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Restaurant, Lounge or Late Night Club?

ABOVE: University Lofts at 1627 Washington Ave where LeTreri Little wants to open Couture

The business Rich Girl Lifestyle, LLC is seeking a liquor license at the address 1627 Washington Ave, in the space previously occupied by Cummel’s.  The building is known as the University Lofts.  Few things are as controversial as the issuance of a liquor license and the application for the place to be called Couture is no exception.

In April liquor license compliance specialist Joe Kelly sent a letter to property owners, businesses & registered voters within a 350 feet radius of that address seeking their approval for a liquor license at a new “restaurant and lounge” to be called Couture. My building is within the radius but only those on the first three floors get any say about such matters. The city must think sound can’t reach me or my neighbors on the 4th floor or higher.

Teri Little indicated to KMOV’s Maggie Crane that Couture would close most nights by 11pm:

The proposed hours of operation are 11a-11pm M-Th, 11am-130am Fri-Sat.

In a nutshell, it’s a boutique styled cafe/lounge(speakeasy style venue) geared towards the fashion friendly. We will serve food and exotic handmade cocktails as well as some light retail. (source)

However, a resident of University Lofts told me they are now saying they will be open until 1am 7pm every night.  Late nights on Friday and Saturday nights are expected, especially on Washington Ave.  But the rest of the week the area is a mostly quiet residential neighborhood.

Neither LeTeri Little, or her business partner Angelique Hover, live in the City of St. Louis. Residency isn’t a requirement to obtain a liquor license, of course, but I don’t know that residents of nearby suburbs can appreciate the concern of those who live in close proximity to others.

ABOVE: Entry to the space from the shared lobby of the University Lofts

The resident I talked to indicated the lobby doorway would not be the main entrance.


ABOVE: Side entrance to 1627 Washington Ave, off the now closed 16th Street

He said the side door would be the doorway used instead.  I haven’t verified his claims but I doubt the doorway would be used as is, it’s just too steep.  It is possible to build a platform and easier steps to use this door, perhaps even a deck for outdoor seating.

ABOVE: 16th Street has been closed to cars since the streetscape on Washington was rebuilt

Using the side door makes since to bring some life to this short block of 16th Street.  The problem is the width of the public right-of-way is only 50 feet.

ABOVE: Looking north at 16th St, University Lofts (left) and Railway Lofts (right)

Given how sound can bounce from wall to wall it is absurd residents on the 4th floor or higher don’t get a say in liquor license applications.  My windows face the building next door, about 75 feet away, and I hear everything that goes on in the parking lot below. This limitation needs to be reviewed and revised.


ABOVE: The now closed Label bar on South 4th where an off-duty police officer was shot & killed

LeTeri Little’s husband, Chris Little, ran the Label in Chouteau’s Landing, which has been in the news since April:

St. Louis Police are mourning the loss of one of its veteran officers, following a downtown altercation in a nightclub parking lot. (source)

Very different area, there might be a few residences in the upper floors of these buildings but parking lots and other businesses is the norm.  Is there guilt by association? Yes, prior and affiliated businesses are a basis I would use to approve a new license — if I got a say in the matter.

Personally I like the idea of a new establishment near me and I like a drink now and then so I wouldn’t flat out reject it.  But most restaurants are not open until 1am seven nights per week.

– Steve Patterson


Pedestrian Access Route Completed at Schlafly Bottleworks

Last October I posted about the lack of a pedestrian route to reach the Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood.  Pedestrians were forced to walk in spaces designed for cars, not people.  Pedestrians deserve their own route separate from crossing through automobile parking lots.  Furthermore, American’s with Disabilities Act guidelines requires such:

4.3.2 Location.

(1) At least one accessible route within the boundary of the site shall be provided from public transportation stops, accessible parking, and accessible passenger loading zones, and public streets or sidewalks to the accessible building entrance they serve. The accessible route shall, to the maximum extent feasible, coincide with the route for the general public.

Failure to provide this route is a civil rights violation, as well as being very anti-pedestrian.

I’m happy to report Schlafly has just completed constructing an access route!

ABOVE: new paving leads the pedestrian from sidewalk toward the building entrance.

Schalfly knows good  food & beer, not pedestrian access.  Responsibility to plan for pedestrian access falls to the architects & engineers hired by business owners. Unfortunately too many of these professionals fail their clients and the public by not considering how the pedestrian on the sidewalk will reach the front door.

ABOVE: Bottleworks in October 2010

I’m convinced that if design professionals actually informed their clients of the need to provide a route for pedestrians we’d see buildings get placed closer to the public sidewalk to reduce the expense of the concrete.  My preference, of course, would be for the buildings to abut the sidewalk — with no parking in between. Building codes must get caught up so this becomes something plan reviewers and building inspectors will check for.

In the meantime I’ve got thousands of business & property owners to persuade to do as Schlafly has done. I’ll probably start with Schlafly’s original location, The Tap Room, located in west downtown.

– Steve Patterson


Readers Will Shop the Updated Downtown Macy’s More Than Before

June 1, 2011 Downtown, Retail 2 Comments
ABOVE: Macy's occupies three floors of the Railway Exchange building

Last week the poll was about the recently reopened downtown Macy’s store:

Q:  Will you shop at the downtown Macy’s more than you used to?

