Friday Live Chat

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live chat

It’s back, the Friday Live Chat. You know what to do – just use the comments section below. We’re open from 2-3pm today:

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  • Alex Ihnen

    And that’s a wrap – thanks for the questions!

  • rgbose

    OVer/under on how long before the Nat’l Blues Museum surpasses the Rams’ annual out-of-towner attendance?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Good one.

    • Alex P

      Do you think a corporate sponsor for Blue Museum will happen? I want free admission.

      • Alex Ihnen

        ? Possible, but difficult. We’re so spoiled. 🙂

        • Alex P

          I know. I practically live at the Chess HOF.

          • John R

            Chess, huh? Sounds like something Alex P. Keaton would be into!

          • Alex P

            Ever seen the two of us in the same room at the same time?

      • I hope not! Requiring some skin in the game (i.e. admission fee) makes an attraction more viable long-term.

  • moorlander

    Over under on how long the old Forest Park Hospital site sits vacant?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Whatever it is, if STL Zoo acquires Grant’s Farm, add a couple years. Though I believe a family-oriented hotel would kill there. Would be the perfect stay for a weekend family vacation. I’ll keep pitching the idea. 🙂

  • A request, more than anything. I want this to happen at Chouteau’s Landing — somebody make this happen:

    https://twitter.com/YASTLBlog/status/484770702676209664

    🙂

    • Alex P

      Would be cool to recreate the pre-arch riverfront as a housing development sitting on the flood wall like that. Take this image x100.

      • Alex Ihnen

        What The Landing / Lumiere Phase II could be: https://flic.kr/p/96DX7b

        • That’d be great. Unlikely to ever happen, sadly…unless the ocean swallows the coast(s) and the ensuing exodus of people settles in STL…

          Eh…on second thought, maybe I could see it if casino revenue falls significantly, but Tropicana (or a future owner) doesn’t want to abandon the license.

  • Hasan

    This question is for anyone/everyone- What are the top 3 issues that should be addressed to accelerate positive change within downtown Saint Louis? And they don’t have to be “issues” per se, but just points of focus.

    • John R

      1) Getting biz to want to be downtown
      2) Getting biz to want to be downtown
      3) Getting biz to want to be downtown

      • Alex Ihnen

        Build a downtown for residents and you’ll get others too. Think of city you love to visit – probably wasn’t built for visitors (or commuters).

        • John R

          yes and no. Vibrant CBDs traditionally were not built for residents; that was not their function. People lived adjacent to them. When we place too much emphasis on tourism, residential, etc. we forget the fundamental importance of high numbers of people working in a concentrated area.

          And simply put, DT #STL can’t add residents at a fast enough clip to really move the needle much with our laggard employment levels. So far to go.

          • Alex Ihnen

            To clarify, not for residents of downtown per se, but people who live or work downtown. Other CBDs have much higher job density, but really aren’t the best parts of their respective cities to visit (San Francisco, Boston, New Orleans, etc.). Though I think downtown St. Louis has more of a neighborhood feel – or maybe I’m more bullish on residential than job growth in downtown STL.

          • John R

            The CBD needs thousands of more office jobs filling up those towers — Downtown West and neighboring hoods need thousands of more residents. We aren’t going to be able to accomplish the later without the former.

          • Hasan

            Main issue is, most co’s don’t want to be in the current buildings. Look at recent buildings completed by The Koman Group – renovated buildings that were preleased to growing companies. Thats the way office jobs will fill up towers. Creating new office space based on speculation is a risky proposition in downtown Saint Louis. Not saying that it can’t be done, just depends on risk profile of the developer.

      • Mike B

        Speaking of….Any knowledge of a real effort by Slay/City Gov’t to convince biz’s to move downtown? And anyone know whose behind http://moveyour.co/

        • John R

          I don’t think there is any evidence of the city trying to actively lure companies in the region to downtown… that whole regionalism thing, you know! They seem to be happy with modest tourism/residential growth and organic internal biz growth. Region needs to understand we’ll underperform as long as downtown lags as a biz center. County will still win when downtown wins.

        • Hasan

          Yes, there’s “real” effort. Effort just needs to be stronger.

      • Hasan

        1. Yes.
        2. Yes.
        3. Yes.

        But it’s hard to put it all on biz. Downtown needs to make itself a place where biz wants to be. And that starts with perception, then physical assets (real estate).

        • Sidenote: Whatever happened to that proposed project next to Scottrade, Hasan? Seemed like it was a-go, then it wasn’t.

        • John R

          right… there’s a number of elements needed to get DT a desirable place for both biz and residents. Greater transit options. welcoming street environments. etc. etc.

    • 1) Pressure on subsidized projects to deliver (helllllooooo, Cardinals/Ballpark Village), and now.
      2) Encourage urban development of near north side — especially the newly-created “Tucker Triangle” — so downtown isn’t considered so small and island-ized.
      3) Two-way streets and E-W buses (or streetcars, I guess, if that’s your thing) that run all the way to the river, or at least Memorial Drive.

