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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  • STLrainbow

    A lot of big announcements were made last year about downtown… Jefferson Arms. Monogram. three boutique hotels, BPV, Railway Exchange etc. Even a new grocery was reported to be coming. Some of these projects seem likely to happen but as we know things don’t always move forward like hoped. So what do you think, was 2016 The Year of the Big Tease or do you think we’ll look back and say yeah, it was a real turning point for downtown?

  • citylover

    I don’t fully understand why Next.stl supports the new stadium. Especially since the 21st/22nd interchange idea has been a mutual desire floated for years by urbanists and downtown patrons. Why fill this potential grid development with a soccer stadium? Couldn’t economic impact of offices, rez, retail equate to a stadium if it was built out?

    Also, no comment on metrolink. Here we are asking for more metrolink when we can’t fully develop and maximize the lines we have.

    • Ben Harvey

      While a stadium isn’t the best way to use that land, it’s unlikely that it will be used for anything better for many years. Also when it comes to stadiums, the urban form is pretty decent. The MLS also has a much longer and prolific season which would activate the area much more than a football stadium would.

      Unfortunately the deal seems to be getting worse and worse for the city financially as time goes on. We will see I guess

  • pat

    What are your thoughts on the cause of St. Louis’s high homicide rate? I’ve looked at comparable cities like Pittsburg, Cincinnati, etc. who have almost the safe demographics (poverty rate, unemployment, etc.). I don’t see any drastic differences yet their homicide rate is nearly half ours, and we have twice the amount of cops. On the other side, I’m struggling to find a correlation between us and cities with a high homicide rate (Detroit, Baltimore, New Orleans). What do you think it is? Is it too many guns in MO? Is it bad policing policy? Likely no one knows the true answer. If we did, we’d be solving it (maybe). Just curious what other people believe is the root cause.

    • Adam

      I think it’s a combination of freely-available guns, a high rate of poverty, and the fact that STL is a crossroads for drug trafficking with Chicago as a primary source of drug and gang activity. Many of our gang-related problems are exported from Chicago.

      • tpekren

        I think you make a great point on drug trafficking and region central location. I just don’t believe St. Louis City and the support of the region been able to do enough to contain and control some of the extreme violence around drugs. Drugs are everywhere whether it be in say West Oakland, CA with some of the same poverty issues as North St Louis but yet you don’t see the level of open violence, murder. Yes, some but not the same level. Obviously no easy answer but I think the region still has a lot of work to diffuse gang issues as well bring forth the consequences. The one correlation I assume but can’t back up is cities with higher rate of solving crimes also have lower violent crime rates. In other words, someone to starts weighing consequence on how to settle a beef or whose corner is whose
        Their is so many guns in this country and your free to go anywhere you want to so I just don’t put as much weight on take away guns and you solve the violence..

        I also see the poverty issue as tough one, pockets of poverty happen everywhere and yet violence varies greatly. To me the biggest help that can be had is trying to keep young people in schools and path & opportunity to jobs which also requires getting single parents as much help as possible.

      • pat

        If our crime is that related to gang violence coming out of Chicago, then I would think that the homicide rate in Chicago would reflect that. But Chicago’s homicide rate is around 20 which is average for the US. Ours is near 50.

        I used to think that crime was an extension of poverty. And I think a lot of it is. The worst crime areas correlate to poorer areas. My thought would be if you really attack poverty, you;d see the violent crime go down. But other cities seem to have the same poverty issues we have, and yet our homicide rate is nuts compared to those cities. What fixes it? I think its critical for teh City to remedy that if its ever going to get better.

        • Alex Ihnen

          You also need to look at metro area homicide rates. If you gerrymandered the parts of Indianapolis where most homicides occur, its rate would be really high too. Many city’s rates are watered down by including suburban and affluent urbanized areas. I think homicides in just about any city are quite localized. This is why STL is treated somewhat unfairly – it just happens that homicides here occur largely within the city’s boundaries. Of course that’s not an excuse or a solution. My thoughts on this issue these days is that City Hall should be hitting the panic button. It hasn’t happened.

  • Michael B

    What is going on with the Crescent Tools building on Duncan? I’ve seen construction tape around it, but not any activity. Is it falling apart?

