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Parking Lot Change Resulted In Cars Encroaching On 11th Street Public Sidewalk

August 27, 2018 Downtown, Featured, Parking, Walkability Comments Off on Parking Lot Change Resulted In Cars Encroaching On 11th Street Public Sidewalk

The Louderman building at 11th & Locust includes restaurants, offices, and residential. Most parking is underground, but they’ve always had a small surface lot

The fenced surface lot is over the underground parking for Louderman Lofts building. A few years ago I used this image in a post suggesting a small retail kiosk/building at the 11th/Olive corner. The developer confirmed it was built to handle that.

Change did come to this corner in June 2017, but not in the form of an urban building to establish the corner. The parking lot was reconfigured — possibly without city approval.

June 22, 2017: A Jeep is pulling out of the one fenced-in parking lot.
A new curb cut was created. This is just East of their basement garage drive.
Looking toward the lot we see the South fence section removed.
A more direct view
Closer up we can see the old fence leaning in the background.
The removed section was installed out at the Olive sidewalk, but a gap remains along 11th Street. September 6, 2017
Parking stops weren’t used so vehicles can pull forward to allow others to be able to exit. This means vehicles are parking on the public sidewalk — as defined by a tire on the sidewalk. May 16, 2018

Either the Louderman condo association did this without the city’s blessing/permission OR the city ignored their own parking lot requirements regarding minimum space size and fencing. This lot once used the existing alley for access, now we have an exit onto Olive. It was bad enough watching for cars entering/exiting their underground garage, not pedestrians must watch for vehicles exiting this surface lot as well. The sidewalk is narrowed by the cars encroaching.

Either way it’s annoying, ugly. I’ll be sending a link to this post to numerous people to find out A) was permission granted for the curb cut change and B) if there’s anyway to require parking stops &/or continuous fencing to keep cars from encroaching on the sidewalk.

— Steve Patterson



Well-Used Bus Stop Is A Muddy Hole After It Rains

August 20, 2018 Accessibility, Featured, Public Transit, Transportation, Walkability Comments Off on Well-Used Bus Stop Is A Muddy Hole After It Rains

Usually when I go to my regular doctor I take either the #97 (Delmar) MetroBus or MetroLink to connect with the southbound #90 MetroBus at Goodfellow or Forest Park station, respectively. However, depending on the bus schedule and my appointment time I’ll take the #10 MetroBus from Olive @ 16th to the Gravois-Hampton MetroBus Transit Center, and then catch the #90 MetroBus heading northbound. The alternative takes about 15 minutes longer, but often will get me to my destination closer to my appointment time.

The #10 (Lindell-Gravois) MetroBus ends at the transfer center on the NE corner of Hampton & Gravois

But I only take the Gravois-Hampton alternate if it hasn’t rained recently. You see, the bus stop I use to catch the Northbound #90 is a muddy hole if it has rained recently.

The bus stop is where thw standing water is on this October 2014 photo.

‘The Northbound #90 bus stays on Hampton rather than pulling into the transit center. Riders getting off/on must use the grassy tree lawn.

At the bus stop looking South toward the MetroBus transit center
Looking North, note the bus stop sign is mounted very high on the poll — and facing the street. I couldn’t read the stop ID from my wheelchair.
Cropping later I could see it’s stop #3275
The tree lawn is quite wide here, you can see how the grass is well-worn.
Up close I could see a tire track likely made when it was muddy

Even dry this stop is a problem when boarding. When the bus driver puts out the ramp/lift it leaves a huge gap my chair must get up — this is because all the use has worn this spot down so it’s lower than the curb and surrounding grass. Recently I was waiting in the grass just before the stop to avoid this problem. It’s adenegrated  experience for everyone dry or wet, impossible for us wheelchair users when wet.

Metro occasionally gets grants to improve accessibility of MetroBus stops — #3275 needs to be toward the top of the list for improvement.

— Steve Patterson


Sidewalk Obstruction Removed After Annoying Pedestrians For 7+ Years

August 6, 2018 Downtown, Featured, Planning & Design, Walkability Comments Off on Sidewalk Obstruction Removed After Annoying Pedestrians For 7+ Years

Last month I began going to the Downtown YMCA at the MX to workout (thanks AARP Medicare Plan). Locust would be direct, but crossing 13th in a wheelchair is awkward and construction has the sidewalk on the North closed at 10th. So I take Washington Ave East to 6th. It was there, next to the Eastbound Convention Center MetroLink station entrance, I encountered an obstacle. A wooden box with a yellow stick on top. At times I’d be meeting someone walking the other direction, one of us had to wait (usually me because of direction) while the other went by.

