Time To Rethink Aloe Plaza


  Eighty-three years ago today a new urban plaza was opened across Market Street from Union Station. The decennial census taken the previous month would later show the city’s population had declined slightly. Carl Milles’ ‘Meeting of the Waters’ is the focal point of Aloe Plaza. 2011 St. Louisans of …

Racially Restrictive Covenants Ruled Unenforceable 75 Years Ago Today


  At the beginning of the 20th century racism was thriving, though it took different forms in different places. The south had harsh ”Jim Crow” laws, lynchings, etc. Cities like St. Louis were less overt, but were still very racially segregated. In 1916, St. Louisans voted on a “reform” ordinance …

St. Louis Roots: Andy Cohen


  This Friday, May 5th 2023, St. Louis native Andy Cohen will get a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame: The late-night TV talk show host and executive producer will be inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame at 5 p.m. Friday, May 5. A live ragtime …

April 2023 Election Results Sets New 14-Member Board of Aldermen


  St. Louis voters have selected their candidates for our new 14 wards, cut in half from the 28 wards for more than a century. St. Louis City Hall Of the 28 the following aldermen didn’t run this year: Dwinderlin Evans (4th ward)Christine Ingrassia (6th ward)Jack Coatar (7th ward)Annie Rice …

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Examining the St. Louis MLS Stadium Site Plan, Part 3

December 9, 2019 Downtown, Featured, Planning & Design Comments Off on Examining the St. Louis MLS Stadium Site Plan, Part 3

Today I continue my detailed look at the proposed Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium site plan and surroundings. In part 1 I looked at the stadium and practice fields to the south of Market Street. In part 2 I looked at the need for a pedestrian crossing at 21st & Olive, plus the development potential north of Olive.

The planned MLS stadium (top) would be bounded by Olive (top), a new 22nd Street (top left), Market Street (center), and 20th Street (top right)

Today I’ll look at the area east of the stadium, including 20th Street itself. As you can see above, the stadium is set back from 20th Street to create an urban plaza for events. The problem is the other side of 20th isn’t urban at all. It’s either an open plaza (Aloe Plaza) or surface parking.

Aloe Plaza across from Union Station cleared away “undesirable” buildings, followed by decades more demolition creating the largely failed Gateway Mall. This 2013 view is looking west from 18th Street.

Meeting of the Waters by Carl Milles.

Parking lanes are fine if the corners are “bulbed” to reduce crossing distances, but unacceptable if they’re marked as “no parking.” If the outside parking lanes aren’t going to be used for parking then the space needs to be sifted from unused roadway to pedestrian space. The site plan looks like it is trying to reduce crossing distance, hopefully we’ll get some detail soon on their plan for 20th.

Looking West from 20th & Chestnut in this 2016 image shows how wide 20th is — 2 drive lanes plus 2 parking lanes.

A plaza across from a plaza. I’d like to see Aloe Plaza get completely redone — the 1939 Meeting of the Waters sculpture/fountain is the only thing significant about the two block space. At the 20th Street end I’d place a new park building with a restaurant and rooftop dining. This would help create a sense of urban feel at 20th & MarketChestnut.  Perhaps the space isn’t one restaurant, but several with shared dining space? A way to serve as restaurant incubator space for up & coming chefs?  A 2-story building is needed facing 20th between Market & Chestnut — food makes the most sense.

Back to 20th & Chestnut, specifically the block on the NE corner.

Looking north from 20th & Chestnut — fenced surface parking for tenants of apartments in an old historic building facing Pine.

The apartment building is the only structure left on the entire city block, 19th Street was even vacated for use by the newer building in the block to the east.

The only way to urbanize this is the same as the west end of Aloe Plaza — at least a 2-story building. This wouldn’t need to be deep, it could be a shallow liner building.

There’s nothing that jump-starts a place people will love to walk like liner buildings. It doesn’t matter whether you’re helping a place recover from sprawl or building a new neighborhood center; liner buildings get far more bang for the buck and make things possible today that would be completely impossible until years in the future using conventional mixed-use building types.

Liner buildings are very thin buildings that line the edge of a street, plaza, square, or other public space. They can be as little as 8-10 feet deep for retail uses and 12-14 feet deep if they include residential uses. They may be a single story high, or they may be several stories tall.

