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Vacant Land Near Centene Stadium Awaits New Construction

May 12, 2022 Downtown, Featured, MLS Stadium, Planning & Design, Real Estate Comments Off on Vacant Land Near Centene Stadium Awaits New Construction

Centene Stadium (St. Louis) – Wikipedia, the soccer stadium finishing up construction now, is reshaping the Downtown West neighborhood.   This got me thinking about a vacant parcel just south of the stadium, next to the former YMCA that became a Drury Hotel in the 1980s. The official address is 222 South 21st Street.

Looking west across 20th from the St. Louis Wheel. March 2021

This site is 9.16 acres, is one parcel, and owned by Bi-State Development (aka Metro) since July 2019. According to city records Bi-State paid $1.65 million.

Just before Bi-State closed on the property the 1960s commercial laundry building was razed. It had a fire in 2005, that was repaired. A new occupancy permit was issued in 2018 for warehouse/storage.

Looking east from the former highway ramps. March 2010

So a 1960s commercial laundry occupied the western half of the site for decades. What about more than a century ago?

This site is outlined in red, pink means brick, yellow wood on this 1909 Sanborn Map..  Click image to view sheet from the Sanborn map.

The brown box is the new Railroad YMCA , the city block was divided by a small portion east of Tom Street, and the bigger portion west of it. When Union Station added more tracks Tom Street became 20th Street, giving the station more land up to Market Street. Many buildings between Eugenia and Market were razed so that 20th could shift west. The site now knowm as 222 South 21st Street was 13 parcels with houses and stables on the east, at Tom.

As you can tell from the 2010 photo above of the now-razed laundry, I’ve had an interest in the site for a very long time. At the time it didn’t make any sense to propose new construction — a business occupied the existing building and the site was on a tiny short block of Clark Ave, between 20th & 21st.

Now Clark Ave will soon connect to 22nd Street, I-64, and Jefferson Ave.  I thought of this site again earlier this year when I saw an article about a 7-unit apartment building in Philadelphia built on leftover land measuring only 11′ x 93′. View in Google Street View.

This site is considerably larger. What I’d do is build an apartment building on the east end that has zero off-street parking. With the Union Station MetroLink light rail station nearby this is ideal for some apartments without parking, since structured parking is so costly.

The west end of the site has great views of the new soccer practice fields, build tall enough and you can see over the Drury Hotel parking garage.  A rooftop patio would be outstanding.

A garage entrance off the low end of the alley would keep the perimeter public sidewalks unbroken. Creative architects could probably come up with many options to maximize the site without any surface parking or curb cuts.

I think 2-3 buildings ranging from low-income to high end would do this site justice, and provide a nice range of options. It would require thinking differently, but so did getting 7 units on a parcel only 11’x93’.

— Steve Patterson

 

Rethinking 2211 Market Street (Pear Tree Inn)

March 21, 2022 Downtown, Featured, MLS Stadium, Planning & Design Comments Off on Rethinking 2211 Market Street (Pear Tree Inn)

As I outlined two years ago, the blocks around new Centene Stadium will most certainly change in the coming years, decades. We’ve already seen some buildings on Olive be razed for the stadium, and more for a new garage. These weren’t architectural masterpieces, but they were urban. Hopefully it’ll be a good trade off.

One building I want to see razed, or significantly altered, is the hotel at 2211 Market Street (2.78 acres). Currently it’s officially known as the “Pear Tree Inn Near Union Station.” With the new major league soccer stadium nearing completion next door I think they’ll rename the hotel to reflect the ideal proximity. I’d like to bigger change — a complete rethink.

Photo of Pear Tree Inn
The 11-story hotel was built in 1965. It is set back from Market Street behind parking. It doesn’t orient to any of the three streets (Market, 23rd, Pine) that has bordered it since new.
Photo of low parking garage behind Pear Tree Inn
The 2-level parking garage to the north of the tower was built at the same time.

One of the first things I like to do is look back at what existed before — especially streets & alleys. Not that I’d necessarily want to recreate what existed over a hundred years ago, I just find it helpful.