      [Sidenote: that to me is one of the most shameful “outcomes” of the City+Arch+River project. By terminating Memorial Drive, it takes away any opportunity for a bus loop that deposits people directly at the new Arch/Museum.]

      • Hasan

        1. Who applies this pressure?
        2. Development is “encouraged” all over Saint Louis. If anything is to be encouraged, it should be companies moving to urban cores.
        3. Better public transit would do wonders. Seems to be a common theme.

        • Alex Ihnen

          A proactive city focused on local small to mid-sized businesses.

        • 1. The City, which provided the subsidies and details (or detailed) the penalties — penalties which, inexplicably, haven’t been collected against the recipient businesses/projects to-date.

    • Alex P

      Get rid of most of the one way streets, the only necessary one-ways are 4th and B-way (maybe Chestnut to leave room for bike lane). Every single intersection on Locust between 6th and 11th can be a stop sign (just an example, obviously this should be applied many other places).

      • Hasan

        I agree.

    • 1) Combatting perception of crime
      2) Rebuilding urban connective tissue to better connect peripheral neighborhoods to downtown
      3) Ridiculous overabundance of parking. As long as everyone expects to park immediately adjacent to their destination, the sidewalks will remain dull and desolate.

      • Hasan

        1. YES.
        2. Whats best way to accomplish this? Will a streetcar create the demand for developers to fill in the missing pieces?
        3. The “overabundance of parking” is tricky. I mean, as a whole, downtown seems to have an overabundance of parking, but if 50% of that parking is in remote areas, or outside of the core, is it still an overabundance? Looks like majority of the parking in the core is being utilized.

    • STLStrong

      Unification.

      • Hasan

        If Saint Louis County established an earnings tax, is that unification?

    • citylover

      1.Creating a boulevard replacing depressed lanes of I-44 to reconnect street grid. I tried turning right on washington and ended up getting on the highway. The freeway creates so much confusion and frustration.
      2. Lighting, making feel comfortable and safe. Aim to create reasons to walk around after 6 o’clock
      3. Fill in the holes with new buildings. I think some new stuff would really grab some attention. All these rehabs are amazing but an addition to the skyline would get some praise. Especially something as tall as metropolitan square/ At&T.

      • Hasan

        1. I agree. Very confusing, especially for visitors.
        2. Lighting/streetscape is number 1 for me. Presentation goes a long way.

  • Alex P

    500 Foot setback for North Side NGA: Do we think the city will actually be able to use part of it as parkland as seen in aerial renderings? Or will the Federal Government come in a put a 8′ iron fence along Cass, Jefferson, 22nd, etc.?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Hopefully the secure perimeter will be…tasteful. But the parkland and ball fields are make believe, in my opinion.

    • My concern too (one of several). I guess there’s no way you get community baseball fields there. And you’re DEFINITELY not getting your ball back if you clear the NGA fence!

      • Alex Ihnen

        I think the ball hits a laser barrier before ever reaching the ground.

      • John R

        Ha! Definitely more likely you’d get shot if you scale the NGA fence than the White House fence.

  • I’m going to consolidate the other questions into one ultra-annoying post so I don’t hog the conversation any further:
    1) St. Mary’s infirmary- any hope for rehab, or is this one a goner?
    2) Chouteau’s Landing- WTF?
    3) Any further details on planned development of the Trianon site?
    4) 4237 Laclede – cool little residential building in the CWE that was undergoing rehab several years ago, and work abruptly stopped. What gives?
    5) McGuire Moving & Storage building and the other warehouse building off I-70 north of downtown. Talk of residential conversion several years ago, but no action. Anything new?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Nice. Let’s see…
      1) goner
      2) WTF indeed. No city support for redevelopment, challenging location, and so much other vacancy to fill in better (central biz district, etc.) locations
      3) Nothing other than what’s here: https://nextstl.com/2016/02/pre-construction-work-begins-on-centene-ii-tower-long-vacant-carondelet-parcels/
      4) Had a friend try to buy it. Owner wanted too much. Very cool building. https://goo.gl/maps/SeXNpWor69x
      5) Nada.

      • Dang, you’re good! Thanks!

    • For McGuire Moving — I’m still big on two highrise dvlpts at Bottle District, with McGuire being converted into new brewery space or additional space for existing brewer. Make it happen!

      The goal would be to work westward from there, tactically removing 80s/90s single-family in favor of mixed-income townhomes, flats, apartments, low-rises and commercial.

  • Would you rather…

    …southside Metrolink in solo-use ROW along DeSoto route (sharing Red/Blue Line tracks at Grand into downtown) OR street-running southside Metrolink via Chouteau-Jefferson-Broadway-55 siderun (with transfer to DT Red/Blue line at 14th/Clark).

    One or the other. Go!

    • Alex Ihnen

      Street-running. TOD is really tough along old heavy rail ROW. And transit trips in STL are crazy long. We desperately need a more compact, frequent, transit network (buses included).

      • If nothing else, I would love to get a Jefferson MetroLink station on Red/Blue line so that the Jefferson/Chouteau bus can run the length of Jefferson/Parnell just like the Grand bus runs the length of the street.

