St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 20 of 2018-2019 Session

 

 The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their 20th meeting of the 2018-2019 session. Today’s agenda includes ten (10) new bills, including a few on candidates & elections: B.B.#138 – Roddy – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for 4328 Swan B.B.#139 – Arnowitz – An ordinance relating …

Opinion: Larry Rice Should Not Reopen Homeless Shelter

 

 As a resident of the City of St. Louis for 28+ years I’ve interacted with homeless persons on many occasions, mostly in the last 11 years (as of next month) I’ve lived downtown. I’ve talked to many, bought beverages/food for some, and two have been to my loft for a …

Sidewalk Cleaning Is Important, Yet Not All Do It

 

 For nearly fourteen years now I’ve posted about many topics, often minor & obscure in nature. The little things, however, can also be important. First impressions can be lasting. Often conventioneers stay across the street in the Marriott St. Louis Grand hotel. They power wash their sidewalk along Washington Ave …

Sunday Poll: Should Larry Rice Be Allowed To Reopen His Homeless Shelter?

 

 Last month a 2nd court ruled against Larry Rice and his downtown homeless shelter: The Missouri Court of Appeals upholds a lower court ruling that found the city of St. Louis acted properly when it shut down the New Life Evangelistic Center homeless mission in April of 2017. The center’s director, …

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New CBS Sitcom To Address Race, Gentrification

October 1, 2018 Featured, Popular Culture Comments Off on New CBS Sitcom To Address Race, Gentrification
 

The now-classic CBS sitcom ‘All in the Family’ premiered on January 12, 1971. In Meet the Bunkers the family already knows young Lionel Jefferson, he’s friends with Archie’s daughter Gloria and son-in-law Mike.

On the 8th episode, first aired on March 2 1971, Archie Bunker learns his neighbor, Mr. Bowman, sold his house.  Archie, worried Bowman might have sold to a Jewish family goes over to talk to him. We learn Bowman had previously passed around a petition to pressure another neighbor into not selling their house to a Jewish family. Soon Archie learns a black family bought the house, later learning the buyers are Lionel Jefferson’s parents. Watch Lionel Moves Into the NeighborhoodMany future episodes dealt with racial tension. The final episode of Season 1 dealt with the issues surrounding Louise Jefferson inviting Edith & Archie Bunker over to dinner.

The last two seasons CBS also had Superior Donuts, often touching on gentrification of Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Unfortunately, due to low ratings, it was cancelled.

Photo: Bill Inoshita/CBS 2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Tonight CBS has another sitcom where race plays a central role. It stars St. Louis native Cedric the Entertainer:

Cedric the Entertainer has been making audiences laugh for more than 30 years. Now he’s starring in the new CBS show, “The Neighborhood,” a comedy that focuses on what happens when a white family moves into a predominantly black neighborhood.

“Like when you get the white neighbors in, this is the thing we know. Like, we know that your streets – the potholes are going to get fixed. White people will call the city on you. Like black people just tell you, ‘There’s a pothole down there. Don’t turn on that street,'” Cedric the Entertainer said to laughter Friday on “CBS This Morning.” (CBS News)

Cedric is not only a star, he’s also an executive producer.

The living room set of CBS’ “The Neighborhood” has a distinctly African American vibe — there’s an Obama commemorative plate and black art on the wall.
The show’s star, Cedric the Entertainer, marches over to his chair, sinking down into a dark brown leather recliner, the same one his proud and opinionated character, Calvin Butler, uses in the sitcom, to talk about his latest comedic project.

Premiering Oct. 1, “The Neighborhood” humorously explores the fallout after a white family moves into a historically and predominantly black working class neighborhood. “I’m the guy that feels like we’ve built the neighborhood up and now I can see gentrification coming this way,” says Cedric. (LA Times)

Here’s one of the trailers:

It’s too early to know if the show will do well, but I’m glad to see this subject matter getting screen time. The first episode premiers tonight on KMOV (4.1) at 7pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: How Will You Vote On Missouri’s 3 Medical Marijuana Measures?

