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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Eleven New Trees Replaced Along Broadway at Baer Plaza

June 7, 2021 Downtown, Environment, Featured, Walkability Comments Off on Eleven New Trees Replaced Along Broadway at Baer Plaza
 

Early last month I saw landscapers planting new trees along Broadway next to Baer Plaza, across from the dome.

On May 3. 2021 I saw workers busy planting new trees on the east side of Broadway.

I frequently take Broadway to/from the central business district. Living north of the convention center & dome, Broadway (5th)& 9th are the only options to get around the massive facility that closed 8th, 7th, and 6th streets. Sometimes to make things interesting I roll on the east side of Broadway, so I knew exactly where they were planting.

On October 1, 2020 I snapped a few pics of the empty spots where trees had once been:

Looking north you could see the numerous empty squares where the allee vanished.
Some were just bare dirt.
Others still had some liriope (aka monkey grass)

There were 11 trees missing, very obvious sign of neglect. Not sure why, but I didn’t post the pictures to social media. So last month I was very happy to see workers busy planting eleven new trees. I retuned on May 7th to get these pics.

The new trees are small compared to the more mature trees further north, but they’re quite big for new trees.
Another view.

I don’t know trees to tell you the variety or how fast they’ll grow. Hopefully within a few years they’ll fill out nicely.  I’m going to take the east side of Broadway more often, especially when going to Laclede’s Landing, Eads Bridge, Arch grounds, etc.

— Steve Patterson

Lenore K. Sullivan Boulevard Reopened Five Years Ago Today

June 2, 2021 Downtown, Featured, History/Preservation Comments Off on Lenore K. Sullivan Boulevard Reopened Five Years Ago Today
 

Remember when Lenore K. Sullivan Blvd used to flood nearly every year? How it was a costly mess because street light wiring, guard rails. and such were all damaged? The street between the Arch and the Mississippi River underwent a major makeover, including increasing the elevation roughly four feet.

Re-opening day June 2, 2016. Lights were mounted on top of angled concrete piers to keep the wiring dry.

The work to elevate the road reduces odds of flooding, but it can and does happen.

Major flooding on the St. Louis riverfront, May 5, 2019

In the above example you can see the tops of the concrete piers sticking out of the water. Keeping the electrical connections dry significantly reduced the time & expense to reopen the street once flood waters recede.  Hopefully we won’t see future flooding so extreme the connections are under water.

— Steve Patterson

The 9th/10th One-Way Couplet Needs To Return To Two-Way ASAP

May 25, 2021 Downtown, Featured, Planning & Design, Transportation Comments Off on The 9th/10th One-Way Couplet Needs To Return To Two-Way ASAP
 

More than six decades ago 9th & 10th streets were changed from two-way to one-way in the opposite directions — a one-way couplet. This still exists from Clark Ave on the south to Cass Ave on the north — a distance of 1.2 miles. The north end used to continue past Cass to connect to I-70, but it was shortened when construction on the newest bridge over the Mississippi River began approximately 15 years ago. The south end still connects to I-64 ramps.

The purpose of one-way streets decades ago was to quickly get cars into downtown in the morning, then back out after work. They did their job…a little too well. Downtown was so quick to empty out nobody stuck around for shopping, dinner, or a show. There many reasons why downtowns emptied out, but one-way streets were a major contributor. To make downtown St. Louis enjoyable as a place to live, work, and visit all the one-way streets need to return to two-way traffic eventually. When Locust Street west of 14th switched back to two-way a dozen years ago it made a huge difference.

For nearly 50 years  9th & 10th extended north of Cass Ave to connect to I-70, but that ended with the 2010 start of a new bridge over the Mississippi River, later named the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge. But downtown 9th & 10th weren’t the original couplet of paired opposite direction one-way streets.

Let’s look at the original one-way couplets in the downtown central business district (Arch to 12th/Tucker):

  1. Northbound 4th & southbound Broadway (aka 5th)
  2. Southbound 6th & northbound 7th
  3. Southbound 8th & northbound 9th
  4. Southbound 10th & northbound 11th

The first still exists today, the rest have all been changed to the point they no longer function as original intended. Three streets lots blocks to the convention center & dome: 6th, 7th, 8th. Ninth will soon be added to that list.  Sixth street lost blocks to Kiener Plaza & the hotel south of Market. Both sixth & seventh streets lost blocks to the original downtown Busch Stadium (now Ballpark Village), and the current Busch Stadium. And finally northbound 9th Street is closed for one block between Market & Chestnut because the designers of Citygarden didn’t think about a pedestrian signal at 9th & Market. D’oh!

I’ve posted about changing these opposite one-way streets back to two-way traffic numerous times, but now it’s urgent. When the convention center expansion begins a couple of blocks of 9th will be closed, but that’s not the urgent reason for restoring two-way traffic. The vacant AT&T Tower downtown at 909 Chestnut (bordered by 9th, Chestnut, 10th, and Pine) is why these streets need to revert to two-way traffic. Why?

909 Chestnut was built at the headquarters for Southwestern Bell Telephone, later purchased by AT&T

The entrance and exit to the small underground garage was designed with the one-way streets in mind, the entrance was off northbound 9th and the exit was onto southbound 10th. The 44-story building has been vacant since 2017, but eventually someone will renovate it. When they do it would be easy to switch the entrance and exit. If the building is renovated while 9th & 10th are still one-way it’ll be impossible to make them two-way in the future.

The original entrance off nb 9th could be an exit after future renovations.
The original basement entrance could just as easily be the exit.
On the opposite side of the building we have the original exit onto sb 10th. Again, this could easily be the entrance if 10th was two-way.

Since built, exiting traffic has come out southbound just before Chestnut. Switching the exit from 10th to 9th wouldn’t change this potential conflict point.

