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Sunday Poll: Would You Send Your Child To The Fully Accredited St. Louis Public Schools?

January 29, 2017 Cherokee Business District, Education, Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Would You Send Your Child To The Fully Accredited St. Louis Public Schools?
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Earlier this month the St. Louis Public Schools became fully accredited:

The state board gave unanimous approval to upgrade St. Louis Public Schools’ status from provisionally accredited to fully accredited. Officials with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education cited the district’s rising test scores, improved attendance rates and fiscal stability as the reasons for recommending the change.

The decision comes nearly a decade after the state took over the St. Louis Public Schools system and replaced its elected board with a special administrative board. Most members of the state board credited Superintendent Kelvin Adams with helping facilitate the district’s turnaround.  (St. Louis Public Radio)

Now, many are wondering if more parents will choose the district over other options. Good question so I’ve made it the subject of today’s poll.

The poll will close at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson


Poll: How should St. Louis County invest Prop A funds to expand public transit infrastructure?

Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

In April 2010 voters in St. Louis County approved a transit sales tax, Prop A:

The sales tax is expected to generate about $75 million a year in St. Louis County, which will be used to restore lost service and expand MetroLink and bus rapid transit. Metro officials said passage of the measure also would trigger collection of a transit sales tax that voters in the city of St. Louis approved in 1997. (stltoday.com)

I’m not sure how much St. Louis County is putting toward operations versus holding back for future transit infrastructure. Regardless of the exact amount, having a discussion about where & how to expand transit is beneficial.

Light rail? Bus Rapid Transit? More regular bus routes?

The poll is in the right sidebar.

— Steve Patterson


Tragedy Can Happen Anywhere

The Cherokee Street Business Incubator,  March 2010 photo
The Cherokee Street Business Incubator, March 2010 photo

Yesterday a tragic even occurred on Cherokee Street:

Four people were shot to death after an apparent murder-suicide inside a Cherokee Street building Thursday afternoon.

Ambulances and police cars responded to the scene at 2715 Cherokee Street at 1:29 p.m. The Cherokee Place Business Incubator is housed at that location and is home to many individual businesses. (KMOX)

What we must all remember is there are unstable individuals everywhere who settle disputes with guns. This is not a reflection on the people who live or work in the area where these individuals snap. I have seen Cherokee Street blossom in the 23 years I’ve been in St. Louis. One of my first jobs upon arrival was working for an antique store east of Jefferson, almost nobody went west of Jefferson in 1990. This doesn’t change my positive view of Cherokee.

The suburbanites reading this may think this is another city shooting and that these types of things don’t happen in their community. Again, these things happen everywhere.

Less than a year ago:

The shootings happened Monday morning in the 700 block of Hawbrook Road, in Glendale, Missouri a wealthy suburb about 10 miles west of St. Louis.

Mitchell Murch II called police Monday to say his wife Catherine, 42, had killed the couple’s two children, then herself at the family residence. (KMOV)

Glendale is wealthy compared to much of St. Louis but it pales in comparison to Frontenac.  In 2003 my then-boss and I met a couple at their home, they were considering hiring us for a remodeling project . We didn’t get the job, disappointing because we had another project in the same subdivision.  Two years later came this news:

Three people are dead following a shooting and high speed pursuit in the west St. Louis County suburbs of Town & Country and Ladue. Police say a man, identified as John Alexander of Frontenac shot and killed his estranged wife Kelli Alexander, 35, also of Frontenac and the caregiver of their children 29 year old April Wheeler of St. Charles, who is a friend of the family. John Alexander shot his wife, who was in her car with their three children, outside a home in the 2600 block of Bopp Road shortly before 6 p.m. Friday night. Video: Police Press Conference Corporal Jeff Myer, spokesman for the Town & Country Police Department, says police received several calls about a possible shooting outside a home on Bopp Road, which is just south of Clayton Road in Town & Country. (KSDK)

I sat at their breakfast table just a couple of years earlier! Do his actions put at black eye on Bopp Rd? No, these things happen everywhere. Wealthy neighborhoods don’t have immunity from senseless tragedy.