  • STLExplorer

    Any word on the project being proposed for the Manchester market site in The Grove?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Has potential to be big. Hope to be able to share more soon.

  • Guest

    Curious to know what new residential apartments or lofts will be available in The Grove around April to June 2017? Any plans for a grocery store in The Grove?

  • STLrainbow

    Looks like ground-breaking is set for next week on the 4101 Laclede condo project,,, but any updates on the other for-sale project planned for further up Sarah at West Pine? I believe it’s Lawrence Group, which appears to be pretty busy these days.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Did see groundbreaking is set for 4101. No building permit has been issued per the city’s website, but that should be coming, or perhaps hasn’t been updated. The Lawrence Group townhomes are still in the works, but haven’t heard anything new for a bit.

  • Who is managing the retail shop placements for the Foundry? When is it expected to open?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Retail at City Foundry is being handled by CBRE. It’s planned to open some time in 2018.

      On another note – I think the fear of poaching specific businesses from The Grove, Cherokee, or wherever is overblown. That said, some retail and restaurants could represent zero net growth – simply replacing spending elsewhere. I think it’s important and exciting to reuse a building like The Foundry. It’s a prominent building, and will be great to see revived.

      What needs to be added is office and residential. There’s growth in the area, but it’s disappointing to hear that Cortex residential is delayed, and we continue to await official word on Microsoft jobs in the area.

      • tpekren

        Biz Journal reporting that City approved TIF, subsidy package. Any thoughts on how fast construction will move alone on first phase I.

        • STLrainbow

          It’s going on right now, really. Head on over to IKEA and check out the great urban views from the dining hall while you enjoy Swedish Meatballs!

          • tpekren

            Thanks, would like to but while we still own a home in the area the family moved out of the area for my new job. I follow the built environment scene in St. Louis for the great local blogs & efforts such as what Alex does as well as the followers of what is happening with built environment for people who are in construction like myself or simply want to be an arm chair developer/architect like myself…
            Maybe I can convince my step daughter to go have some Swedish meatballs once in a while as we convinced her to move back in the area for school & found her good place/cheap place to stay near CWE

  • RJ

    Your thoughts on Greiten and the MLS stadium/Scottrade upgrades as both of these projects are important to St. Louis?

    • Alex Ihnen

      First, these are incredibly difficult deals to pull together even if everyone is rowing in the same direction.

      Second, our urban/state house divide and metro area fractured governance precludes St. Louis from making a collective decision. If our 8 county region could decide together if supporting such efforts made sense, it would be relatively easy to go along with it, even if one disagreed with the decision.

      Third, how in the world do we (civic and political) leaders continue to put together ill-formed and incomplete plans for these big projects? It’s truly stunning and pushes me to oppose just about anything they come up with. If we don’t demand more clear, better planning now, we’ll never get it.

      Forth, the deals put together for the NFL stadium and MLS stadium (and Scottrade) aren’t historically bad at all. They’re average to better than many cities have put together. Still, that doesn’t mean they’re good, and we’re still burdened with how the deals are structured.

      • tpekren

        Alex, the Scottrade deals seems much more solid in how it will be put together and financed. My understanding that city land authority takes on the bonding but most of it will be paid back by additional user tax on events, etc.. Which plan do you have more confidence in right now?
        To me for the city itself, Scottrade needs to happen for city and the state to a lesser extent to remain a viable NCAA event location among other events for downtown. On top of it, its an upgrade to existing asset and the franchise is already in place. Heck, with upgrades the city also becomes a viable NBA franchise contender if MLS doesn’t happen

        • Alex Ihnen

          I simply can’t imagine an NBA franchise coming to St. Louis. That said, if an owner wants to do that with his/her own money, maybe.

          The Scottrade deal seems the most likely to move forward simply because it can without state/county approval and without a public vote. As with the other big proposals, the roll out of this was muddled. Perhaps there’s more info out there than what I’ve seen, but here’s what I understand:

          The City (LCRA) will issue bonds to be paid by the city. Payments will be $4M per year from approximately $6M in tax revenue produced by the facility that currently goes to the city. This is a $4M per year net loss for the city. Where does that $6M per year currently go? What has it been paying for?

