Friday, September 30, 2005

From Curtis Mayfield to Jeff Beck

Last nite we watched the PBS special on the 60s. The program included footage of the funeral train carrying the casket of Bobby Kennedy. Americans lined the track across the country to pay their respects. The sound track playing during the sad procession was of Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions performing "People Get Ready".

Until last nite, I never knew there was an earlier rendition of the song. I had always associated it with a duet performed by Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart. Stewart is not one of my favorites, but on this recording his voice sails and blends perfectly with the guitar playing of Beck. The song is recorded on Jeff Beck's "Flash" album.

The 60s special continued, giving covereage of Woodstock and the ill-fated Rolling Stones concert at Altamont. The Altamont concert was billed to be a West Coast version of Woodstock, but it turned out tragically. Originally, the concert was planned to take place in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, but promoters could not get permission from city officials to hold the concert. The next place they tried was Sears Point Raceway, near the border of Marin and Sonoma counties, but once again they were turned away.

Concert promoters were running out of options and time, and so, with the assistance of the famed San Francisco trial attorney, Melvin Belli, a last minute deal was worked out to hold the concert at the Altamont Speedway in the Livermore hills, situated about thirty miles east of San Francisco.

I was a fifth grader at the time, and our home had a view of the Altamont Pass. I wasn't old enough to be aware of the historic events that were taking place across the valley from where we lived. The Rolling Stones, Santana, the Jefferson Airplane, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were all on the Altamont bill.

Today, Altamont is mostly known for the windfarm that has sprouted up there over the past 20 years. It's a barren stretch of hills at the far eastern edge of the Bay Area, separating the Bay Area from California's Central Valley.

Nothing marks the location of the infamous events that happened there in 1969. Instead, the area is the morning and afternoon passage for tens of thousands of bleary-eyed commuters making the grueling 2-3 hour drive from their semi-affordable homes in places like Tracy and Stockton to jobs in the South Bay Area and Silicon Valley. Hey, but like they say, "the weather's good!"

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The ScholarShop

An excellent St. Louis resale concept store, the "ScholarShop", operates two locations in our area, one in Clayton and the other in Webster Groves. Proceeds from the stores fund scholarships and low interest loans to fund secondary education for income-eligible, St. Louis area students.

Over the past few years, our household has saved thousands of dollars off the cost of buying retail on everything from professional to casual clothing and accessories. Next time you're clothes shopping, this local gem deserves a look.

Historic Districts and Then Some

St. Louis is a city rich with history. The city proper was generally completely built out by 1950, making most of it eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. One of the best places to read about the city's many landmarks and historic districts can be found at the website for the City's Cultural Resources office.

However, even though most of the city qualifies for historic district status, the majority of it is not listed on the National Register. Why not? There are a number of reasons. First, it requires a proactive effort to list buildings or districts on the National Register. Second, it costs money. And third, it requires community support.

Some neighborhoods oppose historic district status because they are concerned about adding red tape and increasing rehab costs necessary to comply with historic district standards. This issue can be mitigated depending on how you establish your historic district as either a "local" or "national" historic district.

Usually, since historic district status offers significant financial resources that encourage historic rehab, historic district nominations are carried out as part of a neighborhood revitalization strategy. However, some neighborhoods actually oppose historic district status out of a concern that being listed on the National Register will restrict the use of their property or limit their rehab alternatives. This is not the case.

The only time federal or state rehabilitation codes are enforced within a National Register Historic District is if you plan to use state or federal historic rehabilitation tax credits, or federal funds in your project. If your construction activities are privately financed, say like building a new garage or installing new windows, there are no historic design standards. This is different in the case of "local historic districts", such as Lafayette Square and Soulard, where local historic codes do govern the design specifications of rehabilitation and new construction.

So the question is, if you lived in a city neighborhood that was not listed on the National Register, say in a place like St. Louis Hills or the O'Fallon neighborhoods, would you support having your neighborhood listed on the National Register?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Stagger Lee Shot Billy

The famous blues song, "Stagger Lee", has roots dating back to 1890s St. Louis. Legend has it that there was a fight over a fancy hat in a saloon in the "Deep Morgan" section of the old city, leading to a shooting by a carriage driver named "Stack Lee". "Stack Lee" evolved into "Stagger Lee", and from St. Louis the story travelled southward down the Mississippi River toward New Orleans, where it was passed along from generation to generation through an oral history traditon. The legend continued to grow until it became the basis of the famous song.