September 30, 2018 Drug Policy, Featured, Missouri, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Sunday Poll: How Will You Vote On Missouri’s 3 Medical Marijuana Measures?
 
Please vote below

In just over five weeks Missouri voters will decide if the state joins the majority of states that have already legalized marijuana for medical use.

Thirty states and the District of Columbia currently have laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form.

Eight states and the District of Columbia have adopted the most expansive laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Most recently, sales of recreational-use marijuana in California kicked off on Jan. 1. In Massachusetts, retail sales of cannabis are expected to start later this year in July. Voters in Maine similarly approved a ballot measure legalizing marijuana in 2016. The state, however, has not yet adopted rules for licensed marijuana growers or retailers, nor has it begun accepting licenses. Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a bill that would have established a legal framework for sales of the drug.

The vast majority of states allow for limited use of medical marijuana under certain circumstances. Some medical marijuana laws are broader than others, with types of medical conditions that allow for treatment varying from state to state. Louisiana, West Virginia and a few other states allow only for cannabis-infused products, such as oils or pills. Other states have passed narrow laws allowing residents to possess cannabis only if they suffer from select rare medical illnesses. (Governing)

Our neighbor to the East, Illinois, has had a test medical marijuana program for a couple of years. Arkansas, to the South, approved it in 2016 and the program should begin in 2019. For Missouri voters it isn’t a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ vote:

Missouri voters will find not one but three different proposals aiming to legalize marijuana for medical purposes when they pick up ballots Nov. 6. 

Some language is similar across all three proposals, but they are not identical. Here are some common questions and answers that explain how each would function.

What’s on the ballot?

Two constitutional amendments and one change to state law regarding medical marijuana have been proposed:

  • Amendment 2, supported by a group called New Approach Missouri
  • Amendment 3, supported by Springfield physician-attorney Brad Bradshaw
  • Proposition C, supported by a group called Missourians for Patient Care

All three would legalize growing, manufacturing, selling and consuming marijuana and marijuana products for medicinal use at the state level. (Proposition C touts an additional requirement that local community support would be required before and after its local licensing authority approves medical marijuana use.)

Proposition C would tax marijuana sales at 2 percent; proceeds would be split four ways to fund veterans health care, public safety, drug treatment programs and early childhood development initiatives.

Amendment 2 would tax marijuana sales at 4 percent, with the resulting proceeds going to fund veterans health care programs. This is the only proposition that would allow for home-growing of marijuana.

Amendment 3 would tax sales by growers to dispensaries at $9.25 per ounce for marijuana flowers and $2.75 per ounce for leaves and would tax sales by dispensaries to patients at 15 percent. The proceeds — projected to be by far the most of the three measures — would go toward setting up a research institute and efforts to cure currently incurable diseases, with money set aside to acquire land for the institute’s campus and to fund transportation infrastructure, medical care, public pensions and income tax refunds.

Under all three proposals, prospective patients and primary caregivers would apply to the state for identification signifying their ability to receive and prescribe medical marijuana, respectively. Those hoping to cultivate, manufacture or sell marijuana products would apply for separate licenses. (Springfield News-Leader)

Today’s poll seeks to find out how you plan to vote on the three medical marijuana measures on the ballot.

This poll will automatically close at 8pm tonight. On Wednesday I’ll discuss my thoughts on each of the three, what happens if all three are approved, etc.

— Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: Week 17 of 2018-2019 Session

September 28, 2018 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: Week 17 of 2018-2019 Session
 
St. Louis City Hall

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their 17th meeting of the 2018-2019 session.

Today’s agenda includes zero new bills, however, there are two bills on the ‘Perfection Consent Calendar’:

  • B.B.#105 – Kennedy/Pres. Reed – An ordinance authorizing and directing the Mayor, to submit all necessary applications to enter into agreements with the Missouri Foundation for Health for participation in a project to develop a criminal justice coordinating council to advance social justice and reforming pre-trial bail to reduce the jail population, and authorizing the Mayor, upon approval of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, to expend any funds received by said grant to fulfill the obligations of the grant, and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B#110 – Williamson/Oldenburg – An Ordinance recommended by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment authorizing the issuance and delivery of not to exceed Fifty Million Dollars ($50,000,000) Principal amount of General Obligation Bonds, series 2018, for the purposes of paying the costs of the project and the costs of issuance of such bonds, all for the general welfare, safety, and benefit of the citizens; containing a severability clause; and containing an emergency clause.