Liner buildings are a great way to build affordable housing, especially for those who don’t have a car.

Ideally the apartment owner would build underground or above grade structured parking for their tenants to make much better use of the large site. That said, no open parking garage should face Aloe Plaza — it should be closed with mechanical ventilation if across from the park. My guess is they won’t want to block views from the apartment’s windows. It could be great from an urban perspective, but would be challenging for a private for-profit owner.

The block to the north (bounded by Pine, 20th, Olive, and 19th) will likely see the most change in the next 10-20 years.

Looking north from 20th & Pine. Police headquarters is in the background, across Olive.

The banner marks the fact the lot is now owned by the St. Louis Language Immersion charter school. The school recently moved into a building in the next block east.

The rest of the block is a few smaller buildings on the east end.

Looking north at 19th, from Pine

This former office building turned charter school was built in 1987. Another entrance on Olive doesn’t have steps

Like the other directions, there will be some who wish to raze & pave, others who want to go up. These are mutually exclusive as surface parking devalues land to the point it doesn’t pay to build up nearby.

The area to the east includes areas that need development, but current ownership means that might not occur for many years, if ever.  The next part will look at building back 22nd Street and the blocks to the west of the proposed soccer stadium.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Will Missouri Go Red or Blue In The 2020 General Election?

December 8, 2019 Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Will Missouri Go Red or Blue In The 2020 General Election?

Please vote below

Missouri’s Presidential Preference Primary is less than 100 days away, on Tuesday March 10, 2020. We don’t yet know who the Democrats will nominate at the end of their convention in July 2020, in Milwaukee, WI.

A number of states aren’t even holding a GOP primary, but Missouri’s GOP primary ballot will have at least one other name besides Trump’s. Still, it’s safe to assume Donald J. Trump will get the GOP nomination at their late August 2020 convention in Charlotte, NC.

Today’s poll question isn’t about the primaries, but about the general election on November 3, 2020. In 2016 Missouri’s 10 Electoral College votes were Red (Trump).

This poll will close at 8pm tonight. My thoughts and results on Wednesday morning.

— Steve Patterson


St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 25 of 2019-2020 Session

December 6, 2019 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 25 of 2019-2020 Session

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen meet at 10am today, their 25th meeting of the 2019-2020 session. As previously noted, they have the first two meetings labeled as Week #1, so they list this as week/meeting 24.

Today’s agenda includes eight (8) new bills.

  • B.B.#174 – Muhammad – An ordinance establishing a Racial Equity Oversight Committee under the authority of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen to incorporate racial equity into all branches of government in the City of St. Louis.
  • B.B.#175 – Green/Vaccaro/Spencer/Ingrassia/Todd/Rice/
    Navarro/Narayan/Guenther – An ordinance submitting to the qualified voters of the City of St. Louis a proposal to amend the Charter of the City of St. Louis to require, that no public utility as herein may be sold, leased, conveyed, gifted, or otherwise disposed of either in whole or in part, or its management or business operations taken charge of or controlled either in whole or in part by another party pursuant to an agreement with the City unless such agreement has been approved by a majority of the Board of Aldermen by Resolution, and then by a majority of the qualified voters of the City of St. Louis voting thereon at a City-wide election; and containing a severability clause and emergency clause.
  • B.B.#176 – Davis – An Ordinance recommended by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment authorizing and directing the Director of Airports and the Comptroller of The City of St. Louis (the “City”) to enter into and execute on behalf of the City the Third Amendment to Fuel System Lease and Use Agreement AL- 442 to the St. Louis Lambert International Airport® Fuel System containing a severability clause and an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#177 – Clark-Hubbard – An ordinance approving a blighting study and Redevelopment Plan for the 5311-6123 and 5302- 6122 Dr. Martin Luther King Dr. Redevelopment Area.
  • B.B.#178 – Roddy – An ordinance determining that the Tax Increment Financing Plans listed in Exhibit “A” are making satisfactory progress under the proposed time schedule for completion of projects therein.
  • B.B.#179 – Davis – An Ordinance establishing a four-way stop site at the intersection of North Garrison Avenue and Locust Street regulating all traffic traveling northbound and southbound on North Garrison Avenue at Locust Street and regulating all traffic traveling eastbound and westbound on Locust Street at North Garrison Avenue, and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#180 – Davis – An ordinance prohibiting the issuance of any 3:00 a.m. closing permits for any non-3:00 a.m. licensed premises within the boundaries of the Nineteenth Ward Liquor Control District, as established herein, for a period of three years from the effective date hereof; containing exceptions and allowing, during the moratorium period, for the renewal of or transfer of existing licenses, under certain circumstances; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#181 – Davis – An ordinance repealing Ordinance 70445 and in lieu thereof enacting a new ordinance prohibiting the issuance of any package or drink liquor licenses for any currently non-licensed premises within the boundaries of the Nineteenth Ward Liquor Control District, as established herein, for a period of three years from the effective date hereof; containing exceptions and allowing, during the moratorium period, for the transfer of existing licenses, under certain circumstances, the issuance of a drink license to non-profit corporations at currently non-licensed premises, the issuance of a drink license to persons operating a restaurant at a previously non-licensed premises and the issuance of liquor licenses in a specifically defined area and containing an emergency clause.

The meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2019-2020 session — the new bills listed above may not be online right away.

— Steve Patterson

Readers Split on Banning vs. Allowing Outside Smoking

December 4, 2019 Featured, Smoke Free Comments Off on Readers Split on Banning vs. Allowing Outside Smoking

As a kid in the 70s smoking was everywhere. My parents smoked in our home (though not much) and in the car, patrons smoked in restaurants where we ate, and on television people smoked. It just was.

My wake up alarm each morning was my dad’s cough. Born in 1929 & 1931, my parents were part of the Silent Generation (births 1928-1945). This generation was big time smokers.

My mom’s older brother (Greatest Generation) died of lung cancer at age 62. A decade later one of my dad’s younger brothers also died of lung cancer, at 57.

Smoking was just ubiquitous, it was unescapable. Thankfully that has changed, and smoking rates have dropped accordingly.

From two weeks ago:

Cigarette smoking dropped to an all-time low among American adults in 2018, according to a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report released Thursday. According to the report, 13.7% of U.S. adults smoked a cigarette in 2018.

Since the first Surgeon General’s report warned of the health implications of smoking over 50 years ago, cigarette smoking has declined by approximately two-thirds. (CBS News)

My dad was able to quit about 25 years before he died, my mom tried and failed at quitting many times before she died. Neither knew the health risks when they started, but both learned how addictive nicotine is.

No smoking sign on the Washington University Medical School/BJC campus.

I’m sympathetic to smokers, but I can’t tolerate the smoke — especially now that I have kidney cancer. Just stay inside and avoid smokers, right?  Except that I have to take a bus & train to get to treatment.

Occasionally at my local bus stop someone will light up, but they’re usually considerate enough to step away from the rest of us — in a direction so their smoke won’t blow on us. At the Civic Center MetroBus Transit Center the walkways are narrow. Since reopening this location and all Metro properties have been designated smoke-free. People are still adjusting, but more often I see people walk over to 14th Street sidewalk to smoke. Again, this is courteous. As a wheelchair user I’ve got to be at a specific spot so the bus driver knows I want to get on that bus. I must be there — I have no choice.

No smoking sign at the Civic Center MetroBus Transit Center.

Too often groups of riders get off a bus and light up on their way to light rail, ignoring the signs indicating the entire facility is designated smoke-free. Again, the walkways are narrow and others of us are waiting for our bus to arrive. We’re assaulted by a parade of smokers.

The other day I was on the Central West End MetroLink (light rail) platform after visiting my Oncologist and noticed two people smoking as I got to my spot to board the train. A guard was nearby, she quickly talked to them — they left. Our light rail platforms have been smoke-free for decades — but people still think since it’s outside it’s ok.

Once on the train an older guy across the aisle had an unlit cigarette in his mouth. Every minute or two he raised his hands to his mouth like he was going to light it. Highly addicted!