The building has lost value and changed hands numerous times, eventually someone is going to renovate it. 

The 1.4 million-square-foot, 44-story office building on Chestnut Street is the largest office building by square-footage in the region, and the 1986 structure built for a single tenant has posed a vexing challenge amid a downtown market already struggling with the highest office vacancy rate in the metro area. 

AT&T vacated its lease in September 2017 and about 2,000 of the company’s employees relocated nearby in buildings at 801 Chestnut and 1010 Pine streets. (Post-Dispatch, May 2019)

For comparison here are some other large vacant buildings downtown

Since 909 Chestnut was built as a headquarters it was connected to buildings to the east & west. Another block west was a large company parking garage. The garage under 909 Chestnut is small, was built for service vehicles and company executives. A MetroLink light rail station is only a block away, but parking obsessed assumes everyone has a car.

The building footprint is too small to ramp up to use some upper floors for parking. A car elevator or automated system are the only options to get cars up higher, but they’re very costly.

Eventually someone will figure it out. When they do 9th & 10th should be two-way traffic.

— Steve Patterson

Hodiamont Streetcar Ended Service 55 Years Ago, Right-of-Way To Become Trail

May 21, 2021 Featured, Public Transit Comments Off on Hodiamont Streetcar Ended Service 55 Years Ago, Right-of-Way To Become Trail
 

Fifty-five years ago today the last streetcar ended service. That line was the Hodiamont. West of Vandeventer Ave. it ran on a private right-of-way, not mixed with vehicles on the street.

Looking East on the last eastern section of the Hodiamont Right-of-Way, 2012

For a time after the last streetcar Metro (then known as Bi-State Development Agency) ran a bus down the private strip.  The bus was a huge improvement over old fashioned streetcars — faster, quieter, flexible, etc.

Not sure when buses stopped using the Hodiamont right-of-way. Currently Great Rivers Greenway is working on making it a trail.

The Hodiamont Tracks were once the route of a streetcar line and in later years a bus route.  While the bus route is no longer active, the 3.5 mile corridor has the potential to become a greenway that would link the St. Vincent and the future Brickline Greenways. (GRG)

In the ideal world a new streetcar/light rail line would occupy this corridor as it snakes through neighborhoods.

I’d love to go back in time to ride the streetcars and see the neighborhoods at their peak. Of course, I’d also have to see the segregation of housing and transportation.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

I’m Fully Vaccinated, Will Continue Wearing A Mask In Public

May 20, 2021 Featured, Steve Patterson Comments Off on I’m Fully Vaccinated, Will Continue Wearing A Mask In Public
 
Federal rules still require masks on buses, trains, boats and planes

The CDC says since I’m fully vaccinated I can go into public buildings without needing to wear a mask. Well, that’s the big overview leaving out important details. I’ll get to those but first a quick review of how we got to this point.

On Friday March 21, 2020 St. Louis Health Commissioner Dr. Frederick Echols  issued a stay at home order for the City of St. Louis, effective Monday March 23, 2020. A similar order was issued in St. Louis County. At this point masks weren’t required, but in hindsight they should’ve been.

On the day the stay at home order began St. Louis announced the first Covid-related death. On Friday the 27th and Monday 30th I had CT/Bone scans & cancer treatment at the Center for Advanced Medicine, respectively. Masks still weren’t required by Metro, BJC/Wash U, or the city.

On Friday April 3, 2020 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended the voluntary use of masks in public. The following Monday we received some homemade masks from my sister-in-law in California.  The next day, Tuesday April 7, 2020, I had minor outpatient surgery at the new Park Tower to install a power port in my chest to make my intravenous cancer treatments easier, masks were required. My husband wasn’t allowed to come back before and after the surgery even with a mask.

The following Saturday (4/11/2020) St. Louis first recommended the use of masks in public.  On July 1, 2020 St. Louis city & county issued a mask mandate.

I still don’t like masks, they pull on my ears and I have to remove my glasses as they fog over. However, I’m used to it now. We’ve eaten out numerous times during the pandemic, which we’ve enjoyed.

Last month the CDC said small groups of vaccinated people could gather, maskless. We got to visit and hug a friend on April 25, 2021, we hadn’t seen her in a over a year. A week ago today the CDC made a big announcement on masks.

People fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.  (CNN)

States, cities, and businesses began dropping their mask requirements — for fully vaccinated people. Masks are still required for public transportation (planes, trains, buses, etc), healthcare facilities, and such.

On Saturday we went to Costco in south county, some customers weren’t wearing masks. We were. Yesterday I went to Schnucks downtown, same thing. It feels weird being indoors with my unmasked strangers.

Just over 34 percent of St. Louis County residents are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That’s an increase of 2.5 percent in the past week.

In St. Louis City, more than 26.5 percent of people have finished their vaccinations. This is a jump of over 2 percent. (Fox2)

With such a low percentage fully vaccinated I wonder if non-vaccinated are using this as a way to shop without wearing a mask. I know the science says I’m still highly protected, but it’s not 100% guaranteed. I’m not immune compromised, but my immune system needs to stay focused on keeping my tumors from growing. For me it’s just not worth the risk, putting on a mask for a quick trip into a store is no big deal to me at this point. Most of the time when I leave home I take MetroLink to Siteman Cancer Center, so masks are required anyway.

If you’re not vaccinated please get the vaccine, it’s easy. I felt bad the day after my 2nd Pfizer shot, but that’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. I get if you’re hesitant, a friend in her early 70s who’s fearful of the vaccine. My brother-in-law doesn’t want to be a government “lab rat.”

I look forward to the day I can ride the bus, or get treatment without needing a mask.

— Steve Patterson

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