Thursday, May 31, 2007

Blending Bricks and Baseball

I’m pleased to report that last night, the St. Louis South Sox, Juvenile One Division (ages 14-15), won their second game of the year by a score of 8-1, improving their season record to 2 wins against 5 losses. Son Matt pitched four scoreless innings to help secure the victory.

Weather permitting, the South Sox play again this Friday night at 8:00 PM at historic Heine Meine Field. Heine Meine is a beautiful baseball park just outside the city limits off of Lemay Ferry Road, a block south of River Des Peres. The St. Louis Cardinals have helped finance major improvements at Heine Meine, and in a few years, they will celebrate their 100th anniversary (so I’m told…they say it opened around 1911).

To tie this in with the drive to raise funds to preserve the Mullanphy Emigrant Home, STL Rising is pledging to donate $1 for every soda or beer purchased by supporters of the effort to rebuild the Mullanphy Emigrant Home in attendance at Friday night's South Sox game (Heine Meine's rainout number is 314-638-8524).

Every STL Rising dollar for Mullanphy combines with your buck or two for a soda or beer for Heine Meine, and together we turn a double play for historic preservation and kids baseball.

STL Rising: Find Your Grail

Whenever I read news about talented St. Louisans leaving town for places like New York or LA, I'm saddened to see them go. Yet it always reminds me to be thankful for the creative and energetic ones who choose to make STL home.

STL is a place where individuals without a big name or a lot of money can still make a big difference. The abundance of active dialogue in popular STL community interest blogs shows the impact individuals are making here. We know each other; STL is like a big small town. Opportunities abound to directly participate in the growth and improvement of our community.

Our-slightly-off-the-radar-screen, less-than-top-tier-status makes us affordable and fun with lots of work to do and places to help make a positive difference. Not getting lost in the crowd is one of the best things about STL.

Cassilly's Riverfront Project Rising?

Was it at Mayor Slay's blog, where there's mention of a new northside project under development by Bob Cassilly, creator of the City Museum?

Does anyone know where it is? What it will be? Any details or links?

Friday, May 25, 2007

STL Rising Thanks "Grafitti Buster's"

With much of the recent blog world discussing the activities of "Ed Boxx", a local grafitti tagger, it was interesting to see a City Parks Department truck driving down the road this morning equipped for another day of grafitti removal.

Two city workers, a truck and trailer were headed somewhere to remove grafitti. On the back of the truck is a sign that reads "Grafitti Buster's". The trailer was loaded with a huge pastic vat filled with liquid (cleaning chemicals probably), a power washer, compressor, buckets, hoses, and other tools.

Cleaning grafitti must be a thankless job, and the cost to the city is substantial. It's a good thing we have these crews, but wouldn't it be nice if they were planting trees and maintaining park improvements rather than cleaning up the vandalism of others?

Let's keep our city beautiful. Please discourage grafitti artists.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hampton Village "Noodles" Sets Nat'l Sales Record

Word is that the "Noodles" restaurant at Hampton Village smashed the chain's previous national sales record for grand openings.

Monday, May 21, 2007

"On the Couch" with STL Rising

Few things perk up the collective St. Louis psyche more than when out-of-town writers offer affirming things about St. Louis.

Here are two articles written by "Chip, the Beer Guy" from Scranton, Pennsylvania. Chip was here covering the recent St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival.

We met Chip and his fiance, Diane, at Iron Barley on Virginia. Chip is an on-air personality of the radio station "Rock 107" in Scranton. In a two-part series, he has nice things to say about St. Louis.

Part One

Part Two

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Marti Frumhoff

Last night St. Louis lost a great friend in Marti Frumhoff. Marti was a true believer and inspiration for many.

Marti was a marketing and public relations powerhouse and she was a huge factor in building the momentum for the city's rebirth. Her annual Big BIG Tour project was a major positive force, promoting the entire city.

She was a doer until the end. On the day of her passing, she was announced as a co-sponsor for the concert to raise funds for the preservation of the Mullanphy.

When they write the story about the revitalization of St. Louis, they will need a whole chapter just for Marti.

Thank you Marti for your friendship, your vision, your passion, and the pathways you have created for the rest of us.

