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 Noon-1pm today:

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  • Nick

    There’s been a lot of criticism of SLU for tearing down the old Pevely complex for the new hospital. Do you feel this criticism is justified, or was there really no viable way to save the buildings?

    • Alex Ihnen

      1. Pevely does not need to come down for the new hospital. That argument is simply a…lie.

      2. What they’re saying now is that a big academic building will replace it.

      3. Pevely should have been residential and if that’s what SLU had wanted, it could have worked.

  • PleasantPollyanna

    Where are you going to fish fry? Has anyone tried St. Cecilia’s parish. It’s the Mexican one in south city. I’m dying to try their chile rellenos but I heard their lines are very, very long.

    • Alex Ihnen

      The lines are so long no one goes there any more!

  • Alex P

    Always a fun question: what do we think are the most important announcements / developments of the past few months?
    Personally, the progress on Railway Exchange, Jefferson Arms, and Microsoft are exciting. I might have to scroll though the Development section to get a reminder, with STL being so hot and whatnot.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Me too…easy to forget…(OK, so some go back a ways, but have seen new news more recently):

      For me, the biggest announcements have been:
      One Hundred
      50 homes in The Grove
      SSM/SLU hospital
      Armory/City Foundry
      Centene
      Clayton tower at Brentwood/Forsyth

      • Alex P

        I still don’t fully understand what all the 395 Acre Blighting will mean. You’ve spoken on how much potential this has, if you could elaborate (doesn’t have to be now, a tweet thread maybe some day haha). Is it just a big deal because of it’s location and how unprecedented this is?

        Good to know I’m not the only one excited for One Hundred. Incentive backlash leaves a sour taste with a lot of these projects, even though I’m not completely decided on the issue. But that’s a different conversation.

        So much to say about all of these…

        • Alex Ihnen

          It basically makes SLU the planning department for that vast area. They can master plan its development, craft incentives, etc. There’s good and bad with that, but it should attract developers and investment.

          • tony

            With them basically in charge, does that mean we will see more rapid development (both good and bad projects) in the area instead of lots sitting empty?

          • Alex Ihnen

            That’s the hope.

  • PleasantPollyanna

    What do you think about the privatization idea of the STL airport?

  • STLExplorer

    Any thoughts on adding turnstlyles to metrolink as a crime prevention tool?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Yes. I think that it would be a massive waste. It would be incredibly expensive and require significant enforcement, unless you’re making every stop a hardened cage. Fare evasion is relatively minor. Fare revenue is ~20% of MetroLink operation expenses. It’s $Ms, but still. A pretty modest sales tax or tobacco tax, or fuel tax, or other revenue source could make the system free to all. IMO – the purpose of public transit should be to serve as many as possible – it’s more efficient the more people who use it (unlike say, a street, or highway).

      • tony

        What would be your top priority improvements for the current lines? I honestly only ride from Skinker to CWE for work and don’t venture out much more than that. The CWE station obviously has the renovation coming, and the skinker station is fine. Aside from the few random disruptive riders/persons on the platform, its great. Are more guards the answer/Is that the only way to increase ridership?

        • Alex Ihnen

          IMO – the trains and stations are fine. I’d love to see decreased headways (time between trains), and more development around stations. The way to increase ridership is to make it more convenient (more trains more often) and have better development around stops.

          In my experience in other cities (DC/Boston/Chicago), there aren’t fewer disruptive people there, but there are fewer professionals/middle-class/call-them-what-you-will using MetroLink/Bus here. I see the same issue with homelessness. There aren’t more here, not more panhandling, but when I would walk around Boston and be panhandled, there’s 100 or 1,000 other people around. It never felt threatening.

          • tony

            That’s interesting – same number of disruptive people/panhandlers but more riders overall so they “stick out” less.

            I agree that headways are the biggest issue for me. Even with me trying to choose metro first, a 10 minute car ride or a 40 minute bus ride makes the decision for me.

        • Alex P

          IMO, the best way to increase ridership is to
          1) get a system wide TOD plan. Most of the stations have very few walkable destinations, if any.
          2) Improve our highest performing bus routes (top 5 or 10) and pick one or two Bus TOD corridors.

          Granted, I am a young white man but safety has rarely been a concern for me while riding MetroLink. If anyone is concerned about their safety aboard a train, just ride in the front near the driver.

      • I agree. BTW, I just saw that a suspect in the metro-link shooting is in custody. In Boston, the Green line has turn-styles at the downtown underground stops, but not in any of the above ground stops. When huge crowds show up underground, such as the Women’s March the day after inauguration, they just open the gates and let everyone ride free. I would think they could add extra security in the stations that have had issues.

        • tony

          Was in Cambridge for July 4th a few years back and they had the gates open then. Absolutely most crowded station I have ever been in. Maybe a dozen or so police in that single station as well.

  • Frank Absher

    Well, the rendering of the SSY proposal certainly did get people talking about architecture…

    • Alex P

      I love it. Bring on the contemporary design. The Wainwright didn’t become STL’s most important piece of architecture by copying the past.

      • Alex Ihnen

        Yes. I agree. The actually building will be softer than the rendering. Anytime something different is proposed, the bar is set understandably high. But IMO the city needs more variety in its architecture. We’ll still have vast swaths of homogeneous brick – don’t worry!

        • Alex P

          But ultimately, ruining neighborhood character will be the destruction of mankind as we know it.

          • Alex Ihnen

            I do appreciate (and just find fascinating) people’s perceptions of “neighborhood character”, what belongs, and what doesn’t. I think The Hill might be one of the best examples. There’s the postcard The Hill – tidy brick bungalows, but the real Hill, the way the neighborhood really is, is a real mashup of quirky places, very many without any architectural merit whatsoever.

          • Alex P

            I agree. Architecture and aesthetics are great but cities are about people. I wouldn’t complain about how ugly Mercantile Library is if there were people inside.

  • SouthCityJR

    During this election season we kept hearing about the need to use tax incentives in Northside. Of course that doesn’t work if no developers are interested, primarily because even with tax incentives their costs would likely exceed MV of the final product. What can the government realistically do to get things moving there?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Great point, I agree. There aren’t almost no limit to incentives being offered in north city. As far as what more can be done – that hasn’t already been done/tried? The city must be a bit of a bully on regional issues. If the region continues to sprawl, if highways are expanded, if retail is subsidized in outlying suburbs, what chance does north city have? All that said, NGA is a…game changer. We’ll have to wait a bit to see results, but i think it’s easy to understate its impact. Some big projects are swirling around that area. Hopefully we seem them come to light soon.

      • This site says St. Louis metro pays a sprawl tax of $2B per year and $1500 per worker.
        http://cityobservatory.org/introducing-the-sprawl-tax/

        • Alex Ihnen

          Yes. Haven’t read that piece, but “sprawl tax” calculations often don’t include personal health (time spent sitting in cars), pollution, wasted time by kids commuting to school, happiness, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. And the thing is, we have voluntarily done this to ourselves, AND those is Sprawlsville are the most likely to point back at the city/urban areas and blame them.