And three bills on the ‘Third Reading Consent Calendar’:

  • B.B.#73AA – Howard/Murphy/Ingrassia – An ordinance pertaining to conveyances of title and the recording of such transfer with the Recorder of Deeds; amending Section Three of Ordinance 56141, approved on March 23, 1972, and Ordinance 65038, approved on August 9, 2000, by removing the requirement of the signature of the grantee on deeds issued by the Sheriff of the City pursuant to court order.
  • B.B.#100 – Arnowitz/Ingrassia/Green/Guenther/Navarro/ Middlebrook/Rice – An Ordinance authorizing and directing the Director of the Department of Human Services, by and through the St. Louis Area Agency on Aging, to accept a
    Grant Award from City Senior Services Fund in the amount
    of $50,000 over the next fiscal year and to expend those funds for the City Benefits Plus program as set forth in the Grant Award Agreement, attached hereto as Exhibit A; and containing an Emergency Clause.
  • B.B.#91FS – Navarro/Williamson – An ordinance approved and recommended by the Preservation Board and Planning Commission pertaining to the Skinker–DeBaliviere-Catlin Tract- Parkview Historic District; amending Ordinance #57688, repealing and replacing certain standards for the Skinker–DeBaliviere-Catlin Tract-Parkview Historic District.

The meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2017-2018 session — the new bills listed above may not be online right away. You can learn more about how a bill becomes law here (boring text, no cartoon)

— Steve Patterson

Readers Split On Schnucks’ Purchase Of 19 Shop ‘n Save Locations

September 26, 2018 Big Box, Featured, Retail, STL Region Comments Off on Readers Split On Schnucks’ Purchase Of 19 Shop ‘n Save Locations
 

Shop ‘n Save’s parent company, Minneapolis-based SuperValu, is selling/closing all locations — St. Louis & Springfield IL. This has been known for months, from July:

Supervalu is exiting the food retail business via a deal to sell itself to United Natural Foods Inc. for $2.9 billion.

The news comes on the same day that Supervalu announced its Q1 2019 earnings.

UNFI said it will sell off Supervalu’s retail business, which comprises 3,000 stores. The company has spent more than two years executing a transformation plan aimed at returning to its wholesale roots. (Retail Leader)

From February 2016:

United Natural Foods, a primary distributor for Whole Foods, distributes natural, organic and specialty food to a variety of grocery and natural product stores. It works with brands including Clif Bar, Annie’s, Bob’s Red Mill and Horizon Organic. The Providence, R.I. -based company also reported preliminary second quarter results Monday that fell below analyst expectations, as competition in the organic and natural food space continues to grow. (USA Today)

Shop ‘n Save has been headquartered in Kirkwood for years, but has been owned by out of state interests for more than a quarter century:

Shop ’n Save was founded in 1979 as a grocery store in Belleville, Illinois, near St. Louis, Missouri. The chain now includes 33 stores in the St. Louis metropolitan area, and 3 additional stores in Springfield, Illinois.

In 1983, the retail chain was acquired by Wetterau, Inc. Nine years later, in 1992, Wetterau was acquired by SuperValu, and Shop ’n Save has been a subsidiary of SuperValu since. (Wikipedia)

Wetterau was based in the St. Louis suburb of Hazelwood. The Wetterau family has a long history in St. Louis:

