Monday, November 30, 2009

NPS clears way for 2010 Arch design competition

NPS Press Release regarding selection of Preferred Alternative - Program Expansion for JNEM General Management Plan (click to read the document):

In this article in the Post Dispatch last Friday, NPS official Frank Mares describes the timeline for the design competition.

One of the questions to be decided is the scope of the design competition. What should the boundary of the competition area be?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Meet the author: Nini Harris at Urban Eats

Nini Harris, author of the new book Historic Photos of the Gateway Arch, will give a presentation and sign books at the popular south side gathering spot Urban Eats.

Details below:

Who & What: Local author NiNi Harris to sign copies of her new book Historic Photos of the Gateway Arch

Where: Urban Eats Café, 3301 Meramec, St. Louis, MO 63118; (314) 558-7580

Join interested and interesting folks in Downtown Dutchtown

• 6 PM -Arrive and Imbibe! Our Happy Hour Menu pricing for food and drinks is 4-7 PM- It’s an unparalleled incentive to come early for a nosh and a nip.

• 7-8 PM – Book Readings & Signings on our cozy stage

Why: Well–Read Wednesdays …the second Wednesday night of each month, beginning December 9, 2009. Listening, sharing and conversation with local authors, or authors who have written about local subject matter, in an intimate, casual setting, with breaks for refreshing your food and bev.

When: 7:00-8:00 PM; December 9, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Holiday Special

Downtown Macy's is offering a holiday parking special. Park in their adjacent garage for $1 if you spend $25 in Macy's. Shop downtown. Prices are good! Park downtown. Parking is cheap!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Solving that vacant building problem

There's a saying in some old neighborhoods "a vacant building never hurt anyone, it's the occupied ones that you have to watch out for!" It's true that a building can't do much by itself. Unfortunately, vacant buildings do cause problems, and the longer they remain vacant, the more expensive it is to save them. So what can neighbors do to help get vacant buildings back on line?

Vacant buildings come in lots of shapes and sizes. For years, downtown St. Louis had scores of (mostly) empty, 19th century warehouses. With passage of the state historic tax credit, most of these buildings are seeing new life as office buildings, market rate and affordable housing developments, restaurants, and retail shops.

Some newer neighborhoods are seeing a wave of vacant buildings as a result of the foreclosure crisis hitting the country. In some places, as a result of softening prices, foreclosures breed more foreclosures. A correction is underway in the residential real estate market with the air coming out of the mid-2000's housing bubble.

Some neighborhoods have a specific vacant building they are concerned about. The Avalon Theater on South Kingshighway is an example. Carter Carburetor on North Grand is another. Around town there are others. Years of vacancy and neglect may lead to the ultimate loss of the Avalon to the wrecking ball. Carter Carburetor appears to be a solid building, but's it's still a high cost, environmentally challenging redevelopment situation.

And what can neighbors do to try to bring about the reutilization of these properties? If you're concerned about vacant buildings in your neighborhood, what are some of the things you see happening, and what are some of the things your neighborhood is doing?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

You gotta be there

After regular business hours, there's a worker with a high pressure spray gun washing down the sidewalks around Met Square.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Draw your own conclusions...

Hawaii, Seattle, and San Francisco are last in tipping percentages in restaurants

St. Louis is tied for first.

Frozen pee

The massive influx of residents in downtown has brought with it something else: a lot of pets. Every day, around 7 am in the morning and shortly after 5 pm, there are lots of dog walkers. And those dogs leave their mark.

This morning, there was a fresh wash of dog pee on one of the stone planters in front of the Old Post Office. I feel for the dogs, they gotta go when they gotta go. Unfortunately for them, lots of downtown is solid concrete or asphalt.

As more people walk their dogs downtown (which is a very GOOD thing), pet waste will become a bigger nuisance. In winter, it will be a different challenge. The issue is a concern for pets, their owners, workers and visitors alike.

Has anyone heard what the plan is, if any, to keep the sidewalks and greenspaces of downtown clear of pet waste? A sign of a healthy downtown is a daily routine of cleaning/washing down sidewalks. Maybe St. Louis is close to reaching the critical mass of needing such a program? That'd be a good thing.

History repeating itself - 133 years later

Today voters in St. Louis County will decide whether St. Louis City goes smoke free. Thinking about the situation, I've been trying to think of any possible scenario where the tables would be reversed? When would St. Louis City voters decide the fate of an issue in St. Louis County? I can't think of any. Can you?

I believe the only time this has happened, around here at least, was way back in 1876, when the voters of St. Louis City decided to permanently separate themselves from St. Louis County creating the so-called "Great Divorce". However, even then, voters in St. Louis County had a say on the issue. It just didn't make any difference. They were so heavily outnumbered, their votes didn't matter.

Indeed, St. Louis County, if memory serves, voted against the Great Divorce. It was the vote in St. Louis City that made it happen. And so today, something similar might happen again. Whether or not St. Louis City voters favor a smoking ban, St. Louis County voters will decide the issue.