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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  • Justin Striebel

    I don’t know if I’m too late getting in here, but if not…

    We’ve had an amazing boom of projects, obviously. The one transformative thing that I think most of us still want to see is transit expansion, however. Do you see a connection (positively or perhaps somehow negatively) between any of these announcements and our potential to move N-S (or other) transit expansion forward? I know there is work being done on that as is, but just curious if maybe this boom could help the process.

    • Alex Ihnen

      I think NGA is the key to hopes for transit expansion – assuming we’re talking the north-south rail line in the city. The problem is that our region suffers from a lack of coordinated planning. This is why the Loop Trolley somehow became a regional transportation priority. That’s crazy. The current effort is going to take a long time to come to fruition, if at all.

      That said, we could invest in urban transit now, but that would take a paradigm shift at Bi-State/Metro towards quality urban transit and away from trying to serve a sprawling metro area with minimal service. This seems unlikely, but perhaps there’s an opportunity if the city can find resources to increase bus service frequency, add amenities to transit stops, etc. Remember, the city is giving $120M+ to the Arch grounds over the next 20 years. That amount could have bonded a lot of transit investment. :/

  • Alex P

    So what are we most excited about from the past couple weeks? Anything we should be excited about but probably aren’t? Personally, I love the Cultural Trail theft 🙂

    • Alex P

      Sounds like Alex Ihnen believes that SLU Development plan could have one of the largest impacts. I don’t disagree, the intersection of the regions’s 3 busiest transit routes should be a big deal.

    • Alex Ihnen

      I love the Cultural Trail – and more so that Trailnet is aiming for something big. I believe the most transformative news is the SLU redevelopment plan. It’s literally the remaking a 400 acres of our central city. Unlike NorthSide, it’s going to happen, and it’s likely to happen faster then Cortex – assuming the economy doesn’t fall off a cliff.

      It’s amazing to me how much significant development news there has been in STL. Big projects feel like old news. It’s exciting and difficult to imaging the impact of just these projects being completed:

      Centene – Clayton
      The Armory
      City Foundry
      Union Station aquarium +
      Chemical building
      705 Olive
      All the stuff in The Grove
      MLS stadium
      SLU/SSM hospital +
      The Everly in The Loop
      Massive investment on WUSTL campus
      Cortex

      (I just keep adding stuff)

      • Alex P

        So is the city saved? That sounds a bit naive but ultimately do with think this is either a sign of or will lead to population growth where it matters? More importantly will this lead to job growth where it matters?

        • Alex Ihnen

          Forgot that Ballpark Village phase II thing…

          This most certainly is the rebirth of STL City in a way that hasn’t been seen/attempted in half a century. “Saved”? Dunno. Saved for whom? There’s potential – which is saying something great – something that has been absent for decades.

          The central corridor added population from 2000-2010, and will do so again in a big way this decade. The question is what happens north and south, where each lost a net 17,000+ last decade.

      • STLrainbow

        You mentioned Northside’s disappointment to date…. are you optimistic at all on McKee’s announced plan with partners for the 500 units? Work supposedly is to begin next year.

        • Alex Ihnen

          No. Simply can’t be optimistic about anything from NorthSide at this point. Too many announcements with zero results.

  • St. Louis

    Do you expect any more big announcements before the end of the year?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Yes.

  • SouthCityJR

    Also sorry to bring up MLS so soon before more details are known. While I appreciate the ownership group bringing the public subsidy to a vote, I’m very concerned it won’t pass in this climate and our chances of getting a team will be lost. That said, I assume the ownership team is a smart group, recognizes this risk, and believes they can win. Any initial thoughts?

    • Alex Ihnen

      My bet is that a stadium is built and St. Louis gets a team with or without passage of subsidies by public vote. We’ll learn more soon, but I think the bottom line city contribution will be small. Also, there are other ways for the city to aid the effort without a public vote. For instance, the city has already entered into agreement with MoDOT to purchase the land and sell to SC STL. A public vote won’t take place for that. TIF is already in place for the site as well as it’s part of the NorthSide Regeneration footprint. How that is sorted out with Paul McKee I don’t know.

    • jhoff1257

      I don’t know that I’d necessarily worry about that just yet. First there aren’t too many subsidies that get turned down at the ballot box in St. Louis City. Second after the Rams/Kroenke burning us the way they did my guess is City residents would be pretty receptive to a soccer specific stadium. The ownership group came right out from the start and said City residents will have a say which is much more then you could say for the Rams process. Provided these guys can show us a stadium and a team would be a worthwhile investment for the City I’d put my money on it passing. Plus the vast majority of this regions soccer fan base resides in South City. That would provide a nice bump.

