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New construction and predictions for 2050 and beyond

Nothing is getting built because of the economy, right? Wrong. Seems there are renovation & new construction projects popping up in neighborhoods throughout the city.

new construction in Lafayette Square
ABOVE: New construction in Lafayette Square

The following is a combination of an educated guess based on demographic forecasts, trends and wishful thinking.

I see the 21st century as a mirror of the 20th century.  The first half of the last century started with the earliest suburbs as a means of escaping the industrial city. The initial movement was limited to the wealthy but as time passed the growing middle class sought residences in the new suburbs.

This century I see the wealthy locating in walkable neighborhoods closer to the center and near mass transit.  But more and more people want to experience real places and they realize suburbia (driveable, not walkable) don’t offer the lifestyle they seek.  By 2050 I see the general public seeking to live & work in walkable locations with the option to use mass transit.

Those parts of our region, and other regions, which do not adopt a pedestrian-friendly form will be increasingly viewed as undesirable by most of the population.  The secluded residential subdivision of today that requires a 5-mile drive to reach the grocery store will be the slum of 2075.

During the second half of the 20th century walkable urban centers tried to remake themselves in a way to retain population.  The attempts, which made the core less walkable, failed to retain those who desired life in the new suburbs.  But this century the efforts to retrofit suburbia.

Ellen Dunham-Jones describes it best:


She mentions ArtSpace at Crestwood Court.

I’ve never been more optimistic than I am now.  I’ll be an old man by the time this all happens but I look forward to watching the change happen.

– Steve Patterson


Poll: new $11/month trash fee per unit

ABOVE: A typical alley in St. Louis
ABOVE: A typical alley in St. Louis with dumpsters

If you own property in the City of St. Louis you are probably aware of the new trash collection fee:

Mayor Francis Slay has signed a new $11-a-month fee for trash pick-up in the city.

This is the first time time residents will have to pay an additional fee for the service, which was previously funded with tax dollars from the city’s general revenue. But bulk pick-up and yard waste are included, as is single-stream recycling, a new service.

The fee, which will be included on water bills, is charged per unit. Opponents said it would hit elderly residents the hardest, especially those who may live in a two-family building they own. Water rates also went up 12 percent on July 1. (Source: St. Louis Public Radio)

Many are not pleased, others say it is a fair way to help offset a major budget shortfall.

The city struggled for a way to avoid charging for trash collection, said Barbara Geisman, executive director of development for the mayor’s office. But with the city facing a serious budget shortfall and with officials wanting to add a citywide recycling program, that wasn’t possible, she said.

In alleys, new blue containers for recyclables would join yard waste containers and containers for trash.

“You can put your cans and your paper and your glass all in that blue dumpster,” Geisman said.

The existing twice-a-week trash pickup, weekly yard waste pickup during spring, summer and fall and monthly bulk refuse pickup would continue.

The program would affect about 139,000 houses, apartments and condominiums. Buildings that now have private pickup would not be affected. (Source: Suburban Journals)

Condo associations, like mine, have always paid for private trash collection and recycling.  The poll this week is trying to get a sense of how you, the reader, feels about the issue.  The poll is located at the top of the sidebar to the right.

– Steve Patterson


Boycott all gasoline, not just BP gasoline

Everyone is angry at BP right now. Given the ecological disaster in the Gulf it is understandable. Many are boycotting BP branded gasoline and buying gasoline from non-BP stations instead:

Across the country, American consumers are voicing their disgust with BP (BP) over the worst oil spill in U.S. history the only way they can — by not buying gas sold under the oil company’s name. Despite their good intentions, however, it turns out that this will do little harm to the U.K. company’s bottom line.

In 2008, BP announced it was exiting the retail gasoline business because the margins were lousy. Rivals ExxonMobil (XOM) and ConocoPhillips (COP) did the same thing. Today, BP owns only about 100 of the 900 or so gas stations bearing its name.  See full article from DailyFinance.

So the boycott may be hurting local business owners in your community.  Certainly employees of these stations may face a loss of their job if the customers stay away.  The answer is not to boycott BP gasoline, but to boycott all gasoline.  We, the users of products made from crude oil, are the reason companies such as BP are drilling deeper offshore.  Granted we didn’t force them to take the risks that made have led to the explosion, worker deaths and the massive amounts of oil continuing to spill into the gulf.

But boycott all gasoline?   Yes, by significantly reducing your energy consumption.  Here are some ways:

  • Walk, bike and use public transportation more.  Any increase in these three is good.
  • Carpool with co-workers.
  • Get a high mileage motor scooter.
  • Reduce car ownership in your household — 2 > 1, 3 > 2, etc
  • Combine trips.  Don’t drive somewhere just for one task — make sure you can do one more thing while you are out.
  • Avoid products made from crude.  Hard to do since oil is in everything around us. Buying locally produced products made from renewal resources helps.
  • Buy products with less packaging.
  • Adjust your thermostat just a couple of degrees so you use less energy.
  • Buy from stores closer to your house to reducing your driving. If you are walking, biking or using transit you are already doing this but if you are driving consider your route and options on where to buy the things you need. Know the retailers between your house and work so you don’t drive out of your way.
  • If you drive a car more than five days per week see if you can reduce the number of days — try to go 2-3 days without getting in your car.

Driving past the BP station to get gas from another brand just doesn’t seem effective in the big scheme of things.

– Steve Patterson


Walkable environs still seeing investment

The economy tanked and work stopped.  New strip centers on the suburban fringe are not getting built and many that exist are quite vacant.  But in older established areas we are seeing individual buildings and spaces within buildings get renovated.

It has been a joy watching crews working to renovate the interior and exterior of this building on Washington Ave.  The detailing around the openings on the ground level had been badly damaged over the years but they are repairing it.  The big projects are on hold but the small projects are so much more exciting to me.

– Steve Patterson


Starting bid 900K

February 16, 2010 Downtown, Economy, Real Estate Comments Off on Starting bid 900K

The handsome building at 1701 Locust was sold twice in 2005: for $1.25 million in August and for $1.8 million in December 2005.  Next week it will be auctioned online with bids starting at 900K.  Ouch!

Many buildings downtown faced similar issues.  When times were great building prices rose quickly but they have cooled even faster than they heated up.

Nothing appears to have been done, except architectural drawings for lofts.  This 4-story building contains over 76,000sf.  From the listing;

“Exceptional user purchase or redevelopment opportunity. The Property is a vacant office building measuring approximately 76,000 sf in downtown St. Louis. The property is an ideal candidate for a user purchase or redevelopment to mixed-use of commercial and residential. Phase I and Phase II applications for local, state and federal historical tax credits have been completed and approved, which provide for tax credits of 25% (state and local) and 20% (federal) of eligible costs and expenses of renovations to offset state and federal income taxes.”

It is located a block West of me so I hope someone will buy and rehab it. There are plenty of for sale condos on the market already so rental units makes more sense currently.  More information can be found at Auction.com.

– Steve Patterson