George Wetterau moved to St. Louis in 1867 at the age of 17 to join his brother in a small retail grocery business. In 1868, he began working for J. F. Lauman & company, a local wholesale grocery company and he bought the company a year later, with a partner, Frank Goebel. They formed Goebel and Wetterau Grocery Company with their wholesale office located at 712 South Second Street. In 1899, the two dissolved their partnership and George formed G. H. Wetterau & Sons Grocer Company. In 1923, Otto Wetterau, one of his sons, took over the company. He changed the name to Wetterau Grocer Company and took advantage of new forms of transportation and warehouse equipment to expand rapidly. He was one of the first to provide wholesale warehousing of produce. During the Depression, when many grocery stores went out of business, Wetterau became affiliated with the Independent Grocer’s Alliance (IGA). In 1953, Theodore C. Wetterau succeeded his brother Otto as president and added other independent supermarket chains to the organization. The company then became involved in non-food items, added a bakery division, printing division, trucking division and developed its own finance, insurance and construction companies. Wetterau was supplying food to stores in 29 states, when in 1993, Minneapolis, Minnesota-based SUPERVALU, Inc. acquired it to become the nation´s largest food wholesaler. At this time Ted Wetterau, Theodore’s son was president. Before the deal, Supervalu was the second-largest distributor and Wetterau ranked third. Ted Wetterau and his sons, Mark and Conrad then started Wetterau Associates, a holding company in Brentwood to buy and manage food-related companies. (St. Louis)

As a result of the consolidation in both the wholesale & retail grocery markets, Shop ‘n Save locations here and elsewhere will be sold or closed. Unless some other grocery chain enters the St. Louis market, others will pick up market share lost when Shop ‘n Save closes. The biggest gain will be St. Louis-based Schnucks Markets — they’re buying 19 suburban Shop ‘n Save locations. This Summer Schnucks bought the Maplewood Shop ‘n Save on Manchester, quickly reopening it as a Schnucks.

This Sho ‘n Save at 4660 Chippewa is not among the locations bought by Schnucks, it’ll close by the end of 2018 if a buyer doesn’t come forward soon.

Here are other grocery stores with at least a few locations:

  • Save-A-Lot, once also owned by Wetterau/Supervalu is now owned by Toronto-based Onex Corporation — a private equity firm.
  • Lucky’s Markets, still pretty new to the St. Louis market, is based in Boulder Colorado. A large investor is Cincinnati-based Kroeger.
  • Whole Foods is owned by Amazon.
  • Our old Food 4 Less locations became Ruler Foods locations a few years ago, Ruler is owned by Kroeger.
  • ALDI is a German company. The business was split into two separate groups in 1960, that later became Aldi Nord, headquartered in Essen, and Aldi Süd, headquartered in Mülheim. The latter is the group that operates ALDI stores in the U.S.
  • Trader Joe’s is owned by a private family trust associated with Aldi Nord (not the Aldi that operates ALDI in the U.S.).
  • Fields Foods has one location right now, but will soon open others in Dogtown and Downtown West.
  • Privately-owned local grocer Straub’s Markets has 4 locations.  Straub’s had a short-lived 5th location in suburban Ellisville, but in closed in October 2009.
  • Dierbergs Markets, also locally/privately owned, has 25 stores in Missouri & Illinois.

Readers were split on the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: Adding 19 Shop ‘n Save locations will make Schnucks too dominant in the St. Louis regional grocery market.

  • Strongly agree 4 [11.76%]
  • Agree 5 [14.71%]
  • Somewhat agree 5 [14.71%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 4 [11.76%]
  • Somewhat disagree 3 [8.82%]
  • Disagree 8 [23.53%]
  • Strongly disagree 5 [14.71%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 0 [0%]

The agree votes total 41.18% with the disagree side totaling 47.06%.  I voted for “slightly disagree” because while I’m not big fan of Schnucks (their development arm, DESCO, is awful about ADA accessibility) but I know that being the biggest grocery store in the region will keep outside chains in a subordinate role. My hometown of Oklahoma City is now dominated by Walmart’s Neighborhood Market chain of stand-alone grocery stores. Local chains have been reduced to rubble.

Having strong locally-owned grocery store chains, even flawed ones, is better than being at the mercy of non-local corporate interests. Just hoping the Schnucks family doesn’t decide to cash out at some point.