  1. I didn’t shop there before and still won’t 26 [24.07%]
  2. I’ve shopped there before, will continue to do so 24 [22.22%]
  3. I didn’t shop there before, will check it out though 19 [17.59%]
  4. I’ve shopped there before, will do more thanks to improved selection 19 [[17.59%]
  5. I’ve shopped there before, will do less now that it is smaller 5 [4.63%]
  6. I don’t live in the St. Louis region 5 [4.63%]
  7. Other answer… 5 4.63%]
  8. I didn’t shop there before but will start now 3 [2.78%]
  9. Unsure/no opinion 2 [1.85%]

Some indicated they will shop less because the store is small, a good number indicated they will shop more or will at least check out the store. The five other answers were:

  1. Will certainly give it a look, as it is closer than other dept. stores
  2. Yes. But I won’t eat there more. Ba dum bump!
  3. Ate there often, shopped a little. Less reason to go now.
  4. Didn’t know there is a Macy’s downtown.
  5. I won’t shop at any Macy’s. Famous-Barr 4-eva!

I will probably shop there less often because I won’t be there once per month for a lunch meeting anymore.

– Steve Patterson


Readers Glad To See Bike Station & Shop Downtown

ABOVE: Downtown St. Louis Bike Station in use on Tuesday April 26, 2011

The poll (& post) last week was about downtown’s newest businesses – a bike station and bike shop:

Q: Will you use the new downtown bike station & shop?

  1. I won’t use either, but I’m glad to see they are opening 49 [32.03%]
  2. I’ll use the bike shop, but not the bike station 24 [15.69%]
  3. I’ll use both the station and shop 20 [13.07%]
  4. I won’t use either 14 [9.15%]
  5. I don’t live in St. Louis 14 [9.15%]
  6. I might use one or both 13 [8.5%]
  7. Other answer… 11 [7.19%]
  8. Unsure at this time 6 [3.92%]
  9. I’ll use the bike station, but not the bike shop 2 [1.31%]

The bike station & shop are clearly appealing to many readers, but the numbers of users is limited due to the niche nature.

Here are the eleven other answers provided by readers:

  1. Would use it if I worked Downtown
  2. the city sucks and steals ideas from young people
  3. Bike lanes are a waste of good driving lanes.
  4. I’ll drive my car and arrive to work clean and on time.
  5. I don’t live in downtown STL anymore so I no longer need a bike to commute.
  6. Already signed up as a member!
  7. I no longer live in STL, but I’ll promote both to family/friends as always.
  8. don’t use downtown
  9. nope
  10. I’d use it every day if I worked in the area.
  11. Wish there were one near Barnes

The bike station had a soft opening on the 21st.  At 10am tomorrow both the station and Urban Shark bike shop will hold their grand openings.

ABOVE: Downtown Bike Station entry is off a dead-end alley

From a September 8, 2010 press release:

The City of St. Louis applied for a Federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant from the Department of Energy to specifically fund this project. These funds were designated for energy-saving projects, and had to be approved by the Department of Energy. From the grant the City received, $181,600 will cover the costs to buy the lockers, interior bike racks, and fund the operational costs of the Downtown Bike Center’s first two years. The Downtown Community Improvement District and other partners will provide additional funding.

“We are building a City that provides an attractive way of life. After World War II, the car was a symbol of freedom. For some people today, it is just the opposite,” said Mayor Slay. “We look forward to working with the Downtown St. Louis CID and Loftworks to ensure the long-term success of this public bike center and the City’s cycling initiative.”

“This project will help cement Downtown as a walkable, livable neighborhood where you can rely on alternatives to the car,” said Maggie Campbell, Partnership President and CEO. “We are thrilled to be working with the community to realize this sustainable investment.”

“Since vehicle emissions contribute about a third of the Greenhouse Gasses into the environment, we wanted to use these ARRA Stimulus funds to promote an alternative mode of transportation,” said Catherine Werner, the City’s Sustainability Director. “By enabling St. Louis commuters to choose cycling as an affordable and attractive option, the City is demonstrating its commitment to being a healthy and sustainable community.”

Additional information:

– Steve Patterson




Sidewalks Reopened Around Former St. Louis Centre

ABOVE: Former walkway over Washington Ave, looking west from 6th on May 19, 2010

St. Louis Centre, the former failed downtown enclosed mall, was an assault on the sidewalk and the pedestrians that use them.  In typical mall fashion, retail was turned inward rather than facing the sidewalk.  The walkways over Washington & Locust blocked views on both streets in both directions. 1980s thinking at it’s worst!

In the last year the structure has been transformed ground level retail and enclosed parking.  The work is nearly complete.

ABOVE: Looking west from 6th on December 10, 2010

Storefronts now face the public sidewalks on all sides of the building which occupies the city block bounded by Washington Ave on the north, 6th on the east, Locust on the south and 7th on the west.  During the last year the sidewalks were closed during construction.

ABOVE: Looking west from 6th on April 14, 2011

Thursday evening I was able to do a complete circle around the building. The only sidewalk not open is the raised part, shown above. Usually you don’t want to place steps between the main sidewalk and retail businesses because that can cut down on foot traffic, but sometimes you have no choice given the grades.

– Steve Patterson