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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  • John

    Any plans for redevelopment of the Millennium Hotel (a.k.a. Regal Riverfront and Clarion) in downtown St. Louis? Timing?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Sorry, nothing. Wish we had something to share!

  • Goomba

    Do you expect the SLU master plan for Grand Station to be urban?

    • Alex Ihnen

      More urban? Yes. Urban like Cortex-urban? Yes. (See a theme on things like this?)

      • Goomba

        I have no problem with Cortex urban. I think that is how St. Louis TOD urbanism will look going forward.

        • Alex Ihnen

          OK. But there are problems. There proclaimed (car optional) Cortex has exactly zero bike or ped specific development features (beyond what one finds in many other STL area developments).

          • Goomba

            Yes, they could use some improvement in that department but moving in the right direction IMO.

  • rgbose
    • Alex Ihnen

      When I saw that, I could just hear someone arguing that North City doesn’t need rail transit because quite a few residents appear to use existing public transportation.

      • rgbose

        By that logic no road would ever be widened

      • rgbose

        Another note is that is where transit users live, not revealing where they are going.

  • Goomba

    What’s up with BPVII? Seems like we could be seeing a phase III faster than expected. I wonder if this development could truly be skyline altering.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Clearly planning is advanced for III. Seems a strong start to II (retail/apts/office filling) would push III ahead quickly. If it ends up being the two towers we’ve seen, then it’s truly an altering development.

  • Nick

    Do we expect an article on the potential “STL Cultural Trail” today?

    That trail would be an amazing asset to have.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Working on it! By the end of the day, think so.

      • Nick

        Looking forward to it!

      • pat

        Can you hint at what roads it’ll be one? Olive, St. Louis, and….

        • Alex Ihnen

          No.

          • pat

            🙁

    • matt

      Beat me to it. Very excited

  • Alex P

    Speaking of YMCAs. Doesn’t look like anyone has even reached for a hammer at the new Downtown YMCA space. A move in December ain’t happenin’

  • Jim Arsenault

    What is the most effective way to fight NIMBYism? Living in Clayton, it seems like there is a vocal contingent that does not want a single thing to change.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Their voices have to be countered at public meetings. Just one supported voice can help city officials do what they want to do (per city master plan) and greenlight smart development. Also, start a Clayton YIMBY website.

      • Alex P

        I thought that’s what this was???

      • Goomba

        I feel confident that Clayton will get denser and better development, particularly near Metrolink stations, in the near future. In fact, I think it is already happening. Considering that Clayton is already built out in its residential neigborhoods (where new development will face the most NIMBYism), seems like their only option is more high rise development like we are seeing now in the Clayton CBD.

    • moorlander

      Thank you for asking this. Nextstl gets the word out so early that all the naysayers are getting more and more time to rally the troops and start the opposition. The Beacon at Wydown is a great example. That project hasn’t even been submitted to the city and the neighbors already have a petition and “website” up.

      • Alex Ihnen

        Well, the project was submitted to the city, and the city shared it – which is how it got on nextSTL. Then the city removed it.

        Anyway, my premise is that the naysayers are always more motivated and organized that pro-development people. The naysayers will and do show up regardless. Getting information out there has the potential to allow pro-development people to speak up and weigh in.

        • moorlander

          Interesting. Gary Carter, director of Economic Development told me no plans have been submitted to the city.

        • moorlander

          Now I see it was listed on the 10/4/16 pending applications page.

  • Riggle

    Any word on the South Grand YMCA?

    • Alex Ihnen

      A popular question, but nothing new. I believe the proposal from last year is still what should be expected.

      • Frank Absher

        What’s the delay? Graffiti is terrible.

  • Goomba

    It looks like we are finally starting to see some mixed-use development at Metrolink stations. Do you expect we will hear some plans for true mixed-use TOD development at Metrolink stations in the coming years? I know SLU has a plan. BPV seems to be finally coming together, 14 stories at the Delmar station, Cortex etc. What is the status of the Union Station/22nd street area? I’ve heard that Metro is looking to develop N. Hanley station area for affordable housing and retail. I would really love to see that huge garage complex near 8th and Pine get redeveloped, that could be a really nice mixed-use hub with arch views.

    • Alex Ihnen

      I think our expectations for TOD should be muted. I’d cheer for a 100 apt / 25 parking space development. We’ll see added density (transit adjacent dev) along MetroLink in part due to the line, and in part simply due to central corridor location. It’s a good thing, but TOD is a bit different.

      • Goomba

        I agree, I think just adding a few hundred apartments with retail at stations could do a lot for ridership and help give people an option. Even if they were apartments wrapped around a garage lol

    • MatthewHibbard

      Goomba, we are actually working on a new webpage that will document development near or on MetroLink stations across the bi-state region. The project, called TOD Corner, will launch when Metro unveils its new website this month. We have lots of development in progress — where Metro is directly negotiating with the developer or where development occurs without our involvement. In the end, we plan to boost the economic development benefits of light rail in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

      • Goomba

        Can you speak to some of the developments we haven’t heard of yet? I know North Hanley and Rock Road had some interest. Can you speak to those or any others we may be unaware of?

