Activity at the Bottle District Site

 

 The eastern edge of my new neighborhood, Columbus Square, has been known as “The Bottle District” since 2004. In 2004, longtime neighborhood business McGuire Moving and Storage Company, announced plans to redevelop the district as an entertainment destination. Noted architect Daniel Libeskind was hired to design the district. The Ghazi …

A St. Patrick’s Day Sunday Poll

 

 The downtown parade was yesterday, the Ancient Order of Hibernians parade is today in dogtown. St. Louis has a long history of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day: On March 17, 1820, a small band of Irish settlers gathered to praise St. Patrick. It was the first recorded observance of St. Patrick’s …

New Book — St. Louis Sound: An Illustrated Timeline by Steve Pick with Amanda E. Doyle

 

 I like music — I have a decent music collection (digital & vinyl), but I’ve never been to a concert. Well, I did see & hear Bonnie Raitt and many others at the New Orleans Jazz Fest in 2004. Though I’ve lived in St  Louis for 28+ years, I haven’t …

Opinion: St. Louis Region Needs To Seriously Look At Our Low Voter Turnout Problem

 

 The recent Sunday Poll was about voter turnout: Q: Agree or disagree: Nothing will increase voter turnout in St. Louis’ local elections, it just is what it is. Strongly agree: 2 [8.7%] Agree: 1 [4.35%] Somewhat agree: 2 [8.7%] Neither agree or disagree: 3 [13.04%] Somewhat disagree: 2 [8.7%] Disagree: 6 [26.09%] Strongly disagree: 6 [26.09%] Unsure/No Answer: 1 …

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Activity at the Bottle District Site

March 18, 2019 Featured, North City, Real Estate Comments Off on Activity at the Bottle District Site
 

The eastern edge of my new neighborhood, Columbus Square, has been known as “The Bottle District” since 2004.

In 2004, longtime neighborhood business McGuire Moving and Storage Company, announced plans to redevelop the district as an entertainment destination. Noted architect Daniel Libeskind was hired to design the district. The Ghazi Company of Charlotte, North Carolina is the co-developer.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on September 27, 2005, with plans for the first phase to open in 2007. The plans called for a Rawlings Sports museum, a Grand Prix Speedways kart-racing center, a boutique bowling alley, 250 residential units, and several restaurants. The first phase of the development was anticipated to cost $290 million, to be funded in part by $51.3 million in tax increment financing.

But that effort stalled. In late 2011, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved the transfer of the unused $51.3 million to a new developer, NorthSide Regeneration LLC. The deal would see the previous investment group, including developers Larry Chapman and Clayco, sell the site to NorthSide for an undisclosed amount that documents with the city suggest would be $3 million; all three were to work to find tenants and build on the site. Construction on a $190 million office and residential project was to begin in summer 2012. (Wikipedia)

This area is basically a wedge between I-44 (formerly I-70), Cole, 7th, Cass. The only thing that’s happened was the giant Vess soda bottle got a new paint job in 2016.

The Vess bottle in 2012, before being repainted. The McKee-owned warehouse in the background has since had a fire.

From August:

Six years after developer Paul McKee, through Northside Regeneration, LLC, acquired the Bottle District just north of the Dome at America’s Center in downtown St. Louis, no development has occurred. (Post-Dispatch)

Recently I’ve seen some activity, but nothing to get excited about.

Lots of trucks brought many loads of gravel last month
The gravel was placed on several of the blocks
It was then spread out in places

Workers with large equipment have moved some dirt, big trucks have delivered gravel, which has been spread out on some of the blocks. Looks to me like they’re prepping for use as surface parking. With XFL pro football starting at the dome in 11 months there will be people to pay to park here.

Looking North
Looking East from 7th & Biddle
McGuire’s former building can still be renovated, but the clock is ticking.

The location seems good, right next door to the Dome, very close to Laclede’s Landing and the renovated Arch grounds. Yet, surfacing parking appears to be the highest & best use.

— Steve Patterson

A St. Patrick’s Day Sunday Poll

March 17, 2019 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on A St. Patrick’s Day Sunday Poll
 
Please vote below

The downtown parade was yesterday, the Ancient Order of Hibernians parade is today in dogtown. St. Louis has a long history of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day:

On March 17, 1820, a small band of Irish settlers gathered to praise St. Patrick. It was the first recorded observance of St. Patrick’s Day here, although the sparse accounts disagree whether a parade was included. The Irish then were a small part of the city’s 4,400 souls. Marching came later. (Post-Dispatch)

Here’s more on St. Patrick’s Day:

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually on March 17, the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over 1,000 years. On St. Patrick’s Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink and feast–on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage. (History.com)

Today’s poll is about Saint Patrick:

This poll will close automatically at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

New Book — St. Louis Sound: An Illustrated Timeline by Steve Pick with Amanda E. Doyle

March 15, 2019 Books, Featured, History/Preservation, Popular Culture Comments Off on New Book — St. Louis Sound: An Illustrated Timeline by Steve Pick with Amanda E. Doyle
 

I like music — I have a decent music collection (digital & vinyl), but I’ve never been to a concert. Well, I did see & hear Bonnie Raitt and many others at the New Orleans Jazz Fest in 2004. Though I’ve lived in St  Louis for 28+ years, I haven’t participated in the local music scene other than hearing the Bosman Twins in 1990 and Kim Massie at a few events.

