Water Main Break Underscores Need To Update Century Old Water System

 

 You may have heard about a press conference last week at St. Louis’ Chain of Rocks water treatment  facility. St. Louis and Environmental Protection Agency officials are calling for the passage of President Joe Biden’s jobs plan to help update the city’s water treatment system to continue to provide safe …

Rampant COVID violations at Fast Eddie’s Bon Air freaked me out Saturday

 

 We knew Saturday would be a gorgeous day so we decided to drive up the Great River Road along the Mississippi River north of Alton IL. Our first stop would be a favorite, Fast Eddie’s Bon Air. We knew it had been cited for Covid violations in October 2020: A …

Smart Electric Meters & Time Of Use (TOU) Rate Plans Coming To Ameren Missouri Customers

 

 Recently we received a flyer from electric utility Ameren Missouri notifying us that our meter will be changed to a smart meter within the coming months. I soon began digging into Ameren’s website to learn more detail: Smart meters enable wireless, two-way communication that will allow us to pinpoint and …

New Book: ‘Case Studies in Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Strategies for Urgent Challenges’ by June Williamson & Ellen Dunham-Jones

 

 One of the most important issues facing regions in the coming decades will be the enormous amount of land around the inner core that was developed in a manner that exacerbates current & future problems. Suburbia everywhere will need to be retrofitted. In 2009 I posted about a new book …

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Nonprofit Run By Hubbard Family To Renovate Long-Vacant Carr School

April 1, 2021 Featured, North City, NorthSide Project, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Nonprofit Run By Hubbard Family To Renovate Long-Vacant Carr School
 

Carr Square Tenant Management head Rodney Hubbard Sr. will announce later today that the nonprofit will finally renovate the crumbling Carr School.

Carr School, built in 1908, has been vacant for decades. 2013 photo

After collecting fees from & suing actual developers, the Hubbard family is going to put on the developer hat. Securing permits won’t be a problem because Rodney’s daughter Tammika Hubbard is the alderman.  Unless James Page defeats her at the polls on Tuesday.

Carr School is owned by Carr Square. The ground surrounding it is owned by NorthSide Regeneration, the Paul McKee-led effort to compile property in north St. Louis, in which Carr Square is partner. (Post-Dispatch)

Yes, the Hubbards will likely turn to their buddy Paul McKee for help. Their nonprofit helped McKee get his tax credits. Expect the project to proceed at the pace of other McKee’s NorthSide projects.

— Steve Patterson

The St. Louis Region Needs a Moratorium Stopping Construction of New Gas Stations

March 31, 2021 Big Box, Books, Central West End, Featured Comments Off on The St. Louis Region Needs a Moratorium Stopping Construction of New Gas Stations
 

Earlier this month a city in Northern California has done what other municipalities should do: ban the construction of new gas stations.

The city of Petaluma has become the first in the nation to ban the construction of new gas stations in the city, as part of its aggressive goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.

On Monday night, the city council unanimously approved the measure with a second reading of the ordinance, effectively adopting the ban immediately.

The ordinance was widely embraced, as the city council said it faced no opposition.

In a city of some 60,000 residents, covering 14.5 square miles, Petaluma currently has 16 gas stations with another previously approved filling station on the way.  (Source)

It’s foolish to keep devoting more and more land & money into a business model that’s in decline. As vehicles have gotten more efficient gasoline sales have been in decline, as electric vehicles begin to  flood the market gasoline sales will continue falling off. One estimate is 60%-80% of existing gas stations could close by 2035.

Petaluma California is similar in land area & population to the St. Louis suburb of Florissant. By my count Florissant also has 17 gas stations.

Our region has food deserts, but not gas station deserts. Gas stations, mostly large convenience stores that also sell fuel, are everywhere. Former gas stations, vacant & repurposed, are also everywhere.

These will not be repurposed later into EV charging stations as EVs are recharged overnight, at home. Yes, eventually EV batteries will be able to be charged significantly faster, but by then cars will either be owned by ride share companies or it can go off on it’s own and park on a charging pad while you work.

Newer has station in the suburb of Rock Hill, MO replaced a historic stone church.
A closed gas station on the NE corner of Compton & Chippewa.
Former BP gas station at Lackland & Midland, it closed sometime between 2008 & 2012.
The vacant gas station at 2418 N. Florissant was built in 1972.
The urban Arlington Grove Apts as seen from the auto-centric gas station across the street.

Gas stations are a blight, a big hole in the urban fabric. They’re anti-pedestrian. These should no longer be built in the city, county, or region. A big part of why Petaluma banned new gas stations is a grassroots organization called Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations — we need a similar effort here.

