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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  • Adam

    What’s up with the crumbling, graffitied building on the east side of Grand just south of the Grand/Gravois intersection? Anything? It’s just rotting away…

    • Alex Ihnen

      It needs love. I have not heard of any specific plans, but the Greater Gravois Initiative could set the stage for more investment at these critical intersections.

      • Adam

        Hope so. Such a shame. Was (is still?) a gorgeous building. Has declined rapidly while all the commercial buildings around it have been rehabbed.

  • Nick

    What’s your opinion on the state of our downtown in terms of the direction it is heading? Is it declining as much as folks think, and if so how negatively does that affect the region? What are leaders doing (or not doing) to benefit downtown, or can they really do anything at all?

    • Alex Ihnen

      I don’t think it’s declining at all. Some of the same problems persist – where can we get a CVS and some other basic retail? – but, there’s a massive amount of investment happening downtown. It’s directly connected to the airport via transit, there are world-class parks, a full-service grocery, great hotels…

      • rgbose

        I’ve found it interesting in all the how to help downtown/soccer stadium/ downtown in decline talk recently no one brings up CityArchRiver.

        • Alex Ihnen

          Or all the new hotels, or the massive Arcade project, or City Garden, or the $500M casino, or the coming Jefferson Arms, or the $500M bridge, or $200M+ plans at Union Station, or Ballpark Village II, or… perhaps it’s just all old news and we need a couple $500M projects every couple years.

          • SnakePlissken

            I think it shows extreme ignorance that has bled into our subconscious due to the city county divide and municipal fragmentation. People don’t care to dig deeper into the great things happening in Downtown. Easier to sh*t than wipe.

          • tony

            Easier and far more common. Quite depressing to watch and hear, actually.

            Was the city bashing this bad 20 years ago? With the amount of improvement you would think the attitude would have improved as well.

          • Nick

            Agreed. However, I think it goes beyond the city/county divide. I live in the city, love the city, and I’ll sadly admit I’m part of the pessimist crowd when it comes to downtown. Still, I often make an effort to go downtown and patronize whatever businesses I can. I just find myself feeling like it doesn’t live up to its potential. Plus I spend too much time reading online news. I will admit this however: downtown would have a much better reputation if we all based our opinions on our visits to downtown vs. reading crime reports.

          • Goat314

            I feel that downtown is in a tough spot because we have such a massive historical downtown for a region our size and the residential density just isn’t there yet. Although downtown is definitely growing at a nice clip, we are still a good 10 years from having reached the critical mass needed to be truly vibrant. Downtown’s isolation from the South and lack of density to the North also contributes to the lack of vibrancy.

          • Alex Ihnen

            And east side counties lost more population than the city this past decade. And north county is losing population as well. Downtown is a virtual island.

          • SnakePlissken

            Agreed. I think doing a better job of connecting Downtown to Soulard through (a potential) Chouteau’s Landing development would be a great start. South of Busch is just awful. A parking lot wasteland. I’d guess the easiest and most logical step would be better connections and more residential development on (in?) The Landing. Remove the GD highway slowly fill in Westward from CBD to Jefferson.

          • Nick

            I’m hoping the landing bounces back once the Arch grounds are finished.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Hey, we just spent $380M on connections. You not happy? :/

          • SnakePlissken

            I should be happier, it’s Friday after all…

          • Alex Ihnen

            But we should all be mad that we’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars and a couple decades of civic and political investment in something that does not and will not improve connections. 🙁

          • Nick

            I know I know I’m dense, but what specifically are you referring to here?

          • Alex Ihnen

            CityArchRiver.

          • Nick

            huh….I’m actually shocked to hear you say that. You don’t think traversing the highway to our biggest tourist attraction will be beneficial for walkability downtown?

          • Alex Ihnen

            No.

          • SnakePlissken

            I’m furious at the hundreds of millions wasted. We all should be. We’ve had terrible leadership for decades. That money could have been better spent sending small pock tainted blankets to Chicago.

