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Poor Pedestrian Accessibly at Saint Louis (Panera) Bread Co on Chippewa St. at Lansdowne Ave

The comments on a recent post brought up the issue of poor pedestrian accessibility at the Saint Louis Bread Co on Chippewa St at Lansdowne Ave and the fact they added a drive-thru to the existing location last year at a cost of $125,000 (per city records).

ABOVE: Recently added drive-thru lane at the Saint Louis Bread Co at 6607 Chippewa, click image to view aerial in Google Maps

The building at 6607 Chippewa was built in 1974 but became the present Saint Louis Bread Co after a major remodel in 2000, a decade after President George H.W. Bush signed the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. Like most places in this part of town, most customers arrive by private automobile, that’s how I arrived earlier this month.

ABOVE: Easy access from disabled parking, my car is the vehicle on the left

The location is in the Lindenwood Park neighborhood and across the street from the St. Louis Hills neighborhood.  Both neighborhoods include many people who walk recreationally. The Saint Louis Bread Co likely has a fair number of employees that arrive as pedestrians via MetroBus (#10 or #30).

ABOVE: Accessibility in the public right-of-way is good with ramps, crosswalks and signals to assist crossing Chippewa St

Public sidewalks and public transportation is equality important with respect to accessible route:

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. (Source: ADA Accessibility Guidelines)

They are good on the route from accessible parking but they fail to provide a route from “public transportation stops…and public streets or sidewalks.”  There is no “or” in guideline, it’s clear a route must be provided for all. Since most public transportation stops happen in the public right-of-way you cover access from a public sidewalk you’ve got transportation covered as well.

ABOVE: The only pedestrian entry point is a stair on the SW corner of the building
ABOVE: The stair doesn't meet the ADA guidelines regarding railing design, click image to read guidelines

The stair as numerous issues, the railings don’t extend beyond the last step. One addition step exists beyond the stair and it does’t have a railing.

ABOVE: A switchback ramp should have been constructed in the above space in 2000, click image for ramp guidelines

In 2000 and in 2011 they made substantial alterations to the property yet they failed to correct the lack of a proper pedestrian access route. I will follow this until a pedestrian access route is finally provided.

– Steve Patterson


Former City Hospital Power Plant to Include Rock Climbing Gym, Banquet Hall, Rooftop Dining

An interesting new concept will open for business next month:

Is St. Louis ready for one of the tallest bouldering walls in the nation? Or a banquet facility where attendees can watch rock climbers scale a 55-foot wall? Or a corporate party that includes rock climbing? Ready or not, Climb So iLL will be opening in the historic City Hospital Power Plant in mid-March. (St. Louis Business Journal)

You’ll be able to grab lunch at a restaurant while viewing the climbing space.

ABOVE: Former City Hospital power house, September 2011

This is a creative  use of a difficult building:

Listed on the city’s historical registry, the Power Plant supplied power to the St. Louis City Hospital for nearly 50 years. The City Hospital complex is made up of several buildings including the Laundry Building, the Administrative Complex, the City Hospital itself, and the Power Plant.

 The once abandoned City Hospital has been renovated into the Georgian Condominiums, and the Laundry Building is now home to the Palladium Banquet Center. Several other construction projects are underway on the site. Phase two of construction hopes to bring with it a bakery, a micro-brewery, a locally-grown food processing distribution center, and a hotel. (climbsoill.com)

It has been nice seeing the City Hospital site develop over time. The streets and sidewalks have been in place and one by one the development is filling in between.

ABOVE: The interior didn't look like anything last September during a pre-construction tour

This is an example of what I was talking about the other day regarding The Bottle District — the planning was done and the infrastructure (streets & sidewalks) to connect development parcels within the site and to the adjacent neighborhoods. As demand and financing becomes available vacant buildings are renovated and occupied and new construction is built to fill in other areas.

We need more of this — plan the site, put the infrastructure in place and build/renovate over time. The developer of the site isn’t responsible for financing all the future renovations and new construction at the beginning. For more info and artist renderings of the rock climbing gym see climbsoill.com.

