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

    OK – shutting it down for this round. Thanks or the questions/comments!

  • Any word when Chouteau’s Grove Development will get moving?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Haven’t heard, though Green Street did close on the property. Hopefully we’ll hear something soon. They’re not trying to sit on it!

  • What are thoughts on the Plant Science and Technology Area in Creve Coeur? Any hopes of this becoming a true business center? I visited the Danforth Plant Science Center for the first time and was amazed at how pedestrian hostile the building was.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Perhaps it will be something between Cortex and Earth City?

        • Alex Ihnen

          Right – thanks for the link. I mean, it’s not going to be “urban” is it? It could be a new job center though.

          • Alex P

            Same planning firm as Cortex. I remain hopelessly optimistic because I’m desperate for a sprawl repair project in the St. Louis region. However this also goes against my wish to draw attention back east. I’d hate for a single company to choose Maryland Heights over Cortex because of this project.

          • Alex Ihnen

            I think they’ll more-or-less go after difference businesses, but it could happen. There will be some good news for Cortex soon (as if that’s news).

          • Alex P

            If they are pursuing different tenants then yes, I’m all for this.

          • Alex Ihnen

            It’s still just an office park, IMO, though with a theme.

  • Michael A

    And final downtown-ish question: any idea if anyone upkeeps the Vess soda bottle? I always loved that thing as a kid and it seems like it’s practically falling apart now.

    • Alex Ihnen

      No idea. Seems a natural for City Museum.

  • Michael A

    I think this may have been addressed in a prior chat, but have there been any whispers of anyone doing something with the Chemical Building? After the successful rehab of the Arcade it seems like a great addition.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Ah…yes. It’s been in and out of contract. As far as I know, nothing is currently on the table, but everyone I speak to remain convinced it’s only a matter of (more) time. Now it will be interesting to see if there’s progress on the Jefferson Hotel. It’s nice to have it under contract, but that’s the easy part.

      • Michael A

        I really hope so, but I’ve always been pessimistic about the Jefferson just based on the sheer size of it.

        • Alex Ihnen

          Another tease: we should have good news an another significant vacant downtown building soon…though soon could turn into weeks.

          • Michael A

            Random guess, but I really hope it’s the Railway Exchage. It’s criminal that the building isn’t really being used.

          • Alex Ihnen

            There are a couple that need love. I’d say the Jefferson Hotel is the most endangered, but I don’t think it’s on the verge of being lost.

  • Michael A

    Do you think the traffic concerns re: the grand overpass closing are overblown? I think we tend to panic about any closure and then everyone deals with it fine. (e.g. 40, kingshighway, previous grand bridge rebuilding closer to 40).

    • Alex Ihnen

      Yes. We closed 5+mi. of Interstate 64 for a year (twice) and we survived quite well.

  • Simple question, difficult answers: What should Near North St. Louis BE?

    I’m talking about the area from I-55 to Jefferson, Lucas to Cass. For STL to stabilize and evolve, and for downtown to reassert itself as the region’s central business district, what does the Near Northside need to be? New residential (and if so, what kind and style)? Business hubs (tech? creative? administrative?)? Industry hubs? Can the existing housing stock fit in with a best-option vision, or would it need to go too? Get as general or as detailed as you want in your answers. đŸ™‚

    • Alex Ihnen

      Jobs and residential – both centers are nearer I-64/I-270 than downtown. Of just about any kind. The vacancy is so incredibly detrimental. But the near north side isn’t the only area in trouble. If we want population & jobs re-centered on downtown, then every neighborhood needs to add both wherever possible. With the percentage of population loss from 2000-2010 was great in north St. Louis, the losses north and south were both at 17,000.

      • John R

        My 2c is if NGA happens, that will have a significant influence on the Near North. It should stimulate at least some redevelopment of the Pruitt-Igoe site and perhaps additional investment in the area. The other big question is if Urban Strategies lands a big federal grant for the Choice Neighborhoods designation and what the plan would be…. forr example it could be an opportunity to bring a quality mixed-income/mixed-use project along the lines of the North Sarah phases that can replace the existing housing. On the eastern end, Columbus Park seems more or less okay and perhaps we can see some kind of nice development on the vacant “Bottle District” land. Lastly, relocating some of those horrendous super-warehouses that serve as a barrier to integrating the near north with downtown needs to happen at some point.

        Anyway, if things can go the right way I can see both physical improvements to the area as well as improved social investments for the people who live there.

  • Mike B

    Any insider information about who will be filling all that new commercial space in the grove? We know about Sauce On The Side, but how about first floor of the 4321 building?

  • John R

    What are your thoughts on the news of possible Metrolink expansion if STL lands the NGA? Do you think there will be broad support to fund it or is just more wishful thinking?

    • Alex Ihnen

      I think NGA just might spur the city to work hard on getting it done. There are several plans out there (N/S MetroLink studies, the St. Louis downtown streetcar, etc.), but it seems it will take some kind of catalyst to get people on one plan.

      • I’m just disappointed that thus far, there seems to be almost zero thought on how any of the northside-southside proposals integrate with or complement the existing MetroLink and MetroBus system.

        • John R

          Good point… that will be important.

  • Alex P

    So I really hate to bring this up and I really don’t want this to turn into a thread of people throwing out their favorite locations but… Do we feel that STL and MO politicians overly attached to the N Riverfront Site? Or will there be a broader discussion of other locations?

    • Alex P

      Completely forgot the “MLS Stadium” part but I doubt that was a mystery to the usual nextSTL goer.