I snapped this photo on July 11, 2018 — my 6th visit to the YMCA at the MX. I didn’t share the pic.

By my 10th visit on July 11th I’d had enough, posting the following on Twitter:

On Facebook I posted this image and the one above with the same text. Reader Jim Zavist commented: “Based on Google Streetview, four bolts were imbedded in the sidewalk somewhere between 2009 and 2011 (for a sign?) and they’re apparently still there. Why nothing was ever installed is a very good question! https://goo.gl/maps/knG2vLWnEQ22”

When I got home I pulled up the link on my computer — Google Street View allows you to see current views, but you can also go back to see older views. I also looked through my photos to see why I had. Below is a mix of Google Street View screenshots & my photos. First, background history. The Convention Center Metrolink Station opened on July 31, 1993 as part of our original light rail line. The Eastbound entry/exit is located on the SW corner of 6th & Washington.

Eight years earlier St. Louis Centre indoor mall opened. So opening a  transit station adjacent to a mall is a good thing. After helping to kill downtown’s sidewalks, the mall closed.

October 2007 shows the unobstructed sidewalk, MetroLink station, tower & St. Louis Centre indoor mall . Source: Google Street View
September 2009 is much the same. Source: Google Street View
Looking west from 6th Street on May 22, 2010. The oppressive skywalk over Washington Ave would soon be removed as the indoor mall was turned into a parking garage with sidewalk-level retail. The adjacent office tower would also get a new entrance facing Washington Ave.
July 16, 2010 — the glass facade is being removed.
August 8, 2010 — — the bridge/skywalk is gone along with one bay of the old mall.
November 19, 2010 — the office tower’s new entry is taking shape
April 29, 2011 — new sidewalks are poured, new lighting installed.
June 2011 the exterior is basically done
July 2011 — Google Street View captures the recently poured sidewalks. Note the barrier…
Zooming in we can see 4 bolds sticking up from the newly poured sidewalk. Seeing the bolts made me think perhaps Metro planned some signs, I remember seeing new signs about this time.
October 11, 2011 — a worker installs a new sign on the other side of 6th. Recently I noticed this sign has a large base, way too big for the four bolts across the street. Perhaps a smaller version?
April 2015 — at least 4 years after the sidewalk with 4 bolts was poured a wooden box now hides them.
The box looks weathered, itself a trip hazard.
july 2015 — the box is still there unmarked. A Sherif’s van is parked on the sidewalk because that’s what we do in St. Louis.
july 2017 — by now someone added a yellow stick to the top of the box — to point out to pedestrians it is on the sidewalk

So when I posted about this on July 19th it had been an issue for over seven years. Seven years!

The box looks well worm by July 19, 2018

Either Metro or the MX developer planned something that was never going to be installed. Rather than cut the bolts off they built a wood box, then later added a yellow pole to said box to prevent people from tripping.  I know this is just one little sidewalk on a side street, but it illustrates how little concern there is for the pedestrian experience downtown — right next to a transit station.

The box & pole were still there on the morning of July 25th, but July 28th I came around the corner and saw they had been removed and the bolts cut off.

July 29, 2018 — no box w/yellow pole
Close up shows where thw bolts were cut off. No evidence of any electrical

It wold’ve been cheaper if the bolts had been cut off years ago, or realize the sidewalk was too narrow in the first place and the bolts not put in there in the first place!

In the big scheme of things St. Louis still has major problems, in that context this is insignificant. To me and others who use this sidewal, it is important,  There are still hundreds of other issues I deal with just downtown. I can’t solve St. Louis’ big problems, but I’ll take on small issues one by one.

Cities in which residents & tourists have challenges as a pedestrian are not going to have bustling sidewalks. Downtown retail/restaurants can’t survive without foot traffic. St. Louis would be wise to make life easier for pedestrians all over the city — but especially around major transit.

— Steve Patterson


Monogram’s Developer Not Closing 17th Street Afterall

July 23, 2018 Featured, Planning & Design Comments Off on Monogram’s Developer Not Closing 17th Street Afterall

A little over two years ago neighbors and myself were opposed to the proposed closure of a short section of 17th Street. The developer of the old CPI HQ, now called Monogram, wanted the city to give them 17th Street between Washington Ave & St. Charles St so they could connect two city blocks into a super-block.

Here are my posts from that time & issue:

We lost, the legislation passed so as work on converting the former office building into apartments we’ve been expecting St. Charles & 16th treets to get widened so they could become two-way — a requirement of closing 17th Street. In the last two years, however, something changed the developer’s mind about closing 17th Street.