          • Nick

            I like your style…have a good weekend

          • STLrainbow

            Snake’s just happy to be alive.

          • Ben Harvey

            I would just like to see Broadway and 4th street returned to 2 way with divided bike lanes. Chouteau’s Landing has some good bones left and could become a really neat place in addition to connecting Soulard and DT

          • Frank Absher

            I agree with the wasteland assessment. What is preventing residential development on a small scale there?

          • rgbose

            Land values are too high? I realize that sounds crazy.

          • Will M

            I couldn’t talk up the benefits of Chouteau’s Landing development enough. It would be huge for downtown. Would be perfect for some fixed rail transit connecting soulard to downtown as well (one step in a citywide fixed rail network, but one can only dream)

          • Nick

            Absolutely. This isolation is also a big impetus for St. Louis being so auto-centric. I also think the existence of downtown Clayton prevents downtown from having a much stronger commercial presence.

          • tony

            From my interactions over the years, it is also hard to get people to see the city as anything more than 1 entity. To most the city isn’t 79 neighborhoods, but rather 1 big bad dangerous one.

      • STLrainbow

        where downtown needs massive improvement is unfortunately in the primary role of what a CBD’s should be…. hosting a boatload of jobs. Until we can improve on that progress will only be marginal at best. But it can be done, as Detroit and some other peers are starting to show.

        • rgbose

          Who is our Dan Gilbert? Imagine if WWT, Monsanto, Express Scripts, Graybar, Edward Jones, Centene, etc were downtown.

          • STLrainbow

            And those guys don’t even need to have their HQ downtown; setting up meaningful divisions, satellite offices etc would be a big help. WWT via buying Asynchrony probably has the most presence of the County blue chips and may be adding more with this Cupples X mysterious project. Anyway, if the rest cumulatively filled up just 500,000 sq. ft. of office space that would be big for downtown.

    • SnakePlissken

      I’ll throw some thoughts out there…

      Redevelopment of key historic buildings is strong with only a few larger projects remaining. BUT I’d love to see new construction… The lack of rising rents is concerning.

      A stagnant Downtown (not declining) does affect the whole region IMO. Leaders (specifically DSI) need to make a better effort at creating a vibrant street life. They’ve got too many ambitious goals and frankly are failing at all of them. “Come to Downtown, you’ll have armed guards walk you to your car!” I’d like to see more public art, more murals, more of dat funk! Imagine if the $50 million of tax revenue (Ya CID’s!) DSI has taken in over the last 20 years was spent incrementally on place making and public art AND NOT multiple six figure salaries and stadium chasing!

      By funk I mean simple things… Maybe one street corner has speakers that play nothing but David Bowie 18 hours a day…Why? Who knows but it would be cool AF and would put passerby’s in a great mood. AND MORE PUBLIC ART, MORE MURALS, MORE ODDITIES PLEASE!!!!!

      Lastly, as a resident and business owner of Downtown I cannot say strongly enough how different it is without NLEC. It’s dramatically better all over Downtown. We need to find better ways of housing the homeless all throughout the region and not use Downtown as the only solution.

      • rgbose

        Leaders decided CAR was what downtown needed.

      • Nick

        lol interesting take. I know this is an unpopular sentiment among much of the NextSTL crowd but I do think we missed the mark letting MLS walk. Even if it didn’t help develop downtown much, we have a strong soccer history and I think it would’ve fit well with our culture.

        That aside, agreed with your other points.

        • SnakePlissken

          I just want to make St. Louis weird. Seriously. Weird shit sells. With all the creatives in town you’d think we’d be able to understand that but apparently none of them are in positions of power and just pour coffee on Cherokee. “Make St. Louis Strange.” I’m tired of this “gritty” narrative. “Hey look at my 70’s cadillac in front of a bombed out building as I urban explore and smoke Cherokee Reds…”

          • Nick

            Damn straight. Works for Austin, Denver, Portland, Asheville….

          • Alex Ihnen

            Nothing’s weirder than City Museum. Internationally known, and I know we love it here, but yet still underappreciated. Arch grounds should have taken that parking garage and just given it to City Museum to do with as they pleased.

