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New Coffeehouse Opening Soon on Page Blvd Just East of Grand Ave

July 7, 2012 Featured, Local Business, North City, Retail Comments Off on New Coffeehouse Opening Soon on Page Blvd Just East of Grand Ave

The other day I was delighted to see “coming soon” signs in the first floor retail space at in the St. Louis Housing Authority’s headquarters built in 2009. PNC Bank is in the west end of the building.

ABOVE: Chronicle Coffee will open soon on Page Ave in the building with the St. Louis Housing Authority and PNC Bank

Chronicle Coffee bills itself on Twitter (@ChronicleCoffee ) as “A St. Louis-based coffee company dedicated to helping the community control their narrative one cup at a time…

Believe it or not, people that live and work in north St. Louis also drink coffee. I know this may come as a shock to some of you but it’s true. I’ll certainly patronize them once they open.

— Steve Patterson


Excellent Urban Infill: North Sarah Apartments By McCormack Baron Salazar

It was by chance that I discovered the North Sarah Apartments under construction on May 11, 2012.   Photographing the Hodiamont ROW for a post last month (link) I saw new construction a block north and had to check it out.

ABOVE: Storefronts face Sarah at the new North Sarah Apartments development, click image for aerial in Google Maps

Developer McCormack Baron Salazar describes the project:

North Sarah, a multi-family, mixed-use development, consists of 120 mixed-income rental units in garden apartments, townhouses, three mixed-use buildings (approx. 7,000 SF of commercial/retail space) and a fourth mixed-use building that includes management/community space (approx. 4,900 SF). This development represents a critical component of the North Central Redevelopment Plan that was developed over several years and completed in 2000 by the City of St. Louis, community stakeholders and residents.

Located in the North Central area of North St. Louis City, North Sarah is anchored by key St. Louis neighborhood assets on its edges, including Grand Center to the east, the Central West End to the west, and nearby Saint Louis University to the south and east. In the community’s core, a number of new civic, educational, commercial and residential developments have created nodes of reinvestment. However, despite this progress and potential, a number of blocks in the North Central district, including those targeted for the North Sarah development, remain heavily disinvested, preventing the neighborhood fabric from being “knit” back together as desired under the North Central Plan. The North Sarah development is a key connector in bridging current gaps in revitalization and catalyzing further reinvestment in the area.

The architecture of North Sarah celebrates the historic character of the community while featuring modern amenities and sustainable (“green” technology) to improve both the marketability and energy efficiency of the units. Specifically, the development is designed in accordance with Enterprise Green Communities criteria.

North Sarah also benefits from a creatively structured and capitalized Human Capital Planning and Implementation Program lead by Urban Strategies in collaboration with key community stake holders. The development will staff a community liaison that will assist with the coordination of supportive services and implementation of resident activities. (McCormack Baron Salazar)

Here are some of the pictures I took that day:

ABOVE: Streets have been narrowed at intersections, ramps are directly in the path of travel
ABOVE: Storefront spaces facing North Sarah, hopefully entrepreneurs can open shops and serve the needs of local residents
ABOVE: The buildings along North Sarah vary, you don’t see block after block of the same thing
ABOVE: The side streets (W. Belle Ave, C D Banks Ave, Finney Ave) have a nice feel to them
ABOVE: The buildings, facades and materials help give the appearance of private buildings rather than being part of the same apartment development
ABOVE: The spacing between buildings is good relative to the width of the buildings

The development isn’t perfect, someone thought it’d be a good idea to use the impervious concrete on some of the sidewalks on North Sarah even though it’s a rough surface. Time will tell how the project does but from a design perspective this is one of the best infill projects I’ve seen in the city. The inclusion of storefronts along North Sarah sets this apart from so many others that force residents to leave their neighborhood for goods & services.

Kudos to McCormack Baron Salazar and everyone involved for making this a reality!

– Steve Patterson


Save A Lot To Anchor Jefferson Commons

Last week details become public for the development to be known as Jefferson Commons. You may know it by the last grocery occupant, Foodland. The development is located at Jefferson & Lafayette (Google Maps). From the developer:

Green Street and partners purchased the vacant 1601 S. Jefferson property in late 2011. Since closing on the property we have been diligently working on redevelopment plans to create a sustainable multi-tenant retail property that will provide goods and services to the community. Our anchor tenant will be Save A Lot who will occupy the 17,600 SF Suite A. In addition to Save A Lot we are in final negotiations with a nationally recognized fitness center and a nationally recognized sandwich shop. We do have additional space available at the site and we are currently talking to other prospective retailers who will be a good fit for the neighborhood. (Jefferson Commons page)

The grocery store was built originally as a Kroeger.

ABOVE: The grocery building was last a Foodland, its been closed for nearly ten years

I did a 3-part series last year on this site: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. The owner of the main site, Green Street Properties, presented their redevelopment to the community a week ago.

ABOVE: The meeting at a church gym in The Gate District neighborhood was well attended

The following drawings are preliminary concepts:

ABOVE: The former Foodland building would be divided into four tenant spaces

Save-A-Lot grocery would occupy “Suite A” at the south end of the building.  At the meeting residents expressed both support and disappointment in Save-A-Lot.  Those supporting the grocery chain said they were tired of this being vacant and they wanted a market within walking distance. Those disappointed mentioned a preference for a store with better food, such as organic, as would be the case with a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s. The site is in the 6th ward (Triplett) but 19th ward Ald Marlene Davis correctly pointed out that Dierberg’s, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s aren’t coming to the city.  However, I was told that Whole Foods “had an LOI in place on a urban style store in the CWE. They backed out when their pedestrian traffic counts didn’t hold up.”  Pedestrian traffic  counts, not vehicular traffic counts!

