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Conditional Use Hearing Today For Blast Fitness In Jefferson Commons

October 18, 2012 Featured, South City, Zoning 11 Comments

In addition to a new Save-a-Lot the former Foodland site, now known as Jefferson Commons, will have a Blast Fitness. Well, assuming it receives conditional use approval from the Board of Public Service today.

ABOVE: Work has started on Jefferson Commons, a public notice of a zoning hearing is posted
ABOVE: Hearing is this morning regarding zoning.

A hearing is required? To understand why we have to look at the absurdity known as use-based zoning,  in this case our G (Local Commercial and Office) zone in Title 26 of our city ordinances:

Chapter 26.44 – G Local Commercial and Office District


  • 26.44.010 District regulations.
  • 26.44.015 Purposes.
  • 26.44.020 Use regulations.
  • 26.44.025 Conditional uses.
  • 26.44.030 Parking and loading regulations.
  • 26.44.040 Specific parking and loading regulations.
  • 26.44.050 Height regulations.
  • 26.44.060 Area dwellings.
  • 26.44.070 Front yard–Nondwellings.
  • 26.44.080 Side yard–Nondwellings.

26.44.010 District regulations.

The regulations set forth in this chapter or set forth elsewhere in the zoning code and referred to in this chapter are the district regulations in the G local commercial and office district.

(Ord. 59979 § 12 (part), 1986.)

26.44.015 Purposes. 

The purpose of the G local commercial and office district is to establish and preserve areas that accommodate a wide range of businesses catering to the personal and home needs of the general public and to provide for employment activity and service to the public which does not detract from nearby residential uses.

(Ord. 59979 § 12 (part), 1986.)

26.44.020 Use regulations.

A building or premises shall be used only for the following purposes:

  • A. Any use permitted in the F neighborhood commercial district;
  • B. Bars and taverns;
  • C. Dyeing and cleaning works;
  • D. Laundries;
  • E. Livery stables and riding academies;
  • F. Milk distributing and bottling plants;
  • G. Package liquor stores;
  • H. Printing shops;
  • I. Restaurants other than carry-out restaurants that operate as described in Section 26.40.026B provided that carry-out restaurants that meet the site requirements specified in Section 20.40.026B2 shall be permitted;
  • J. Telephone, outdoor pay, if the proposed telephone is not located on a lot that is located contiguous with or directly across a street, alley, public or private easement from a dwelling district;
  • K. Tinsmith or sheet metal shops;
  • L. Wholesale business;
  • M. Accessory structures and uses customarily incidental to any of the above uses;
  • N. Temporary buildings for use incident to construction work, which buildings shall be removed upon the completion or abandonment of the construction;
  • O. Any permitted use exceeding seven thousand (7,000) square feet provided it is not within a commercial structure to be erected, enlarged, structurally altered or moved.

(Ord. 64167 § 4, 1997: Ord. 59979 § 12 (part), 1986.) 

26.44.025 Conditional uses.

The following conditional uses may be allowed in the G local commercial and office district, subject to the provisions of Section 26.80.010:

  • A. Any use eligible to be a conditional use in the F neighborhood commercial district;
  • B. Commercial use similar to those permitted in Section 26.44.020;
  • C. Any permitted use which exceeds seven thousand (7,000) square feet within a commercial structure to be erected, enlarged, structurally altered or moved;
  • D. Any permitted or conditional use which utilizes a sales or service window or facility for customers who are in cars except those carry-out restaurants permitted in Section 26.44.020;
  • E. Carry-out restaurants other than those carry-out restaurants permitted in Section 26.44.020 and that meet the applicable site requirements specified in Section 26.40.026B1;
  • F. Telephone, outdoor pay, if the proposed telephone is located on a lot that is located contiguous with or directly across a street, alley, public or private easement from a dwelling district.

(Ord. 64167 § 5, 1997: prior: Ord. 59979 § 12 (part), 1986.)

26.44.030 Parking and loading regulations.

The parking regulations for uses enumerated in Chapter 26.20 through 26.40 inclusive, except as modified by Section 26.44.040, shall apply.

(Ord. 59979 § 12 (part), 1986.)