        • MatthewHibbard

          While I’m limited to what is shared publicly at this time, what I can share with you is there is ongoing construction near or at MetroLink Stations at the following stations: Richmond Heights, Clayton, Delmar Loop and Sunnen. We are also working with development partners at Cortex, Green Street, SLU and Great Rivers Greenway regarding the Grand MetroLink Station as well as UMSL officials near the North Hanley MetroLink Station.

          • Riggle

            So suburban development that doesn’t compliment transit?

          • MatthewHibbard

            Huh?

          • Goomba

            He is likely criticizing the suburban nature of the Sunnen and Richmond Heights station development, but I’m confident we will see better and denser development along Metrolink as municipalities catch on. I think Delmar Station has really strong potential for denser mixed-use development along Delmar, aside from the 14 story building. Hanley also has town center potential too with major employers and UMSL nearby.

  • chrisms

    Any rumors of retail tenants in new Opus building at Euclid and Lindell?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Sure. Always rumors!

      • Goomba

        It looks like the CWE and creating a nice mixed use corridor from Euclid and Maryland to the CWE station. Do you see this corridor eventually filling in to where a person could comfortably walk from the CWE Metrolink station to Euclid and Maryland? That would be awesome.

        • Riggle

          Um, you already can, or am I missing something?

          • Goomba

            Still that major empty lot on SW corner of Euclid and Lindell. Also a slimmer lot on NE corner of FPA and Euclid. Plaza Dental on Euclid and Lindell also isnt the most walkable area.

          • Riggle

            Fair enough, for st louis its already pretty close to as good as it gets

          • Goomba

            I dont think its a bad walk, just could be better and it appears it will get better. CWE is an amazing, dense neighborhood, but still a crap load of underutilized property and parking lots.

          • Alex Ihnen

            I remember my first visit to STL in 2013. I drove the city looking for vibrant neighborhoods and found Euclid. It was an on-again, off-again strip, leaving me a little unsure of how active it really was. That’s certainly changed since then, and it will change more.

          • Goomba

            I agree, it seems like we could also use some better development along FPA. The corner of FPA and Taylor is tragic and would look great with mixed-use residential on all 4 corners. I would imagine that with its proximity to Metrolink and the medical center any apartment development there would sell fast.

          • Alex Ihnen

            We’ll see redevelopment of SW and NW corners – both owned by WUSTL. SE corner is WUSTL as well, but I believe it’s a Harris Armstrong-designed building. It’s not urban, but I like it. NE corner would be great too, but who knows. Expect SW and SE corner of Newstead/FPA to see development too. Timeframe? 2-5yrs.

          • Goomba

            We need a story on that. I know that urbanist will flip out if the design is not urban and walkable, but we do have to remember that it is a medical complex….ambulance coming through! Will the SW and NW corners be urban?

          • Alex Ihnen

            Yes – there were/are a surprising number of empty/underutilized lots. I’m with you. It’s never been a bad walk, but there was something of a void between Laclede and Maryland, especially before the Park East Tower and adjacent lofts.

        • Alex P

          I comfortably walk from MetroLink to Euclid and Maryland about once a week.

        • Alex Ihnen

          Yes – absolutely. I don’t think it was every terrible, but the medical center has seen a lot of investment, and with Whole Foods, Shake Shack, etc. I think it’s going to feel consistently busy/inviting from CWE station to McPherson.

  • Adam

    So the townhouse development at the SE corner of the Indiana and Pestalozzi appears to be moving forward. What about the detached homes that were slated for the NW corner of that same intersection? Is that project dead?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Haven’t heard it’s dead, but haven’t heard of progress.

  • Goomba

    Do you think N-S Metrolink is viable? Would the city be better off pursuing a N-S Streetcar? I feel that could be done in less time with less money. Let the county get BRT and Westport.

    • Alex Ihnen

      N-S MetroLink = N-S Streetcar. I think there’s some confusion about what a N-S line would look like. All maps now show the line as street-running. This means that it’s going to look an function more like the KC or Cincy streetcar than our existing MetroLink lines. While specifics are set, this is what we should expect.

      • Goomba

        Yes, but wouldn’t Metrolink have bigger cars and dedicated lanes? I would like to see smaller cars and dedicated lanes like the trams in Europe. I wouldn’t want mixed traffic streetcar like Cincy and KC.

        • MatthewHibbard

          Goomba, the VERY early plans call for at-grade train cars, similar to systems used in Minneapolis and Salt Lake City. The proposed alignment would require a new train fleet, maintenance facility and so fourth. The system may weave in and out of at-grade and dedicated ROW…but again, keep in mind, this is a VERY early…long..road (cough rail) ahead!

          • Goomba

            I know the city wants to build the N/S line in some capacity, whether the county buys in or not. Do you think that could change the final plan?

