Celebrating Blog’s 19th Anniversary


  Nineteen year ago I started this blog as a distraction from my father’s heart attack and slow recovery. It was late 2004 and social media & video streaming apps didn’t exist yet — or at least not widely available to the general public. Blogs were the newest means of …

Thoughts on NGA West’s Upcoming $10 Million Dollar Landscaping Project


  The new NGA West campus , Jefferson & Cass, has been under construction for a few years now. Next NGA West is a large-scale construction project that will build a new facility for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in St. Louis, Missouri.This $1.7B project is managed by the U.S. Army …

Four Recent Books From Island Press


  Book publisher Island Press always impresses me with thoughtful new books written by people working to solve current problems — the subjects are important ones for urbanists and policy makers to be familiar and actively discussing. These four books are presented in the order I received them. ‘Justice and …

New Siteman Cancer Center, Update on my Cancer


  This post is about two indirectly related topics: the new Siteman Cancer Center building under construction on the Washington University School of Medicine/BJC campus and an update on my stage 4 kidney cancer. Let’s deal with the latter first. You may have noticed I’ve not posted in three months, …

Recent Articles:

Sunday Poll: Are We Lucky Dollar Stores Are Willing To Locate In Low-Income Areas?

February 17, 2019 Featured, Retail, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Are We Lucky Dollar Stores Are Willing To Locate In Low-Income Areas?

Please vote below

Today’s non-scientific poll is about dollar stores:

These stores have gained attention as success stories in the country’s most economically distressed places — largely rural counties with few retail options. Two main chains, Dollar General and Dollar Tree (which owns Family Dollar), operate more than 30,000 stores nationally and plan to open thousands more, vastly outnumbering Walmarts and other retailers.
In cities, dollar stores trade in economic despair, with many residents saying they are a vital source of cheap staples. But as the stores cluster in low-income neighborhoods, their critics worry they are not just a response to poverty — but a cause. Residents fear the stores deter other business, especially in neighborhoods without grocers or options for healthy food. Dollar stores rarely sell fresh produce or meats, but they undercut grocery stores on prices of everyday items, often pushing them out of business. (Post-Dispatch)

In many neighborhoods dollar stores are the only stores.

So here’s today’s poll:

This poll will close at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

Four Candidates In Democratic Primary to be President of the Board of Aldermen

February 15, 2019 Board of Aldermen, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Four Candidates In Democratic Primary to be President of the Board of Aldermen

St. Louis City Hall

Today’s post is for those who’ve not made a decision about who to vote for in the 4-way race for the Democratic nomination to be president of the Board of Aldermen. The partisan primary will be March 5th, the winner will very likely easily defeat the Green Party nominee the general election on April 2nd.

If St. Louis government were a game of chess, the president of the Board of Aldermen would be the queen. It is a unique position: Empowered in both the city’s legislative and executive branches, the board president can wield power both in offense and defense. It’s equally capable of holding its own in a fight or just holding ground against an advancing opponent. (Riverfront Times)

To assist with your pre-voting research, here are the four candidates in the Democratic primary, listed here in reverse ballot order, with relevant links:

Jimmie Matthews:

Lewis Reed:

Megan Ellyia Green

Jamilah Nasheed

I personally enjoy seeing competitive challengers, not a fan of incumbents easily winning another 4 year term just because challengers are too timid to take on the power of incumbency.

I’d always heard the phrase “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” When I was younger I didn’t connect that to elections, but it’s very true.  I know the top 3 candidates, as well as people working on their campaigns.  Social media plays a role these days.

I’ve already voted absentee, but I voted based on my favorability of the candidates and their policy positions. I’m not going to say who I voted for, I will say it wasn’t Matthews. Hopefully each of you have made up your mind, or will use some criteria to make a selection before Tuesday March 5th.

In the 2015 race the voter turnout was less than 10%. Given the competitive citywide race the turnout should be in double digits, but it was less than 15% in 2007 — the last year of a competitive primary for President of the Board of Aldermen.  Your vote can make a big difference this year — VOTE!

— Steve Patterson

No Surprise, Readers’ Top Transportation Choice is a Private Car

February 13, 2019 Featured, Transportation Comments Off on No Surprise, Readers’ Top Transportation Choice is a Private Car

In February 2009 a couple of friends noticed me on Google’s Street View, this would’ve been prior to 2/1/2008.

When I decided on the topic of the recent non-scientific poll, I’d planned to write more along with the results. However, the cold I had last weekend in Chicago continues.