26.44.040 Specific parking and loading regulations.

In addition, parking space shall also be provided for the following uses: 

  • A. Wholesale, manufacturing and industrial buildings shall provide parking space within one thousand (1,000) feet of the main building sufficient to accommodate one (1) motor car for each ten (10) employees regularly employed at the site, based on the greatest number employed at any one period of the day or night.
  • B. All hereinafter erected or enlarged buildings having or to have more than five thousand (5,000) square feet of gross floor area and used for manufacturing, storage, warehouse, goods display, department store, wholesale store, and other uses involving the receipt or distribution by vehicles of materials or merchandise shall provide one (1) loading space, at least ten (10) feet by twenty-five (25) feet and having a fourteen (14) foot clearance, for each twenty-five thousand (25,000) square feet of gross floor area or fraction thereof in excess of five thousand (5,000) square feet.

(Ord. 59979 § 12 (part), 1986.)

26.44.050 Height regulations.

The height regulations are the same as those in the F neighborhood commercial district.

(Ord. 59979 § 12 (part), 1986.)

26.44.060 Area dwellings.

For dwellings the area regulations are the same as those in the D multiple-family dwelling district. For other buildings the following area regulations only shall be required.

(Ord. 59979 § 12 (part), 1986.)

26.44.070 Front yard–Nondwellings.

The front yard regulations are the same as those in the F neighborhood commercial district.

(Ord. 59979 § 12 (part), 1986.)

26.44.080 Side yard–Nondwellings.

  • A. There shall be a side yard having a width of not less than five (5) feet on that side of a lot which adjoins any dwelling district.
  • B. Where dwelling accommodations are hereafter created above any nondwelling use there shall be two (2) side yards each of eight (8) feet in width unless every room within that portion of the structure used for dwelling purposes shall open directly upon a front yard or a rear yard of dimensions as required in the D multiple-family dwelling district.

(Ord. 59979 § 12 (part), 1986.)

Well it is clear the type of feel desired for G zones. You don’t find it clear? Use-based zoning (Euclidean) is a maddening collection of regulations cobbled together over decades that do nothing to create desirable communities. In the early 20th century it was a way to bring some order to land development but as a tool it has outlived its usefulness.

Form-based zoning, on the other hand, is all about creating what the community determines is the appropriate feel for each part of a city. Thankfully we are seeing this new way of viewing land-use regulation in parts of St. Louis City and St. Louis County. It can’t happen fast enough.

Earlier this year Blast Fitness bought 39 clubs from Bally’s, including two in our region. (source)

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "11 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    While this another (very small) hoop for Blast to jump through, explain how changing to form-based would be better. In this case, I anticipate that there will be absolutely no objections, it’ll get rubber-stamped, case closed. The whole reason for having an approval process for conditional USES is to provide (an opportunity for) community input. It allows context to be considered. Will it operate 24 hours a day (as some clubs do)? Is it adjacent to residential? Is there adequate parking? What are impacts on the EXISTING residents? And, if the impacts prove to be substantial, is there a mechanism to address the impacts?

    With your beloved form-based zoning, are you assuming that if they build the “right” kind of box, adhering to whatever demands for bulk, materials, setbacks, density, etc. are in the zoning, that they will/should be free to put whatever use they want to into said box?! No, a gym is not a big deal. How about a BDSM club? A rocking after-hours nightclub? An adult bookstore? A cool, urban, feedlot? The reason zoning (attempts, imperfectly) to define and separate inappropriate uses is that some uses create significant exterior impacts on their adjacent neighbors, and are best isolated from certain other uses – I wouldn’t want a feedlot next to me, nor would most other people.

    You know I lean libertarian, “let the market decide”. But I also respect the need for government to protect the little guy, to provide some predictability in their lives. My experience with the shift to form-based zoning in Denver is that life for both property owners (and their consultants) and those in the community who care about their communities has gotten a whole lot more complex. And since the switch is relatively recent, it’s way too early to tell if it’s “better”, and for whom.