Monday, May 14, 2007

STL Rising Welcomes Your Anonymous, Unfiltered Comments

In the last thread, "STL Rising: In Search of the $100,000 Neighborhoods", I nearly succumbed to the temptation of deleting an anonymous comment. Someone anonymously suggested that the reason for affordability in a neighborhood is crime, by making a link to an STL Today article from this weekend which told the story of a 90 year-old South City man mugged in his alley back in March.

If you read the article, you probably felt sorry for the man, but also might have been scratching your head as well. We don't see too many personalized news stories about crime victims, written weeks after the incident, with a major angle of the story connecting the crime to the neighborhood. So, I nearly deleted it.

However, given that the story was front-paged in the Post Dispatch, and widely available online, what would be the point of deleting it here? The link remains, as do all of your uncensored, anonymous, non "blog-owner approved" comments.

At STL Rising, we welcome your unfiltered comments. If they should be challenged, challenge away! Anonymous or not, it's up to you.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

STL Rising: In Search Of The $100,000 Neighborhoods...

With property values on the rise in St. Louis, it's getting harder to match first time homebuyers with quality affordable housing.

There are still homes for sale in the $90,000-$120,000 range, but the choices are getting fewer and competition for starter homes is getting tough. First time homebuyers often wind up competing with real estate investors buying homes for use as rental property.

If you were making recommendations to someone starting out in the St. Louis housing market, what would be your advice?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Ballpark Village Groundbreaking?

Based on previous news reports, it should be starting any day now. Any word on the official start date?

One possible use - a baseball-themed hotel for the area - has not been mentioned. Doesn't that seem like a perfect fit, replete with player or team themed rooms and baseball decor? How about a rooftop party area with bleachers overlooking Busch stadium, similar to Wrigley Town?

Does Ballpark Village "complete" downtown's comeback? Or are we already there?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Do you know the significance of the number .012346 to St. Louis? It's a tiny number, but it represents something very important to the City. Do you know what it is?

If you think you do, post your answer in the comment section. The first correct answer wins an STL Rising prize package!

Monday, May 07, 2007

ESL Old Man River Plan

Originally conceived over 20 years ago by architect Buckminster Fuller, the Old Man River plan proposes a new paradigm for American cities and land ownership, to be located along the bank of the Mississippi River in East St. Louis, Illinois.

Proponents of the concept are still pursuing the effort, with features of the project including shared land ownership, an environmentally friendly power plant, an "Aquatron" (comparable to MoBot's Climatron - except based on fresh water science), affordable housing, and a cultural center building on the legacy of East St. Louisan Katherine Dunham.

The original concept featured a lightweight umbrella-type cover over roughly a 1 mile diameter crater-shaped area. The design would allow free flow of fresh air and water, while becoming a symbol of social progress around the world.

State Representative Yvetter Young is currently proposing Illinois House Bill 2352 in support of the project and draft organizational documents for the sponsoring entity are in legal review.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Opposite

Yesterday we featured an aerial image of a part of north city where most of the original building stock is intact. Today we will examine the opposite situation. Many of the neighborhoods on the north side are well preserved. However, there is no question that parts have seen significant building loss.

The aerial above provides a good example. In this area there are multiple blocks entirely devoid of any buildings, and some with only a few remaining. Of those still standing, frequently they are vacant and substantially deteriorated. In these areas, other than the original street grid, the rest of the historic neighborhood context is lost.

What is unseen is the reality on the ground. Or better put, under the ground. People refer to greenfield and brownfield developments. These areas meet the definition of brownfield.

As described in the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association Roadmap report on Brownfield redevelopment, in the broadest sense, a brownfield is defined as "real estate that has been rendered either underutilized or completely unusable due to the existence - or mere threat - of environmental contamination".

For years, when demolished, abandoned buildings were collapsed into their basements and covered with a thin layer of soil. To redevelop these sites requires thousands of dollars in site excavation and possible environmental remediation. The high cost to return these parcels into buildable sites often results in net negative land value.

However, despite the real costs of redevelopment, landowners aren't likely to pay developers to purchase their lands. As a result, this unworkable economic reality has removed the bottom from the real estate market, leaving, as we have seen, brownfield sites in the heart of our city vacant for years.

Not unlike the historic tax credit for rehabilitating historic buildings, a tax credit program for land assembly, designed to offset some of the upfront costs of returning abandoned properties to productive reuse, has the potential to be one part of an overall community redevelopment program.