Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rock Church Roof Rising

When driving along Dr. Martin Luther King, you can see a crane and construction underway on the roof of the fire-damaged Rock Church on N. Grand.

Ticket Prices Rising - MO Leg. Legalizes Ticket Scalping

It seems reasonable that ticket scalping should be legal. When I buy something, it should be mine to resell it for whatever price the market will bear.

However, I heard on the news that there is a possible move to repeal the new law since many entertainment venues have been developed with public assistance.

That's an interesting angle. Do you think there should be a legal connection between public subsidies of entertainment venues and ticket scalping?

Monday, November 26, 2007

For better or worse?

While patronizing a popular downtown eating and drinking establishment this weekend, I had a brief conversation with the long time store manager. He was expressing frustration about having to shoo off the homeless from his property. He says the problem with homeless people coming inside his place of business is getting worse every week.

We talked about the growth in the number of downtown businesses, and how the increase in homeless activity might be tied to the overall increase in activity downtown. He didn't look at it that way. He noted that from the business's perspective, it was just an annoyance and bad for business.

There's no doubt that downtown is changing. St. Louis is changing. There is progress all around the city. With change, comes new things. We were on the Hill Saturday night for the Missouri/Kansas game, and there we saw a fresh take on a Hill tradition that was a real surprise.

A couple of doors west from Milo's, someone has added a luxury second floor addition to a single story, brick shotgun home, replete with a walkout front balcony. The balcony provides a view of St. Ambrose church. Some might think reworking a vernacular shotgun house on the Hill is too much messing with tradition. I liked it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Macy's Holiday Windows Drawing Crowds

The downtown Macy's has restored an old St. Louis tradition. For years, the display windows of the old Famous Barr had beautiful scenes during the holidays. Then at some point, many years ago, they stopped putting them up.

This year, Macy's has brought them back, and people are flocking to see the results. Over the summer, Federated installed new glass in all the windows. For the past couple of weeks, the windows were covered while workers prepared the scenes. Then on Thanksgiving Day, the curtains were pulled back, revealing the enchanting results.

Each scene depicts a historic holiday place and time. Some have the look of full streetscapes, others show the interiors of a room. All are done in great detail, some with moving figures.

Since their unveiling, I've been on the block on Friday at noon and last evening around six. Both times, people were headed to the see the windows, with holiday shoppers making their way around the building to see each scene. A long lost downtown tradition has returned. If you get the chance, be sure to make a trip to see them for yourself. Bring a friend!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Newcomers Guide to St. Louis

To encourage people to put St. Louis on their list of places to live or visit, we need to make sure we are sending the right message. If you were in charge of marketing the St. Louis area to potential businesses, college graduate, or relocating households, how would you do it?

We developed the Cool St. Louis list, and it needs to be updated.

We now have an emerging riverfront, the Arch grounds on the mend, and Chouteau's landing.

If you come to St. Louis, you get your choice of slogans. My favorite is St. Louis: A beer town with a baseball problem.

Music halls are on the increase, including the Old Rock House and the Lucas School House.

We are an old city with many traditions. From football to wierd parades.

Alternative media is alive and well. And we have our share of paranormal activities.

From a marketing standpoint, there are lots of angles for good promotion. Maybe outlining things like chapters in a book would be a good place to start?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cost of living driving regional relocations

High costs of living in coastal areas are helping to fuel growth in more affordable regions. From Julia Spezia, Executive Director of Housing California:

"An alarming trend is appearing in California's communities: We are losing our young adults (age 20 to 34). It's not surprising that when young couples decide to start a family and create a home, they look outside the state for an affordable place to live and work."

Monday, November 19, 2007

Poll: Do you rake or blow?

We rake. There are few things in life more annoying than the sound of a noisy, high-pitched leaf blower running on a beautiful fall day. I wonder if the noise they make is a violation of city noise pollution ordinances?

See also: City of St. Louis Ordinance 64566. See Section 4.9.

Going the route of government control is probably not the best way to reduce noise pollution from leaf blowers. Maybe promoting a healthy lifestyle through exercise would win more leaf raking converts?

One interesting thing about leaf blowers is the psychology involved. We rake once a week. By the time we're done raking, there are usually more leaves on the ground. That's okay, we'll rake 'em up next time. Not so for the leaf blowers...

The antiseptic efficiency of leaf blowing machinery has raised the level of what qualifies as "clean". So the leaf blowers will blow and blow and blow until the last leaf is blown out into the street. Then the leaf blower sees another leaf lying in the middle of the lawn. Back at it until that leaf is cleared. And another. And another.

It's a question. Do leaf blowing machines increase the level of OCD diagnoses during the fall season?

STL Rising: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

St. Louis crime rates are always a favorite topic around water coolers or for Town Talk callers. In recent years, a report published out of Kansas City places St. Louis at or near the top of national crime rates for cities.

This year, the methodology of the report is being called into question by both local criminologists as well as the FBI. They note that due to the tight city-not-in-a- county geograpy of St. Louis, comparing our stats to most other metro areas around the country is not a valid comparison.

For a true comparison, statisticians would need to include places like Brentwood, Clayton, Maplewood, and Creve Couer in with the city proper to see how we stack up to other regions. On such a region-region comparison, St. Louis drops from the near the top to out of the top 50 in terms of crime rates.

But figuring out how to do such an apples to apples comparison isn't as much fun for the Morgan Quintos of the media world. Thanks to our local criminology professors, news reporters, and the FBI for bringing out this important aspect to these statistics.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The New I-64's Rising: Are You Ready?

Here's the home page for all the latest info.