        • A good goal to have for all N-S/E-W primary streets. I understand why Metro opts to filter (almost) all routes into downtown, but think straight line routes creates a stronger system and better access.

    • Southside Jefferson intersecting Red/Blue line at new station at Jefferson.

      • Interesting. Where does it go from there — straight up Jefferson through central and up to and through the north side?

    • Alex P

      I’d have to agree with street running as well. I like the results that Phoenix and Twin Cities have seen. Plus Jefferson serves many more working-class residents than further west.

  • Ben Harvey

    I’m looking into business themed internships over the summer, and have a passion for smart development, preservation and St. Louis. Is there anywhere you would recommend applying?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Hmmmm…look at big/smart developers in STL: Clayco, Lawrence Group, Restoration St. Louis…sure there are more. These places have a real passion for a better St. Louis – share your enthusiasm with them and you might find a great fit!

      • Ben Harvey

        Thanks!

      • I’d recommend Chambers of Commerce too. They’re kind of niche in STL (since so many areas’ primary org. of influence is the n’hood association), but it’s a fun/interesting experience which allows you to wear a lot of different business-support/community-growth hats.

  • LaSalle Building at 4th & Olive– why is this gem empty?!

    • Alex Ihnen

      Not for long!

      • Alex P

        Story???

        • Alex Ihnen

          Hopefully soon.

    • Alex P

      Broadway and Olive. Completely, there’s even chains and a padlock wrapped around the front door handles. I’ve seen some light brickwork being done on occasion so at least the owner is maintaining it.

      • Right- my bad!

        • Alex P

          I’m just being obnoxious 🙂
          I used to walk past it several times a day on my walk from Mansion House to the Old Post Office.

          • tony

            Speaking of – I may have missed this, but is anyone moving in now that Webster will be across the street in the Arcade?

          • Alex Ihnen

            No new tenants have been announced.

  • Frank Absher

    Any thoughts on the proposed soccer stadium? I personally don’t see a pressing need to locate it in the city.

    • Alex P

      As stated in a recent post here and I’ve read this multiple times, urban MLS stadiums well out-perform suburban ones in attendance.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Sure (just wrote about it: https://nextstl.com/2016/02/how-and-where-major-league-soccer-comes-to-st-louis/#comment-2498166064). I think (and much more importantly, the MLS thinks) that soccer stadiums should be in an urban location, accessible to transit, near a younger demographic, and use the city as its context. I tend to agree. There’s a study linked to in the item above that looked at urban v. suburban MLS stadium attendance.

  • The old warehouse at Park Ave and Truman Pkwy in Lafayette Square. Any development plans in the works?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Did hear a plan for market-rate apts was presented to the neighborhood. Perhaps someone here has heard more? Past plans found resistance to subsidized apartments.

  • John R

    Over in your neck of the work woods — the grove — I see Lamb’s Bride Church recently bought the cool and high-potential Columbia Iron Works property and also own several other nearby historic properties. Do you have any idea what they have in mind for their significant property holdings?

    • Alex Ihnen

      I know more about what they don’t have in mind. The now former owner was approached for several uses: brewery, apartments, etc. I was told the church wasn’t supportive of whatever uses were proposed. Ownership now allows them to decide what happens. One idea, which might have church support, would be an urban farming effort.

  • Why is the old Rock Spring School still dormant? Seems like a no-brainer for rehab considering its high visibility from the MetroLink and Hwy 40 and close proximity to Cortex/SLU/The Grove.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Owners have been approached by developers. Don’t know if they’re unwilling to sell or are asking a ridiculous price.

  • Mike B

    Any word on the the project at the corner of Thurman and Russell (Private home and commercial in former auto-shop)?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Last we heard, the project is still seeking financing and a final design. It’s not dead though.

  • First up for me– any idea what the plans are for the St. Louis Arsenal after NGA vacates?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Nothing quickly. Lots of hoops to jump through with any change to federal land. Any change is obviously years away. Then we’ll have to argue about who pays for what. For an historic park (federal, state, or local), some demolition of newer buildings could make sense, or they could be rented as office space. It would be great to see the historic parts open to the public. You’re welcome for the non-answer! 🙂

      • Alex P

        The civil war buildings would be perfect for a museum. With proximity to the brewery, would be a nice 2-in-1 for weekend tourists.
        Would be nice to see the larger building at the rear of the site used as Tech offices. I’m sure the existing bandwidth infrastructure is phenomenal.

        • tony

          Would the Coast Guard station have any use for the buildings/land?

  • chaifetz10

    Long time listener, first time caller.

    Any update on the 7-Up building residential conversion in Clayton reported on a year or two ago?

    Secondly, have you heard anything about the Armory possibly being included in the Lawrence Group’s Federal Mogul plan?

    I’ll hang up and listen.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Thanks for chatting. I’ve heard nothing on the 7-Up building (link: https://nextstl.com/2014/08/residential-conversion-works-clayton-seven-building/).

      More than one group has looked at the Armory building recently. The Federal Mogul plan will take years to fully execute and I wouldn’t expect them to be combined per se. Something will happen with the Armory though and I’d expect to build off Cortex/Federal Mogul plans.