— 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

Auto-Centric Pandemic, Vaccine Site Adjacent To Light Rail Station Didn’t Mention Using Transit

March 25, 2021 Central West End, Featured, Public Transit, STL Region, Transportation Comments Off on Auto-Centric Pandemic, Vaccine Site Adjacent To Light Rail Station Didn’t Mention Using Transit
 

The previous 12 months have highlighted how auto-centric the United States is. So far during this pandemic we’ve seen drive through food banks, and COVID-19 testing. Each with cars backed up for miles. To keep the cars on the road there were also lines at licensing offices.

From May 28, 2020:

On Friday, May 29 CVS Health will open 22 new COVID-19 drive-thru test sites across Missouri, including locations in St. Louis.

CVS Health expects to have up to 1,000 locations across the country offering this service by the end of May.

The testing will be by appointment only. You won’t go into the store, but sit in your car and administer the test. (Fox2)

From June 11, 2020:

Many St. Louis-area residents endured long lines and waiting times at licensing offices Thursday, which recently re-opened due to COVID-19 worries.

Thursday, a News 4 crew found some people who waited several hours at two licensing offices in west St. Louis County, where only a few people are allowed inside at one time to due to COVID-19 restrictions. (KMOV)

From November 25, 2020:

From California to New York, pictures have emerged of thousands of people waiting to receive groceries from their local food banks ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

It’s one side effect that has cropped up as a result of the coronavirus pandemic that continues to sweep the nation. Experts say the problem is rooted in high unemployment and low cash flow. (CNBC)

So it was no surprise when it came time for vaccinations that many sites weren’t accessible by foot or public transit. As with food & testing, people in their cars were backed up for miles to get a shot.

Last Thursday:

Traffic was backed up for more than a mile in both directions entering the county’s drive-thru mass vaccination site. The event, put on by the St. Charles County Health Department with support from the Missouri National Guard, was expected to vaccinate 4,000 people by the time it wrapped up Thursday evening. (KMOV)

Monday I got my first shot. I’d been on a waiting list at BJC only, as I knew I’d be able to take transit. Many people signed up for multiple lists with the expectation they’ll drive wherever they need to.

Valet parking makes sense, especially for those who can’t walk far.

I was given a choice of vaccination sites, but I picked the 4353 Clayton location because I knew it was adjacent to the Cortex MetroLink station. The instructions from BJC, however, didn’t mention transit at all.

  • Due to social distancing restrictions, do not arrive before your scheduled time.
    • If you arrive earlier, please remain in your vehicle until it’s time to enter the building.
  • Please park in the lot at the front of the building, labeled “30 minute visitor,” or the lot west of the building, labeled “2 hour visitor.”
    • Free valet parking is also available at the front of the building.
    • Click here for a parking map.

Despite my criticism of their lack of mentioning transit, the entire process was very well orchestrated. Outside they had signs & people to direct drivers. At the building they had people stationed at every step to keep the flow going. I was in and out in under a half hour!

– Steve Patterson

New Book: ‘Gray to Green Communities: A Call to Action on the Housing and Climate Crisis’ by Dana L. Bourland

March 22, 2021 Books, Featured Comments Off on New Book: ‘Gray to Green Communities: A Call to Action on the Housing and Climate Crisis’ by Dana L. Bourland
 

Quality affordable housing is an issue coast to coast, in booming & stagnant markets alike. A new book looks at the subject:

US cities are faced with the joint challenge of our climate crisis and the lack of housing that is affordable and healthy. Our housing stock contributes significantly to the changing climate, with residential buildings accounting for 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. US housing is not only unhealthy for the planet, it is putting the physical and financial health of residents at risk. Our housing system means that a renter working 40 hours a week and earning minimum wage cannot afford a two-bedroom apartment in any US county. 

In Gray to Green Communities, green affordable housing expert Dana Bourland argues that we need to move away from a gray housing model to a green model, which considers the health and well-being of residents, their communities, and the planet. She demonstrates that we do not have to choose between protecting our planet and providing housing affordable to all.

Bourland draws from her experience leading the Green Communities Program at Enterprise Community Partners, a national community development intermediary. Her work resulted in the first standard for green affordable housing which was designed to deliver measurable health, economic, and environmental benefits.

The book opens with the potential of green affordable housing, followed by the problems that it is helping to solve, challenges in the approach that need to be overcome, and recommendations for the future of green affordable housing. Gray to Green Communities brings together the stories of those who benefit from living in green affordable housing and examples of Green Communities’ developments from across the country. Bourland posits that over the next decade we can deliver on the human right to housing while reaching a level of carbon emissions reductions agreed upon by scientists and demanded by youth.

Gray to Green Communities will empower and inspire anyone interested in the future of housing and our planet. (Island Press)

Here’s how the book is organized:

Chapter 1: The Problem with Gray
Chapter 2: The Promise of Green
Chapter 3: Learning from the Green Communities Criteria
Chapter 4: The Challenges to Greening Affordable Housing for All
Chapter 5: A Just Future

I have the physical book, but I checked out the ebook from the St. Louis Library too.  You can view a preview on Google Books.

Anyone interested in the subject of housing should read this book.

— Steve Patterson

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