– Steve Patterson


One Block of Cherokee Street Took 17 Years to Build

My friend suggested we meet for lunch at Tower Tacos on Cherokee. I knew that meant I’d have to drive there and he could walk, but I rarely pass up lunch on Cherokee.

ABOVE: Tower Tacos at 3147 Cherokee is in the middle of a block, click to view in Google Maps

This side of Cherokee between Compton Ave on the west and Michigan Ave on the east contains seven buildings. At a casual glance I didn’t give much thought to them, they all looked like they were from the same period. Out of curiosity I decided to find out using Geo St. Louis, “a guide to geospatial data about the City of St. Louis.” What I found out was these seven buildings were built over a 17-year period (1896-1913):

  1. The first, 3137 Cherokee, was built in 1896 , a two-flat originally. This was the second lot from the east, not the corner.
  2. In 1905 a brick one story house was built to the lot to the west, at 3139 Cherokee. For nine years the other house stood alone, unless previous structures existed on this block.
  3. In 1909 a corner storefront was built next door to the east at 3133 Cherokee. This is the corner at Michigan Ave. Now we’ve got three buildings in a row.
  4. Also in 1909 a 2-story with first floor storefront space was built at 3147 Cherokee. This skipped a lot. This is now Tower Tacos
  5. A year later, 1910,brick 4-family was built at 3143-45 Cherokee filling in the gap left the previous year. Five buildings now in a row.
  6. In 1911 2-story with two storefronts and two flats was built on the next lot at 3151 Cherokee.
  7. Finally in 1913 a large 2-story  building with storefronts & flats was built at 3155-59 Cherokee, finishing the block at Compton Ave.

It’s possible earlier frame or soft brick buildings existed on this block but I have no knowledge of such. The point? Development, residential & commercial, used to be done a building at a time based on demand. The financing package was limited to buying the lot and building a single structure.

Today all 42 buildings on city block 1502 would have been built at once — or at least in the same development package. After the first developer goes under someone else would come in to finish building on the remaining vacant lots. All the buildings would have the same basic look, the exact same brick color and the same setback from the sidewalk. Boring.

The days of people buying lots and building their own home are long gone but in parts of the country it’s not uncommon for a developer to create building lots and then have many builders buy those lots. Some would get built on a speculative basis and some would be custom for a specific buyer. For filling in vacant parts of the city I’d like to see us try the idea of separating the development of build-able lots and the construction of new buildings.

– Steve Patterson


Real Neighborhood Restaurants Aren’t Chains

January 21, 2012 Featured, South City 52 Comments

For many eating out means visiting a familiar chain like a McDonald’s or an Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar. The funny thing is places like Applebee’s are rarely in actual neighborhoods. But in St. Louis we have so many locally owned establishments within our neighborhoods. I recently retuned to one such place for lunch.

ABOVE: The patio at Rue Lafayette is great in warmer weather.

Rue Lafayette is on Lafayette Ave facing Lafayette Park. It’s not part of a commercial district or adjacent to other commercial businesses. All the surrounding buildings are residential.

ABOVE: Interior of the west half of Rue Lafayette

The menu changes which is easy since it’s written in chalk. Area residents can walk down the street to grab a bite and enjoy a glass of wine or beer as well. I didn’t have any alcohol but I did treat myself to dessert after a salad.

ABOVE: Bread pudding is hard to resist

You can keep the big franchise places out there, for me I’m happy with locally owned establishments.

– Steve Patterson


Hartford Now Two-Way…Briefly

The other day I was driving westbound on Hartford heading to Grand (map) and I noticed the street changed from being one-way westbound to two-way for a short distance east of Grand.

ABOVE: Hartford looking west toward Grand

This probably changed months ago but I drive so rarely I hadn’t noticed. But why change such a short distance and not the entire street? Most likely the city didn’t want motorists to be able to avoid the light on Grand at Arsenal to go eastbound on Arsenal. You know, use the street grid as designed.   All over the city we’ve destroyed the grid, forcing drivers to use the main roads, not allowing  the use of the grid. Cars sit and idle at long traffic lights that all traffic must flow through. Hopefully someday we will allow the grid to be opened so traffic isn’t concentrated.

 – Steve Patterson