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, the reason we’re not seeing, dense, urban redevelopment happening in the city, and good, dense, mixed-use developments in the suburbs, ain’t the zoning, it’s the market. If people ain’t buying (or leasing), it ain’t gettin’ built! Developers are willing to take calculated risks (it’s in their job description), but until there’s a track record of successful projects (like the CWE Whole Foods, BPV, New Town [in bankruptcy] and the Boulevard [no phase 2, so far]), most developers and, apparently, buyers are going to (continue to?) choose low(er)-density, auto-centric, “safer” options. This redevelopment is a prime example – there was (and is) nothing in the existing zoning that precludes “better”, “urban” construction here, yet the only issue on the table is a technical question about use. As good urbanistas, should we march in opposition, and hope to delay the project until “something better” comes along / the developer sees the errors of his ways (and the wisdom in ours)? Or, is getting a long-vacant parcel reoccupied better for the long-term viability of this neighborhood and the city?

  2. Eric says:

    How about NO zoning. It’s working great in Houston.


    • Scott Jones says:

      Although not as bad as Pheonix Houston is a huge mess of suburban sprawl, one of the worst in the world. Pheonix is zoned to purposefully create suburban sprawl. Houston’s sprawl arose organically. We can do better than that and zone for actual urban development. If urban planning is like gardening and your goal is to grow a vibrant urban city then Pheonix is a garden where all kinds of herbicides were sprayed and nothing is growing well while Houston is the garden that was neglected and is overrun with weeds.

      • Eric says:

        Houston has lots of sprawl but it also has lots of non-sprawl. Its light rail ridership is 4 times as high per mile as St Louis’.

  3. gmichaud says:

    Actually no zoning laws are how St. Louis was built, the difference being there was a natural disposition to keep everything close together so it was possible to get around easier. Today no zoning with the only regulations related to building placement and movement, pedestrians and transit would protect what made the early city successful in a minimal regulatory environment. The problem now is that everything is predicated on the automobile, which has proven to be a failed policy.
    A return of balance that includes walking and transit would be helpful now and in the future.
    I did at one point research when pigs were banned in the city, it has been awhile but I think it was around the mid to late 1800’s. And of course industry became more and more noxious, so clearly some zoning limitations are in order.
    If you move around what’s left of the original city today, you see evidence of storefronts all over the place. Someone could open up a business just about anywhere. Individual building lots were vehicles of economic development for families. In those days they also built another building on the rear of the lot to maximize its use and value. I saved what is now the longest extent of front and rear buildings in St. Louis in Soulard from 913 to 923 Geyer, there is a large courtyard formed by these buildings.
    At the time it was not the largest extent of front and rear buildings, but demolition, particularly of rear buildings was rampant during the 70’s and early 80’s.
    There was an even rarer lot on Allen Av a few houses from St. Peter and Paul in Soulard, that had 3 distinct and separate 2 story buildings on the lot, gone now.
    The lot sizes were drawn up, but beyond that zoning seemed to be minimal in early St. Louis. Certainly some type of a free form zoning could spur economic development today. It might not be right for every neighborhood in the city, but certainly it is worth trying in some areas. The idea that your building lot is only limited by your imagination decentralizes economic development and takes the power away from corporate interests.
    I can’t find it right now, but I believe it was the 1954 city master plan that clearly shows the extent of economic dispersal at the time. That plan also called for elimination of this dispersal and for the centralization of commerce. It is no accident these policy moves were in conjunction with big oil buying up the streetcars and shutting them down.
    I just read that big oil is supporting groups in California trying to kill high speed rail, I guess the corruption never ends.

  4. Erica Rachel says:

    Hola Steve. I got a junk mail flyer from Blast Fitness and when I saw that the address for it was 1601 S Jefferson, I immediately came here to see if you had written about it. I have to confess, I’m pretty surprised (and excited) that a gym is taking over that spot. To be frank, all of the Big Corporate Gyms that I know of are located in much souther parts of the city, and of course the suburbs. I know there are a lot of smaller places scattered throughout the city but this sort of seems like a 24 Hour Fitness popping up into this neighborhood which just strikes me as surprising. What do you think was the draw? Don’t get me wrong, I was really happy to find this out, because I’d rather have a gym there than an abandoned building, but I guess the best comparison I can make would be to maybe a Walmart opening up shop right there (this is 10x better than walmart though!).

  5. JANICE says:



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