Friday, October 23, 2009

St Louis downtownBack in my younger days, I was an avid hiker. Hiking the Grand Canyon was the coolest thing for me, but one of the focal points was being able to dine at Phantom Ranch at the bottom.

Interestingly, most of the time, I didn't do it. Out of 4 hikes, I usually didn't have the time or money. One time it was in my plans, but I would have had to wait an hour for lunch, and I had another leg of hiking to do before nightfall. There just was a mystique about having a restaurant that was entirely supported by mule trains.

There have been talks about getting local controlSt Louis Arch Grounds of the archgrounds so that we can make more of the space. On one visit with my (at the time) two boys, I saw crumbling improvements and a space that didn't seem to favor the current National Park Service management of the place.

Today, the Post Dispatch reported that there may be some changes on the horizon. The local control idea was dropped in favor of beaurocracy of the NPS. Sounds good. I think of the initial Arch Grounds being cleared in the 30's, the competition for the design in '47 and the arch completion in '66. A real plug for beaurocracy, huh?

The good news is that they are open to making the changes and taking a national landmark and really making it an experience.

As a child, we took field trips to places like the Arch, the Zoo, etc. I remember as a child thinking that the Arch and its associated museum were sort of lame. Some would argue that speaks more to my sense of entitlement than to the Arch. I wouldn't argue, but watching the downtown renaissance unfold over the past decade, I'm more inclined to think that we can do better with the Arch Grounds too.

My thought from here is to shout out to the public to PARTICIPATE!! Especially the creative types: architects, artists, visionaries, entrepeneurs. It seems that society often relies on the decisions of the "ruling class". One perk of the NPS is that they level the playing field and truly look for the best plans. That doesn't mean that St Louisan's should sit back and play the waiting game. Check for the news release once it's posted on the National Park Service news site and give some input. The community will benefit more from participation now rather than sitting back and criticizing later.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Where's Tonto?

Tonto moves to Downtown St Louis The 2009 Downtown St Louis Residential Survey is out!

More amazing that there are no Native Americans surveyed as living downtown is that there are actually 5 people that think downtown has taken a step back. Ok?!? The only way I can concieve of that answer is if someone really relies on Highway 64/40 to get to work. Westward travel has taken a step back, and particularly in the last year. Thankfully we're rounding the stretch there.

Downtown residents are still fascinated by Reverend Rice, check.

Downtown residents would like some large scale retail, check.

Overall, downtown residents are happy about living downtown, check.

As a rule, the results of this survey still seem one dimensional to me. I'm curious if any homeless people were given this survey, or residents residing in affordable housing...

Its still a good survey, and hopefully its use will continue to build upon the growth of businesses seeking a downtown location.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Another Anouncement about St. Louis Center

As far as I'm concerned, Downtown St. Louis doesn't need St. Louis Center.

There was a day when an anouncement regarding a major development downtown would generate a buzz downtown and people would be talking. Now, either anouncements have become white noise, or we just don't care. There have been so many big plans unveiled, so many ribbon cuttings, and so many projects that have given us what we want in regards to an urban environment.

Indeed, based upon combined effects, this bit of news about the former St. Louis Center site sort of rubbed me the wrong way. The good news though, is that this is not really an anouncement or a ribbon cutting or even about tax credits. This is about money (approximately 17% of the total costs) which has been the sticking point on
all projects lately.

The Business Journal had its post on the matter as well. Both describe the opposition to the plan being mainly initiated by bribes from the building prospectively vacated by the moving law firm.

Of particular interest is how would the former St. Louis Center be re-developed. Prior plans called for condos and retail. It seems that both retail and condos would not be as easily financed and developed as they were in the past. The location would be phenomenal though and having residences spread further into downtown would add a nice element to the area.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Time to Get Out this Weekend!

Juggling fun opportunities in St. LouisThis weekend is an awesome weekend to be in St. Louis! There are some great things to do and not enough time to do everything :( (unless you're the Funky Butt Brass Band)

My first pick is Taste of St. Louis downtown. It started today and runs through Sunday. Beyond the typical Foodie event, there's tons of Art and Music too. On my trips downtown I 've been watching them get ready for this for nearly a week now. I'll be disappointed if I can't make it over on Sunday!!

I'm mostly excited about another event, partially because its new and partly because its practically in my back yard. The Morganford Music & Street Festival is only one day, Saturday. On a side note, its exciting because I remember when this section of Morganford consisted of mostly board up run down ugly buildings with a 7-11 and a ratty car wash. Now the ratty car wash and 7-11 are surrounded by an up and coming walkable community. Grocer, cafe's, barbers, some great restaurants & bars and ending with the beautiful Marti's Garden ( a memorial garden for St. Louis activist and St. Louis City Realtor Marti Frumhoff).

I noticed that the Funky Butt Brass Band (a very cool local act) will be on Morganford in the Afternoon and then Downtown at 7:30pm. What a day! Since I'll be out of the area for the morning and most of the afternoon, I won't be able to make it until Javier Mendoza goes on at 7. Since they don't have a website, the fun is located at Juniata and Morganford in the Tower Grove South Neighborhood from 12pm to 9pm.

Lastly, the Historic Shaw Art Fair is not just another Art Fair. Growing up in the suburbs, I would attend art fairs on some vacant school parking lot and didn't get too excited. Going to the Historic Shaw Art Fair is nothing like that! Set in the street of Flora Place surrounded by gorgeous historic mansions, great entertainment and plenty of great HOMEGROWN ART, Its an event I attend annually. When the real estate market picks up, I look forward to an art buying spree there. Maybe next year :) This year I'll just have fun with my kids and start to scope out possibilities.