          Then there’s the 1% sales tax added to sales at Peabody and Scottrade. That’s being counted as a team contribution (by the team) as its asking to tax its own activity. But it seems that the tax would apply to all events at both facilities, and not just hockey? Also, it appears that all the money goes to Scottrade. Would there be another tax when Peabody requires renovation?

          Lastly, there’s a more vague direct team contribution of $50M over 30 years. At some point before 2047, many more $10Ms will be requested for renovations.

          So it appears that the city gives up $4M per year that it currently spends elsewhere. Sales are taxed an additional 1%, and the team puts ~$1.7M per year into the project.

          Saw this after posting my comment: St. Louis comptroller: Scottrade Center proposal could hurt credit rating, public safety funding

          • tpekren

            Agree NBA a big stretch but it would take the Scottrade upgrades to happen before it would even be entertained. Also, I think you can make a legitimate argument that NBA would be a lot less costly to the public vs. MLS if within the realm of possibility. Essentially you could argue any support for upgrades would be spread between two pro sports franchises and NCAA events

          • STLrainbow

            it was interesting to see the Detroit Pistons deciding to move next year to the new arena being built for the Red Wings…. that deal came together pretty quick and will save construction costs as Pistons needs can be addressed through design changes while the arena is still under construction. Anyway, I don’t know what any future prospects are for NBA here but it would be nice to have a co-tenancy, which should ensure a thriving arena.

          • Alex Ihnen

            But pro-sports teams (clearly depending on the lease) don’t seem to be the profit driver for such arenas. This is often because the team keeps all revenue related to its events. The direct moneymakers for a city are various performances, amateur tournaments, conventions, concerts, etc.

          • STLrainbow

            yeah, the lease details matter and we know a single clause can spell doom for a city. As far as I understand it tho we don’t have a revenue sharing agreement with the Blues like KC/AEG have for the Sprint Center, so I don’t think a second team would mean less revenue for the city. And a lot of the other stuff will still come albeit on a tighter calendar management while some tours may choose Chaifetz, which would still be fine for the city. Overall, I think you’d see higher overall attendance and tax revenue with another anchor like the NBA.

          • STLrainbow

            As you say, the $50M from Blues is vague and appears to not go to the Phase One, which would be funded by the City (with Blues arguing it’s contributing the sales tax increase). That bothers me a lot.

      • Frank Absher

        But it really galls me that all these projects are based on the assumption that they will get public money.

        • tpekren

          Yes, you could also argue that Arch Grounds attract visitors from out of the region and so therefore the significant public portion of the greenways tax is supporting upgrades in and around the national park is worth the economic benefit. Our you could argue why is public support needed…and yes some differences & nuances… but none the less an asset or attraction not owned by the city (National Park Service) that has an economic benefit getting tax/public dollars in support
          My big support for Scottrade is that the facility does bring in a lot of non Pro sport events that does generate a significant economic benefit to the city/immediate downtown including hotel room sales & food sales. At some point without upgrades the city will lose out on NCAA events and concerts. At what point? Don’t have an answer. What is the line of a plus and negative? I think that is even a tougher question to answer. The plus side on Scottrade is you do have a pro sports franchise to anchor 80 some odd dates where as KC is still struggling to find the same for new arena built next to or part of Power & Light (not sure on details)

          • Alex Ihnen

            Regarding the Sprint Center:

            “Without a pro sports team weighing it down, Sprint Center remains one of the best investments Kansas Citians have made while helping to revive their downtown.”


          • tpekren

            Isn’t also tax supported as well as recently new compared to Scottrade. So that begs the questions, what would be your answer when upgrades are needed for Sprint Center?

          • Alex Ihnen

            I believe the Sprint Center was financed via a hotel and car rental tax. AEG put in $54M on the $274M building. There’s also a profit sharing agreement in place which has earned Kansas City about $1M per year since that venue opened. That’s on top of the classic multiplier/hotel nights/visitor spending stuff you always read. So KC did not give away existing revenue. In general, if the Sprint Center has been a (simple math) economic benefit to the city, then it makes sense for the city to make an investment. However, it should be proportional. KC has made some money, AEG has made more.

            FWIW – Pollstar (which reports on tour/venue ticket sales, etc.) showed Scottrade concert ticket sales at 137K, and Sprint Center at 430K. Of course Blues attendance was ~759K. So it comes back to who profits from what kind of event, and how directly.