1909 Sanborn fire insurance map
In February 1909 we can see Chestnut between Market and Pine, 22nd on the east, 23rd on the west. City blocks 914 & 915.
Aerial view with interchange east of hotel
For decades is was next to what was planned to be the 22nd St Parkway. This interchange was all that ever got built.
Aerial view with stadium construction east of hotel
Now the new MLS stadium is going up, and 22nd Street will once again exist!

Interestingly, the little bit of land between the east side of the hotel and the new 22nd Street is deeded in several small parcels, at least one to TKFC Properties, LLC in Moscow Mills, MO. The accessor classifies it as “9900 (OTHER UNDEVELOPED LAND AND WATER AREAS, NEC)”, so perhaps it’ll collect runoff water. Seems too valuable for water retention.

I strongly dislike this hotel and parking garage. I suspect the owner, Drury Hotels, is contemplating their options now that their real estate has a prime spot near the MLS stadium, and a higher valuation. The big question is what are the various ways to rebuild or start over?

I believe in reusing existing structures, so the first option would be to look at adding a new tower perpendicular to the existing one so hotel rooms on the east side could look toward the stadium and downtown. The roof of a new tower could contain a rooftop restaurant/bar with outstanding views. A new urban entrance facing Market, 22nd, or Pine. Some sort of drive though for check in that doesn’t block the many pedestrians that will soon be in this area.  Parking will need to go somewhere, preferably underground.

Other options involve razing the tower and garage, completely starting over from scratch. If they get the little bit of land between the existing lot and 22nd Street the site will be bordered by four streets — it needs to acknowledge all of them.

Reconstructing Chestnut Street needs to be considered. Chestnut still exists between 23rd and Jefferson Ave. so this would help reconnect the original street grid. We would then have two parcels, with the north larger than the south.  Perhaps a parking garage in the center of the larger parcel, wrapped in hotel rooms, apartments, and/or offices? The new block of Chestnut might be a full public street, a public walkway, or a private walkway that’s generally open to the public. I can see a Chestnut walkway being filled with outdoor dining, a new building(s) on the south side blocking the hot sun.

My one time in the hotel was to get this photo from the hallway of an upper floor. This was the view I used in my February 2016 post when I called for this to be the site of a new stadium — over six years ago! Click image to view post.

I’m confident this site will look dramatically different within a decade, just not sure how it’ll look. If I’m still around when something happens I’ll be sure to post about it.

— Steve Patterson

 

MLS Stadium: Before & During Photos From the St. Louis Wheel at Union Station

March 29, 2021 Downtown, Featured, MLS Stadium, Planning & Design Comments Off on MLS Stadium: Before & During Photos From the St. Louis Wheel at Union Station

In February 2016 the St. Louis region was still accepting the fact the Rams were returning to California, our proposal to clear the north riverfront for a new National Football League (NFL) stadium had been rejected — by Kroenke or voters…can’t remember.

Also in February 2016 Major League Soccer (MLS) expressed interest in St. Louis as an expansion city. I didn’t want the historic north riverfront to continued being targeted, so I proposed a different site. A site I’d wanted to see redeveloped for years. The short remnants of the never-built 22nd Street Parkway.

See 2015/01/20 A Great Site For A Major League Soccer (MLS) Stadium In Downtown St. Louis

This image is from that February 2016 post, taken from the adjacent hotel.

I haven’t been back to that hotel yet, but I have ridden the St. Louis Wheel at Union Station. Twice, in September 2019 and earlier this month.

Today’s post is a look at similar views from those two visits, nearly 18 months apart.

Before: looking northwest on September 24, 2019
During: a similar view as above on March 7, 2021. In time the Union Station surface parking lot in the foreground will get developed.

Now for a cropped view focusing on Market over the 22nd Parkway.

Before: the Market St bridge and the ramp up to it had been there for decades. I saw the big hole on the other side of Market as an architectural advantage.
During: the decaying Market Street bridge is gone! The new MLS stadium is set into the hole. A tunnel will provide service access to the stadium.

Now looking west:

Before: The 22nd Parkway cut a slice between 21st & 22nd streets. Prior NFL & MLS stadium proposals were here, wedged up against I-64.
During: for the first time in 6+ decades Clark Ave will be uninterrupted between 20th & Jefferson.

