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

    Thanks again for joining!

  • Nick

    Do you think that a rebuilt 7th St between Walnut and Clark will be a part of a Ballpark Village expansion? Seems like a good idea to me.

    • Alex Ihnen

      No, but it is a good idea. Of course several iterations of BPV touted a relaid street grid, but that’s very unlikely to happen now.

  • SouthCityJR

    Looks like the Apogee office building in Clayton is stalled due to parking/traffic concerns typical of Clayton NIMBY complaints lately. These complaints seem to never end and some of the proposed projects in Clayton will likely go through despite their complaints, but certainly some others will fail due to these complaints. My question is, is there any reasonable way to address some of the NIMBY traffic concerns in Clayton? Compared to Downtown, it is more landlocked and somewhat further away from highways. The land is also extremely expensive, so expanding roads could be costly and unrealistic. Is there any hope of a compromise, or will Clayton continue to see the NIMBYs successfully stop a good amount of proposals?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Density and development are political questions. There’s no “right” answer for traffic, or buildings. I think compromises will continue to pave the way for more development, but we’ll see. In the end, Clayton will become what its elected representatives endorse, and they’ll endorse what is politically popular (though it’s admittedly a bit more nuanced than that).

    • Tim E

      Isn’t this being stalled in part from office building owner next door unrelated to the developer and Apex oil complaining about lacking of adequate parking for their own tenants? I think that is very different in terms of typical Nimbyism

      As far as Clayton NIMBY’s, I don’t really see them winning any significant battles to date outside fof the old Maryland school lot. or have I missed some? Centene definitely looks like it is going through. Residential tower going up now with a couple of active apartment projects being built. Montgomery tower proposal I believe is more about demand or use if anything. I do agree though, Clayon land lock and no real good auto centric options.

      • Alex Ihnen

        The townhomes on Brentwood were stopped, and the insane opposition to 212 Meramec resulted in an insane settlement. And while I’ll bet Centene builds something big, it’s already changed, and will change more in the face of opposition. I don’t necessarily think all the complaints are invalid, however.

        https://nextstl.com/2016/04/townhomes-planned-harris-armstrong-home-site-clayton/

        http://www.stltoday.com/business/columns/building-blocks/settlement-reached-in-suit-against-clayton-apartment-project/article_21000339-ed5b-5360-8a85-f7d757018bcc.html

        • moorlander

          Clayton Garden resident told me many liked the development on Brentwood but were fearful it would open up multifamily developments in the middle of their single family home streets.

          • moorlander

            Interestingn also to note that 8110 westmoreland (next door) is owned by a principle partner at MLP whose firm specializes in multifamily developments.

          • SouthCityJR

            The other Clayton NIMBY issue that comes to mind is the latest idea for the old Schnucks site at Clayton and Hanley. Past proposals for the site were shot down due to traffic fears. I highly doubt this project will survive for the same reason.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Most recent past, and current, proposals have met opposition from city staff who have considered the plans to be against the city’s planning goals – namely: there shouldn’t be parking fronting Clayton or Hanley, and the designs haven’t been impressive enough to serve as a gateway to Clayton.

          • moorlander

            the board of the Moorlands neighborhood association has not shot down any developments and most desperately want the Schnucks site developed.

          • moorlander

            And EuGene Norber President of EDR lives next to him

        • Tim E

          I wouldn’t call insane settlement and 212 is rising as part of more to come. They go forward with desired development phases and the insane settlement might not look so insane in the developers eyes.

          • Alex Ihnen

            I’d bet that the whole process, and the eventual settlement makes the next developer of a high rise a little more wary.

          • moorlander

            I file paying $500k for blocking someone’s view in the insane section

          • Alex Ihnen

            $500K in legal expenses + $500K to their condo assoc + $4.9M in forgone TIF $ already granted by the city + an HD video feed of the Arch that residents can look at on their TVs = insane (and perhaps detrimental to future development)

  • Michael B

    With the Foundry trestle greenway going in, have you heard if Cortex has plans to extend the greenway down through their area along with the new metrolink station construction?

    And speaking of the new metrolink station, any hints at a design yet? Is Cortex involved in the design, or is it all in Metro’s hands?

    • Alex Ihnen

      That’s the plan (see images). I’d expect the MetroLink station to be rather standard – with perhaps some public art.

      • tony

        Do we know the timeline for the CWE station renovations? Its been mentioned as part of this project, so I assume 2018 start date?

        • Alex Ihnen

          Good question. Yes, I would assume that it’s still some time (years) off.

          • tony

            I would be happy with simply a fully covered platform, but it does look quite shabby next to all the new glass of the WUSM/BJC Mid-campus center building going up now.

      • Michael B

        Thanks. It would be a shame if they fail to do something cool with the station. It will be very visible from the road (unlike many other stations) and they have a great opportunity to do something that fits with the design of Cortex, like imitate the shade pavilion or something with steel and glass.

