Is NorthSide Close to Landing Major Partners? Topos Features NorthSide Regeneration Project

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NorthSide by ToposThe International Review of Landscape Architecture and Urban Design, Topos, takes a quick survey of the NorthSide Regeneration project. It provides a view of the project from a different perspective than what we have seen locally. From a strictly planning perspective, it’s apparent that NorthSide and Civitas have done their homework.

The NorthSide Regneration area isn’t a clean slate by any means, but it does offer the opportunity to rethink things in a new way. Bringing true high-speed Internet and a smart electric grid to the area help drive business growth and point toward a sustainable future. The article was published at the end of last year, and so the new news may no longer be new, but it’s worth repeating here, “On the private side, a large retailer has committed to becoming the first food centre in the neighborhood and a leading manufacturer of green batteries is negotiating for a site.”

Plans to uncouple the existing sewer system, some of which the article states, is still using wooden pipes, from existing infrastructure is simply necessary before any significant development occurs. Other ideas represent new thinking about urban renewal.

It’s well worth the short read to find what may be a few more newsworthy items. Looking through the lens of a landscape architect, the article focuses on the firm Civitas and the process pursued to arrive at “seven key principles to form an integrated, balanced approach to the sustainable regeneration of NorthSide that will span decades”:

  • Green Framework: integrate green space throughout and provide accessible, pleasant public spaces, as well as on-site water filtration and flood mitigation.
  • Education: provide a variety of public and private education opportunities for all ages by rehabilitating existing schools and building new job training centers.
  • Economic Development: preserve current jobs and create new ones while facilitating social equity and supporting growth opportunities for key industry sectors and employee capabilities.
  • Transit Network: design a safe transportation system that encourages walking, biking and mass transit and connects residential, commercial and retail areas.
  • Clean Energy: provide a clean, reliable energy network through upgraded infrastructure, distributed power generation and on-site renewables.
  • Healthy Community: foster a safe, healthy and integrated community that embodies the aspirations of both current and future residents.
  • Collaborative Leadership: regenerate community through innovative collaborations, partnerships and other inclusive strategies for governance, management, job training and employment in the activities of leading and serving the community.

NorthSide by Topos
{envisioning a renovated Clemens Mansion}

NorthSide by Topos
{a green framework and reconnected streets envisioned for NorthSide}

City Regeneration_NorthSide City of Saint Louis by

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  • gmichaud

    There are countries that ban stores like Wal-Mart for a reason. A good synopsis is The Project on the City, volume 2 Guide to Shopping, Harvard Design School, (editor Rem Koolhaus among others), The article in titled Resistance to Retail in Europe. There are numerous variations of countries controlling stores like Wal-Mart. I will focus on Finland, whose law has “successfully limited large-scale developments.” The restrictions apply to commercial premises greater than 2000 sq meters.
    The important point of the law is that the restriction applies except when the “site is designated for that purpose in town plan” The goal of course is to protect small business as well as transit usage and to weave larger retail into broader conceptions of transit economic activity and city livability.
    This is the basic failure of the McKee plan. While the general green goals set forth above are fine and dandy the real discussion needs to start with transit and what is to be accomplished in any new northside development? This will help generate the desire for an urban Wal-Mart over a suburban Wal-Mart and answer many other questions about the trajectory of future development.
    A big box store is car central, large purchases equals baskets and baskets of goodies that need to be hauled. A transit/walking orientated city means smaller retail shops available along routes, picking up needs on a more frequent basis and carrying on transit, with larger retail outlets in appropriate locations in the city plan. This contrasts to the anything goes attitude of today undermining transit development, small business and neighborhoods.
    The elephant in the room is oil and the many maladies that accompany oil. Transportation and buildings represent a significant percentage of oil usage in America..
    I don’t understand how this can be ignored at this juncture in history, or how another suburban style development can be proposed without an understanding of the ramifications to the overall health of the city.
    The real failure is in city government, who should be guiding the process to meet the interests of citizens now and in the future. Instead it is left as a random variable waiting for McKee to come up with his plan. It is poor leadership through and through.
    The mainstream media is also a big part of this failure. Critical thinking is nonexistent.
    St Louis has a chance to address serious and real problems that have been made clear over and over as gas prices continue to rise once again. The debate about this should be all over the press because of its importance to the future of St. Louis, yet there is nothing but silence.