    • Alex Ihnen

      IMO – that’s the “default” location because of the money spent on the site already. At SPACE (where I work), we’re going to have a community design open house at the end of the month to simply give people a chance to share what they think and want to see in an MLS stadium.

      On a tangent (and I just had this conversation with someone much smarter and more experienced than me), I think St. Louis in general may be too focused on its river in regards to urban revitalization. I’m not convinced that our river has much natural appeal, as say those in Cincinnati or Pittsburgh (or the lake in Chicago, etc.). Part of the premise of the $380M we’re spending at the Arch grounds is that the Arch itself wasn’t enough to pull people to the river, but we put more stuff there it might work. I’m skeptical because the walk cross the Eads is long and not so great, and you arrive at nothing worthwhile on the other side.

      • Alex P

        Good point about the energy already invested in the site. I forgot about the research and such about moving rail lines and utilities. As far as I’ve heard they haven’t purchased any land but wouldn’t be surprised if they have. So I guess that answers my question, there’s more to it than the frosted lens dream that politicians have in their heads.

        • Alex Ihnen

          There are reasons to look at the site. Personally, I think there are better places for an MLS stadium, and it could be throwing good money after bad to put it there.

          • RJ

            How about the mostly vacant area west of Union Station for an MLS stadium? There are plenty of other uses for the riverfront property other than some type of stadium.

      • tony

        “I’m not convinced that our river has much natural appeal, as say those in Cincinnati or Pittsburgh” I, and I’m sure many others, enjoy a nice waterfront setting for parks and restaurants, but the sights across the river don’t exactly add up to much.

        • Alex Ihnen

          I suppose by natural appeal, I don’t just mean the river itself, though it’s much wider than the others I mentioned. When you’re at the Mississippi in St. Louis you’re very clearly at the edge of the city, and with the Arch grounds, not near a restaurant, or storefront, etc. This is a very different experience than Cincinnati or Pittsburgh.

      • Our river has natural appeal, sure, but not on the Missouri side. Or at least not if ONLY on the Missouri side. I think the plans drawn up for the stadium did a great job of incorporating it as an attraction, but a one-mile greenspace does not an active riverfront make.

        In my crazy imaginary world, STL annexes East St. Louis and a new complex of riverfront (well, 100 yards or so from the riverfront) market rate mid-rise condos and apartments are built there. Oh, and STL gets all casino tax revenue đŸ™‚

        • tony

          The Windsor, ON of southwestern Illinois.

        • And in my crazy imaginary world, much of the Mississippi river valley from river to bluff becomes a huge nature preserve.

        • Alex P

          East Riverfront residential is necessary for reasons other than aesthetics. My single biggest wish for the St. Louis region is the revitalization of East St. Louis so that we can start to move our population center back towards downtown. And not just the population center. The Metro East, as close to downtown as possible, needs a balance of cultural attractions (of which there are already many, need better promotion and financial support), along with shopping and entertainment districts to balance CWE, the Grove, Loop, etc.

          • Alex Ihnen

            That would be ideal, but I think the geography, flooding, and built up infrastructure (interstates and rail lines) all work against this.

      • RJ

        The riverfront will never fulfill its potential without investing on both sides of it, at least between the PSB and Stan Span. I have been on my crusade for several years about the Illinois riverfront filled with weeds. railroad tracks and utility lines along with a whole lot of nothing. Sections on the Missouri side could use some help. That section of riverfront needs no industrial development keep that to the north and south of the PSB and Stan span but it is necessary if you want it to succeed. What good is this investment in the Arch grounds to have people come look at the Mississippi River and see that mess in Illinois? Apparently the people in Kentucky care about their riverfront across from Cincinnati better than Illinois

        • Alex P

          I’m red with envy when I see that balance across the river from Cincinnati. In my opinion, Downtowns have to be population centers to function well. Yes, I know Cleveland and Chicago have proven otherwise.

        • Alex Ihnen

          IMO – the solution you propose could be a couple billion dollars. I’m pessimistic.

  • tony

    Hey, Alex! What are your thoughts on the Maplewood sign idea?

    • Do you have a link to the background on your question? I don’t know what this means.

      • Alex P
        • tony

          I think the idea is neat, I like the signs in San Diego, but this design is not something I’m that fond of. Also 40 South article:

          http://40southnews.com/big-m-proposed-to-span-manchester-road/

          • Michael A

            The thing I like about this design is it’s not just a copycat of The Grove’s signs.

          • tony

            I think the response on the article has been about 50-50. I like the Grove sign, and i think Maplewood’s version could be cool, using the marque letters and adding a maple leaf. The cost is a major issue, though.

          • Michael A

            For the record, I really like the Grove sign. I just don’t want every neighborhood to have the same thing. Something unique is great. The M definitely seems like it’d be pricy, but the marquee letters are a must.

    • Alex Ihnen

      I like it. IMO the more branding and lights the better (until it’s not). It’s been 12yrs since I moved here, but I can easily remember that it wasn’t easy to find Maplewood, at least not exactly where it was, if that’s clear.

      The bottom right image of the “M” below is a nice angle showing it’s not simply a 90-degree “M” across the street.

  • Ben Harvey

    Any chance to get Joe Edwards for the podcast sometime? That would make a fantastic show

    • Alex Ihnen

      Maybe. FWIW – I believe he’s given too much credit for the success of The Loop, and believe the Loop Trolley is a mess of a project.