Q: My primary mode of transportation is… (pick up to 3):

  1. Private vehicle, paid off (no loan/lease): 12 [25%]
  2. Private vehicle, outstanding loan: 11 [22.92%]
  3. Pedestrian, able-bodied: 9 [18.75%]
  4. Bicycling, my own bike: 5 [10.42%]
  5. Public transportation, bus/rail (use weekly/monthly pass): 4 [8.33%]
  6. TIE: 2 [4.17%]
    1. Car sharing: Lyft, Uber, etc
    2. Public transportation, bus/rail (pay cash)
  7. TIE: 1 [2.08%]
    1. Pedestrian, uses a mobility device (cane, walker, scooter, wheelchair, etc)
    2. Motor scooter
  8. Car sharing: Taxicab
  9. TIE — zero responses
    1. Bicycling, a bike share bike
    2. E-Scooter, owned
    3. E-Scooter, sharing like Bird Scooters
    4. Motorcycle
    5. Private vehicle, borrowed
    6. Private vehicle, leased

My three choices were pedestrian (with mobility device), public transit (cash), and a private car with a loan balance. I only drive once or maybe twice a week, usually for weekend shopping trips. Most days when I leave home I’m a pedestrian in my power wheelchair, but I combine with transit when I need to go further.

Me exiting the Downtown Trolley on the day it debuted in July 2010. The bright graphics are no longer used.
Photo by Jim Merkel, Suburban Journals

I like that the top poll answer was cars that were paid off, that would’ve been one of my answers a year ago. OK, time for bed.

— Steve Patterson

Thinking about the former Ackerman Toyota site on South Kingshighway

February 11, 2019 Featured, Planning & Design, South City Comments Off on Thinking about the former Ackerman Toyota site on South Kingshighway

For decades Ackerman Toyota was located on South Kingshighway Blvd, between Tholozan Ave on the North, and Beck Ave on the South. In 2015 they announced they’d build a new dealership on the NE corner of Hampton & I-44, the site of the former MSD headquarters.

Ackerman Toyota, the southern outpost of the decades-old string of St. Louis car dealerships on South Kingshighway, is hitting the road.

After nearly 27 years at 3636 South Kingshighway, the dealership plans to move to 2000 Hampton Avenue. The three-acre site owned by the city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority is the former headquarters of the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District at Hampton and Interstate 44.

Jerry Ackerman, the dealership’s owner, said Thursday he hopes to begin construction by December and open his new location as early as June. (Post Dispatch, August 2015)

Today’s post isn’t about their new location, this is about the location they recently vacated.

Their old address was listed as 3636 S. Kingshighway — the address for the building on the South, at Beck Ave. It dates to 1940, per city records online. The other building on Kingshighway, at Tholozan Ave. is from 1929. Both have been remodeled so many times neither has any historic value.  A 3rd building, an anonymous service structure,  facing Tholozan, was built in 1948.

The North building, at Tholozan, was their Scion showroom until Toyota pulled the plus on that youth-oriented brand. 2012 photo

That same building yesterday, all boarded up. Again, this structure was built in 1929. Note how it comes out to both Tholozan & Kingshighway. The city says the address here is 3608 S. Kingshighway.

The South building is mostly set back from the property line.

However, the corner at Beck Ave is out to the sidewalk. South of Beck Ave is Southtown Centre.

The former car dealership contains over 145k square feet, roughly 3.3 acres. It is made up of 6 different parcels. These could be combined, or developed separately. The most likely scenario is one developer will buy all six parcels and, after consolidating them into one, develop the total site.

Aerial view, from Apple Maps. The East edge of the site is a former railroad right of way, still owned by Union Pacific.

The bottom right section is 2 of the 6 parcels, it was still a field as late as 1971. It got paved for parking sometime between 1971 and 1991, based on historic aerials of the site. In the 2015 article, linked above, Jerry Ackerman is quoted as indicating they were seeing a franchise from another manufacturer for a dealership at this location. Given that they’ve boarded the buildings my assumption is that didn’t pan out.


This site needs to cease being about the sales & service of cars. It needs to be a mix of uses, including some residential. Two and three story buildings are very common on this stretch of Kingshighway, so a dense/urban site plan would be appropriate.

It’ll be interesting to watch to see what, if anything, becomes of this site.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: What Is Your Primary Mode of Transportation?

February 10, 2019 Featured, Sunday Poll, Transportation Comments Off on Sunday Poll: What Is Your Primary Mode of Transportation?

Please vote below

Back from another trip to the annual Chicago Auto Show. To get there I took the bus to the Amtrak station, my husband met me there — leaving our car in long-term, parking. In Chicago we used the bus to reach the auto show.  Lots of miles covered in non-auto modes to see autos.

This got me thinking about getting around in St. Louis. How do readers of this blog get around? For many the top choice will be private automobile, no doubt. Is it paid off, leased, or still have a loan?

What’ll be interesting to me is to see how other modes fare. Hopefully this poll will get lots of responses, so please encourage others to weigh in.

Today’s poll includes a detailed list of options to select from. Respondents can pick up to 3 answers.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson