Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Traffic Forecast?

Frequently, when large crowds head for downtown STL to attend a major nightime event, coupled with thousands of daytime office workers exiting their parking garages, the result is gridlock around the Old Court House.

Savvy drivers in search of a speedier exit have been known to move their cars to street parking spaces ahead of the rush.

Any predictions on what traffic downtown is supposed to be doing after 4:00 pm this evening? Tonite is the night for the annual Fat Tuesday parade.

"It's Not Over...

'til we say it's over!!"

Nottingham Community Center proponent gives update on the effort's current status.

(Scroll to the bottom for the latest entry in the comment section).

Monday, February 27, 2006

STL-Something Rises Down in Texas

...Apparently, way down south in Texas, they love St. Louis-style pizza. At least they think they do.

The image in the picture is what some folks down in Texas actually believe is a St. Louis style-pizza. Hah!

The menu doesn't even offer provel!

If someone knows where in St. Louis you can find a pizza like the one in the picture, please share.

Maybe California Pizza Kitchen?

Good or Bad?

Over at South St. Louis Talk, there's a post about making Ballpark Village a sort of "Taste of St. Louis" experience. There's some appeal to that idea, but on the other hand, we might regret exposing the outside world to how bad St. Louis-style pizza really is...

There's talk of building a high-dollar, touristy, aquarium attraction, like the one in the picture above. That could be an awesome addition to the St. Louis destination downtown experience.

If you're aiming to create a sustainable, ballpark-anchored district, how would you approach it? Emphasize a ballpark/themed entertainment focus? Or just keep it simple and urban: high density and mixed use, with baseball a part of but not the central focus of the mix?

Ballpark Village

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

More than Balls and Strikes

Spring training and baseball are about belief in the possible. Possibilities and STL come together in a new downtown ballpark.

A Beautiful French Connection

The inspiration for our City Hall is the Hotel De Ville in Paris (shown above).

The second image is a historic postcard view of St. Louis City Hall. Back in the 1960s, many considered the building obsolete, and it was nearly demolished in favor of a modern civic center complex. Fortunately that never happened. But the building needs some costly repairs.

On the outside, it carries blemishes from failed attempts to remove discoloration caused by years of coal soot accumulation on the limestone exterior. Thanks to the St. Louis chapter of the AIA, there is a private effort to raise funds to rehabilitate the exterior of the building. But private fundraising is a slow business, and the dollar goal is substantial.

If presented to voters, would you support a bond measure to finance the cost to rehabilitate the historic building?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

An Anchor On The Ivanhoe Strip

In the ground floor commercial space of a mixed-use, corner building in the heart of the ever-improving Ivanhoe Avenue neighborhood business district (near I-44 and Arsenal), an independent music store, "Killer Vintage", is quietly becoming one of the midwest's leading suppliers of rare guitars and amplifiers.

With the right pedigree (pre-CBS ownership, through 1965), a Fender Statocaster like the one in the picture above could bring $10,000-$20,000 American, and as much as $75,000 in Japan as a high-demand Americana collectible.

Given the popularity of the road-worn look, some guitarists have been known to tie their late-model Stratocasters into burlap sacks, and drag them down the street for a block or two, just to mimick the appearance in the picture above.

Monday, February 20, 2006

STL Rising---Not Just Buildings

In North St. Louis, near the intersection of North Kingshighway and Hwy 70, for years a bike racing track sat overgrown with weeds.

Now, the track looks like new again.

For more information, check out the website for the Missouri Bicycle Racers Association.

Friday, February 17, 2006

User Support for Dummies

This blog has needed some livening up for sometime, and so, starting today, thanks to the technical assistance of Matt and his friends, they are trying to show this old dog how to insert a photo into a blog....

and it works like this...

go to goodle images...

double click on the image...

click on "see full size image"...

then click on image icon in blogger posting screen...

then copy and paste url from your chosen google image into the blogger url space...

then use style and size features to center or size the image...

then click "upload image"...

then click "done"...

and if all goes well...

the Eads Bridge will be the inaugural STL Rising pic...

Charter Reform Pathologists

Robert Cropf and Todd Swanstrom of St. Louis University have written a detailed analysis of the failed Advanced St. Louis Charter Reform Measures A, B, C, and D.

You can read their entire report here.

MSN: Find out Where to Celebrate Mardis Gras...

...except for in St. Louis.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Valentine to STL

A friend and I were talking today about our shared-adopted hometown of St. Louis. We agreed that one of the things that makes this place so endearing is the way it is so far from perfect. The place is a work in progress, and we are all a part of it.

For those of us with St. Louis in our blood, it is a passion. When Kerri and I moved away for a few years, I'll never forget how we missed it so much. We wanted to move back the whole time.

And now that we're back again, we're here for good. The place has worked its way into our souls. We love it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

StL Evolution Critiques Ballpark Village

Over at StL Evolution, blogger Matt Fernandez gives an upbeat overview of the Ballpark Village project. He even makes the point that locating the ballpark right next to Highway 40 is turning out well.

Ballpark Village represents another $450,000,000 investment added to the city's renaissance, including 1,200 condo units in four towers on a newly restored street grid. Naysayers take note: at present, there is more construction happening in the City of St. Louis than anywhere else in the region.

During the '90s, everyone was talking about the revitalization of downtown, LoDo, Denver**, with downtown baseball and loft conversions leading the way. Now, in the '00s, it's the revitalization of downtown St. Louis that is making national news.

