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  • One More Walgreen’s Will Surely Complete Our City

    Posted on February 9th, 2007 Toby Weiss 56 comments
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    “A more discerning buyer” must be the new corporate speak for monied white folk.

    And Koman plans to “seek input from neighborhood organizations about the design” well after the point of it making any difference. For as you know, the only thing Phyllis Young’s constituency cares about is making sure the exteriors are brick so it fits into what’s left of the original neighborhood.


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    56 Responses to “One More Walgreen’s Will Surely Complete Our City”

    1. Thanks for the defense Darren Snow. Indeed, I don’t believe my Frequenting Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s/Dierbergs or Schnucks on Loughborough is a guarantee that I don’t want to ‘mix’ in my shopping. I work in Chesterfield so I am driving by Brentwood everyday. Many people I’ve talked to in our neighborhood (Lafayette Square) go to Brentwood to shop or Loughborough. I am not aware of a lot of other options closer to me (which is why I am all for this project). If you are referring to the South Grand Schnucks, I have probably shopped there 500-1000 times and the drive is definitely longer than a trip to Loughborough and only a few minutes closer than Brentwood. And guess what? the shopping experience at the ones I chose is better. Tell me if it is more convenient to wait 12 deep in the checkout line because there are only 3 checkers open at 8:30 on Friday night or drive an extra 5 minutes to Brentwood???

      The real point is that this grocery store chain is a business. If they see an opportunity in being centrally located to all these neighborhoods, then I hope we can take advantage of it. If they can change the design to minimize the ‘suburban’ effect great. But, to think that a parking lot is a deal breaker for some is hard to believe. I want to live in the city. I have chosen to live in the city. As people have mentioned above, any small step towards the city being not only livable, but convenient is a good thing. That means more people will wanting to live/stay here. and if enough of them do that, then we can worry about everybody walking.

    2. Great Post GM! I’m with you 100%

    3. If this gets done (despite these sorts of idiotic protests), I will probably drive to it.

      I think a quote from Steve Patterson’s blog is relevant here:

      It is entirely possible to construct sidewalks in and around big box stores. The big box and pedestrian access are not mutually exclusive. Just because you may not walk to the store does not mean we should prevent, by design, others from doing so.

    4. I find it hysterical that when people like myself push for a better design, it is assumed we are trying to pursuade EVERYONE to walk or bike to the store and that the car should be abandoned. That is not the intent nor should anyone be naive enough to think that is the intent. We simply want a “little” modification in the designs put out by prototype developers that adhere to the neighborhood. As I said before, if we don’t do this we are limiting our ability to be more urban-minded in the future because of past decisions (look at many of the past decisions affecting us NOW!).

      I get upset at all bad developments, Snow…north, south, east west and inner ring ‘burbs. No “glass house” cliche needed here. All of these bad developments affect our entire city, let alone the immediate neighborhood. Horrible designs and horrible developments on the north side have only led to a continuation of the disinvestment up there. If better solutions were found, who knows how much farther along the emerging north side could be (although Blairmont seems to be continuing the cycle of horrible inner city developments).

      As said before, nobody is protesting these types of stores to come here, and the protests are HARDLY idiotic, anonymous. THAT is a low-blow. The only thing that is idiotic is to accept developments like this without any urban design input to allow pedestrians, bikes, automobiles and any other mode of transportation to co-exist in a well designed manner (with building styles to enhance the neighborhood).

    5. Just in case no one has noticed the main part of the old City Hospital across the street sits off the street with a (oh my God – don’t say it) parking lot in front of it, and it was built 100 years ago! It looked to me like the rendering showed a design that mimicked the configuration of the City Hospital buildings – the dreaded U shape.

      And oh, by the way, the historic landmark Soulard Market sits far off of Lafayette also. The only difference is that there is green space between the street and building — which is inconvenient for parking.

      Anybody that thinks the Walgreens sitting in the place of the biker bar is a step backwards hasn’t lived here very long.

    6. Major strip centers elsewhere in South City with parking are largely empty or have a ghetto-feel, including Southtown Centre, St. Louis Marketplace, and Christy Plaza. Meanwhile, the retail strip at Grand and Arsenal never has a vacancy long, and its sidewalk doors are the preferred entrance over its rear-parking doors. Granted, Lafayette Avenue isn’t South Grand, but it certainly isn’t South Kingshighway either.

      This is the one shot at finally linking Lafayette Square and Soulard, but again, it looks like our City will screw it up.

    7. The point is that there should be a decision made on how to rebuild the city. Allowing suburban style development does not play to the urban strength of St. Louis. Such development creates contradictions in the fabric of the city and ultimately affects the desirability of city living, which in turn affects the value of property. That is the real irony. There are stringent building requirements to the east and west of this site to protect property values (among other reasons), yet a proposal is made that does not enhance these areas architecturally. It is a question of continuity within the city, not only at this site but elsewhere.

      There are ways to make other site plans as profitable as what is proposed. The question then is how the public will interact with the site now and in the future. I agree with Matth above that no one is saying everyone should walk, bicycle or even take mass transit to the site. However trying to find a site plan that would make these functions at least equal in usability to using an automobile hardly seems to be a radical concept.

      It is puzzling in fact that people seem to demand that the automobile only be served. This is a situation that warrants consideration of other means of movement integrated into the planning, it would strengthen the project and relate more directly to the surrounding neighborhoods.

      As far City Hospital having parking in front of the building, it is doubtful that was the original incarnation, since cars did not exist when it was built. Without analysis of the historical site requirements it is difficult to comment on it. Although the large parking lot adjacent to City Hall on 12th Street was originally a park.

      The City Hospital site and Soulard Market both no doubt also had some relation to mass transit. Soulard Market has a park fronting the main entrance, as well as a bandstand. The park functions as a gathering place, a public square if you will and is a valid architectural element. The space functions that way to the present day, and is a useful addition to the urban environment.

      In the design of cities, vistas, public space, parks, the location of buildings, building setbacks, transit routes are some of the tools used when creating a livable city. The best approach is to achieve a beautiful and useful city for all citizens, not just those in prefer to drive. I would suspect Gilded Age, more than the suburban developers are concerned with that issue also; how far they pursue it remains to be seen.

      BTW I don’t think anyone suggested the Biker Bar that used to be there was a better use of the site than a Walgreen’s, although the knock off design they use is not inspired architecture.

    8. There is a huge difference between the Kinkos, Bread Company, etc. on S. Grand and this site. Namely, the businesses on S. Grand don’t have multiple daily tractor trailer deliveries.

      Where should the loading docks be placed? Should they be placed at the rear of the property screened from the streetscape? Or should they be placed along the Truman Parkway? Or should the tractor trailers simply double park on Lafayette?

      Now that is truly an inviting and attractive entrance to downtown St. Louis.

    9. In today’s age, there aren’t too many people who are going to walk 5-6 blocks with 10 bags of groceries to feed a family of four.

      The Chicago examples are idiotic. The density necessary to support a minimalist parking utopia doesn’t
      exist where this development is located.

      If we want another failed grocery store, let’s continue to cater to a vocal minority who have no concept of market economics. If we want a successful vibrant store in our neighborhood, the store needs people traveling to and from downtown to use the store. This means easy and convenient parking.

    10. The need for parking argument is a traw man. Nobody arguing for an “urban design is suggesting eliminating parking. Issues of where loading docks should be placed are also not reason reject an urban form. These are all issues that should be handled with sensitivity to the surrounding environment.

      St. Louis is an old city, developed before automobiles and during the age of great progress in mass transit. It was once very walkable and still has the infrastructure to be walkable again, very easily. Outsiders notice this right away when visiting the city. They do not say “this place is lame because it isn’t Chicago”, they say “this place is really great, why don’t the residents here seem to care about it?”

      I do not live in St. Louis, but I am considering moving there soon. Living in a city that is vastly different from St. Louis, and inferior in terms of walkability and charm, I can see the great advantages and potential in St. Louis.

      However, these types of developments put forth all over the city (including the North side proposals) create huge doutbs for me as to whether St. Louis is as livable or will ever be livable as it seems it could be. As an outsider looking to move to a new city to put down my roots I am now looking at alternatives – places that appreciate their assets and know how to invest in infrastructure to create a livable environment.

      Some of you may think urban design doesn’t matter, but when millions of dollars are invested in new buildings that do not contribute to the community and physical surroundings others notice and move elsewhere.

    11. Yes you’re right that most people in StL will refuse to walk or ride their bikes for groceries. But why do cars rule here?

      As someone who lived in Chicago for more than 20 years, my wife and I walked twice per week to stores more than four blocks away. Of course we didn’t buy cases of soda or Bud, nor did we have to worry about smashing the potato chips ’cause we didn’t consume that junk.

      We still ride our bikes to shop but it is extremely dangerous especially for our children. Local road designers, developers and MoDOT do not incorporate plans that allow for safe or convenient travel by alternatives. Consequently this is a simple “which comes first” situation, the chicken or the egg? In this case as are most in StL, the parking lot comes first… people are lower on the list of priorities.

      Members of the general public here are lazy and are too auto dependent. This destructive form of travel is highly subsidized in numerous ways including the availability of free parking. As such, urban design is influenced more by autos than concern for the people inside them or those living nearby.

      Shameful but that is the StL attitude. It is this attitude which keeps StL from prospering as it continues to govern as if it is stuck with a 50’s mindset. By the way, E.D. abuse is common here too, what’s new?

    12. Folks, please remember where this site is situated. Right between Tucker and the I-44/I-55 exit ramps. There is and there will not be significantly high foot traffic through this area–it is a heavy vehicle traffic area.

      This is about as good of design as you can have for this space. Meanwhile, down the street on the Laffayette and Jefferson intersection, there are two new developments going in that serve foot traffic better. Why? Because that’s a foot traffic area. Those are your South Grand style shops, which I am looking forward to.

      Very few people will walk to this area, even if it was structured for it. From Soulard, you have to cross over I-55 and cross the street at Tucker. From Lafayette Square, you have to walk across the exit/entrance ramps for two interstates. That’s without considering having to cross Lafayette, which is very busy along this 3-4 block stretch.

      Gilded Age has done a good job with their other developments in the Lafayette Square area. I trust them with this one too.

      Consider me among the target clientele for these stores–I live less than 1/4 mile away.

    13. That analysis is exactly correct. With the highways and the width of Lafayette Avenue, a difficult walking environment has been created. This is the result of failed policies that have converted what was a walking, transit orientated energy efficient and desirable city (St. Louis) into a mishmash of poorly done projects, whether road or building.

      Here are a few points
      1. It is important for political leadership to supply the public with an outline, a plan, if you will, of how the city should be built. Zoning is not cutting it, and just when is it time to discuss city wide goals? such as an integrated transit system used to support neighborhoods and neighborhood development.
      2. Instead results are determine by developers and not public interest
      3. Make no mistake about it; if a worldwide architectural and urban planning competition was conducted today; for the area along Lafayette between 12th and Mississippi, it would be proven that a beautiful pedestrian environment could thrive alongside autos.
      4. This site is just a small area in a larger area that is part of the whole city. The parts should work together to make a whole. Thus this site should be looked at carefully to reorient urban planning in St Louis. It seems there are no projects in St. Louis that consider their contribution to the urban environment.
      5. Instead the Quick Trip on Chippewa and Gravois, Loughborgh Commons and Southtown Centre are the norm. Without a debate about what is needed, where it is needed, it is difficult to tell if these developments are appropriate for their sites. In the case of the proposed development, it looks like a done deal; it may make money, but then why hand over the corner of 12th and Gravois so Gilded Age can build another parking lot? If they and they followers don’t think the design of the city matters, then they should be prevented from subverting the public interest.
      6. This city needs new leadership. Urban policies have failed, protecting profits for a few while ignoring the good of the city.
      7. Good design ultimately equals profits. The difference is that the profits are for all.

    14. Quite frankly, it is hard to believe that most of the posters on this blog want anything at all built. To read some of the silly, inane, ridiculous statements concerning underground parking, buildings set on the street like a hollywood set with a parking lot in the back so that delivery trucks and customers can joust for parking spots is well past hilarious. Perhaps all of you could take an economics 101 course so that you could possibly understand how silly most of the suggestions have been.

    15. Most of the comments concerning this project have blasted the design of the project. I disagree with this entirely. I happen to think that the design is actually a very good one that fits quite well with the immediate surrounding urban area. From what I saw of the rendering of the project in the paper the design actually addresses the concerns of many parties:

      1. The main grocery building sits back from the street just like the main city hsopital building does.
      2. The Walgreens and the buildings on the east edge of the parking lot flank an open space just like the city hospital ward buildings do.
      3. The design looks to me like it incorporates a brink wall with a fence on top of it along lafayette with an opening for cars (it only shows one and maybe there should be 2) and an opening for pedestrians.
      4. I assume the trucks get to the back of the grocery by driving down the existing 14th street although the plan doesn’t show that detail.

      I like the design which seems to me as if it is in keeping with the historic streetscape across the street. I think we should tell Gilded Age that they need to put in a pedestrian walkway through the middle of the parking lot so that the walkers/bikers can easily get to the front of the store.

      Model hisotrical examples are often used when constructing new buildings in a historic area (the Lafayette Square historic code requires it and Gilded AGe is doing the same thing at Mississippi and Lafayette). I thnk they should be commended for their design rather than derided.

    16. It looks like there is a pedestrian entrance with a pagoda roof. Build it. I am tired of driving to Schnucks on Clayton Road for groceries.

    17. No one derided them. While I like the idea of running through the center with a pedestrian/ bike path, I’m not sure what the point is in copying the city hospital configuration?

      If the U was pushed forward, putting parking on the outside of the site it might work then. With Soulard style carriage openings the parking lot could connect to a people only square facing Lafayette Avenue and City Hospital. The store frontage of potential retail space would double. Maybe a outdoor food court of some type?

      A public space of some undermined size could have outside dining, outside activities and become a city destination in its own right. Human scale complimenting automobile culture, both succeed.

      Autos would back up to the already vast highway wasteland behind the site, a perfect marriage of auto with auto.

      And for economics 101 fans, the per square unit of income goes up with smaller businesses and by doubling the retail square facing City Hospital. Marketing is more defined and easier with attractive public spaces.

      Walgreen’s could wrap at one end and the grocery at the other, right up to Lafayette Avenue.

      Deliveries could be worked out in this scheme.

      Then the U might make sense.

      Steve Wilke-Shapiro discusses the Schnucks site on Grand and Gravois on his blog http://15thwardstl.org/node/124.He did several postings in addition to this one. He also did drawings of alternates. This is the type of activity that should be encouraged.

    18. I will pose this question…..if this isn’t designed a little better (notice I said little, asking for a better design doesn’t mean more expensive or a radical difference, just more urban) what will happen once the admittedly more pedestrian area at Jefferson and Lafayette gets a grocer and when downtown gets at least one more grocer (which it will soon)? Who will drive and shop here? Lafayette square residents will more than likely walk or drive the other direction if that is to be a better development (which it should be). I guess Soulard residents will shop here but the coveted downtown shoppers that one anonymous poster keeps mentioning won’t need to come down here anymore. More than likely the target demographics (the remaining Soulard residents) they are shooting for will just consider this another “ghetto” store due to its location (probably will be unjustified, just like the others labeled so) and will still drive elsewhere to get groceries, which is rediculous but another discussion.

    19. When exactly will another grocer be coming to downtown and where will it be going?

      The traffic on the Truman Parkway is increasing not decreasing.

      There are many downtown workers that drive by this site every day. And more will be coming soon with the shut down of Highway 40. Even if another grocery store goes in the Washington Avenue area this store will be much more convenient for downtown workers who live outside of the downtown area(perhaps this is why Supervalue has decided to put its store here).

      The Jefferson and Lafayette Foodland site is not going to become another grocery store. As mentioned in the paper Jefferson Avenue is going to be shut down for two years while the Jefferson overpass and the Jefferson bridge over 40 is being rebuilt. What retailer will want to locate on a site that has no traffic? And I think Guilded Age is developing that site also. I doubt they put another grocery store there.

      This won’t become another “ghetto” store as long as the rest of the site will also be developed.

    20. As a homeowner in Bohemian Hill, the development piece is NOT the issue. It is the process that is the issue. The “vacant lot” across from City Hospital was not a vacant lot. It had houses on it. The owners of those houses were forced to sell. The problem with this is that people shouldn’t be forced to sell their homes for private development even when it comes under the guise of economic development. Economic development is built on the free market. When developers interrupt the process of the free market it throws the balance off and results in capitalism not functioning to its fullest potential. The most successful neighborhoods in St. Louis are those that were organically developed not forced by private development, e.g. Lafayette Square and Soulard.

      Having said that, I believe that property owners MUST be required to maintain their properties. It is the responsibility of city government to monitor and regulate this. The City currently wants to “acquire” my house and will possibly take it without my consent for “redevelopment”. My house (which was built in 1899) was a gut rehab that we moved into in 2003 and made additional improvements. At this time, the City plans to take my house only to tear it down to replace it with office, retail and CONDOS. The problem with this is that because some property owners have been allowed to keep derelict, vacant and unsafe buildings my house has been included in the plan to develop the area.

      As a homeowner, I’m very much concerned with the development around me. I want the Georgian Square development to be well thought out and successful as this is imperative to the investment I’ve made in my home. However, it is not necessary for the houses between 13th Street and Tucker to be demolished to make their Georgian Square development work. Actually, if infill housing was used with putting up office/retail spaces in the empty corner lots and property owners forced to bring their properties to a certain level of upkeep the area could be an added benefit to the Georgian Square. I believe visitors to the downtown area would prefer to see a more urban residential area than a grocery store and Walgreens as the focal points of their entrance from the South.

    21. ugh. i was told that having the parking/strip mall feel was something of a ploy to get traffic off the highway. my solution: put the damn parking at the back where the highway can see it and make a nice streetscape facing the georigan, rather than a parking lot. just sick. i’m glad there’ll be a market, but wake up for god’s sake.

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