Top 10 nextSTL Posts in 2011

It was a year light on new development news, there was no news on Ballpark Village, no substantial new proposals. The news was top heavy with historic preservation. By any measure, the preservation community made some big strides in 2011, bringing some balance to the force that is demolition for suburban development. There’s the Phillips 66/Del Taco proposed demolition. The building still stands, but if you’re following closely you know there’s still no resolution regarding a future tenant. The CVS wrecking ball pharmacy continues to shop up and down Lindell for something to demo after initial attempts to take the AAA building were rebuffed. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth revived dormant interest in the infamous housing project and Spanish Lake has us anticipating a present day story of vacancy. You’ll have to keep reading to see what else landed on the nextSTL Top 10 most read list (Top 10 in 2010):

Loop east track1a10. Meet Tim Borchers: The Man at the Controls of the Loop Trolley Project
A couple years from now when you’re watching the eclectic shops of St. Louis’ Loop glide by from the seat of a streetcar, you’ll have one man to thank. Yes, unofficial Loop Mayor Joe Edwards of Blueberry Hill and The Pageant fame, had the vision for what he calls the trolley more than a decade ago and many others will have helped guide (and fund) the project by the time you’re sitting in your air-conditioned seat, but the person who will make this streetcar work is Tim Borchers. Tim is a streetcar builder and operator. When steel wheels hit the rails, he’s in charge. So who is Tim Borchers? A self-ascribed “Streetcar, Trolley & Tramway Specialist”, he has spent 32 years in the industry, working first with the Bendigo Tramways in his native Australia. read more >

9. Spanish Lake and the Middle Class Exodus of North St. Louis County Subject of Documentary
The St. Louis area produces a lot of talented individuals. Often they move away and find incredible success, though most remain tied to St. Louis by family, sports teams or simply the experience of having grown up in the city or one of the great surrounding communities. Then, if we’re lucky, they turn their professional focus back home. This is just what Phillip Morton has done. On a visit to Spanish Lake to see family, Morton explored his old stomping grounds and was experienced its decline firsthand. Closed were his church and grade school. The first home he’d ever known was in foreclosure and had been abandoned. In an interview with NOCO, he described the experience as “surreal, shocking and emotionally devastating”. Morton is young and the transformation he witnessed occurred in less than a decade. Then and there he decided to turn his camera on Spanish Lake and film a documentary. read more >

New Mississippi River Bridge at St. Louis

8. New Mississippi River Brige Gives Tucker Boulevard a New Purpose
Construction on the new Mississippi River bridge project is about to gain significantly increased visibility over the coming spring and summer months. During the winter, construction crews poured the bridge’s foundations. With that work recently completed, work has begun on the bridge’s towers which will slowly rise 400 ft into the air. The towers will take approximately 18 months to complete barring any delays from the rising Mississippi River. Meanwhile, work continues on the project to rebuild and reroute Tucker Blvd. from Washington Ave to the new Mississippi River bridge ramps at Cass Ave. From MLK Dr. to O’Fallon St., workers have already completely filled in the tunnel with dirt and Styrofoam that was used by the Illinois Terminal Railroad. North of O’Fallon St., construction has carved a curving dirt path through the site of an old Schnucks in order to connect Tucker Blvd. directly to the new Mississippi River Bridge. read more >

7. The 2010 Census Pt. II: The State of St. Louis
In the month since the release of the redistricting census data results, a series of narratives ha coalesced. While the overall story of St. Louis in the past decade has been one of continued decline, there are at least three distinct stories buried in the numbers. Using spatial mapping we can begin to untangle these narratives and consider their implications for the future of the city. The first is a grassroots resurgence. Since 2000 a cohort of neighborhoods have seen a decrease in crime, increased rates of rehabilitation of existing units, the introduction of new businesses in formerly boarded-up storefronts and an influx of new residents. The neighborhoods range from Benton Park to Old North St. Louis but all have succeeded by combining a concern for quality of life with the promotion of distinguished urban character and have taken advantage of close proximity to physical and cultural amenities to attract new residents. read more >

