Home » Midtown »Planning & Design »Retail » Currently Reading:

Shallow Liner Building Needed To Mask Parking Garage

August 24, 2010 Midtown, Planning & Design, Retail 13 Comments

The University Heights Loft Apartments faces Laclede Ave.  The associated parking garage, located behind, faces Forest Park Ave.

ABOVE: Parking garage for University Heights Loft Apartments

I’m not sure if this was part of the plan, but there is room to build a shallow liner building between the garage structure and the public sidewalk.

Most liner buildings are around 12 meters (40 feet) in depth. Liner buildings are typically simple and work well with “loft” or “industrial” architectural expression. Liner buildings may be up to five stories tall, but should be as tall as is required to serve their purpose of screening. Liner buildings must be constructed at grade if the ground floor is designed for commercial use. They should be slightly elevated above grade if the ground floor is designed for residential uses.(Source: PlanningWiki)

I’d like to see storefront spaces on the main level with residential above. With many students in the immediate area there would be a demand for nearby businesses.

ABOVE: one building of the apartments does front onto Forest Park Ave. (right)

Realistically only one large or two small businesses could fit into the space. The number of residential units would obviously depend upon the size of the units and the number of floors.

ABOVE: looking east toward Spring Ave with loft building in background

The improvement to Forest Park Ave would be immediate, reinforcing the other establishments at Spring Ave.  Hopefully this was the plan when the garage was set back from the property line.  Even a single story structure with storefronts would do great things for this area.  align the front with the loft building and have a wider sidewalk with cafe seating.  New trees in the tree-lawn between the sidewalk & curb would shade patrons.

With so many students, faculty & staff in the area the available on-street parking is more than adequate.

– Steve Patterson


Currently there are "13 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    Unless the garage has mechanical ventilation (highly doubtful), the building code requires a certain percentage of open space on the outside walls for “natural” ventilation. Adding a liner structure, especially a multi-story one, now, would likely require either adding mechanical ventilation or leaving space between the existing garage and any new structure(s), likely making its/their front-to-back depth(s) impractical.

    Realistically, the bigger question is why such a large setback happened, in the first place? Did zoning require it? Did they do it to maximize windows in the adjacent loft building? Are there plans for other structures? Did they just take stock plan and plop it on the site?

    I do agree that there are better urban design solutions, either liner structures or ground-floor retail in the parking structure, itself. But this also represents the next-lowest-cost solution to providing parking here (with surface parking being cheaper). What really drives density is demand. There's apparently enough demand here to spend more on parking; there apparently isn't enough demand for more occupied (or speculative) structures or for any significant landscaping . . .

    • Just because something hasn't been done doesn't mean the demand doesn't exist. In a city that had thousands of vacant buildings it was logical to renovate & occupy those before filling in the gaps with new structures.

      It is entirely possible to build a new structure in front of the garage and still provide for natural ventilation. The new structure wouldn't abut the garage structure anyway. Perhaps room is left for balconies from upper floor residential units? I plan to investigate the reason behind the setback of the garage.

      • JZ71 says:

        You just answered your own question/defined demand: “In a city that ha[s] thousands of vacant buildings it [is] logical to renovate & occupy those before filling in the gaps with new structures.”

        My best guess is that the parking structure was/is a generic plan, set back 20' from the alley to provide one row of perpendicular surface parking, and the grassy area in front was/is just “left over” space, with no real defined use or plan.

  2. SUP SUP says:

    I have several friends that go to slu and I have parked in this garage before. I thought the same thing when I saw this garage. I building there could increase the activity on forest park parkway along with 6 Row and the Library annex. This could encourage investment in the large lot across the street and it be developed.

  3. Zach says:

    When I was at SLU I had similar thoughts. Even if something is not built there (now or in the future) at least some attractive landscaping (trees) would be a good start.

    • Chris says:

      Unfortunately, SLU is too busy trying to create a “Jeffersonian campus” that it has forgotten that it is smack dab in the middle of what is (or was) an urban environment. Biondi doesn't care what any of us think.

      • Al Fickensher says:

        I went to Parks when Parks was small and in Cahokia, so I have little-to-no attachment about modern SLU, but I am curious what is a “Jeffersonian campus”?

        • JZ71 says:

          University of Virginia – buildings arranged around a formal lawn area, also similar to the Wash. U. campus.

          • Al Fickensher says:

            Aahh yes, OK. Perhaps also UofILL at Champaign/Urbana and likely many more around the country. Never before heard the Jeffersonian reference but it does fit, thanks JZ71.

  4. GMichaud says:

    SLU does a terrible job in planning, all over campus, so much is ill-proportioned also. The fountain at the corner of Grand and Lindell is a deserted public space most of the time, while across the street, the almost empty sculpture park is a little above a slum alley in appeal.

    I'm not sure who does their architecture and planning work, but there is little to recommend it.

  5. VanishingSTL says:

    Ever since i saw this garage go up I have thought the same thing. The building could be held off the garage several feet to allow ventilation and possibly small windows at the rear.

    For years I have though about the same thing for the strip of land between Laclede and the BJC north garage.

  6. stljmartin says:

    This is owned and managed by Bruce Development. As timing would have it they were in the news with the acquisition of the Railway Exchange Building DT. In addition to your observations about development in this dead zone, they currently have 25-40 spaces at anytime available in the garage. Which could actually allow for office as well as retail in this area you cite.

    This is not a company scared of investment in the city, so perhaps the question could be posed directly to them what if any plan exists for it.


Comment on this Article: