Thursday, May 07, 2009

New cases in urbanity

Even in this slow economy, development projects are still happening in the urban core of St. Louis City. I saw three under construction just yesterday.

The first one was the new shopping center being built across the street from the City Hospital condo development. Foundations are being framed, a sign with a rendering of the total project is erected, and the project has financing.

The second was at North Florissant and Cass. It's a nearly completed multi-tenant neighborhood shopping center serving the near northside. Guessing, it looks to be about a 30,000-40,000 square feet.

The third was the new CVS pharmacy going in at Gravois and Germania. The store is replacing an abandoned Amoco/car wash. It appears that it will also take down four houses, relocate utilties, and involve an alley vacation.

I titled this post, "New cases in urbanity" because all three of these projects involve building on previously developed city locations. They are all urban core developments, neighborhood serving, being carried out by private developers in established neighborhoods. They are getting it done!

Kudos to the investors, neighborhoods, and all involved for bringing these projects online!


Matt Fernandez said...

I resent your use of urbanity. These retail locations are not urban. Georgian Square isn't really a shopping center anymore. It's just a Walgreens, with something possibly to come in the future. Although I will saa the design sounds OK. Crown Mart Plaza at Cass and 13th is incredibly disappointing because that take sup a prime chuck of land across from the Mullanphy Emigrant Home and dedicates it to auto oriented strip mall commerce. It is the antithesis of urbanity. Not nearly as exciting as you make it sound, though it will provide some new shopping opportunities for the near northside. The CVS will be auto-oriented as well, but does clean up some blight and a brownfield.

Rick Bonasch said...

One basic definition of "urban" is that it is "of or living in a city or town". All three of these projects fit that definition.

Taking the definition further, to describe design, pedestrian scale, diversity, and many other modifiers can lead in many directions.

Matt, I appreciate your response. I posted this thread intentionally to raise some of the issues in your reply.

The CVS is being developed on the site of a formerly blighted brownfield. Very urban. The former Amoco has been closed for over five years.

The Cass and 13th center is being built at the site of another long underutilized site. If memory serves, there was a vacant historic building on the site which was demolished to create the vacant lot. Now the site is being returned to productive use. How many years had the site been unproductive?

And the Georgian Square site is very urban, sandwiched between a variety of uses, including interstate on and off ramps. It has been a difficult project to get off the ground, and now it is happening. That site was vacant for over twenty years.

Here's a question, is there an intersection between the ideas of practicality, pragamatism, and urbanity? Or must everything conform to a certain urban design model?

In the case of the three projects in this discussion, the market and the economy have produced the results we see today. These are all new retail developments representing millions of dollars of new investment in the city.

They create jobs and tax revenues for city residents.

These are all urban necessities