So when I received the new book St  Louis Sound: An Illustrated Timeline I wasn’t sure I’d find anything of interest to write about. Boy was I wrong.

Let’s start with the publisher’s description:

From the French fiddlers of the fur trading days to the rock and hip hop icons of the present millennium, St. Louis has been a town rich in musical history. Though it has rarely been cited as a center of any scene, any area that has been home to Chuck Berry, Miles Davis, Ike & Tina Turner, Grant Green, Pavlov’s Dog, Uncle Tupelo, Nelly, and Pokey LaFarge has clearly deserved more attention. This book tells the story of music in St. Louis, from the symphonic to the singer/songwriter, from the radio stations that propelled it to the fanzines that documented it, from the musicians who left here for greater fame to those who stayed and made this town more vibrant. This is the first time that all the tributaries of the great St. Louis river of song have been covered in one place; classical, jazz, blues, r&b, rock’n’roll, country, hip hop, and more.

I’ve learned so much flipping through the photo-filled pages. For example, I’m a huge fan of Missy Elliott’s 1997 song The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly).  If you don’t know it you can see the creative video here. Anyway, I’d long thought the chorus included a sample of an older song, but I’d never researched it. Then on the page after the venue Blueberry Hill was the entry on Kinloch-native Ann Peebles. It mentions she co-wrote her 1973 hit “I can’t stand the rain.” To Wikipedia and YouTube I went.

One comment on YouTube nailed it — that she sounds like a female version of Al Green. A very high compliment! The book mentions she worked with Green’s producer, Willie Mitchell. Online I learned about a 1978 disco cover by Eruption and a 1984 cover by the Tina Turner on her Private Dancer album. Peebles had previously worked with Oliver Sain (1932-2003), best known for Soul Serenade (YouTube). I also learned Sain had a recording studio in the 1905 building at 4521 Natural Bridge. Ann Peebles retired following a stroke.

I can’t think of another book that has brought me so many hours of joy as I combed through the intense level of detail, looking up names & songs on YouTube & Wikipedia, Googling venues to get addresses to look up.

If you’re into St. Louis and/or its music this book should interest you. Released today, it’s available via Left Bank Books, Amazon, etc.

— Steve Patterson

Opinion: St. Louis Region Needs To Seriously Look At Our Low Voter Turnout Problem

March 13, 2019 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Opinion: St. Louis Region Needs To Seriously Look At Our Low Voter Turnout Problem
 
Vintage photo of the former offices of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners. From my collection

The recent Sunday Poll was about voter turnout:

Q: Agree or disagree: Nothing will increase voter turnout in St. Louis’ local elections, it just is what it is.

  • Strongly agree: 2 [8.7%]
  • Agree: 1 [4.35%]
  • Somewhat agree: 2 [8.7%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 3 [13.04%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 2 [8.7%]
  • Disagree: 6 [26.09%]
  • Strongly disagree: 6 [26.09%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [4.35%]

To those who agreed with the poll’s statement — wake up! There’s lots of ways to increase voter participation. First, we must step back and determine why exactly that eligible voters don’t bother for races other than the national election every four years.

One group is taking a step.

A group called Show Me Integrity is launching a petition drive to gather about 20,000 signatures to make a change to the St. Louis charter instituting “approval voting” in a nonpartisan primary for mayor, aldermen and other city offices. Under that system, recently adopted in Fargo, N.D., voters can cast a vote for as many candidates as they want. The top two vote-winners would advance to a runoff that would replace the general election.
 
St. Louis is among only a handful of major cities that still uses a partisan system allowing a plurality of voters through a party primary and general election to choose leaders.
“That’s increasingly rare,” said Rob Richie, executive director of FairVote, a Washington-based organization that advocates for election reform.

Most big cities have election systems established so more consensus can emerge from a crowded field. Chicago is gearing up for a runoff election with the top two vote winners after whittling down a field of 14 candidates in February. Next month, Kansas City’s nonpartisan mayoral primary will send the two top candidates out of a field of 11 to a June matchup. Closer to home, Maplewood and Richmond Heights hold runoff votes if candidates don’t receive a majority. (Post-Dispatch)

This is new to me, so I’m not yet sure how I feel about it. That said, I welcome their action and the civic discussions it’ll cause.

I’ve been a longtime supporter of ranked-choice voting, aka instant runoff voting.