I’m so glad entire campuses are smoke-free. It makes visiting them a joy — not having to push through a crowd of smokers at entrances. Smoking rates in Missouri are still slightly higher than the national average. Yes, tobacco is a legal product. So’s alcohol. Recreational weed will be legal in Illinois in less than a month — but not in public.  People have a right to smoke, but that right doesn’t permit them to force me to inhale their smoke.

For decades the tobacco industry targeted low-income, LGBT, and racial minorities.  These are the groups where smoking is still more common. Industries like construction and food service have higher rates than others. It’s harder for someone surrounded by smokers to quit.

Most parking garages are open to the outdoors, including the 9th Street Garage. Also posted as a no smoking area.

Outside isn’t always big open space, often you get lots of people in a confined space: bus shelter, train platform, building entrance, etc. Nonsmokers have a right to be in these places without having to endure the smoke of others.

It’s not 1960 anymore, smoking isn’t ubiquitous.

Still readers are split on the subject in the recent Sunday Poll — a slight majority favor outside bans:

Q: Agree or disagree: Smoking should be allowed anywhere outside.

  • Strongly agree: 7 [18.42%]
  • Agree: 6 [15.79%]
  • Somewhat agree: 4 [10.53%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 5 [13.16%]
  • Disagree: 5 [13.16%]
  • Strongly disagree: 10 [26.32%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [2.63%]

Local universities do a much better job enforcing smoke-free policies on large campuses than Metro does on relatively small properties. Metro announces their no eating/drinking policy on MetroLink platforms — I’ve yet to hear a similar announcement about not smoking on Metro’s property.

— Steve Patterson

Horrific Conditions At T. E. H. Realty Properties Show Need For Quality Affordable House In St. Louis Region

December 2, 2019 Featured, Real Estate, STL Region Comments Off on Horrific Conditions At T. E. H. Realty Properties Show Need For Quality Affordable House In St. Louis Region

Finding decent housing when you’re low income isn’t easy. Recent news reports on conditions at various apartment complexes, all owned by T.E. H. Realty, throughout the region is proof. If people could live elsewhere, they would.

Southwest Crossing on Saturday afternoon

One is called Southwest Crossing Apartments, located in the Carondelet neighborhood in South St. Louis City:

The 328-unit complex at 7851 Bandero Drive is one of about 10 large complexes owned by T.E.H. Realty in the St. Louis region.

Nearly all of the properties have generated numerous complaints from residents about poor living conditions, and, on the flip side, T.E.H. has filed numerous lawsuits for nonpayment of rent. (Post-Dispatch)

Like you, I’ve been seeing reports about horrible conditions at many apartment complexes. These include:

  • Lack of heat
  • Sewage backup
  • Trash piling up
  • Lack of water

Plus many other complaints that make the units uninhabitable. Tenants that have refused to pay rent in the hope of getting issues addressed have been sued.

Another view of Southwest Crossing

So I wanted to create a comprehensive list for future reference. Most are in North St. Louis County:

  1. Blue Fountain 819 Gustav Ave, St. Louis, MO 63147. Built in 1963.
  2. Bridgeport Crossing 4015 Brittany Cir, Bridgeton, MO 63044. Built in 1959.
  3. Northwinds 9556 Glen Owen Dr, Ferguson, MO 63136. Built in 1964.
  4. Park Ridge 1379 Sharondale Cir, Ferguson, MO 63135 — lost to foreclosure — hopefully the new owners will quickly remedy problems.  Built in 1965.
  5. Pinnacle Ridge 10613 Lookaway Drive Glasgow Village MO 63137. Numerous buildings built in 1964.
  6. Southwest Crossing 7851 Bandero Drive St  Louis, MO 63111. Fourteen buildings built in 1971.
  7. Springwood 9123 Torchlite Ln A, Bel-Ridge MO 63121 — receiver appointed. Seventeen buildings built in 1965.
  8. Windham Chase 12401 Horizon Village Dr, Spanish Lake MO 63138. Built in 1972.

As numerous articles have mentioned, the owners of T.E.H. Realty are in Israel, their U.S. headquarters are in Reading PA. There are likely more in the region that I need to add to the lady above. The Kansas City region is having similar issues with this owner.

An example of a free-market failure.

— Steve Patterson