  • SouthCityJR

    What do you think are the chances that Sansone’s Hill apartment complex proposal goes through, in one form or another? Sounds like the neighborhood group gave the ok, but 500 or so local NIMBYs are trying to stop it, saying no apartments at all.

    • Alex Ihnen

      My bet is on it going through in one form or another! 🙂 Seems like it will be a long process.

      • Frank Absher

        From the drawings it appears there’s a real lack of sensitivity to the area’s architectural heritage.

        • Alex Ihnen

          I’ve thought about this quite a bit, and wondered The Hill on several occasions recently. To be honest, I think The Hill is a hot mess of architectural styles – if you event want to call it that. Yes, there are streets with shotgun brick bungalows, others with nice porches, but even those are dotted with horrendous 90s/00s infill. The new stuff on The Hill is just awful. Many of the additions/conversions to old homes are equally hideous – architecturally speaking. That said, I like the kitschiness of it – the DIY, widely varied nature of it is fine by me. But then “architectural heritage” doesn’t really resonate.

  • Scott Pluff

    Speaking of the near north riverfront, I spent a few hours yesterday walking from the arch to the new bridge and back, then checking out Laclede’s Landing which I hadn’t seen in a few years. The riverfront trail was scary: several people (appearing to) use and/or sell drugs, graffiti/trash/weeds everywhere. I passed a few long-distance cyclists, but no other pedestrians or recreational traffic. Laclede’s Landing just seemed run down and dead. There were a handful of people having lunch at one of the bars, but otherwise it was a ghost town. I hope the arch renovations can spur development on the Landing.

    • Alex Ihnen

      That was one of the big selling points of spending ~$380M. But if we think about it, the Landing has seen an NFL stadium, convention center, $500M casino…not to mention the Arch itself build right next door. The Landing is surrounded by massive projects and isn’t doing well. Now it’s more isolated than before with the removal of Washington next to the Eads. Ultimately, the location of the Landing and riverfront present obstacles that should inform any future development efforts.

    • Scott Pluff

      There were a lot of people visiting the arch yesterday, even while it’s under construction. Someone asked a park ranger if there was somewhere to eat around there, and he said, “no, not really.” Aside from occasional events, I hope the arch adds some basic amenities such as food trucks or concession carts, plus some signage to direct people to the Landing where they can find restaurants, bars, etc. Of course there’s not much over there to direct them to right now.

      • Alex Ihnen

        Sure, but that’s just an awful, uninformed reply. Options could be nearer/better, but at least point them to Wash Ave and Pi, etc., Death in the Afternoon at City Garden, Park Avenue Coffee, Bread Co., Hardee’s, Hooters, Ballpark Village, etc. etc. etc.

  • SnakePlissken

    Will we ever see an open “Roberts” Orpheum Theater? I don’t know if there’s enough demand for another venue of that size but someone could certainly utilize a space like that, right?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Right. Hard to imagine it falling down or being demo’d, but who knows. The owner would be happy to offload it!

  • Will M

    I see were starting the conversation early, lol. I’ve been exited to hear about all the new construction throughout the city. The rehabs downtown are equally exciting, as are the possibility of new construction at cupples 10 and BPV. I was wondering if you had heard of any movement in the near north riverfront? I noticed some interest in a three story rehab for an event space, a nightclub, and a restaurant. Its exciting, but I was wondering if there was anything more, perhaps with the Arch grounds being completed soon there may be an office tenant or residential. Any details? Or even hints?

    thought id attach the old riverfront vision for good measure, it was the right amount of ambitious.

    • Tim E

      I believe this will get pushed further to the back burner with proposed SLU/Mid-town blight area encompassing 385 acres. Between Cortex, BPV, McKee’s northside and now a new district you are talking about a huge amount of infill & space to be built out.

      I think we need to admit that a region slowly growing as St Louis and metro east/Illinois might be even contracting that something will not happen. Build the landing is the best outcome I see in the foreseeable future

    • Alex Ihnen

      I’ve never thought the north riverfront is an attractive development site. With so many places that are better connected, better located…why would someone build up there. As much as I cringe to say it, an NFL stadium wasn’t that terrible of a use. The GRG/Forum plan is of course beautiful, but needs big anchors and is ~trying to recreate another Cortex, which itself can hold 2M+ square feet and $100Ms in development. And there’s no guarantee that will actually be accomplished there. North riverfront vision: https://nextstl.com/2015/07/north-riverfront-vision-offers-ideas-with-or-without-nfl-stadium/

      • Will M

        well one can dream I guess. You make good points, I look forward to seeing what the future has in store for the area

      • SouthCityJR

        If GRG’s plan seems unlikely, then what is the best/most likely re-use of the land? Improved industrial/warehousing? Seems like something has to be done there.

        • Alex Ihnen

          Admittedly, I (and frankly everyone else) am short on ideas that seem feasible. I’d *like* to see small scale development on the Lumiere lots and then work northward. It’s a large enough area that it could become a neighborhood if it develops slowly and with true mixed uses. Rather basic streetscape improvements and better, clearer, access across I-44 could set the stage for private investment.