**(Click on the LoDo link and note the similarity between our new ballpark and Denver's...)

Maybe the promoters of 2004 were right?

1804: Lewis and Clark
1904: St. Louis World's Fair
2004+: St. Louis Is Back

Friday, February 10, 2006

Historic District Nominations...Demystified

Thanks to Michael Allen for providing a detailed description of how the process works to nominate a neighborhood for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Michael's description can be found in the comments section of this posting.

A New Way

It was on the way home, via a short cut from the 4300 hundred block of West Florissant, south on Prairie Avenue, across Fairground Park, continuing south to Dr. MLK, and then west a few blocks to catch up with the Metropolis Walk in the Ville.

Driving down Prairie, I rode by three other inviting looking night spots in the Fairground neighborhood. Maybe on a another night the Walk visits Fairground? Maybe. Thanks to Brian Marston for organizing the Ville Walk. It was a good time with a lot of fun people.

After visiting the Walk, I made another detour off the main routes, and headed straight south, down either Whittier or Sarah...I think Whittier (I couldn't tell; some of the street signs were missing). Somewhere around the corner of Washington and Whittier (or Sarah?), I arrived at a beautiful white stone church with a huge monolithic-shaped bell tower. I can't remember ever having noticed it before. A couple more blocks south, I would arrive in the heart of the new Gaslight Square development, situated along the northern edge of the Central West End neighborhood.

Prior to the Walk, the evening started out with a conversation with some Third Ward neighbors, including one long-time resident of the Fairground neighborhood. He's in his mid-80s now, but he remembers back as a young father, back in 1969, when his was the second black family to move on to his block in Fairground. Through the years, he's witnessed firsthand the long drought of disinvestment that blighted his community.

All along, he's remained active working as a volunteer to serve his neighborhood. Those years of work are starting to show a return. Today he sees more investment in the city's Third Ward than he's seen in the previous thirty-plus years. The drought years had seriously worn on his patience, and there's still a level of frustration, but now there's a new beginning too.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

First Class Upgrade

Our Midget 2 baseball team, the South Sox, is returning for its second season of practices at Tower Grove Park in South St. Louis.

Tower Grove Park offers fee waivers on field use permits for youth sports teams. For more information, call (314) 771-4484.

Watch for the South Sox on Saturday mornings, beginning in early March. We'll be holding practices on the full-size baseball field located at the southwest corner of the park, just up from Arsenal along Kingshighway.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Architectural Irony

St. Louis has one of the nation's best collections of historic architecture. It's not surprising considering that back in the year 1900, St. Louis was America's fourth largest city. Many believe that our architectural heritage is one of the city's greatest assets.

We also have a culture that is very resistant to change. So today our conservative midwestern culture is challenged to think differently about the importance of our architectural resources. I can't tell you the number of times I've heard people say, "Oh, that's not historic."

Our mostly conservative culture isn't comfortable placing restrictions on the use of private property. Yet progressives want to see our historic architecture preserved and carefully reused.

Getting St. Louisans to think differently about the importance of our local architecture will take more than teaching them about the significance of historic buildings. It will take getting St. Louisans to become more willing to accept change.

And that has little to do with architecture.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Marketplace Snapshot

St. Louis neighborhoods are a diverse marketplace. There are many submarkets of people who make the city their residential destination of choice.

Given the diverse nature of city residents, what would you say are the leading household submarkets choosing city living?

Here's a start-

Empty nesters choosing downtown lofts

First time homebuyers seeking affordable housing

Bosnians moving into Little Bosna

Middle class African Americans wanting to move back to their old city neighborhoods

Catholic families with kids


There are lots more. What do you think?

Friday, February 03, 2006

South Sox Baseball Club

I manage a baseball team for 6th and 7th grade boys. The name of the team is the St. Louis "South Sox". The team practices at Tower Grove Park and plays out of Heine Meine Field.

We are looking for some new sponsors. If you are interested in supporting a youth baseball team, and promoting your business or organization at the same time, we'd like to introduce you to our team.

The budget for the season is approximately $1500. Our goal for sponsorships is $150 per sponsor. If you are a restaurant owner, your sponsorship cost would be made back through after-game visits by our team and their friends and families.

If interested, please contact me at rbonasch@sbcglobal.net. Thanks.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Maybe we're not paying the right people?

How is it possible that St. Louis is not mentioned anywhere on this website?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

More Is Better

One thing that sets St. Louis apart from most other American cities is our historic neighborhoods. Much has been written about the marketing and reinvestment potential of historic rehabilitation. And much of that is made possible through the use of state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits.

However, only a small percentage of the city is currently eligible for historic tax credits. If we set out to substantially increase the number of city neighborhoods listed on the National Register, who knows how much more we could see in neighborhood revitalization?

With the exception of the new Jefferson-Gravois Streetcar Suburb Historic District and the expanded Tower Grove Heights Historic District, most of the city's historic districts are concentrated close to downtown, along the riverfront (Hyde Park and St. Boniface) or in the central corridor. Visit the neighborhoods listed on the National Register, and you 'll see a large amount of historic rehab, both underway and recently completed.

The rebirth of downtown has largely been driven by historic rehab. Good work is happening now in Old North St. Louis and Forest Park Southeast through the same resource.

Yet, the vast majority of North and South City is not part of any national historic district. The lack of historic tax credits makes it much harder to finance rehab in these neighborhoods. Where would be a good place to start next?