          • Alex P

            I don’t think we should be speaking in terms of the “city” or “county” building the line. No matter what, it will be a Bi-State Dev project requiring City, County, State, and Fed funds.

          • MatthewHibbard

            It’s a regional project. The region has tasked the East-West Gateway Council of Governments to plan for transportation projects — both in the short term and long term. This organization will ultimately chose if and where MetroLink expands. If the region chooses to expand MetroLink, Metro may (or may not) be tasked to build and operate the system.

          • Alex P

            yeah, I wasn’t exactly sure who the client would be on the project. E-W Gateway makes sense though. It definitely wouldn’t be the City though.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Yes, but there’s always a driver, and sometimes an outright winner, in these projects. True collaboration and consensus is elusive.

          • Alex Ihnen

            I *think that if N/S line looks like it has momentum that the County will go along and be interested in the county portion of that route and having the line extend into the county. I wish the city could go it alone and have the line entirely within the city boundary – because that’s what an effective urban transit line would look like.

          • Goomba

            I could see the county stomping it’s feet and saying “WE WANT WESTPORT” and maybe making a compromise where the city get’s the city only N/S line (w/ BRT overlay into the county) and the county get’s Westport.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Hard to see fed $ going to Westport, but what do I know? Perhaps County wants it bad enough to put the $.

        • Alex Ihnen

          I don’t think so. I think we’re caught up in the current rail nomenclature of STL. The line *could be like the “T” in Boston, where lines are at times separated and at times on-street, but I don’t imagine ridership would justify the extra cost. Still, it’s quite a step away from putting “MetroLink” on city streets. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/703498ce9fa3229da0f315279faabb7db244b2c5775d552867b072e41bab1964.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/029727ed87ffa6bf5066c6eb84766df9ec66cd84c9bb81b9fef9abdd232675c7.png

  • citylover

    Does south Grand have the possibility to “boom” with economy upswing? What could benefit the neighborhood along grand? I was thinking residential, but I’m unsure of zoning and development plans for the area–also height restrictions etc

    • Alex Ihnen

      Yes – though depends where along long South Grand you’re looking. From Gravois down to Meramec has challenges. The success of South Grand north of Utah means there’s a template for success. The Greater Gravois effort, and the proposed CID down Grand are big ideas that are moving in the right direction. IMO – zoning, etc. aren’t a factor (yet). There’s plenty of vacancy, which if redeveloped, could have a huge impact.

      • Goomba

        Would like to see either a streetcar or buffered bike lane on Gravois. I think that would be wonderful and revitalize a lot of those neighborhoods.

        • Alex Ihnen

          I think buffered bike lanes and BRT are aims of the effort, eventually. By “aims” I just mean conceptual hopes at this point.

      • pat

        I think “north” south grand (between 4 and Arsenal) could use more and taller residential on empty lots. I think that added density would do amazing things. 5 to 10 stories with first floor retail next to the Saum and others.

  • Beganovic

    We got a lot of cooks in like 15 kitchens in the region…Chamber is cooking their own cake, city their own cake, private foundations spending $300m on library and SLAM etc….wouldn’t we be better off with 1 kitchen and 1 list of priorities to cook with all hands in the pot

  • Frank Absher

    Of the current mayoral hopefuls, who brings the best, most-reasonable approach/experience to the table in terms of development?

    • Alex Ihnen

      That’s MY question, and I don’t know. Had this ~convo with someone the other day: city offices need to be run by people with reasonable/professional/open approach to development. Which candidate would make that happen? Which would be disruptive and make changes?

  • Riggle

    Anything going on @ 9th and Soulard st? Are they still trying to push those 500k townhomes? Its a fantastic opportunity for a mixed use project, though it doesn’t seem like SRG cares about that.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Nothing new to share.

  • pat

    How do you feel about posting public meetings on your main page? Or a calendar of upcoming ones? TIF meetings, preservation board meetings, parking commission, etc. It would be a great resource for folks that want to engage in those processes and seems appropriate for the site.

    • rgbose

      Here they are on the city’s website https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/events/all-public-meetings.cfm

      • pat

        Ha. Google it. Duh. Thanks

    • Alex Ihnen

      Yes – would like to get back to doing that. Once had a “recommended meetings” calendar on the homepage. Maintaining a comprehensive calendar of city/neighborhood meetings is a big undertaking, but perhaps recommended meetings serves a purpose.

  • Alex P

    A few weeks ago I asked about a site plan for the courthouse in Downtown Clayton, specifically a wider sidewalk in front of the main entry. I can’t get a good photo yet but they’re currently install bollards. It definitely looks like what used to be parking along Central will now be a much wider sidewalk. Public space outside a courthouse? Imagine that. Unfortunately, my guess is that they won’t put the parking spaces back and won’t reduce the number of vehicular lanes along Central. This, despite the fact that I probably see traffic backing up there all of once a month during my morning and evening walks from the train.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Very Clayton.

    • TimJim

      I’d just like to see them finish the damned thing.