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Culinaria Increasingly An Accessibility Nightmare

August 12, 2010 Century Building, Downtown, Retail 12 Comments

A year ago yesterday Culinaria, a Schnuck’s Market, opened in the ground floor of the 9th Street parking garage.  You know, the parking garage that replaced the historic Century Building.  The intersection of 9th & Olive was the last intersection in St. Louis’ CBD that still had it’s pre-WWII buildings on all four corners. More on the Century in a bit.

ABOVE: Entry to Culinaria lacks auto opener for disabled
ABOVE: Entry to Culinaria lacks auto opener for disabled

The store has been open a year now yet there is no door opener on either front door. Because of the settings on the door closer it is nearly impossible for me to enter without help from others.  I exit by pushing the door open with my wheelchair.

Inside the situation is getting worse.  The once attractive store has every bit of floor space occupied my an increasing number of display boxes.  They change based on what company is paying them.  Trying to access a freezer case was difficult the other day because a stack of product on the floor next to the door handle prevented me from getting in the right position.

A year ago I was impressed by the design of the store.  Today I use it as a convenience store, the bulk of my groceries comes from other grocery store and markets. I need to go once a month for my prescriptions but I try to avoid the place now.  It is hard to access and circulate, increasingly not worth the hassle.

I’ve asked before about a door opener.  “We are working on getting the state to pay for it.”  You see, Schnuck’s is a tenant in the state-owned parking garage. The garage wasn’t designed for a grocery store but the developer was DESCO which is owned by members of the Schnuck’s family.

Which brings us back to the 1896 Century Building. Local property owners & residents (and friends) Roger Plackemier & Marcia Behrendt had sued various entities prior to the destruction of the Century, questioning the legality of the process used in the garage project. In 2004 they were unable to raise the money to post a bond and the demolition of the Century began.

In April 2005 the developer and development agencies of the city & state sued Plackemeier & Behrendt for “malicious prosecution“, seeking $1,000,000 in damages. The trial has been scheduled several times and each time the plaintiffs request a delay. The trial was to begin on Monday of this week but once again they were granted a delay.

For over five years now two citizens have had a million dollar lawsuit against them and those suing them keep delaying the trial.  Talk about malicious prosecution!

– Steve Patterson


Currently there are "12 comments" on this Article:

  1. Brian says:

    I've always wondered why automatic door openers are required as part of the ADA. Isn't it discrimination if a disabled person can't get into a store/business?

    • Automatic doors are not required. Doors where the disabled can press a button to activate the door is helpful but also not required. However, there are rules regarding door closers and how much pressure is needed to open a door. I go through doors all the time without difficulty but these doors are set to be too difficult.

    • Brian says:

      Sorry, I meant to say “aren't” required. I hope that makes more sense now.

  2. JZ71 says:

    Getting the landlor / “state to pay for it” will be difficult after the fact / during the term of the lease, IF it was not a part of the original lease negotiations. Unless some legal action forces the landlord (the state) to make a change, there's nothing else in the lease that would compel or encourage them to make any changes. But the landlord / state probably would have no objections to the tenant making an improvement (an automatic door) that would improve the landlord's property. Bottom line, it sounds like you're getting the run-around – If Schnuck's really wanted to provide an automatic door, they'd admit that they're going to have to pay for it and they'd get it done. As it stands now, It's just cheaper and easier to blame the landlord . . .

  3. Mike says:

    I just decreed my own version of the ADA. I call it the MDA. Mike with Disabilities Act. I demand that Culinaria have a doorman stationed 24 hours a day at their door in the event that I need to go there. I need easy access into their store and I MUST be accommodated. I come first people, okay? Are we clear on that point? Now granted, I probably wont go to this store but it doesn't really matter because once in the next 20 years I may. And that's enough for me to strong-arm this business into accommodating my own personal needs.

    • samizdat says:

      Accidentally hit “like”. To paraphrase an old First Nation saying, “Never judge a man until you've rolled a mile in his chair”. You view this as trivial issue. Fine. However, like so many other people in our society who have, shall we say, difficulty convincing other of our citizens of their inherent worth as human beings, Mr. Patterson is attempting to shed light on what he views as more than just an “accessibility issue”. It would seem he has a long way to go in his efforts to change attitudes. Like many laws drawn up to assist or provide protections for neglected or ignored groups, the ADA is an imperfect document. Drawn up by earnest and dedicated individuals, and truncated to a degree (at least in this case) by powerful business interests. As far as I'm concerned, the ADA did not go far enough, and this particular instance is a good example of the flaws present in this law. This law merely puts the imprimatur of the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause on populations which had previously had no such specific protections. This isn't a special interests law. This is a law which provides the first legal acknowledgment for a class of human beings who, for all intents and purposes, did not exist in the eyes of landlords, businesses, and apparently, other human beings. This is the purpose of our Constitution, to Promote the General Welfare, specifically, and more abstractly, to prevent the tyrannical behavior of a majority or minority from inhibiting the liberty of any particular group or individual. To me, this no trivial matter.

      • Mike says:

        I prefer a hymn to accompany the sermon when someone is preaching to me. Anywho, ignoring you're holier-than-thou rant, I will pick though the clutter to your underlying point. Sorry, but you can mangle the 14th amendment all you want, the goverment does not have the constitutional authority to mandate that a private business accommodate, in any way, a select group of people. Yes, even people in wheelchairs. But if you're worried about Mr Patterson, perhaps you can provide him you're cell so that when he needs to go to Culinaria you can be there to assist him into the store.

        • Chris says:

          I hope you’re never paralyzed in an accident; I’m sure your attitude would change really quickly.

  4. Rbonasch says:

    Culinaria now has electric openers on both front doors.

  5. I Can Read says:

    Mike… you clearly didn’t read the entirety of the article, did you? Had you, you would have clearly noticed that Culinaria is a tenant of a state-owned parking garage. So yes, there obviously is something that should be a responsibility, and obviously was eventually taken care of it seems.

    I imagine you won’t be able to make it all the way in from the county/St. Charles, but at the very least read the all the informaiton available before making such a one-sided comment.

  6. Chris says:

    I hope you’re never paralyzed in an accident; I’m sure your attitude would change really quickly.


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