  • While I agree with much of the article, I am cautious. The near north side has been the palate of planners since Harland Bartholomew’s 1947 plan. We had Pruitt-Igoe. We had the Model Cities program. We had the golf course in the Bosley administration What is most clear now is that spatial planning is nether the real problem nor the exclusive answer to what has ailed the near north side. Social capital and local economy are far more important, and harder to stimulate. Planners who push design while ignoring social realities may offer little more than their predecessors — who were the talk of the town in their era, even if we dismiss their hostility to traditional urbanism now.

  • I for the most part have never been a Walmart fan. Their stores are outrageously huge, they put small local businesses out of business, and they tend to surround themselves by massive amounts of parking.

    However, I’ve also heard that Walmart has a plan to move into urban areas with smaller footprint stores that cater to a more urban demographic. I would support and in fact applaud Walmart if they would locate on the northside as a pedestrian-friendly, smaller footprint store that fits in well with the urban context. The northside needs the goods and the jobs that this would provide. However, if they built out as a suburban store surrounding by fields of parking and chain restaurants in the parking lot, this would be a huge failure for the city.

  • stev0205

    Take a look at Kirkwood Commons and Meacham Park. I know Meacham was probably more densely populated than the Northside is now, which is what led to a lot of conflict with residents who had to have their homes leveled for this mega-center, but if you compare Meacham now to then… It’s a pretty significant change.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Interesting comment and some of the same issues are surely in play. However, the history’s of Meacham Park and this part of North St. Louis are apples and oranges.

  • Justin Root

    Funny, an urban Wal-Mart, forced to downsize and fit into the context of the city, was exactly what I thought might work in this project.

    • Alex Ihnen

      The reality is that there’s a lot of land open in this part of the city. The largest Walmart ever built could be placed here. There’s likely zero incentive to build a downsized, or particularly urban store. That said, if one is built, the city should demand something as urban as possible.

  • First, I want to note that the Topos article’s author works for Civitas. Take that for what you will.

    Second, What do you think of the characterization of a park on the Pruitt-Igoe site as too “suburban”? Is this a site that should be redeveloped? Are the park needs of this community being met? I have my own opinions about this site’s cultural and ecological value, but how do others feel?

  • Karen Simmons

    With gas prices going up, there are quite a few that will be welcomed. Wal-mart is what it is! Shopped there the other day. My personal opinion, Wal-Mart is a place for young people to get their first job and learn some discipline. It’s not a job where you stay for life. Helps me save on my budget, apparently helps out a lot of other folk since I can’t seem to ever find them empty. Back to my topic, this cheerleader says IT IS time. I live here and have had a vacant house next door to me for almost 20 years, it’s been vacant for almost 30. Why? …no one wants to invest thousands in a neighborhood that they don’t even think they’ll realize a ROI, return on an investment.

    The census figures show we are loosing population by the thousands. Only four wards showed a gain in population: April Ford Griffin’s Ward, 5th; Marlene Davis’ Ward, 19th; Kacie Star Triplett’s Ward and Phyllis Young’s Ward. The first three are all in the NSR FOOTPRINT. Surprise, surprise. Finally a plan that is not piece meal.

    Keep going forward! There are BENEFITS to CHANGE!!!

  • Matt Fernandez

    Wal-Mart is what I have been told is the major retailer. Don’t get too excited.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Would a Walmart be a bad addition to the NorthSide area?

      • They sell inexpensive food and other goods. No more food desert in North Side!

        • Matt Fernandez

          See Definitely not the total solution to the food desert, but it’s a great start.

      • Wal*mart will add many low paying jobs to the local economy. But it won’t be running many smaller retailers out of the area like it usually does. If I’m wrong about this, please tell me

        • TheSharperWon

          Surprise, surprise….there are no retailers. It’s 10 miles from my house to Walmart, with gas going up, would be great to save on GAS! Indeed, they won’t run any retailers out of business here.

          • how about smaller locally owned stores and shops, wall mart = massive parking lot, and in areas like this one it could turn into a dangerous sea of concrete.

    • Wal-Mart is exactly the type of retail this area needs. Low cost, normal goods. In most areas, Wal-Mart has done a spectacular job providing goods to pinched customers, as their supply chain and pricing are top notch.