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 for showing up – great questions today. Until next week…

  • citylover

    Any update on kiener garages? Park work is well underway yet I still see two ugly concrete blocks. Wasn’t there a plan to atleast update the retail spaces and paint the concrete?

    • MRNHS

      Man, I hate those ugly garages so much. It seems that the most prime locations for offices/residential downtown are already spoken for with garages.

      • Alex Ihnen

        Perhaps once Kiener is completed there could be more retail interest. The garages would seem to be ripe for redevelopment, but I could say the same for many buildings/lots downtown.

  • STLrainbow

    Where do you see the effort to reform city economic development incentives going? Do you see something like Kansas City’s new legislation to cap abatement at 75% (with some exceptions) getting passed here.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Frankly, who knows. I’ve been told the effort rests with a new system being developed internally at the city. While not a critique of any city employee specifically, this at first very much seems like business as usual – in that the plan will be created and agreed upon by a small group of the usual suspects and then presented for others to approve.

  • What would be the next big step in some kind of regional consolidation, such as putting something up for a vote? Or is just assumed any proposal would fail at the polls?

    • Alex Ihnen

      I think getting city/county execs on the same page is obviously necessary. We’ll have to wait to see who that is. The business community is behind some kind of consolidation or overall cooperation – they’ll need to be much more vocal soon. We also need to start seeing a real plan – how schools are affected, etc.

  • moorlander

    Odds the loop church’s chicken will be redeveloped by 2020? What is the hold up Exactly

    • Alex Ihnen

      I’ll almost guarantee it gets done by then. When the $’s right it will get done.

  • Imran

    Any rumors regarding what might be planned for the recently vacated spot across Taylor from the developing STLCOP buildings?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Taylor at Duncan? It’s a smaller lot, but clearly buildable. Haven’t heard of any plans though.

  • SouthCityJR

    I just read a NextStl post about street closures and was trying to think of which neighborhood is the worst offender. I drive (attempt to) through Shaw frequently and find its street closures to be the worst, though CWE is also very bad. What are the realistic chances these neighborhoods ever rise up and pressure their aldermen to re-open the grid? Seems a lot of older long time residents would oppose b/c they falsely think it reduces crime, though newcomers there seem to be very pro-urban and should theoretically support healing the grid.

    • Michael C

      Let’s make #healthegrid trend on twitter!

      • Alex Ihnen

        It’s starting to happen! 🙂 (But it’s a big uphill battle. Since many of the streets have been closed for decades, they’ve gained a semblance of permanence.)

  • In January, we’ll be 2 years into Governor Nixon’s prediction that in 10 years (now 8) the North riverfront will still be an undeveloped eyesore. Is anyone looking at that area at all? I keep thinking it could our mini-version of Boston’s booming Seaport innovation district. Why is nobody attracted to that area?

    • Michael B

      Just a guess, but the Mississippi is an ugly river lined with industry and the Illinois side isn’t anything fun to look at.

      • I disagree. I think it it no different than rivers throughout Europe (Thames is muddy) where the banks have been developed. Folks said the same thing about the ugly decrepit Boston Seaport eyesore, until the Contemporary Art Museum opened a dramatic new building there in 2006. A working river with barges and excursion boats is better than looking at a freeway. So I guess Nixon is right.

        • Michael B

          That’s a good point about European rivers. I’m not saying I wouldn’t like to see our riverfront develop. It could be a really great place. But I do worry that an inability to develop the Illinois side of the river hurts St. Louis riverfront in the long run.

          • Alex Ihnen

            I do think there’s a difference with the Mississippi – whether it’s flooding, industrial development, the width of the river, distance from population center, etc.

          • I don’t know. The Thames is wide and muddy, and it floods. But they have layered bank levels in town that handle it nicely. And the area where the STL stadium was going to go did not flood in 1993.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Sure. There’s nothing that absolutely precludes development, but in the economic climate of St. Louis, it’s really difficult. I don’t see current trends being able to overcome the physical/geographic challenges.

    • Tim E

      Heck, I would think if West Downtown & Near northside w NGIA coming sees continued development, Wash Ave & Laclede Landing continues to march on with the new Arch Grounds & hopefully convention center development and finally a respectable BVP phase II & Cupples X development would be huge step forward in 8 years. Especially if this development happens within context of continued CORTEX/Wexford/CWE & Fourndry development.
      .
      I truly think N. Riverfront development as Nixon was suggesting is wishfull thinking until something dramatically happens with the regions GDP & population growth as a whole. At end of day, the best that should be wished for is NFL expansion team and the riverfront stadium being built IMO

    • Alex Ihnen

      I think there are other places in the city that will see big investment before this area. It’s just not in a great location in relation to West County, our universities, etc. etc.

      • Tim E

        Alex has it right, I really think it is about how much can be realistically developed and how it relates to other places within the city and county.

        Still some great TOD opportunities on Lacledes Landing but that might be it in the foreseeable future,

      • STLrainbow

        Much will be determined by whether or not GRG proceeds at all with more riverfront enhancements…. e.g. do they do anything with the Laclede Power Building? That in itself will be helpful and likely would bring at least some additional private investment to the area.

        My guess is there’ll be some additional, incremental investments in the coming years and that is just fine. It doesn’t need not be the next Cortex.

        • Alex Ihnen

          Right, but they aren’t a developer and though parks and other investments can catalyze development, I’m not sure on this scale that it can work. I mean, there’s a nice little park just south of the Eads Bridge that hasn’t had a limited catalytic impact on surrounding development.

          • STLrainbow

            Not sure what you mean by scale… again, it doesn’t have to be the next hot district to be an improved one. Just a couple rehabs and bit of greenery and street improvements and it’s fine.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Are you talking about the same North Riverfront as me? A couple rehabs and some other investment could certainly help, but there expansive vacancy and empty space there.

  • SouthCityJR

    I’ve heard people talking about what can be done with vacant buildings. I know of at least one house near me that is long vacant, boarded up and condemned by the City months ago. I spoke to folks at City Hall and was told they were aware of the issue and were trying to convince the owner to sell to a rehabber, but the City had no legal ability to force this because the owner has paid all of his property taxes. How is that possible? Why can’t the City take it by eminent domain? Seems like a no brainer.

  • When do we think any kind of construction will start at Union Station?

    • Alex Ihnen

      It’s already underway under the train shed.

  • MRNHS

    Heard any rumors about companies relocating downtown? Seems like there was chatter about it a few months back (with no specifics mentioned) but it seems to have died. Also, any status update on that god-awful Ferris wheel proposal for Shannon’s?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Yes. One big one may come soon, but it’s not final. I hear the Shannon’s Ferris Wheel is dead.

      • moorlander

        “Big one” from local relocation OR from out of town?

        • Riggle

          Its Bayer, Germans don’t like suburban trash office islands

          • Tim E

            I was going to also suggest that Wells Fargo threatens pulls most of its people out of San Fran HQ/California and into ATT one center after State of California keeps trying to extort half their profits on the false account scandal and Nixon/State House promises to give them compensation in the amount of half their profits Kinda like when Boeing went shopping for a new place to build planes..

          • MRNHS

            Sounds intriguing! Is this highly likely or still in the exploration phase? After the decision is made one way or another, I would love to read a piece on the reasoning behind the decision.

        • Alex Ihnen

          One I know of would be a relocation, but a big expansion.

  • Michael C

    Can we please get a roundabout at the intersection of Lindell Blvd. and Union Blvd? I think it would be very helpful. Any thoughts on this?

    • Will M

      absolutely. 100%. why that is not already there I will never understand

      • Alex Ihnen

        I believe it’s in the plans, but after FP Parkway/Kingshighway and more planning for Lindell streetscape.

    • tony

      Are there any multi-lane examples in the city/county already? I can only think of Wildwood.

      • Alex Ihnen

        Don’t believe it will be multi-lane if implemented.

        • tony

          Would that be because of possible bike lane additions/lane replacement leading to less traffic, or would 1 lane handle all of the current traffic amount?

          • Alex Ihnen

            Yes.

  • Michael B

    The Shalom House at 1040 South Taylor Avenue closed this summer. The building, an old church, looks to be in the process of being gutted. Have you heard anything about the plans for this building?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Working on this one…

  • Nick

    Do you have any details on the sidewalk improvements on Washington Ave? Construction just started this week between Broadway and 6th. I’m curious what the scope and purpose is. And who’s paying for it. It is already a pretty ok sidewalk, in my opinion.

  • SnakePlissken

    Outside of Green Street, Lawrence Group and Restoration St. Louis it seems the only other people that invest/redevelop STL are outsiders or institutions. Where are all the big local players? Are they all scared of the City?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Don’t forget Koman Group. There are others too, I’m sure. I don’t necessarily buy that the situation in St. Louis is different than other cities – at least not until I see evidence of this. The investments being made in St. Louis city by local and outside developers is big, and increasing. It would be great to be able to compare to other places though.

      • Tim E

        To me Oakland would be an interesting comparison. Even though Oakland is bigger then St Louis it still struggles to compete for development and investment dollars locally while trying to fiscally maintain services and police officers. Oakland like St. Louis has a diverse but segregated neighborhoods, has an industrial/transportation & industrial based background with the port and some premier institutions nearby but not in Oakland, think Berkeley and Washington U. Oakland even has a NFL owner publically committed to build a NFL stadium somewhere else – Davis stated this week that he would put $500 million behind a Las Vegas stadium

        The one bid difference is that Oakland is within a booming, growing region and so has increasing rent rates and some big pluses with right choices. That is a huge difference

    • STLrainbow

      Curious, what big local players are absent from City development?

  • SnakePlissken

    I haven’t been back to my old stomping grounds of Downtown West in 30 years since I saved the president. What are your thoughts on everything west of 20th to Jefferson. Seems like a great place to be in 5-10 years. Union Station to the South, Tap Room at the core, NGA to the North… All it needs is a metro line on Jefferson and bingobango you’ve got a nice lil district.

    • Alex Ihnen

      You got it. That’s going to be a hot area, and it has the potential to see great historic preservation and contemporary infill on a large scale. Fingers crossed.

      • Tim E

        Believe someone posted the fact here or on Urbanstl blog that MoDOT approval for conveyance of excess property to the city was on the agenda of the last transportation committee meeting..

        Also, if not mistaken it was reported that Gov Nixon withheld some state funds meant for the rebuilt 22nd interchange but it shouldn’t hold up the intended project. Believe it was PD story a few weeks back

    • jhoff1257

      “I haven’t been back to my old stomping grounds of Downtown West in 30 years since I saved the president.”

      Love it!

      Also, completely agree with you regarding Downtown West. Once the 22nd Street interchange gets removed and we can get something resembling a grid west of Union Station we could really make something happen there.

  • SnakePlissken

    Trolly talk with Snake: Any updates on the rumored East/West trolly through Downtown to CWE?

    • Alex Ihnen

      I think it’s dead.

  • tony

    What do we see in St. Louis first… MLS or direct to Europe flights?

    • Alex Ihnen

      MLS, but it’s a tossup.

    • Michael C

      The rumor mill has it that a flight from Saint Louis to London-Heathrow is coming soon. Mayor Slay now signaling that his trip to London was a success.

  • moorlander

    Alex what’s your favorite proposal right now?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Probably City Foundry. I’m not convinced it’s a sustainable concept exactly (unless substantial office/residential is included), but its reuse is probably the least expected project I’ve seen in a decade.

      • Any guess as to when they might get started and finally remove some of the graffiti and broken windows that have entertained visiting drivers in that stretch for years?

  • David Hoffman

    Any more news on the rumored high-rise at West Pine and Skinker?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Kingshighway? Nada. Niente. Zero.

  • TimJim

    The East Loop is really booming with the new concert hall and apartment building under construction. But what about the old Church’s at the corner of Skinker and Delmar; and the long boarded up Mt. Olive Church property on Delmar? Any news?

    • rgbose

      Owners won’t sell former fast food building.

      • Michael C

        Who are the owners?

        • tony

          Falcon Holdings LLC. Is there a way to see all of the properties own by them on the city’s site?

    • Alex Ihnen

      May have a short story forthcoming…

    • Michael C

      The Mt. Olive Church property really needs to get moving. I feel like it’s been that way for the past 10 years. If it’s not going to be an African-American Culture Center, then I think someone should develop it into a concert or theatre venue. Churches can easily be transformed into performance centers. It could be a venue for classical/chamber music. We could use more diversity in the Loop for those who don’t like pop or rock music. It could be a place where there is a play performing every night or a little classical music group performing! Lots of ideas to make the Loop a center for the arts and culture.