Ranked choice voting (RCV) makes democracy more fair and functional. It works in a variety of contexts. It is a simple change that can have a big impact.

With ranked choice voting, voters can rank as many candidates as they want in order of choice. Candidates do best when they attract a strong core of first-choice support while also reaching out for second and even third choices. When used as an “instant runoff” to elect a single candidate like a mayor or a governor, RCV helps elect a candidate that better reflects the support of a majority of voters. When used as a form of fair representation voting to elect more than one candidate like a city council, state legislature or even Congress, RCV helps to more fairly represent the full spectrum of voters. (FairVote)

Fair representation voting looks interesting:

Fair representation is the principle that a legislature should reflect all of the voters who elect them. Like-minded voters should be able to elect representatives in proportion to their number. In contrast, most elections in the United States are winner-take-all: instead of reflecting all voters, our legislators reflect only the biggest or strongest group of voters that elected them, leaving all others unrepresented. The use of winner-take-all voting methods in our elections for state legislatures and Congress is a central reason for major problems with our politics: gerrymandering, partisan gridlock, no-choice elections and distortions in fair representation all have roots in the inherent problems of winner-take-all methods. (FairVote)

See FairVote’s look at Open Ticket Voting, Cumulative Voting, Single-Vote Method & “Limited Voting”, and Districts Plus here. Other ideas include switching to non-partisan elections, thus eliminating separate partisan primary that’s the real election — the general election a month later just a costly formal confirmation of the Democratic primary.

We need to find the root problem(s) that cause voter turnout through much of the region to be low. Then we need to consider adopting solutions to solve those problems — without causing new problems.

— Steve Patterson

Please Do Not Park In Accessible Parking Spaces Without State-Issued Credentials

March 11, 2019 Crime, Featured, Parking, St. Charles County Comments Off on Please Do Not Park In Accessible Parking Spaces Without State-Issued Credentials
 

First, a quick lesson on disabled vs handicapped:

It is possible that a disability is the cause of a handicap. For example, if a person has a disability that prevents them from being able to move their legs, it may result in a handicap in driving.

Disabled people do not have to be handicapped, especially if they can find a way around their disability. For example, braille for the visually impaired or wheel chairs for those who cannot walk. (Diffen)

In the video from the above article they list three unacceptable words: handicapped, cripple, special.  I agree. Whenever I hear or read handicapped I equate it with the word cripple. The c-word is so bad South Park’s Eric Cartman uses it.

A 2013 photo of a Porsche squeezed into the loading space between two accessible parking spots. This is just as bad because some of us need this aisle to open our doors fully, others need it for their ramp to enter/exit their vehicle.

Sadly, the media outlets in St. Louis all used handicapped, or a variation like handicap, when reporting an unfortunate situation last week in St. Charles:

Police said the Amazon delivery driver, identified as Jaylen Walker, pulled into a handicap parking space near the front of the store and was talking to another Amazon driver when the suspect pulled up. The suspect, identified as Larry Thomlison, was apparently upset about the Amazon truck being parked in the disabled space.

Thomlison took out his cellphone to document the Amazon truck in the handicap space. He posted a picture of the illegally parked delivery truck to his Facebook page.

Wilkison said Thomlison did have a handicap placard in his car.

St. Chares County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar said Thomlison waited for Walker to come out of the Target and confronted him. It’s unclear if Thomlison was recording the confrontation.

Walker pushed Thomlison aside, at which point Thomlison punched the Amazon driver in the face. A struggle ensued and both men fell to the ground. As Walker got to his feet, he noticed a pistol in Thomlison’s waistband. Walker began to back away and then turned to run. Thomlison then pulled the gun from his waistband and shot the 21-year-old delivery driver in the back.

Lohmar said Walker will suffer from permanent physical injury—possibly paralysis—as a result of the shooting. (KPLR)

As frustrating as it has been for me the last decade since my stroke, no one parking in a reserved accessible spot deserves to be shot. Unfortunately, enforcement is often left up to those of us who just want to park and go about our business.

I can still remember the very first time I reported vehicles parked in disabled/accessible parking without state-issued plates/placard. I was only 8 or 9 and would bike to the then-new branch library near my house. If a car was illegally parked I’d jot down the description & plate number and go inside and insist they announce over the loud speaker that the owner move their vehicle. That was in the mid to late 1970s.  Yes, building codes required accessible parking, curb ramps, etc prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Another very important thing to remember is not everyone with proper plates/placard appears obviously disabled. When I park and walk into a business it’s very obvious I’m disabled: cane, awkward gate, visible leg brace during shorts weather, etc.  However, others might have a heart condition or some other reason for their doctor to authorize a disabled plate/placard.

In the St. Charles example, numerous lives will be disrupted because one able-bodied person decided it was ok to park in an accessible spot and another brought a lethal weapon to a confrontation.  Both were unnecessary.

— Steve Patterson

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