A recent book, entitled Stagolee Shot Billy, traces the story from many different perspectives, all starting with the same episode in a St. Louis bar. A novel written by the Harlem Renaissance writer Arna Bontemps entitled God Sends Sunday also devotes part of its story to Stack Lee.

As noted below, some historians claim that the original brick row house located across Tucker from the Post Dispatch (the same building recently planned to house the horses for downtown's mounted police patrol), is the home (and former brothel) of the same Stagger Lee.

From the website:

Tourists note

911 N. 12th Street, which was "Stag" Lee Sheldon's house, is still standing, although it was recently boarded up and for sale; it's the only house remaining on the block (directly across from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch building). About 15 years ago, an alderman named Bruce Sommer ran a restaurant there called the Sommer House -- with live music, including old-time performers Cousin Curtis & the Cash Rebates, and blues singer Tom Hall. Tom wasn't aware that he was singing in Stagger Lee's old house.

(Click here for the lyrics to Stagger Lee.)

(Click here for more of the history behind the song, including a story about how the popular rhythm and blues number did not go over well with Dick Clark, the icon of the 50's hit music television program, American Bandstand.)

(Click here for a detailed essay on the legend of Stack O. [Stagger] Lee)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

St. Louis: Halloween Headquarters

Fall is one of the best times of the year in St. Louis, and Halloween is one of our most celebrated holidays.

The St. Louis area is known as one of the most haunted regions in the country. Some of our most famous haunted places are across the river in Alton, Illinois.

Also, this is the time of year when haunted houses open up to scare fright fans of all ages. So, if you're looking for a "spooktacular" good time, be sure to check out some of the many St. Louis haunts from now til the first part of November...

Monday, September 26, 2005

St. Louis Planning and Development Maps

For those wanting to learn more about St. Louis, studying maps is a good place to start. The East-West Gateway Coordinating Council has lots of maps accessible at their website, all updated since 2004 or 2005.

There you will find a wide variety of St. Louis maps, ranging from maps about population density to maps of our many historic sites.

Development activity can be tracked to information found on maps. Consider the ubiquitous QuikTrip Corporation. Ever wonder why QuikTrip is so interested in building in the City of St. Louis? Just take one look at our population density.

Many locations where QuikTrip operates are low density, suburban areas. By comparison, the City of St. Louis offers three to four times the population density of its suburban neighbors. More people equal more potential customers. Many studies have shown that there is greater purchasing power per square mile in the City of St. Louis than in many of its surrounding suburbs.

To see the full list of maps available online, visit the East-West Gateway map page.

Cool Places Around St. Louis

As we enter fall color season, this is a good time to think about some of the beautiful places we have here around St. Louis. One of the best is the picturesque campus of Principia College, above Elsah, Illinois, just north of Alton.

Here's a link to a virtual tour of Principia's Elsah campus. If you've never visited this place, you should check it out sometime. It's one of the best kept secrets in the St. Louis area. The views of the Mississippi River from the high bluff location of the Principia campus are awesome.

And if you plan to check out Principia College, then you should try to add a little time to also visit the delightful village of Elsah. It's one of the prettiest, historic small towns anywhere in the Midwest.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

"Forest Park South"

Following the example of the "Garden District", another coalition of city neighborhoods has pulled together to work to improve their combined area.

The area, roughly bounded by: Vandeventer at 40, southwest along Vandeventer to the RR right-of-way, then west along the RR right-of-way over to Manchester and Macklind, west on Manchester to Hampton, north on Hampton to 40, and then east on 40 back to Vandeventer has been dubbed "Forest Park South" and includes all of the Forest Park Southeast, Kings Oak, and Cheltenham neighborhoods.

One of the area's first goals is to work for the improvement of the corridors along Manchester, Chouteau, and Oakland Avenues. From a marketing perspective, Forest Park South is the host of this year's area house tour, featuring properties in Forest Park Southeast, the Garden District, and the Lofts at the Highlands. The house tour will take place September 24th from 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM. Registration is $5. The tour will feature a Resource Fair, Art Vendors, and a "Taste of Forest Park Southeast".

The idea of neighborhoods working together to foster community improvement, while still preserving individual neighborhood identity, is a good one with lots of potential in city neighhborhoods.

DT-Running Out of Buildings to Rehab?

Last nite we rode from the 2700 block of Locust to the corner of St. Charles and 15th. This area used to feel like some distant future phase of downtown's loft renaissance.

Not any more. It is starting to appear that nearly every vacant warehouse building in downtown has some sort of active loft project either "coming soon" or under construction.

Any predicitions on when DT might start to see some new construction loft projects?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

From 2000-2004, St. Louis' Economy Outperformed Many Big Cities

Employment change in St. Louis from 2000-2004 saw a 1.2% decline.

Compare that to a 4.8% drop in Chicago, a 4.9% drop in New York City, a 7.1% drop in Boston, and a 13.6% drop in San Francisco.

More information can be found in this article from the latest issue of St. Louis Commerce Magazine.

Downtown's Homeless Residents

Having both lived in and visited San Francisco over many years, I've witnessed firsthand what a major homeless problem is. There are literally thousands of people camped out on the streets of San Francisco.

Office workers chatting on cel phones, stepping over sleeping (or dead?) homeless people laying on the sidewalk, lean-tos holding all the worldly possesions of a homeless person are seen set up along the side walls of fancy restaurants; hundreds and sometimes thousands of people sleep outdoors in the city's parks. At one time, the park in front of San Francisco's glorious City Hall looked like a tent city.

Never in St. Louis would you see this sort of situation. There has been some documentation recently about Lucas Park being a homeless encampment. And there's a controversy surrounding the possibility of developing a dog park at the same location, dislocating the homeless. However, yesterday and today, I had my first San Francisco homeless deja vue experience right here in downtown St. Louis.

For the past couple of days, I've had to be at work downtown about an hour earlier than usual, and then leave the office for meetings that were starting around 7:30 am. Each day, I travelled Pine out of downtown, past the Soldier's Memorial.

Across from the Soldier's Memorial is a small park. It sits between Pine, Olive, 13th and 14th. The park has turned into a homeless encampment. As I drove by I could see fifteen to twenty groups of people, some sleeping, some just waking up, in the park. Some had blankets spread out on the ground, others were sleeping on benches. Maybe there's a sense of security for homeless people to gather together overnight.

Just a few years ago, there were very few visible signs of homeless people on the streets of downtown. There were stories about some longtime downtown homeless that slept in the bushes next to the stairs of the Civil Courts building. But they weren't taking over city parks.

I'm curious to hear what others' think we as a community should be doing for the homeless people living in St. Louis.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Blackened Salmon

Last nite, in the middle of an especially busy Saturday, I covered a filet of Atlantic Salmon with Old Bay and put it out on the grill to cook on medium heat. Knowing we had a trip after dinner planned to Trader Joe's, I decided to make the short drive to the Southtown PetSmart for some dog food, cat litter, and other supplies to save some time while the salmon was baking.

Inside PetSmart was a row of adoptable dogs in metal cages, reminding me of the time five years ago when we adopted Hollie, the "VooDoo Priestess" from the Sunset Hills PetSmart.

After about twenty or so minutes, I made it back home. As soon as I stepped out the car, I noticed the acrid smell of burning olive oil, salmon skin, and Old Bay. Looking up the gangway, I saw a column of gray smoke rising into the trees. $#*!, I thought, the dinner is toast, and hurried into the house. The Weber was spewing flames from underneath, so I figured the interior was like a blast furnace. I carefully opened the lid with the handle of the grill brush with one hand, armed with a container of water in the other.

Inside, the salmon was in tact, not on fire, but very black around the edges. Maybe salvagable. We brought it in, scraped away the burned off parts, and then gave it try. Not bad. Pretty good actually. Dinner saved.

After dinner, we headed for the Richmond Heights Trader Joe's. Good as always. Some great finds on wine. MacMurray label (as in Fred MacMurray, the actor). Murphy Goode. Some good stuff. For less than $6 they even have a frozen shellfish medley with a lobster tail, stone crab claws, scallops and shrimp. Maybe next time.

Lamenting the lack of Trader Joe's in the City, one of the staff members(a city resident), said it would be at least two years before TJ opens a city location. They're looking west first.

On our way home, we were tempted to stop at the Epiphany Parish picnic, but as we drove by, we figured, better to check on the goings on at a birthday party Matt was attending. So we did. He's at the age where the hormones are raging. When we arrived, the kids were all downstairs, doing there own thing, doors closed.

Not comfortable with that situation, we decided to do some friendly parental checking in. Things seemed pretty innocent, mostly conversations about who likes who and such, but still, we decided, we'd call it a night and take the Mattman home.

Earlier that day, after watching Matt and his 7th grade teammates defeat the St. Margaret's of Scotland soccer team 2-0 (that's a first, Kafani Mar'Na not on the field for St. Margaret's) I had spent about six hours at work gearing up for a presentation involving possible redevelopment in one of the most economically depressed communities along the east side riverfront.

Today, after another half day at work, (yeah, it's Sunday, and I'm going to work instead of attending mass), it'll be watching the kid play volleyball and then hockey practice.

Then tonite, maybe we'll try blackening a hunk of beef to go with that bottle of Murphy Goode. But this time there won't be any side trip to Southtown Centre in the middle of the barebequeing...

Friday, September 16, 2005

St. Louis High School Rituals

One of the more useless traditions of St. Louis is the age-old question, "where did you go to High School?". Dropping the pretense, it's code for determining your family's wealth. And it's also symptomatic of our highly parochial nature and private school tradition. Anyhow...with a child beginning 7th grade, we're in the middle of the whole "pre" high school, high school experience. Actually, it starts in the 6th grade...

Last nite, Bishop DuBourg High School held one of its "high school night" open houses. At these events, representatives from the area's many private Catholic High Schools send representatives to sell 6th, 7th, and 8th graders on their schools.

We attended three sessions: SLUH, Vianney, and DuBourg.

Lots of the SLUH kids are on a family track to attend SLUH. Their dad did, and his dad did, so it's expected junior will too. I've seen one kid turn physically ill dealing the pressure to make it into SLUH. Now I understand why. In addition to being the model child in terms of your overall "well-roundedness" and good grades, you have got to have really good grades to make it in. Get more than two final course grades of 84% or less on your report card throughout all of 6th, 7th, and 8th grades, and your application goes into the second review stack. More than three and you're in real tough shape.

Basically, unless he pulls nearly straight A's for all of 7th and 8th grade, our son, Matt is pretty much already ruled out from considering SLU High. And he's a good kid: excellent scores on the "Iowa" standardized tests, multi-sport athlete, musician, with lots of community service.

Vianney's message was pretty clear: we're a good school, and we're real good at SPORTS!

And DuBourg's message was similar: we're a good school, and we're CO-ED!

Where I grew up, we didn't face these sorts of decisions. Everyone went to the same public school. Given the poker game environment of choosing a private high school in St. Louis (things like "if you don't list us as your first choice, we will not grant you admission"), public school is starting to look like a lot better option more and more.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Urban Summit

Some people have been talking about the idea of holding an "urban summit" dedicated to the future of St. Louis. There are lots of possibilities for a project like that.

It's definitely something that would require a long-range effort in order to accomplish any lasting results. I wonder if anyone would be willing to get involved?

Amazing Ice Breaker

This morning, I walked through downtown carrying half a cake enclosed in a pretty, hand-painted crystal cake plate and cover. St. Louis people are known to be friendly, but the reaction this morning was totally unexpected.

A lady on the street offered to open my umbrella for me; single women exiting their cars in the garage were exchanging friendly glances; without exception: one look at the cake and its crystal plate, and there was nothing but friendly smiles all around.

Carrying flowers never had this kind of positive reaction. There must be a lesson here...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Neighborhood Destinies

Over at the Arch City Chronicle, there is an interesting discussion taking place about the recent demolition of an old city library, and the possibility of a new Walgreen's being built at the location.

Some historic preservation advocates decry the loss, while other members of the community advocate bringing new shopping to the area.

There are many different opinions on how we should develop our communities. Given the neighborhood focus of St. Louis, well-organized community organizations can have a significant role in determining the direction of neighborhood development decisions.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Lawn Challenge

About two years ago, we moved off of our old tree-less, heavy traffic block onto a much quieter, tree-lined street. The street trees stand 50-70 feet tall and provide wonderful shade. Unfortunately, they make it almost impossible to grow a decent lawn.

Shortly after we moved in, the sewer line along the side of our house collapsed. We hired a contractor to replace the line, but when they were through, they had destroyed the lawn in the gangway between our neighbor's house and ours.

Three tries later, it looks like we've finally gotten the upper hand at reestablishing the side lawn. Now the problem is the main front lawn.

Like on the side, we're now on our third attempt to reestablish the front lawn. We've seeded it once (no luck), and sodded it twice. The last attempt at sodding ended with mixed results. We had to go to three separate nurseries to find enough sod. Not that our yard is very big-it isn't-it was just because the nurseries we're all sold out of their supply of sod.

So, unfortunatley, we wound up with an inconsistent quality of sod. The heartier sod seems to be making it...barely. But the lesser sod is quickly dying out. Our plan now is to overseed the whole thing this fall, and hope to thicken the lawn with new grass. But to date, seeding efforts seem to be futile.

Don't get me wrong...I'd much rather have our canopy of awesome shade trees and struggle to maintain the lawn than have a green lawn and bake in the summer sun. Nonetheless, it sure would be great to have a beautiful green lawn in our front yard. Given that a lot of the neighbors are able to grow a decent lawn, maybe there's hope yet.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Jr. Blues Begin Quest for Third Straight National Title

While the NHL Blues are still awaiting their first national championship, the St. Louis Junior Blues, playing out of Affton, have their sights set on bringing home a third consecutive National B Championship to St. Louis.

A visit to the Affton rink will give you a close-up look at one of hockey's top trophies. The National B Championship trophy stands about three feet tall, and lists the names of National B champions for the past twenty or so years. Like the Stanley Cup, the National B Champtionship trophy stays in the home arena of the championship team. The National B trophy is now beginning its third year being housed at the Affton Arena.

The Junior Blues are a powerhouse in amatuer hockey. In St. Louis, amateur hockey continues to grow in popularity, with Affton home to some of the area's best teams.

St. Louis is blest with an abundance of ice rinks. It's hard to drive more than 15 minutes without coming to another ice skating facility somewhere around the St. Louis area.

If you enjoy watching ice hockey, and don't want to pay the high price of an NHL game, check out one of our many high school or other amateur league games.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Chicago we ain't

This week a couple of us had a meeting in Chicago for one of our projects. I love visiting there and it's been too long since our last trip.

Our meeting this time was right in the heart of downtown, in a high-rise office tower sitting right at the corner of Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River. It took us about 4 hours and 20 minutes to make the drive from St. Louis, leaving us ample time for lunch at the Billy Goat Tavern (Cheezeborger, cheezborger...No pepsi...coke!) Not knowing that the Billy Goat was made famous by SNL, it was pretty cool walking into the place and all of a suddent feeling like we were on the set with John Belushi and Dan Akroyd. The burgers? Not all that great.

Walking around downtown Chicago made me feel good about having such an awesome world class city so close to St. Louis. The architecture is awesome. The place is clean. The lake is beautiful. It's a great place to visit.

Our meeting ended around 3:00 PM. We got right back to the car ($23 parking for 3 hours), and starting heading down Lakeshore Drive toward I-55. We made it onto the highway easy enough, but then once we were headed southbound on I-55, it felt like we were driving through LA. We'd hit long stretches of stop and go traffic, slowed by highway congestion. Visually, the southern suburbs of Chicago are nothing special.

When we finally got through all the congestion, we were making good time travelling south across Illinois. Someday, I want to check out more of these small cities that dot the Illinois landscape. Illinois is a cool state. And the farmland is beautiful.

Passing the time in conversation with my driving companion, we were making rapid progress to St. Louis. The green fields and forested areas of our region become very noticeable. There's a rawer feel to the landscape in southern Illinois. It's especially noticeable in some of the swampier areas. And, there's nowhere near the sprawl feel approaching St. Louis on the Illinois side than you get on the outskirts of Chicago.