The families of yesterday’s victims have my deepest sympathies.

— Steve Patterson


Researching 2817 Cherokee Street

Recently while driving down Cherokee Street I noticed something I had never noticed before.

I’m usually so distracted by the beautiful glazed terra-cotta on the building on the right above, 2817 Cherokee. But the void between the buildings is what caught my eye.  The short stone wall with the break and steps.  Was there a narrow building between these that was torn down, I wondered?  The answer is yes and no.  The building we see today was constructed in 1936. The date on the building on the left is unknown except it is newer.

From the alley on the side of 2817 Cherokee to the corner at Oregon Ave contained five one-story brick homes (pink) with wood back porches & sheds (yellow) at the 9ft alley in 1909.  What was platted as five parcels of approximate equal width in 1909 is now three parcels of different widths (27.5ft, 25ft , & 75ft).  The above 1909 Sanborn Fire Insurance map is from the University of Missouri Digital Library.

Neighborhoods and streets are not static.  As the streetcar line on Cherokee Street brought more and more people to the street homes gave way to commercial development.

– Steve Patterson


Gentrification in St. Louis

Commercial districts throughout the City of St. Louis have changed dramatically throughout the city’s history, take Cherokee Street as an example:

ABOVE: Cherokee St at Ohio, 1930s
ABOVE: Cherokee St at Ohio, 2010
ABOVE: Cherokee St at Ohio, March 2010

As districts evolve over time the clientele changes. In my 19+ years in St. Louis I’ve seen dramatic changes to a number of districts:

  • Cherokee St  East of Jefferson was very much antiques.  Cheap Trx, now on South Grand, sold refinished furniture.
  • Cherokee St West of Jefferson wasn’t much of anything except a place for prostitutes and drug dealers.
  • South Grand (Arsenal-Utah) didn’t have much going on either except for the old diner and various Asian restaurants.
  • Euclid Ave North of Lindell was the center of gay life, including playing host to the then much smaller annual Gay Pride Parade.
  • Morgan Ford, Ivanhoe and Macklind don’t stand out in my memory.

In a recent post, St. Louis’ Cherokee Street developing organically, I mentioned a discussion to be held tonight (3/4/2010) on gentrification. The discussion in the comments was so lively I thought I’d share my thoughts on the subject.  The first place to start is the definition.  Merriam-Webster defines gentrification as:

Main Entry: gen·tri·fi·ca·tion
Pronunciation: \ˌjen-trə-fə-ˈkā-shən\
Function: noun
Date: 1964

: the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents

The origin of 1964 is important for it was then that we began to see a backlash to massive federal urban renewal projects.  The classic Death and Life of Great American Cities was published three years earlier in 1961 so you will not find gentrification in the index.  “Gentrification” was the large scale displacement of the poor through large-scale “slum clearance” projects.  Today, however, the term is often use to express displeasure with the natural evolution of a commercial district or residential neighborhood.

Back to Cherokee Street.  It has seen substantial investment over the last 15 years from White and Latino businesspersons.  The intersection of Cherokee St & California Ave, two blocks West of the above intersection, is the center of the Latino businesses on the street.  I love the current vibe on the street.  I had dinner at Don Carlos Restaurant (new advertiser) on the SW corner of the intersection two nights ago with a Latina business owner.  I learned many Latinos own their properties — a smart move as popularity (and rents) increase.

But many storefronts facing Cherokee from Jefferson to Compton remain vacant.  Along the cross streets just around the corners you see there is still a need for more investment.

ABOVE: California Ave. just South of Cherokee St.

The key is to try to find ways to ensure existing merchants are not unwillingly squeezed off the street as buildings are renovated and rents rise.  But understand the rise, fall and rise of commercial streets is a natural process when it happens over long periods of time. Discuss below and tonight at City Affair XIV.

– Steve Patterson