  • SouthCityJR

    I think I recently heard Family Dollar (or something like that) was looking to move onto the long abandoned National site on Grand just south of Gravois. Is that correct? If so, are there plans for other stores at that site? Seems too big for one store.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Family Dollar bought an out lot and will be building on the corner of the property. Stay tuned for reuse of the former grocery.

      • Adam

        That stretch of Grand needs a shot in the arm. Hope the reuse is something better than an Aldi (nothing wrong with Aldi, except that their model is tiny store in the middle of giant parking lot).

        • STLrainbow

          Aldi announced plans to demolish the current building and construct a larger one that would also involve taking one or two homes… does anyone know where that proposal stands?

          • Alex Ihnen

            I believe you’re talking about a different location. I haven’t heard anything about that one other than that the city denied demo of the adjacent homes.

  • rgbose

    Are there any details about the “Metrolink Police Station” being built out at 5977 Delmar?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Sorry – got nothing. Care to speculate/weigh in on recent violence on MetroLink?

      • rgbose

        I’d figure it’d be a good time to announce such a thing and how many officers working it, how city and county are working together, etc.

        • Alex Ihnen

          A unified police presence on transit would require state approval – correct? I think it’s a mess. I think transit is St. Louis may be the most us/them, black/white in the nation. It’s awful. It also mirrors everything else in the region. Life happens on MetroLink – every good and bad part of it. Same is true on highways, in parks, etc. But…MetroLink is uniquely black/white in comparison to those.

          • rgbose

            I thought Stl Co and SLMPD are certified (or whatever the right term is) to do policing anywhere int he state.

          • WikiWild

            I think it would be a great PR move. “City/County police departments join efforts to battle MetroLink crime in defiance of Jefferson City”

    • MatthewHibbard

      They’re currently rehabbing that building, but it will house MetroLink officers from both St. Louis County and Washington University Police Departments.

      • Alex Ihnen

        Thanks.

      • rgbose

        Good to hear. Hope there’s a well-publicized announcement for it. People want to know that greater effort is being put into Metrolink security and this would be a concrete sign.

  • John

    Any news on development or new hotels/restaurants near St. Louis Lambert Airport? The area seems ripe for a refresh and makeover. It is one of the first impressions of the city (even though it’s in the county) for out-of-town visitors/travelers. Dated hotels, boarded-up retail, tacky car-rental signage and billboards are not welcoming. Landscaping near the airport could be enhanced as well. The main terminal was recently remodeled, but what about the surrounding area?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Good point. The tiny municipalities in that area control development and redevelopment to a large extent. There is no overall planning going on there. When traffic declined following TWA’s de-hubbing, there became a lot of vacant and underutilized land in the area. We’re still figuring out what to do with it.

    • Nick

      As we speak they’re demo-ing the vacant Holiday Inn across Lindbergh from the former Howard Johnson

      • Alex Ihnen

        Reminds me…one of two developers proposing a new use for the vacant hospital on Delmar bought a hotel near the airport recently:

        “Acquisition of a 400 room hotel situated on 19 acres of land, for an indian investor. Hotel is at one mile from St Louis Airport. The investment has a potential upside of 500-600% in 2-3 years. On a cash on cash basis, asset will provide a current yield of 10-15%.
        ANANTA provided locating the asset, negotiations, employment of legal and accounting firms, legal and Title due diligence, environmental and land surveys. We reduced the annual operating cost within a week of acquisition by $250,000/yr in reduced security and insurance charges.”

  • Goat314

    Do you think prop 1 allows the city to come to the county and negotiate a more regional Metrolink decision? Or do you think this signals that city will try to go at it alone? Also, I really question whether prop 1 will be enough to build even a modest Metrolink spur.

    • Alex Ihnen

      I think it gives the city leverage, and increases the chances of it going alone. My opinion is that a line entirely within the city border makes the most sense – not because of the border itself, but because we should build rail transit in densely populated areas, and areas where density can be increased.

