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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  • Goat314

    Natural Bridge & Kingshighway to Jefferson & Cherokee is a roughly 8 mile line. Do you think the city may be looking to leverage other transportation funds to build a line of at least this length. Seems to me that any line shorter than that is basically not worth doing at this time.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Sure. I think they’re looking at all options. I do think a shorter line can make sense from a perspective of encouraging investment and urban development. Connecting NGA/Near North with the relatively dense south side could have a big impact.

      • Goat314

        Only problem I see with going deeper South than North is that it may be a political fireball that stalls implementation. I think you were right on with the yellow highlighted phase 1 line you posted on twitter. I do agree with the urban redevelopment aspect though. I think the city could really see a development boom with a North-South line, especially if developers know that the city is not adverse to dense housing and unlike the county would probably subsidize it.

        • Goat314

          I guess we will find out in about a year, what the cost and segments would look like. Cant imagine it would be more than 2 phases, the city aint that big geographically.

  • matt

    Can you add a “Other” Box to the Support Next STL page? When I click make it recurring monthly it only allows $10, $25 and some others.

  • InvitedGuest

    If I earn $10 an hour at my job, how much house can I afford? Just a ballpark estimate on the conservative side.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Assuming 40hrs/wk, it’s $20,800/yr. Assuming 35% spent on housing after taxes, it’s ~$400/mo + utilities.

  • MRNHS

    Believe you have talked about this in the past, but what is the procedure for shedding some of the city’s parks for development? I’m not talking about Tower Grove of course, but it does seem there are simply too many useless parks that cost money to care for and simply aren’t highest and best use. While several come to mind (including downtown’s Gateway Mall), the main one I think could be ripe for development is Carnegie Park. Right now it is just grassland between houses that could easily ride the Cherokee St development wave. It is right next to Benton Park so it’s not like you would be losing a neighborhood asset, especially considering there is no actual park amenities anyway.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Yes, I agree. The process to either sell or lease city park land requires a popular vote. This ridiculous requirement was put in place by voters and pushed by a small group of people who were upset about a revised BJC lease on Hudlin Park – technically part of Forest Park, but east of Kingshighway. Voters decided “protecting” parks was a good idea. Now the city is burdened by this process whether it’s Tower Grove Park or a grass lot that is virtually abandoned. The result is that likely nothing’s going to happen. No one (city, aldermen, developer) is going to go through an unpredictable ballot in order to build a small project.

      • rgbose

        Yet blocking or giving away part of a street is so easy.

  • UnInvitedGuest

    Population growth in St. Louis over the next 25 years (from 2015 to 2040) is expected to be 0.8% (less than 1%). Current home ownership rate in St. Louis is around 68%. In 10-20 years, baby boomers will be selling off their homes at the same time that it is expected that half of all jobs are projected to be eliminated. Currently, there are many low-wage jobs in St. Louis that people hold.

    As a group, baby boomers tend to have the most expensive and sizable (square footage) homes. Do you think there will be enough buyers to buy their homes? What will baby boomers do if they can’t sell and can’t pay property taxes to the city? How will the city handle this problem?

    • Alex Ihnen

      I think some of these trends will have a much greater negative impact on suburban residential as people trend toward urban locations, perhaps less driving, and not wanting to care for a yard, etc.

      The city won’t do much of anything, and neither will other municipalities. We all want them to be proactive, but government entities are reactive by nature. If the economics trend downward, property taxes could increase, other fees could increase, services could be cut or consolidated.

      If what you suggest does happen, the impact could mirror other past metro area migrations. People are always moving around a city/metro, where and how they’ll move is always the unknown.

    • I think there is enough attractive housing, or housing ripe for beautiful rehab in the city, that plenty of folks in the County would consider moving there if they thought crime was under control. Schools are also an issue, but with Charter and private schools, somewhat less so. In many ways, Kirkwood & Webster Groves are like the city, but are seen as nearly crime free. That’s why I would love to see the city rejoin the county, and then see the county devote serious resources to begin the task of putting in place programs proven to reduce crime elsewhere. Once the crime curve starts bending back down, and city home prices start rising, migration back to the city would start accelerating, in my opinion.

      My brother bought a brownstone in Boston in 1990 when housing stock there was old, out of date, rundown and cheap. Then as city living became more popular, and crime diminished, the old housing took off. St. Louis is Boston without the traffic problems.

      • Alex Ihnen

        I’ll only add that the County does not have an answer to crime.

  • jim

    Thought’s on Kavanaugh’s insistence that the $50MM reduction in MLS expansion fee will not result in a reduction public subsidy? I’d love an MLS team here, but this ownership group seems oblivious to the mood of an over-taxed City electorate.

    • RJ

      Totally agree and let’s not forget the all too fresh memories of the Rams NFL fiasco that has already hardened public sentiments towards professional sports leagues being ruled by money with not one shred of integrity.f

    • Alex Ihnen

      I think the basic math is disappointing and it feels as though the ownership group just saved $50M while the city saved nothing. However, I do understand that it’s not quite that simple.

