, MLS Coming
 

Eighty years ago today the nude sculptures in the Aloe Plaza fountain across Market Street from St. Louis Union Station were formally unveiled. The other figures in the fountain were unveiled the previous night.

Carl Milles’ ‘Meeting of the Waters’ is the focal point of Aloe Plaza

Artist Carl Milles attended,  Edith Aloe (1875-1956) did the unveiling.

Edith Aloe, 64, was the widow of the man who two decades earlier pushed to raze buildings across from St. Louis Union Station — former president of the Board of Aldermen Louis P. Aloe (1867-1929). Mrs. Aloe was instrumental in Milles being selected to create the fountain.

Since then the plaza has largely remained unchanged. A wheelchair ramp was added years age to access the plaza from Market Street and a decade ago awful spot lights were installed. Why awful? The resulting light from overhead is so bright it overpowers the lighting within the fountain — prison yards likely have similar lighting schemes. Incredibly uninviting.

Aloe Plaza across from Union Station cleared away “undesirable” buildings, followed by decades more demolition creating the largely failed Gateway Mall

The view above is looking West from 18th Street in June 2013. Right now the new Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium is being built on the West side of 20th Street.

Looking West from Aloe Plaza as crews remove the old highway interchange and begin work on the stadium. April 24, 2020

The stadium will give the Gateway Mall a proper terminus, but will Aloe Plaza remain unused, unchanged?

We should begin thinking & talking about a major renovation of the 2-block long plaza. The fountain & sculpture are sacred, in my view. Everything else is negotiable.

Why?

Union Station has made major investments in replacing the failed train shed mall, uh, festival marketplace with an indoor aquarium & outdoor Farris wheel. The MLS stadium is an even bigger investment. Both will draw huge crowds. Aloe Plaza is located between them.

Aloe Plaza was designed as a tranquil passive space in a growing city of 800k plus. 2011 photo

The first question is if the space should remain passive or if it needs activity areas?

Obviously I think it needs a redesign with opportunities for programmed activity.  But what activities? Would programming & activities compliment or distract from the fountain?

Too bad the Gateway Mall Advisory Board was disbanded.

— Steve Patterson

SOURCE: May 11, 1940 (page 3 of 16). (1940, May 11). St.Louis Post-Dispatch (1923-2003) Retrieved from link.

PS: The 1940 census shows 64-year old widow Edith Aloe living in the Park Royal Apartments, 4605 Lindell Blvd. — apartment 414. Her rent was $125/month. Her 24-year old single maid Evelyn Iffrig also lived there. Evelyn married in 1946, so Edith would’ve needed a new maid. Evelyn died in 1995, her husband lived until 2006.

Outpatient Surgery Since Last Cancer Update

May 7, 2020 Featured, Steve Patterson Comments Off on Outpatient Surgery Since Last Cancer Update
 

At the end of March I wasn’t feeling well, temporarily stepping away from blogging on a regular schedule.

I wrote, in part:

March 2020 has been difficult. My last treatment was March 2nd. Since then my appetite has dropped off a cliff. Eating less, I haven’t my usual energy.  I’m not walking around our apartment as much, I’m sitting more and napping more.

Despite standing up when my Apple Watch tells me every hour I’ve developed couch sores on my rear end. This encourages me to spend more time in bed.

My day naps got longer and longer, throwing off my sleep schedule at night. Not being active has brought back the muscle spasms in my left limbs — a result of my 2008 stroke. 

At my late March oncology appointment my doctor diagnosed my problem: adrenal insufficiency. Basically my kidney cancer was screwing up my adrenal glands. The prescription quickly changed my energy levels & appetite — I feel like 30 again! I’m easing off the drug now, will meet with a endocrinologist next month to look into my adrenal glad issue.

In April I had outpatient surgery. Though not elective, it was welcomed. I inherited my mom’s tricky veins so I had a “port” implanted in my chest to make blood draws and infusion treatments easier.

A sign on the Washington University Medical/BJC campus

So while I’m feeling well again I’ve enjoyed not having to stick to a rigid self-imposed 4 day per week schedule. As I’ve been doing the past few weeks new blog posts will come as I have time and a subject that interests me. I’ll have at least one blog post per week.

In a future post I’ll share what it was like to have surgery and get cancer treatments during this epidemic. Stay safe everyone.

— Steve Patterson

Poll: Feelings on voting by mail?

May 3, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Poll: Feelings on voting by mail?
 
Please vote below

As a person with disabilities I vote by mail, via absentee ballot. For most voters in Missouri & Illinois, you must go to your assigned polling place on Election Day. Coronavirus has some wanting to vote by mail in future elections.

Currently, state laws on the use of mail voting are a patchwork quilt. Only five states regularly conduct mail elections by default: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Three more, though, do allow counties to opt into mail voting, and nine more allow certain elections to be conducted by mail — although these are typically low-turnout, local elections, a far cry from the 2020 presidential race.

Another 29 states (plus Washington, D.C.) give voters the option to vote by mail — also known as no-excuse absentee voting — in federal elections, but the burden is on the voter to request her ballot. The remaining 16 states still require voters to provide a valid excuse if they want to vote by mail, although this year, some states may accept concerns around the coronavirus as an excuse. (New Hampshire has already moved to do that for the general election.) (fivethirtyeight.com)

Voting by mail isn’t universally accepted as secure.

This poll isn’t just about having mail as an option — but to hold elections entirely by mail. No polling place on Election Day.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight. Illinois voters will soon be able to apply for a vote by mail ballot — click here for more information.

— Steve Patterson

Urban Design After COVID-19: Restaurants & Carryout Windows

May 1, 2020 Featured, Planning & Design, Retail Comments Off on Urban Design After COVID-19: Restaurants & Carryout Windows
 

The current Coronavirus pandemic will change many things about our lives going forward, others not so much. Restaurants will likely see some of the biggest changes — both inside and out.

Restaurant owners/managers will have a standard table layout (packed) and a reduced capacity layout. Dividers, fake plants, etc might be pulled out of storage to use to keep the dining room from looking to sparse. Extra tables & chairs will go into the storage room, stacking/folding chairs saves space.

Hand washing at the entrance would be nice.

The biggest change may be placing a small kitchen up front, so a carryout window can be easily managed. For a few years now some restaurants have already operated with two kitchens: one for the dining room and another for carryout & delivery orders. This was a response to more and more customers taking food home to binge watch shows.

Placing the carry out/delivery kitchen in the right place would eliminate the need for customers to come inside. There could be a separate order window. Think if it like a brick & mortar food truck.

Ted Drewes has been serving frozen custard through a walk-up window for decades. Grand location in May 2013.

The walk-up window restaurant would have online ordering to reduce lines. Those located in walkable neighborhoods will need larger public sidewalks to allow for adequate space for customers and passing pedestrians. I love the idea of going from window to window getting different street foods. Pizza by-the-slice is a favorite.

None of this will happen quickly, but expect newly built/renovated restaurants to be physically different in response.

— Steve Patterson

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