The view from a neighbors balcony at 4:30pm in November 2009 — when CPI was still open and the lot was employee-only parking
2012 Entire block of surface parking east of CPI’s building shown in the background

For a few years after CPI closed anyone could park on the lot, but for a short time it became a pay lot. Once construction was set to begin a temporary chain link fence with locking gates was installed.

By May of 2017 lthe parking lot was filled nearly every day with construction workers’ vehicles.
In May of this year they trenched wiring to four new concrete bases for lights. It was at that point I didn’t think they’d widen 16th/St Charles to close 17th.
Then at the end of the last month the new fence posts going in confirmed the street changes would not happen.
By early this month a very attractive new fence was installed.
For years the lot have 4 drives — two on 16th, two on 17th. They fenced off two, leaving one per street. The remaining two got wide sliding gates.
A pedestrian gate is on Washington at 17th. Monogram residents who park here will walk across 17th — like we suggested in 2016.
On July 16th they began resurfacing the lot.
By closing half the in/out drives and not closing 17th/widening 16th/St Charles they get more total spaces than before.

I just wish the months-long battle over closing of 17th could’ve been avoided.

Thankfully the lighting is LEDs that face directory down, not out toward surrounding buildings. More outside lighting should be directed only where needed.

— Steve Patterson



Connecting The Dots Without Paul McKee

June 25, 2018 Featured, Planning & Design Comments Off on Connecting The Dots Without Paul McKee

I’ve long argued one key to revitalization of St. Louis is to focus on major corridors. Concentrating on major transportation corridors, used by many means  efforts will get noticed, whereas rehabbing or building new houses in the middle of a residential block four bstreets away may not. Not that we shouldn’t do work on neighborhood streets, but perceptions of entire neighborhoods can be positively influenced along busy corridors. Along the way you can improve mobility for pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and even motorists. My views ob the importance of corridors is why I liked some aspects of Paul McKee’s NorthSide Regeneration plan.

Two recent posts on McKee’s plans — which the city now says he’s in default on their agreements:

Northside project area, 2011

The plan focused on four largely vacant spots where McKee wanted to put jobs.

For the most part two corridors connect these four locations: Jefferson & Cass. As you can see from the image above, the total area is quite large. Overwhelmingly large.  St. Louis loves big projects, especially those that are too big to succeed.

St. Louis needs to look at these four spots and come up with a framework plan for each. Will one be mostly residential while another is industrial, and another a mix of uses? What is desired in terms of the form future buildings should take? What should the corridors look like? Travel speeds, width of auto lanes, transportation options? Answer the big picture questions and then developers (big & small) will know what is the desired outcome in 15-20 years. Players of all sizes can be a part of the effort.

I’d personally add a 5th spot to the list — the North riverfront area found at the East end of Cass Ave. @ N. Broadway.  Might as well look at the full length of Case Ave from Broadway on the East to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. just West of Grand Blvd. — a 2.5 mile-long corridor. What’s the development potential? Any historic buildings?

Looking north from Cass & Tucker 5 years ago as the approach to the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge was nearly complete.

Many are interested in investing in a North-South transit line: light rail, streetcar, BRT, etc. One study included Natural Bridge as part of the route — a station at Parnell/Salisbury (Jefferson) would be the kind of public infrastructure investment that could spur private interest. There’s also been talk of connecting the new National Geospatial Agency  West HQ, now under construction at Cass & Jefferson, to downtown via a streetcar or some other means. These should all be planned together, not separately as we often do here.

These efforts won’t return us to our peak population of over 856k, but concentrating new housings, jobs, etc can make near North St Louis more sustainable so continuing to provide city services is a viable option. Residential streets may remain sparsely populated for many decades, but have a nearby corridor active with jobs & residents will allow the neighborhoods to hold on until they can slowly stabilize with lower density than the nearby corridors.

Along these lines the City’s development entity. the St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC), is seeking proposals for a citywide economic development plan.

Alderman Joe Roddy, who as head of the Housing Urban Development and Zoning committee has called for a citywide plan for several years, said it was “long overdue.” He said a bill passed by alderman earlier this year calling for the creation of an economic development strategy, which would be updated annually, put some additional pressure on SLDC to move ahead with the strategy. (Post-Dispatch)

The last attempt at anything citywide was when Rollin Stanley was in charge of planning — he got a new land use analysis passed, but got pushed out before he could get needed zoning changes enacted. Lots of wasted effort in a city that resists changing despite plenty of evidence it needed to decades ago.

While I think St. Louis could bring affordable new housing, quality transit, improved pedestrian environment, and much-needed jobs to the Northside — I’m not convinced it has the capacity to change enough to do what’s required. Hopefully I’m wrong.

— Steve Patterson