Bank of America names ONSLRG "Neighborhood Builder"

In one of the region's top neighborhood development award competitions, the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group has been selected as a Bank of America Neighborhood Builder for 2007.

Congratulations to ONSLRG President John Burse, ONSRLG Executive Director Sean Thomas, and the rest of the staff and board for this wonderful award recognizing the tremendous progress underway in revitalizing Old North St. Louis!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Midwest Cities Top Forbes' "Living Well" index...

...and St. Louis is No. 4.

Minneapolis is first
Indianapolis is second
Cincinatti is third
St. Louis is fourth

Living near the beach is nice, but who can afford it? living next to movie stars in a high mountain village in Colorado or Wyoming is cool, but who can afford it? Urbanity in New York City or San Francisco is inspiring, but who can afford it?

For a foothold towards a well-lived life, the Midwest is getting noticed. The high numbers of immigrants bypassing the coasts and headed to the midwest is testament to that fact.

Have you notice all the California license plates on the roads around St. Louis? It's getting to the point where living in the midwest, and St. Louis, is even an enviable thing.

10 years ago, while attending my 20 year high school reunion out in the San Francisco Bay Area, I could sense the growing envy from those stuck in the rat race of living in a high cost, crowded region.

10 years later, we're seeing more and more businesspeople and real estate investors taking a serious look at investing here.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

STL Rising: Saint Louis outranks Mizzou!

While Mizzou continues to climb in the AP and BCS College football rankings, at No. 6 or 7 depending on the index, Forbes Magazine just ranked St. Louis No. 4 on its "Most Affordable Places to Live Well" index! (They probably figured having a potential national champion college football team playing in our backyard didn't hurt!)

From the Forbes Article:

4. St. Louis

What makes St. Louis a desirable housing market isn't simply the 76% of homes that are available to the median buyer, but its relatively stability; The area isn't as bogged down in risky loans and defaults as other Midwestern cities. The Gateway to the West has a strong ratio of parks and restaurants to citizens, according to Sperling's, and is the 15th cheapest city in which to live, based on rankings of the top 50 cities by the Council on Community and Economic Research.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Authentic Drives - Southwest Avenue

A couple of weeks back we attended a fundraiser for St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in the Central West End. At the silent auction, we came away with two items, one an Italian and the other a Spanish gift basket. The baskets included recipes, CDs, treats, and gift certificates. One of the gift certificates was for Boogaloo's restaurant in Maplewood. We tried it out last night.

The restaurant was good and fun. Check out the signature barstool swings hanging from the ceiling. This is a good people watching place. The hip storefront location is another sign of Maplewood's outstanding revitalization. Next door, check out Eddie's Guitars for one of the country's best music stores. After dinner, we were heading home via South Kingshighway. To get there takes you through some of our region's most interesting urban settings.

Heading east on Manchester to Southwest, takes you by the Tap Room's Maplewood location. Continuing east on Southwest, crossing McCausland, you enter the city, crossing River Des Peres and then under some huge concrete railroad bridges.

Climb the hill on Southwest and you get to the mixed up section of Southwest, one of region's most name-challenged historic roads. Am I on Southwest? Am I on Columbia? Just keep going, but follow the route along Columbia. If you do, you have a great view overlooking beatiful Clifton Park lake and its surrounding homes.

Continuing east on Columbia, you cross Hampton at Bartolino's restaurant, preparing for their upcoming move to their new home down the street at the new Drury Inn at Hampton and 44. Crossing Hampton and heading up the hill along Columbia, you're coming into the Hill. Soon you pass a huge old city public school, travelling along a narrow section of Columbia on the north side of US Bank, and then the theater-turned private residence where Columbia merges back with Southwest. Drive about a block on Southwest, then merge at a narrow angle back onto Columbia toward Kingshighway.

At Kingshighway, turn right heading south on Kingshighway toward Tower Grove Park. Pass the Royalw with its new "crown" headed marquis out in front. Now you're entering the heart of south city, with Courtesy Diner, Uncle Bills, G and W Sausage, auto row, and the neighborhoods of South City all nearby.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Donut Diversions

There's a little place I visit maybe once a week for an early morning guilty pleasure. It's a tiny, family run donut shop that makes what I think are the best donuts in town.

This week I stopped in and a lady in front of me was ordering 9 or 10 dozen donuts. It was the biggest order I've ever seen taken out of the place. I held the door for her as she made her way out, and had to find out where all those donuts were headed.

She said she works for a well known bakery on the Hill. She takes the donuts there, and then they fill them with more goodies (fruit, creams, etc), and then put them up in the bakery case to sell with their famous baked goods. An Italian stuffed donut. Gotta say I've never heard of that, but will have to investigate!

STL Rising honors chef's secret recipes, so we're not mentioning any names.

St. Lou ^ is

New CVC website gives voice to hometown pride.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Halloween Reports

Best little sister slam of her big brother:

We have our dog with us greeting the trick or treaters on the porch. Halloween is one of her favorite days. She loves people, and the younger the better, so she loves trick or treaters.

A brother and a sister come up the walk to trick or treat. The brother is wearing one of those highly realistic wolf masks, the kind with lots of fur, a long snout, and lots of teeth. He's ready to tell his joke for some candy. The sister, on the other hand, isn't much interested in candy; she wants to pet the dog and give her hugs. But the dog is mostly interested in the strange looking boy with the dog face. The little girl looks up and says to her brother, "She's only looking at you 'cause you're another dog!"

Best Halloween joke:

Q: Where's the best place to be during a tornado?
A: Inside the Edward Jones Dome because there are no touchdowns!