It’s even more exciting closer to street level.

Before: pretty much a dead zone in 2019.
During: you can see Clark Ave taking shape. Eventually the long vacant land in the foreground will be developed.

It is very exciting to see this area beginning to recover from the damaging 22nd Street Parkway project. It’ll take years to fill in, but it’s better to naturally fill in over time than to be an all at once infill project.

Will do this again in 12-18 months.

— Steve Patterson

 

Soccer Stadium, Team Name, and COVID-19

August 15, 2020 Featured, MLS Stadium Comments Off on Soccer Stadium, Team Name, and COVID-19

By the time the newly-named St. Louis CITY SC hit the pitch in their Downtown West stadium, now under construction, the bulk of the COVID-19 pandemic should be over…hopefully. Originally they were to join Major League Soccer in 2022, but the current pandemic delayed the MLS expansion schedule a year.

The new MLS stadium is being built North of Market Street, West of 20th Street — exactly where I suggested in February 2016.
The Market Street bridge over the old 22nd Street Interchange is getting filled in.

This delay will greatly benefit the St. Louis CITY SC. Construction on the stadium was just beginning as Coronavirus began spreading in the U.S.  The year delay gives more time to compete the facility and the adjacent training grounds and club offices. The delay also gives them time to make design changes to help in case of future pandemics.

The most obvious would be hand washing stations in public & private areas. The owners & architects are likely discussing other possible design changes:

  • Larger public & private restrooms. Or at least have more dividers.
  • Larger locker rooms, or again more separation.
  • Larger back spaces, like kitchens & staff areas.
  • How to handle lines to enter, for concessions.
  • Potential for high-tech equipment to check temperature of those entering the stadium, locker rooms, offices, etc.
  • How to make the stadium look good on television if a game is played without fans.
  • Materials that resist germs, hold up well to deep cleaning.
  • Equipment to automate the sanitizing of spaces, especially locker rooms.
  • Evaluate the design of HVAC equipment to determine if it meets the newest guidelines for removing contagious air droplets, bringing in fresh air.

There are probably many more design considerations than the above.

The St. Louis CITY SC crest.

Then there’s the name of the team, announced two days ago: St. Louis CITY SC.

We are East of the River and West of I-270. We are Old North and South County. St. Charles and St. Ann. Belleville and Oakville. We are the heart of a vibrant midtown and the soul of dozens of historic downtowns.

Our club represents every street, neighborhood and community in the region, standing up for one another. We are the collective spirit of generations old and young, doers and makers, always looking forward – together.

We are America’s First Soccer Capital and we tenaciously embrace our future. This is our club. This is our home. This is our CITY. (St. Louis CITY SC)

Part of me likes the idea that they’re trying to accomplish — getting us to view the region as outsiders do — a city called St. Louis. Outsiders don’t see or care that St. Louis County is carved up into 90 municipalities, or that the City of St. Louis physical boundaries were frozen in place nearly a century and a half ago. .

Carolyn Kindle Betz, who heads the local ownership group MLS4TheLou, has announced the name and logo for the new Major League Soccer team in St. Louis.

The team is named “Saint Louis City SC” and the color “city red” which borders on the color pink is featured in their logo.

Betz says that the team’s name is a way to bring the region together. The “City” aspect of the name is used by many other soccer clubs internationally. (Fox2)

Betz is right, I was able to find a lot of football clubs with ‘city’ in the name, Manchester City FC is the most known example. It seems not all football…uh…soccer fans like ‘city’ in the name.

Football is full of boring team names like ‘United’, ‘Rovers’ and ‘City’. Look in the right places, however, and you’ll find some really, really good ones. (Planet Football)

It’s interesting how U.S. teams use F.C. (football club) or S.C. (soccer club).  The MLS league will have thirty teams once expansion is complete. Thirteen use ‘FC’ in their names, including the three other expansion teams. With St. Louis CITY SC, the will have four ‘SC’ teams. The remaining thirteen do not use either ‘FC’ or ‘SC’ in their team names.

The colors, crest, etc are all very nice.

— Steve Patterson

 

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