6. Getting Used to Failure: Thoughts on North St. Louis
While St. Louis has always been near and dear to my heart, I have been something of a prodigal son to this fair town. After growing up in University City, I went to Boston for college (if I leave it that vague, it sounds like maybe I went to Harvard). Upon graduation I moved to Kansas City because, well, that’s where I got a job. Although I think Boston is a world-class city, and I have quickly grown to love KC, St. Louis has always been Home with a capital “H” for me. When I finished teaching this year and people asked how I was spending my summer, I didn’t say I was going to live at my mom’s house. I simply said, “I’m going home. Home and I had a little catching up to do. My passions for this city and for urban environments in general had blossomed since I’d been away, but they lacked the concrete grounding of daily experience. So, before I had even started unpacking my bags, I took off on my bike for a re-acquaintance tour with the city. I cruised down Lindell, passed SLU, did a quick loop of downtown, explored City Garden for the first time (sue me), and then headed North. read more >

5. Where the Rams Will Play in 2016 and Whether St. Louis Should Care
The St. Louis Rams lease on the 16 year old Edward Jones Dome may come to an end in 2015. The terms of the lease require that the stadium be a “top-tier” football venue, one of the best seven in the 32 team league. Currently, 20 NFL stadiums are newer than the Dome and 21 are larger. While “top-tier” isn’t defined, by any measure, the relatively small, old Dome would require a couple hundred million dollars to be considered in the top seven. The same measure was to be applied in 2005, but the then owner waived the clause and $30M was found through refinancing debt to make several modest improvements. As the Post-Dispatch noted, this all means that new owner Kroenke has an “out”. There’s virtually no way the Edward Jones Dome will meet the lease requirements. So what does this mean? Only Kroenke knows. read more >

Pevely Dairy demolition site plan

4. St. Louis University Seeks Demolition for Historic Pevely Dairy Complex
If Saint Louis University gets it’s way, the 10-acre Pevely Dairy complex that has dominated the southwest corner of Chouteau and Grand Avenues will be demolished. The complex’s marquee building was built in 1915 and operated until 2008, when it abruptly closed. Rick Yackey and Bruce Development had the property under contract with an asking price of $5.9M when a fire destroyed one of the larger buildings in 2009. They eventually bought the building in April, 2010 for $2.2M. Redevelopment plans for 165 market-rate apartments and retail were announced and quickly fell through, though the project can still be found on the Bruce Development website. St. Louis University purchased the property earlier this year for an undisclosed amount and has made no public statement regarding its future. read more >
(For the moment, this issue has a resolution: Split Decision Denies Saint Louis University Demolition of Iconic Pevely Building, Smokestack)

3. Film Review: The Pruitt-Igoe Myth
The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: An Urban History is an incredible film. It doesn’t answer a single question about the failure of Pruitt-Igoe. Maybe that’s why the film is so engrossing. The film sets out to defy conventional wisdom, to refute long-held beliefs, the myths built to define, and absolve us of, the public housing project’s demise: the high rise architecture was to blame, the residents were immoral and didn’t care for their homes, the free market better provides housing for the poor. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth succeeds by not simplifying what is plainly the story of the American city. You leave only understanding that the story of Pruitt-Igoe is more complicated, more personal than you thought before you entered. While a clear answer may not be offered, a story of unmistakable clarity emerges. read more >

2. Phillips 66/Del Taco Building May Lure National Chains as Pi Serves Up New Concept for Location
Developer Rick Yackey has unveiled initial renderings of a redesigned Phillips 66/Del Taco building, but those aren’t the images that should have supporters excited. Local pizza juggernaut Pi is interested in the space for a new concept called “Pi Burger”. Renderings by SPACEarchitects show a sleek modern redesigned Phillips 66/Del Taco. But a renovated building isn’t the only idea they’ve floated. To reconfigure the area into a more walkable, attractive location for retail, Pi is proposing that Forest Park Avenue be brought to grade, eliminating the confusing and inhospitable intersection with Grand Avenue. A median in Grand Avenue would further enhance the streetscape. read more >
(Why I Oppose the Demolition of the Phillips 66/Del Taco Building at Council Plaza was another top read)

1. Lindell Avenue AAA In Need of Roadside Assistance, To Be Demolished for CVS
The circular AAA building at 3917 Lindell Boulevard will be demolished for a CVS Pharmacy. At least that’s the intention of CVS as the demolition request appears on this month’s agenda of the City of St. Louis Planning Commission. Before you plot and scheme to wage a battle to save this jewel of Mid-Century Modern architecture, don’t. If CVS wants it, they’ll have it. Why? The building holds no official historic status and is located in the 18th Ward of the city, a ward represented by Terry Kennedy, that has opted out of mandatory demolition review. Two blocks east and it’s in the 19th Ward and must be reviewed. Were it located on the south and not the north side of Lindell it would be in the 17th Ward and would therefore be subject to review. See the issue here? read more >