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

    Another good Friday chat – thanks for joining!

    You can always continue the conversation over at the Urban STL forum: https://urbanstl.com/forum/

  • For or against: Litigating and/or shaming businesses not located in St. Louis that nevertheless use “St. Louis, MO” as its address and in its advertising.

    I’m looking at you, Rawlings, Move your HQ to downtown STL’s Ballpark Village, already!

    • Alex Ihnen

      Bring it on. Now if only STL City could trademark its icons and license to drycleaners and doggy daycares across the region!

      • tony

        World’s largest baseball glove coming soon to DT St. Louis
        http://bit.ly/2a6AeXK

        • Hey, that was going to be my next April Fools post… 🙁

          • tony

            I wouldn’t stop there… all the great St. Louis companies contribute and we end up with world’s largest panini, beer bottle, and mmm pill bottle?

  • citylover

    This goes along with downtown and centralization talks, but what does it take for region to take city seriously? Population growth? New construction in Central Corridor? Positive media coverage? I get the crime thing and schools. Is there a visual though?

    • Alex Ihnen

      The 2020 Census – if it shows population loss in STL County, gain in STL City, and stagnation everywhere else. I think that’s a distinct possibility.

      • With the recent news of the Grove residential, Northside is dead, numerous Apartments complexes CWE/Cortex, etc… do you think 2020 is a small loss again? flat? small uptick? surprise big rise? ask again later?

        • Alex Ihnen

          I’ll go with a tiny loss, but am 40% thinking a small gain.

          • STLExplorer

            Is there any chance to stabilize the NW corner of the city?

          • Alex Ihnen

            Not this decade? IMO that would mean places like Wellston, Pine Lawn, and Velda City have stabilized. Hopefully they’re on their way, but not there not.

        • citylover

          You could do a guess on each neighborhood. It’s easier to determine neighborhood by neighborhood. CWE will obviously see growth. What about the grove? Seems like it. Tally up those who will lose big, medium and small numbers as well as those that will gain. It can be fun to dream 🙂

          • Alex Ihnen

            That’s really difficult – there’s a clear mental absence of north city neighborhoods in particular, but also south city. In 2010 many believed the city had added population, “look at all the new projects”, but losing 34,000+ from north and south city was too much. I’d venture both are still losing and so making up for that is really tough.

  • So it has been 1.5 years since Governor Nixon said “If we do nothing, people will stand here 10 years from now and it will look like it looks right (now).” with regard to the riverfront north of the Arch. Just 8.5 years to go. I assume it has reverted back to tumbleweeds and broken glass. Anything simmering? It could be our mini-version of the Boston Seaport Innovation District which was derelict property near downtown Boston until the Federal Government built their Federal Courthouse there in year 2000. Then it took off like a rocket.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Yes – things are in the works, or rather there is interest from a number of developers. It’s a massive area and so I don’t imagine it will be “transformed” in 8.5yrs, but it won’t look like what it is now. Some good partnerships are forming.

      • Glad to hear that. I’d love to see a view of the river similar to Boston’s view of their bay. Ok, without the marina.

        • The stadium and its adjacent amenities would have provided that view. I don’t mind losing the team, but man would an open-air riverfront stadium have been fun.

  • One April Fool’s Day a while back I tweeted that Clayton was going to change its name to “New Town St. Louis”. With all the new business tower construction coming to Clayton instead of downtown, that doesn’t seem as far fetched. The STLToday podcast implies Sunday’s Paper will have a story about Clayton becoming the new downtown of the region. What does that portend for downtown? Is crime the issue? Or the earnings tax?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Single biggest issue in my opinion is the geography of St. Louis. Our population center is well west of Clayton. I’m also not sure that without Clayton, downtown would be much different. Downtown is a great neighborhood, the historic center of a major metro region. It’s also still the largest job center. Also, one overlooked related challenge is that metro east counties are losing population rather quickly. That’s bad news for downtown. And as long as we keep expanding 141, building bigger bridges to St. Charles County, etc. the population pressure will continue being west. (a collection of random thoughts)

      • Alex P

        The above paragraph cannot be stated enough. Excuse me while I copy and paste it to all of my Social Media bio’s. But yes, Crime and Earnings tax are, in my opinion, minimal factors compared to Alex’s explanation of geography.

        • Alex Ihnen

          Of course if it’s *just geography then there isn’t much hope. But it is the most clear differentiator when comparing recent central city redevelopment with places like Indy, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, etc.