      • Goat314

        Do you feel STL is better with a short N/S (city only) and Westport…or one massive N/S line from N270 to S270. I think we will get one or the other.

        • tony

          I get the reasons for commuter rail lines, but if the goal is to improve the city’s neighborhoods, why even bother and not focus entirely on city only lines?

          • Goat314

            The city sadly doesn’t have the funds to build real LRT alone.

          • tony

            I’ve read that converting BRT to LRT can be more expensive in the long run than just building LRT from the start, but could it also make sense to just invest in BRT and save money where we can and then grow from there?

            Seems like the initial cost for BRT can be much cheaper and still have similar positive results, albeit smaller increases in property values, etc.

          • Goat314

            I don’t buy the BRT replaces LRT argument.

          • Alex Ihnen

            I *think it would be possible for a city BRT network that could transform STL. It would require a “real” BRT network however.

          • tony

            I’m not saying that it would necessarily replace LRT, but if the city can’t afford LRT now, wouldn’t it make sense to invest what we can in BRT and greatly improve the current bus routes and headways, then build on that success?

        • Alex Ihnen

          I think a short line is better, but again, because it makes sense to build where density can make the line successful. The Blue Line should have stopped at downtown Clayton.

          • Goat314

            I agree, but I would argue that many NoCo and SoCo inner ring suburbs have the density to support Metrolink. I also think Metrolink TOD is more welcome in NoCo.

          • Alex Ihnen

            But if the line is going to be street-running, and not have absolute signal priority, a 5mi+ ride isn’t really functional.

          • Goat314

            I agree, but I think the assumption is that it would have signal priority. Without a dedicated ROW and priority, city would be better off taking money and building a large modern streetcar network.

          • Goat314

            With that said there seems to still be a silent push to get Metro out to Westport and I’ve heard it’s largely to do with development at places like the Danforth Center and the need to get low wage workers to suburban jobs.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Unless the municipalities along the line will rezone to require dense development, it just doesn’t make sense, but yes, they’re still going to try to do it.

  • SouthCityJR

    I’ve posted this in other areas, but Tuesday’s results raise lots of questions about what Northside residents really want from the City. We constantly hear about the City not doing enough for Northside, but then many Northsiders came out and voted against Prop 1 and NS which were designed to help them. Do they not really want help from the City? Do they want money spent on something else? Very frustrating and confusing.

    • Roger Mexico

      This is especially true since the current city property tax burden (155 million) is currently split 60% south side, 35% central corridor, and only 5% north side. The LRA owned building are probably nearly the reverse of this (predominantly north side). So it would have been a great deal for Northside residents.

    • Goat314

      Prop 1 doesn’t really help North City. The proposed line barely goes north of downtown.

    • Alex Ihnen

      It’s a bit confusing to me too, but I don’t think north city residents have seen many results from all the past planning and promises. They’re right to be skeptical. I do think the rail line is critical to north city, as long as it serves the neighborhoods and not NGA.

      • Nick

        You posted something similar a few years back in regards to a vote on decreasing the number of wards and the North City vote. The referendum was supposedly created specifically to improve North City, to consolidate more power up there, and yet that’s where it saw the most opposition. You hypothesized this may have been due to generations of disappointment in government to do anything to benefit them. Seems pretty reasonable to me as well.

        • Alex Ihnen

          And the worry with ward consolidation is a loss of black political power if say, 5 of the city’s 14 aldermen are black. Of course, wards will still be proportional and thus so will the change. IMO, aldermen do the best they can for their wards, but the system has clearly not worked in favor of north city.

  • MRNHS

    Interesting week with both the Pointe 400 and STLCC going up for sale, right next to the Millennium which I assume is still available. Is this coincidental or is there something larger at play here for this area?

    • Goat314

      I was thinking the same. Maybe the anticipate a major cash out and anticipate a successful BPV phase 2.

    • Alex Ihnen

      I think they’re hoping it’s a good time with BPV II happening. But real estate portfolios can shift without much rhyme or reason. The shots being called aren’t always tuned in to local issues.