  • Alex P

    (I’m really sorry to bring up MLS but….) This morning on twitter, STLrainbow was expressing his desire for the parking lots around the new MLS Stadium DT West site to be owned by the city so they could be redeveloped at a later date. I tacked on that it would be nice to see the street full grid go in first, at least North of Market, and then let the lots go in a placeholders for development. Would investors allow this? Assuming the usual concerns with banks and parking. Also, the western terminus of the Gateway Mall in that site plan is awful. I hate the Gateway Mall and even I think it’s a missed opportunity.

    • Alex Ihnen

      I agree. It sounds as though the plan is for the city to own the stadium, and so maybe/probably/likely the land around it too? Not sure how it will be managed, but it certainly should be prepped for development.

      • STLrainbow

        If it’s resembling more of a TIF package then that’s one thing; if it’s more like the stadium finance package with direct backing via bonds that’ll be an entirely different matter. The other thing to keep in mind is when and how much the city taxpayers will be asked to support Scottrade and Convention Center/Dome upgrades.

        • Alex Ihnen

          Yes. Working on an item to detail some of these projects. My understanding is that though the city owns Scottrade, it hasn’t put any money into it since construction – though I may be missing something. Not that this is exciting, but I think it comes down to the city getting a relatively good deal, compared to other cities. Does that make it a good deal? I’d probably say no.

  • Frank Absher

    How can interested parties (such as surrounding neighborhoods) convince a developer to put some more oomph into a proposed building?
    Mark Ratterman, who plans to replace the YMCA on S. Grand with apartments/retail, has done an “adequate” job on building design. I know from previous experience that he is a conscientious businessman who is open to ideas.
    I also know that any alderman would be glad to get development like this, especially when it regards restoration of a property like the Pelican.
    So without advocating boat rocking, what can neighborhoods do to convince someone like Mr. Ratterman to turn an otherwise mundane apartment design into something that fits the neighborhood flavor but brings some “wow” to it?

    • Alex Ihnen

      The advice I don’t enjoy giving…contract your alderman. Option 2: appeal directly to the developer as soon as possible with examples of what you would like to see. Sometimes the design isn’t final, sometimes it is.

    • Charles Bryson

      The Aldermen in many cases listens to his or her constituents. Organize a block or neighbhrood meeting with the developer.

      • SouthCityJR

        Am I correct in assuming a possible Dominos is the only retail in this project? Would have been nice to see more.

        • Alex Ihnen

          It’s assumed/rumored Dominos will move there, but unclear exactly where and how much retail space will be included.

          • Justin Striebel

            How far along is this development? It’s been so long since I’ve heard anything, I kind of assumed it may be dying.

          • Alex Ihnen

            The old plan for retail/office is gone. A new plan appears to be moving forward as it appeared on this month’s LCRA agenda: https://nextstl.com/2016/11/renovated-pelican-building-new-construction-apartments-planned-south-grand/

          • STLrainbow

            The only thing I’ve seen on retail is for the Pelican Building, with residential above. It’s a bit unclear if any retail is planned for the new building… hopefully so. And fwiw I know that Dominos is moving out of the current location — that’s direct from the landlord — but I can’t say for sure it’s moving in to the new building although that’s a reasonable assumption since the franchisee is the one developing it.

            Anyway, if Dominos is in the Pelican that probably will be the neatest outlet of them all for the chain.

          • Riggle

            The dominos in Soulard is in a pretty neat historic space

  • Wabash

    Any news on Phase 2 of Wash. U.’s Loop Lofts?

  • Riggle

    The corner of Soulard and 9th, any progress on those 500k townhomes? Are they dead (really should be mixed use, plenty of occupied retail on that block, right by the Market…)?

  • John K

    What ever happened with the Habitat for Humanity Buildings on FPA? They went on the market over the summer with offers due the first part of August.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Several offers were received. I’m sure they’re weighing options.

  • SouthCityJR

    Unless I misread, I saw some mentions on Twitter about development coming soon to South Grand from McDonald to Chippewa. Any info you can share?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Not sure of any imminent development, but there is interest in extending infrastructure improvements south from the South Grand business district. Could be part of the Greater Gravois Initiative that’s just getting started (Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GreaterGravois/).

  • RJ

    In viewing the Manchester Lighting Project the “Light Art” installations will hang over the street at 9 to 10 locations. So far, three are installed any time frame and locations for the others?

    • Alex Ihnen

      No. And not that anyone over there has asked what I think, but they’re awful. With the continued redevelopment of Manchester, the lights of new businesses and apartments are wonderful. The big “Grove” signs at each end are cool too. But these things? Take them down and put them up in some other emerging commercial district in the city.