          • John R

            But not Detroit.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Also Detroit – it geography in relation to downtown is advantageous compared to St. Louis.

          • John R

            it’s further than STL population base.

        • I agree — geography has a lot to do with the center moving West unless we could get more folks to move to Illinois. Too bad the 1970’s airport at Columbia-Waterloo was scuttled by Congressman Young back then. So maybe we allow downtown to glide gracefully into our version of Old Town San Diego — with residential and entertainment.

          • John R

            That’d be a disaster for the city and not good for the region. Just need a better vision, leadership and resources.

          • Not sure where I found it (Digitizing STL?), but I saw the site plan for the Columbia-Waterloo airport and… wow! The airport was going to be MASSIVE! Like 29 sq. mi.!!!

      • citylover

        I think you’re very right, but I think people underestimate the youth of our region. The people I know do NOT want to live in the suburbs or Clayton. They want to live downtown, tower grove, south city, old north. Young people are done with the suburbs. It’s not a “I think I might get a big house when I’m older” it’s a “I’m done.” Young people want quirky, walkable, and small.

        When people think Clayton they think posh, old people and empty nesters who retired in a penthouse. It’s not “cool” nor is it very fun. Sure it has jobs, cool high rises and nice restaurants but it misses the mark.

        It may be the capital of all things west county, but not our region.

        • Alex Ihnen

          Maybe. I think wealthy younger people are OK with Clayton. And I think people with kids (ahem) will continue to feel pressure to live near the school of their choice. In the big picture, things are shifting toward the urban so to speak, but that shift may be that 20% of 25-35yo in the region want to be in the city or Maplewood, etc. Whatever the number, a shift of any size would be huge and have a big impact on the city. That said, I’d expect a majority, by a wide margin, to live in the suburbs.

          • citylover

            What can be done to improve public schools in the city?

          • Alex Ihnen

            On one hand it’s being done. Certainly, choices both public and private have improved in recent years. If you can, whether or not your kids attend a city school, volunteer to help out. Check out this site and connect with the people there: http://stlcityschools.org/

            Ultimately, successful schools require engaged parents, but if absolutely nothing else, learn about some of the options so if/when city schools come up in conversation you’re able to offer real insight.

      • STLExplorer

        Additionally, Downtown is not connected to the neighborhoods north and south of it. If we knit those areas together with walk-able communities, Downtown would be much more attractive (and less dangerous).

        • Alex Ihnen

          Yes, but I’d offer that our city’s geography is particularly bad. A glance at the Census map is horrific for downtown – huge swaths of that white space can’t be built upon. (But yes, downtown has suffered from a lack of corporate and political leadership. It can and will be a successful part of our city.)

          • STLExplorer

            The Mill Creek rail yards are definitely a big obstacle, but besides the highways, all of the barriers to the north are movable, and the Broadway/7th street corridors to the south are full of potential.

          • Alex Ihnen

            The real barrier is the river and flood plain that wraps north and south around downtown.

          • STLExplorer

            Interesting, thank you for pointing that out.

          • Alex Ihnen

            At least in Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, etc. residents can live on three sides of downtown. And in Pittsburgh and Cleveland, the rivers are much small and without massive flood plains. I think downtown can be great again 🙂 but it may not redevelop in the same way as other cities.

      • John R

        Geography plays a role, but the lack of leadership plays a bigger one imo. Contrast that with say Cortex, which with a clear vision and leadership is moving fast and furious with luring new jobs.

  • Alex Ihnen

    Just added some hi-res images on this story: Design for 126-Unit Mixed-Use Building in Soulard Set for Preservation Board Review https://nextstl.com/2016/07/design-126-unit-mixed-use-building-soulard-set-preservation-board-review/

    Looks like a good proposal.

  • STLExplorer

    There is a building going up on Manchester just east of Macklind – do you know what’s going in?

    • Alex Ihnen

      If I’m thinking of the same location, it’s a Laclede Gas project. Permit simply states it’s a $4M commercial building.

      • STLExplorer

        I was hoping for something more exciting!

  • Pat McEvoy

    Does Nextstl have any desire to become more activist? There’s a lot of knowledge shared by those who post on the site as well as people on the forum. It would be great to see that knowledge and research turned into action. By action, I mean getting city wards/alderman to adopt form based codes throughout the city, holding forums with elected leaders on TIF reform, pushing for ordinances that facilitate city development, etc.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Yes, absolutely. It’s simply a matter of resources available. To do more, more funding and more volunteers are needed. It’s a big challenge to make the leap, and to be honest, maintaining the site is a massive challenge on its own. So, I’m working on funding ideas, and welcome partnerships and help on just about any topic.