          • David Kramer

            I’ve always thought that the north riverfront would make a good research park in which the tenants all came from industries related to the river. Shipping and logistics companies could research how to better use the river for transporting goods, local universities could have access to labs to study how to use the river to produce energy or the effects of global warming, others could study biology and ecology of the river. Also could get government agencies such as MO department of natural resources and department of conservation involved. Easy access to the river could be incorporated with docks and marinas and theres plenty of space for warehouses to store the boats and other large pieces of equipment needed.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Great idea. I thought a big freshwater aquarium featuring the great rivers of the world would be awesome. A destination site like that doesn’t rely as much as just walk-in traffic. I like your idea better.

          • Tim E

            I think Alex has a realistic, pragamtic approach and most likely outcome.
            ..
            As far as research parking, tt the moment CORTEX was incorporated as a life science, bioscience park, you got Missouri Research Park, and don’t forget the expanded Dansforth plant research park in St. Louis County. Even now you see CORTEX morphing into tech, retail, mixed use, etc.

          • Tim E

            meant research parks

  • RJ

    Is there anything that can be done with that atrocious garage Fox Associates is building in Grand Center that goes against the Grand Center Plan of including street level retail and residential units on any garages built in the district. It seems incredibly stupid to spend a lot of money rehabbing the historical buildings and to allow that ugly concrete albatross to be build in the same neighborhood. They could spend some additional money and make it look like a piece of art that adds ambience to the streetscape

    • Alex Ihnen

      The garage being built is better than the rendering provided by Fox Associates (I’m told). That said, no, I don’t believe anything can be done. The three organizations/people that could do something aren’t particularly responsive to public input: Alderwoman Marlene Davis, Fox Associates, Grand Center, Inc. There’s no public process for Grand Center projects since the aforementioned organizations/people have not sought protections such as a local historic district, or opted into preservation review.

      • tony

        From their own site:

        “Through its leadership and partnership activities, GCI supports the economic growth and **physical appeal** of the district which in turn attracts new development, more visitors, more residents, more cultural events, and additional institutions and businesses that now call Grand Center their home.”

        • Tim E

          Its still all about money. This parking garage is being privately founded from my understanding which in their own right as any structure owner have some leeway on how much public input too accept.

          I think the opportunity missed is a public private partnership to subsidize some better design standard or street level retail spaces and put some of the parks and streetscapes on hold.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Here I disagree. I believe it’s being subsidized, and regardless, a cultural center, Grand Center, is the epitome of shared community ownership. Projects like this garage should require substantial community outreach and input.

          • Tim E

            Being subsidized in terms of TIF? CID? or something different. I don’t believe Grand has a transportation district unless mistaken.

            On a different note, transportation district might go a long ways to making Grand & FPP an at grade intersection. Expanding the area might also help bring better connections from Armory to Foundry/Cortex, etc.

          • Alex Ihnen

            10-year tax abatement.

      • RJ

        Thanks Alex. So, aside from using Social Media and gathering a group of protestors carrying signs and drawing attention to this project (aka the 60’s) the public just has to put up with whatever Marlene Davis, Fox Associates and Grand Center deem appropriate no matter how ugly. What a poor process!

        • tony

          I suppose I am too naive when it comes to things like this, but do you think Marlene, the Fox, and GC think this IS acceptable, or do they just not care and don’t want to spend more than they have to? I can’t imagine they would all be oblivious.

  • RJ

    What is going on with the Missouri Theater Building on Grand? The Lawrence Group has taken forever on this project and it still isn’t done and when I drive by there I see NO construction activity. They seem to be more interested in The Foundry and need to get past projects completed before moving on to the next one.

    • Alex Ihnen

      It’s still planned to become HQ for Bull Moose. It is taking longer than planned, but I’m told that nothing has changed long term.

      • SnakePlissken

        Any word on BB King’s place?

        • Alex Ihnen

          Not in a long time. My guess is it’s out…though plans for the empty Grandel Theatre have yet to be released as well. Slow moving over there.

  • TimJim

    So, some news about the new ownership of the Jefferson Arms was posted yesterday and then taken down. What happened?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Ownership changed hands for the garage portion of the building. I mistook this for the larger building itself. It’s still ambiguous – a bit of a mess – on the city’s website. The parcel map shows almost the entire property as the garage – which transferred to McGowan Dev. Believe this includes where Fitness Factory is going in. This is 415 N. Tucker. Another address for the building is 401 N. Tucker. The city site shows AB Acres (Jump) as the owner, but when one clicks on that, it shows ownership as 1220 St. Charles LLC, the same as the rest of the building. With the building under contract, and ownership changing hands per city record, and an additional source (probably looking at same confusing info) informing me Altera had closed on it, the story was posted. It was then taken down when I realized it’s not quite clear what the changes mean.

      • Frank Absher

        McGowan Brothers say they are putting their gym, Fitness Factory, in the garage. Work is going on now.