— Steve Patterson

Alley Retail Can Work…In The Right Conditions

September 24, 2018 Downtown, Featured, Planning & Design, Retail Comments Off on Alley Retail Can Work…In The Right Conditions
 

Alleys are one thing that attracted me to St. Louis in 1990, we didn’t have them in the 1960s suburban subdivision where I grew up in Oklahoma City. Interestingly, my grandparents each had alleys behind their homes in the small Western Oklahoma towns of Weatherford & Clinton. I spent a lot of time in the alleys behind their houses. Everywhere I’ve lived in St. Louis has had an alley, though for the last decade the alley has technically been St. Charles Street.

In April 2012 I posted about the streets that are really alleys parallel to Washington Ave.; St. Charles Street to the South & Lucas Ave to the North.  A year later New Brewery Improves Alley-Like Lucas Ave.

A recent “Where am I?” photo on Facebook raised interesting issues about alleys, and led me to ban someone from commenting on the page. Let me explain.

I posted the photo to the right on Facebook (blog’s cover image) with the caption “Where am I?” There were right & wrong guesses as to the location — it’s off of Locust St. between 10th-11th. One of the comments was “A sketchy alley about to get mugged by a homeless guy with a shank.  Also next to the Urban Shark.” Yes, Urban Shark is attached to the Bike Station on the left. No, not at any risk of getting mugged, but many think that way about alleys.

One person commented we need to turn alleys into pedestrian-focused retail like other cities have done, citing San Francisco & New Orleans. I recall experiencing one in Vancouver years ago — great space. However, I replied that retailing has struggled downtown even on well-populated streets like Washington Ave. Later I asked him to name just one alley downtown that would make a good candidate for retail. He, we’ll call him GB, said I was bashing St. Louis and he’s seen it work well in other cities. I’ll post more on our interaction in the future, right now I want to stick to GB’s assertion we should enliven our alleys.

Our alleys, like in many cities, were planned as ways to keep unsightly business like trash disposal out of view from primary streets. Also, most of downtown’s alleys have been privatized. Certainly those who own to the rights to formerly public alleys could try to market an alley as a pedestrian-friendly retail & restaurant hub, though ownership is often split down the middle between property owners on each side.

Yes, this has worked well in other cities. So why not downtown St. Louis? First, this has been used in areas lacking vacant street-facing retail spaces.  When retail vacancy is near zero rents go up. By expanding into alleys building owners can make retail spaces in unused/unleased portions of buildings. The rents received isn’t what they get out front but it helps the bottom line. Retailers get spaces that are more affordable in their business model.

If we look at the immediate area around the alley I posted we can see lots of available storefront space. Lots.

The corner space on the building to the East is vacant. Same for the corner space on the building to the West.
Diagonally across 10th & Locust from the above, the corner of The Syndicate remains vacant.
Stefano’s former space at 504 N 10th has been vacant for 3+ years.

The South side of Washington Ave between 10th & 11th recent became fully occupied, but the North side has lots of vacancies.

The Dorsa building was renovated more than a decade ago but ground floor retail remains vacant.
The other storefront in the Dorsa is also vacant. Years ago the St. Louis convention people made the windows look nice at least.
Two months from now will mark 3 years since The Dubliner closed, the space remains vacant.
One bright spot is someone will soon be reopening Bella’s Frozen Yogurt at 1021 Washington Ave. Yay! Click the image to open their Facebook page in a new tab.

I’ve tried to think of an alley in Downtown or Downtown West that might be a good candidate. Laclede’s Landing — can’t think of one, North of the Arch/Ead’s Bridge, has done ok with an alley or two to gain access to buildings. The best local example I can think of is the Maryland Plaza alley in the Central West End.

The property owner(s) did a great job welcoming you to the back of the buildings.
A restaurant patio occupies the West end of the “alley” behind the buildings. This photo was taken on a hot Thursday afternoon, I’d imagine it’s hard to get a table here at certain times.
Looking East toward York Ave., we see a living wall to disguise the parking garage on the right.
Approaching York Ave.

This example was never a public service alley, but it does show how a small sliver of property behind a building can become an asset rather than a liability. Former service alleys can be given this same treatment, the results are often amazing.

Still doesn’t make it a good idea for downtown St. Louis. It might, if you can think of the right location.

— Steve Patterson

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