Then we were right across the river from downtown, with the city skyline spread out in front of us. Thinking of the massive downtown of Chicago we had just left compared to our much smaller downtown, I had a renewed sense of appreciation for St. Louis. Chicago's downtown sits on the shores of a beautiful lake, with sailboat filled marinas, and parks and museums on the city's front door.

St. Louis sits on the bank of a working industrial river. It's darker, and quieter. The Arch, the Eads Bridge, and Busch Stadium are the most recognizable features of our downtown. The Arch is our symbol to the rest of the world. It's an awesome public project. The Eads Bridge is emblematic of our rich history. And Busch Stadium says to everyone who arrives here that they have entered baseball heaven.

Now it was about 7:30 pm, and we were quickly passing through Lafayette Square, S. Grand, Shaw. We exited at Kingshighway and headed for home. Knowing that there were historic neighborhoods all around us made me appreciate how truly quaint a place St. Louis is. We're older and way more subtle than Chicago.

We'll never be a Chicago. Comparisons are pointless. We have Chicago as a weekend getaway. But we should never try to be like Chicago. Our goal should be to make St. Louis the nicest mid-sized city in the country. Over at the Commonspace, Amanda Doyle nails it when she writes in the latest edition of their online magazine.

St. Louis is someplace special, and it's a place where there's room for everyone to be part of making it even better.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Focus on Alleys

One of the best amenities of living in the City of St. Louis is the layout of our built environment, including having alleys running down the center of almost every city block.

Alleys are a second, semi-hidden world; a more private, intimate neighborhood space.

Over on the mayor's website, there's a feature about alleys, and a survey and discussion about some creative ways of building attractive, affordable, new urban-scale alley housing in the city.

Definitely something to consider when it comes time to replace our current teeny tiny garage....

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

St. Louis Community Service Network

Well, maybe that's not such a good name. We're open for suggestions. Whatever you want to call's started...

For some time now, I've been giving guitar lessons. It's great helping willing students learn to play. Seeing their improvement is reward enough. So I don't charge for lessons. However, we've come up with a new wrinkle on how to channel the resource.

Rather than having students pay me for lessons, I ask that they make a financial contribution to the school band program of their choice. We set up an acknowledgement form that is submitted to the band program along with the contribution and a description of the donated service, in this case: music lessons.

The vision is that the network of volunteer service providers expands, and that worthwhile community resources benefit, whether school band programs, neighborhood improvement efforts, or other worthwhile community-based organizations, projects or programs.

Presently, we have 6 students taking guitar lessons through the program. With the average cost of private music lessons running around $20 for 1/2 hour, the potential contributions to area music programs is substantial.

If you're interested in learning more about this project, we'd like to hear from you. Long term, our goal is to expand the program through increasing the exchange of services and donations.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

TIF Scramble

One of the sore spots around St. Louis has been the competition among municipalities for local tax revenues. This situation has resulted in a number of controversial TIF funded shopping center projects. The latest in this string of development controversies is taking place in Sunset Hills at the SE quadrant of I-44 and Lindbergh.

The site is strategically enough located, however, it's current use is a middle class residential neighborhood. So, a number of years ago, the City of Sunset Hills and commercial real estate interests started working on a redevelopment plan involving TIF to buyout the residents and redevelop the neighborhood.

The project has had a long history of problems, the latest of which are highlighted in the current edition of the St. Louis Business Journal. We are friends with one family living in the buyout area. Their story is particularly troubling.

They have been cooperating with buyout efforts for a number of years. Now, with the latest round of project delays, they are starting to pay a heavy personal cost.

They were supposed to close on the sale of their home with Novus, the project developer, this past month. That didn't happen. However, their sales contract gave them salvage rights on the house, so they have gutted the home of its major systems, all the way down to the aluminum gutters. Since the sale didn't close, they're now living in a substandard home, devoid of modern systems such as hot water and a furnace.

While they were in the process of salvaging parts of their old home, they were looking forward to the purchase of their dream home in a very nice location near Grant's Farm. However, since they were unable to close on the sale of their old home, they could not close on the purchase of their new home, and have lost their earnest money deposit to the seller. That took almost all of their available cash.

And now, word is that Westfield Shopping Centers, owners of the nearby Crestwood Plaza, have purchased some homes in the targeted Sunset Hills redevelopment area, further complicating matters for Novus, and the City of Sunset Hills.