Other tenants in the building would include a fitness center and possibly a hardware store. Green Street doesn’t own the small strip center to the north but they are trying to acquire it. A new building would be added within the main parking lot, it includes a drive-thru.

ABOVE: Preliminary site plan shows new outlet building and multiple pedestrian access routes, click image to view a larger version

I’m happy to see pedestrian access being added but I suggested a few points via email to the architect as they finalize the site plan:

  1. Provide an access route to the park to the left of the upper left corner, residents currently use an opening in the fence to have direct access
  2. Provide an access route to the neighboring property along Hennrieta Pl so residents of that street have direct access to the site.
  3. Make the access route from Lafayette  Ave to the main building a straight shot rather than attempting to divert pedestrians to the east.
  4. Provide an access route to the hotel at the south edge of the site so hotel guests can easily walk over to buy snacks or have dinner at a new restaurant.
  5. Distribute bike parking rather than cluster all in front of Suite B.

At the meeting two individuals said they wished the building had red brick to fit in. Both times I cringed, why must we wrap everything  in the same red brick? A century ago the materials used and colors were vast.

ABOVE: Proposed exterior view of the south corner

I like the modern exterior that’s proposed, a good reuse of the existing structure.  Now’s your chance, share your thoughts in the comments below.

– Steve Patterson


Washington University Replacing Occupied Buildings, Leaving Vacant Buildings/Land Vacant

ABOVE: Drawing from a February 2010 Student Life article, click image to view

In February Washington University made a big announcement regarding development in the Delmar Loop:

Washington University plans to remake a central part of the Delmar Loop with an $80 million project consisting of stores and apartments for about 550 students.

The project comprises a four- to six-story building of retail space and apartments on Delmar Boulevard at Eastgate Avenue and three new mid-rise apartment buildings on Enright Avenue nearby. Design work will begin soon, and construction could begin in January 2013 with occupancy in August 2014, university officials said. (STLtoday.com)

Numerous existing buildings will be razed to make room for the new buildings. My first reaction was disapproval, razing occupied structures when vacant land and buildings exist just a short distance to the east. But I wanted to wait to blog about the project until I had a chance to see all the buildings that would be razed and to get a feel for the area. First though I want to talk vacant land and buildings.

East of Skinker

The long closed auto service place located at 6045 Delmar is owned by Quadrangle Management, part of Washington University. The building is the only structure on the block surrounded by Delmar Blvd, Des Peres Ave and Rosedale Ave. This MetroLink station has been open nearly 20 years, I’d hoped this site would be redeveloped years ago.

ABOVE: The closed auto service center was built in 1964. It's adjacent to MetroBus & MetroLink stops. Click image to view in Google Maps.

Redevelopment of this site right next to the light rail line and the meeting point for numerous bus lines would be great for the area. The vacant 1928 Wasbash Wabash Station across Des Peres Ave might be renovated and occupied.

ABOVE: Historic Wasbash Wabash Station is owned by Joe Edwards through an LLC. Click image for more information on this station.

Just to the west of the vacant auto service building is a large parcel of land (6105-23 Delmar) that had been proposed for development in 2006.

ABOVE: Sign for unbuilt "Loop Center" project, April 2006.

The unremarkable structures that existed were razed in 2006 2007 — the land has been vacant since. Neither Washington University or Joe Edwards control this land. Still it just strokes me as wasteful for Washington University to razed occupied buildings when they own an vacant and out of character building right next to a major transit hub. But let’s cross over Skinker and check out what they do plan to replace.

West of Skinker

Let’s take a tour of the site starting with two structures facing Delmar that would be razed then working our way counter-clockwise.

ABOVE: These two apartment buildings from 1928 would be replaced
ABOVE: The vacant lot at Delmar & Eastgate would be developed once again. The building across the street isn't part of the development site
ABOVE: This nice occupied building from 1923 would be razed, 609-611 Eastgate Ave
ABOVE: 6236 Enright Ave was built in 1923 and contains 6 apartments
ABOVE: The remainder of the south side Enright is occupied by University Terrace, apartment/townhouse buildings from 1970
ABOVE: University Terrace building at Enright & Westgate Ave

According to this video the University Terrace apartments on Enright were renovated in 2009. Look like nice housing to me.

Not Part of Project

Continuing our walk around the block we’re at Westgate and Delmar, these buildings are not part of the Washington University project.

ABOVE: The out of place building at Delmar & Westgate was built in 1969, the year before the University Terrace buildings behind it.
ABOVE: This building and parking garage across from the Tivoli will remain. The garage was built in 1998.
ABOVE: East of the garage is a 2-story building from 1920 and the first of a series of 3-story apartment buildings with retail on the first floor, also built in 1920.
ABOVE: More 3-story apartment buildings, with the first floor as storefronts. Built in 1920.
ABOVE: The last 1920 apartment building with retail, the Washington University project will raze the building barely visible on the right.


Disclosure: I have NO relationship with Washington University.





Inviting Storefront Design Critical to Revitalizing Old Commercial Districts

Storefront design has a big impact on how we perceive an area. So often formerly inviting storefronts became closed over time as commercial districts went downhill. Lately, in many of these commercial districts, we’ve seen a welcomed return to inviting glass storefronts as the areas become filled with new establishments.

ABOVE: 3108 Morgan Ford Rd in Oct 2010

For many years the space behind my favorite bike shop, A&M Bicycles, was used for storage. Down the street Local Harvest Grocery needed to expand beyond their original space, a perfect match. Except for that awful storefront! No business was going to use the space with that front.

ABOVE: Work underway in January 2011
ABOVE: New storefront is inviting, improves district, April 2011

All up and down Morgan Ford Rd old closed storefronts like this one have been replaced by mostly glass storefronts. The visual impact on the commercial district is amazing, no longer does the street feel rundown.

  – Steve Patterson