  • John R

    What do you think will be the next big downtown rehab to move forward? And how has the proposal for the new office construction by the Ballpark fared so far with Board of Aldermen?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Hmmm…not the Millennium, not the Orpheum, not the convention center (at least not next)…the Railway Exchange will take time…maybe the Chemical? OK, I’ll go with the Jefferson Arms for the next big one, but honestly, who knows? Oh, maybe Muni Courts. 🙂

    • Alex Ihnen

      And the BPV proposal? If it’s real it will get easy support. That’s never been a challenge for BPV. The next phase, so to speak, may also be underwhelming.

  • I’ve kind of lost track of the next step for the Chemical Building downtown. Did someone else bid on that building? Is there something physical about the structure that scares folks away? Or is everyone just trying to make money by sitting on one of the last best buildings downtown as an investment?

    • Alex P

      Attached parking isn’t the sole issue but it’s one of the biggest issues. Beyond that, no, there are no major structural issues or major repairs that need to be done. Beyond that, it’s just not a very large building. Taking on any historic renovation is difficult, larger buildings pay off sooner.

      • Alex Ihnen

        The price has hovered around $4M. If it’s $3M I think a deal gets done fast. Parking isn’t so much a challenge for a hotel, but now we may have a glut of boutique hotels coming online.

      • At a loft tour way back when (05′? 06′?) when the first presumed redeveloper kicked out all the tenants, I remember them saying the Chemical would have a self-parking garage, where you’d pull in at street level and your call would be filed away.

        Would of been cool, but soooo much BS in that plan for this property. 🙂

  • Alex P

    Really random but… Do we know if they’re going to put in a wider sidewalk in front of the new County Courts entrance in Clayton? They’ve had southbound traffic down to one lane during construction and it’s flowing just fine. God forbid we have public space in front of the County Courts.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Right – would be nice. I’ve seen nothing to indicate wider sidewalks. We’ve written about how nearly all downtown Clayton streets are 4-5 lanes. It’s a mess, but it doesn’t appear Clayton particularly cares. Even a plan to reduce Forsyth by two lanes is probably off with Centene plans – though it would be the perfect time to do it.

      • Alex P

        From what I’ve seen, Hanley is the only road that needs 5 lanes. People think Maryland needs 5 because everyone drives 5-10 MPH over. Narrower lanes on the 3 lane roads would be nice too. The streets in DT Clayton seem much wider than streets Downtown (STL).

        • Alex Ihnen

          I think staff at Clayton know this, and planning documents reflect it, but the NIMBY force is strong and the aldermen have yet to demonstrate in vision in this regard.

  • STLExplorer

    Any details about Paul McKee’s housing development east of the NGA site?

    • Alex Ihnen

      No details. :/ There certainly appear to be big $ behind it, but the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust role is just a letter of intent (as far as I know). I suspect this will be incremental and even if fully completed, they may not be in a hurry until the NGA itself is quite far along. Always hoping I’m wrong about my skepticism re: NorthSide, and the NGA is a “game-changer” if there is such a thing, but we’ll see.

      • Do you think large construction like NGA, McKee, surrounding, etc. have affect on crime? I’ve been wondering if/when all of this stuff begins if the sheer workers, bodies, additional patrol, extra noise going around will have some affect on the hot spot areas in those neighborhoods?

        • Not that it won’t just move somewhere else, but I’ve heard that density is the best form of crime-prevention…

        • Alex Ihnen

          Could be. That area specifically doesn’t have much crime at all right now, in part because it’s sparsely populated. And NGA won’t really create density or a vibrant streetscape with “eyes on the street”. That said, it would seem that it should have a positive effect. Who’s dumb enough to commit a car-jacking in front of the NGA? Don’t answer that…

  • What is the latest on Union Station? I don’t see anything going on there. I thought they were going to start in the Spring of this year. I paid to park in the back a few weeks ago only to find all the doors into the back of the barn locked. Others tourists were there trying to get in also.

    • Alex Ihnen

      My last venture over there was dismal – until I got the Grand Hall of course. All I know of the current work is that fences are up and equipment moving in. There are much bigger announcements and changes to come. All I can offer at this point is to stay tuned!

  • Frank Absher

    Any word on the development of the old Southside Y and Pelican properties on S. Grand?