      In the phone call yesterday, Kavanaugh made the point that the effort was just like any other business seeking incentives, that the public support is based on the size of the predicted economic impact and not the wealth of those behind the proposal. To me, that makes basic sense as a business proposal.

      What’s a little surprising and disappointing is how this seems to have been put together in a rush and with a lack of explanation. If the $200M expansion fee were a placeholder, that should have been loudly stated. Instead, it was a number used to inflate the private commitment and it was stated that private money would completely pay for the expansion fee. Clearly this implied that the ownership group were OK with paying the $200M.

      I think many believe that the city was overtaxed before the transit tax took effect after County passage a few years ago. And many believed it was overtaxed before the Arch tax, and others when a new CID or TDD popped up.

      It doesn’t seem that any of those have caused ruin, but certainly there’s a limit. And I haven’t heard any polling results, but I don’t think it’s clear that the vote will fail. It will be interesting to see how voters view what appears to be set up a competing tax increases – MLS and transit+.

  • UnInvitedGuest

    It is projected that half of all jobs are expected to be eliminated in 10 to 20 years due to computers, automation, robotics, and jobs sent overseas. Have city leaders given any thought to building villages of tiny homes or rehabbing vacant and abandoned buildings to plan for a somewhat sizable, homeless population? Also, would the city consider establishing a “people’s food farm” so as to feed its displaced people. Where would the farm be located? Any thoughts on where a good spot might be?

    • Alex Ihnen

      I would bet against your first statement. Any I don’t think city leaders have given any real thought to what you suggest. Smaller urban farms continue to pop up in St. Louis and if such practice were to become widespread, one can imagine it taking root in parts of our lesser-used parks, or on other vacant land.

  • Mike H.

    Do you think the complaints about the foundry project stealing business from other neighborhoods are legitimate? Is your average patron of Cherokee street really likely to take their business to the central corridor? Isn’t the concept of a “center” or “downtown” sort of essential to a thriving city?

    • If an area is building apartment buildings and adding new residents, then the new restaurants to serve them shouldn’t be seen as stealing in some kind of zero sum game. New residents help old and new business nearby, and new businesses attract even more new residents.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Yes and no. I think it may be overstated, but the push back against incentives that could hurt existing neighborhoods is important. The argument could be made against incentives for housing etc. (luring existing residents). The key is whether a new product is being introduced. Rent at The Foundry is certain to be significantly more than on Cherokee or other similar commercial districts, so I can’t envision an exodus to The Foundry. And as others have pointed out, customers frequenting Cherokee likely aren’t the same demographic that will frequent The Foundry. IF a local restaurant or business wants to open a new higher-end concept at The Foundry? Well, that could be a good thing.

  • UnInvitedGuest

    What new developments are planned for affordable apartments in central corridor area (Grove, CWE, and Cortex area)? More generally, why haven’t there been more efforts to have new developments for affordable apartments and homes, given that 90% of all new jobs created since the recession in St. Louis is low-wage jobs.

    • Alex Ihnen

      The largest project in the central corridor is the $11.5M / 50-unit effort in The Grove: https://nextstl.com/2016/07/50-affordable-apartments-townhomes-planned-grove/. There’s also the continued progress on North Sarah – though that’s a little north. The Salvation Army has continued adding housing around its location on Locust as well.

      More generally, I better discussion on the issue requires good data. We’re all generally aware that The Grove and CWE, etc. are becoming more expensive, but we (or at least I) don’t know how many affordable units there are in these neighborhoods. It’s important to know the particulars of the units as well, and track the trend of any change.

      We generally, understand St. Louis to be an affordable place to live, but that clearly does not mean that it’s easy for someone living on minimum wage or less to find a place to live near a job.

      (This has been a while, but perhaps another project not many people are familiar with: Long Vacant Multi-Family Building on Delmar Renovated into Apartments for Formerly Homeless Veterans (4011 Delmar) https://nextstl.com/2014/11/long-vacant-multi-family-building-delmar-renovated-apartments-formerly-homeless-veterans-4011-delmar/

  • johnny1421

    So, what’s your wishlist or predictions for 2017?

    Also if the sales tax gets approved for metrolink, I’d imagine the N/S line will have to be done in phases. Where do you think the first phase would be located?

    • Alex Ihnen

      My current wish list more/less starts and stops with an investment in city-wide planning. There are plenty of other hoped-for developments, but without a recognition of the value of planning, and a corresponding investment, we’re failing to maximize other efforts.

      I can imagine a light rail first phase in the city of 4-6mi and running for north of the new NGA down to near Broadway.

  • Jim Arsenault

    Do you think the revisions to the Centene plan make it better, and is there anything realistic you would like to still see added?

    • Alex Ihnen

      I think it’s quite a bit better. I’d be happy to see the parking garage platform remain in the building fronting Hanley in exchange for apartments or office fronting Forsyth instead of the faux residential facade. And just more residential in general would have a big positive impact and make better use of the Blue Line investment.