Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this time?

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Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this time?

Unread postby jcity » Wed Jun 23, 2010 10:53 pm

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1985/12/23/66811/index.htm From Ecoabscence [url]http://ecoabsence.blogspot.com/2010/05/at-about-505-p.html/url]

This is slightly depressing, but I think all of the residential units downtown will make a huge difference this time. A return to urban living and the sprawl into Illinois will ultimately help downtown. I feel like this previous generation of leaders cared more about the city and downtown than todays leaders. This is a fascinating article for anyone interested about the history and future of this city/downtown.


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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby Alex Ihnen » Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:01 pm

^ A good reminder that what we have today isn't guaranteed tomorrow. A vibrant downtown 20 years from now relies as much or more on what we're doing then than what we're doing now.
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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby bonwich » Thu Jun 24, 2010 9:51 am

But wait! Nothing that happened back then mattered. Everything is so much different now. There's a whole new generation that does things completely differently... 8)

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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby Alex Ihnen » Thu Jun 24, 2010 9:52 am

bonwich wrote:But wait! Nothing that happened back then mattered. Everything is so much different now. There's a whole new generation that does things completely differently... 8)


Who said that?
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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby soulardx » Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:06 am

Hmmmm, who was the always-cynical Bonwich of 1980s St. Louis?


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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby debaliviere » Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:10 am

At St. Louis Centre, the Baltimore architectural firm of RTKL Associates has created an eye-popping four-story arcade linking two existing department stores. The designers strove to create an atmosphere that is urban rather than suburban; instead of blank outside walls, the center has lots of windows offering shoppers glimpses of downtown streets.


It would be more accurate to say that it made you want to gouge your eyes out.

Practically the entire western facade was blank walls!
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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby bonwich » Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:31 am

SoulardX wrote:Hmmmm, who was the always-cynical Bonwich of 1980s St. Louis?


Mais non! I was anything but cynical in the 1980s. I figured things were finally changing. I also held that view, to varying degrees, through Technology Gateway, Downtown Now! and St. Louis 2004.

Some elements along the way that injected skepticism/cynicism include the Gateway Mall, the Century Building and Busch III. I'm currently extremely skeptical/cynical about City To River -- not because the City To River folks don't have an outstanding vision and aren't doing a wonderful job, but rather because I still haven't heard of any grown-ups that have signed on as champions. And the clock is ticking extremely quickly.

As for who said thinga are different now, pretty much every time I post a clip from the '80s or '90s, there are several expressions of that opinion.

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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby debaliviere » Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:33 am

bonwich wrote:As for who said thinga are different now, pretty much every time I post a clip from the '80s or '90s, there are several expressions of that opinion.


Judging from a few items mentioned in that article, things are worse. Employment is under 100,000, large law and accounting firms have left, etc.
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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby Alex Ihnen » Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:38 am

bonwich wrote:I still haven't heard of any grown-ups that have signed on as champions.


You'll certainly hear more soon. I'll add that comments such as this are childish and demeaning to the effort underway. I'm sure you'll say it's just an observation, but you know it's a cynical, pessimistic and unproductive comment.
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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby bonwich » Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:51 am

Oh, horsecrap, Alex. I said nothing derogatory about the effort underway. What I did say, and perhaps you could use your supermoderator status to rebut as opposed to calling names, is that there are NO civic leaders yet on board with this plan. (If there are, NAME them and quit this catty "we're going to have an announcement soon" crap.)

Again, THIS DOES NOT DEMEAN THE EFFORT. But answer me this: City To River is clearly a visionary concept. But pragmatically, it's going to take some, if not many, members of local civic "leadership" to make it happen. Why has not a SINGLE Danforth, Fleming, Slay, McCaskill, blah blah blah, had the guts to champion the cause?

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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby Alex Ihnen » Thu Jun 24, 2010 11:18 am

Whatever, keep being pessimistic and negative and we'll keep working.

I will say that if you're still waiting for people such as Danforth, McCaskill, etc. to lead us then you're more stuck in the past than anyone. I haven't seen anyone calling names yet, other than your comment that no "grown ups" have signed up as champions of the effort. Again, I accept and understand your point, but City to River isn't out to impress you. We're working diligently to line up just the type of support you're talking about.
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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby Alex Ihnen » Thu Jun 24, 2010 11:22 am

^^ by the way, don't mock "supermoderater status" - it can be challenging wearing a cape at the office

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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby bonwich » Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:22 pm

If you don't think you'll need to have Claire firmly on board before anything happens, you guys are doomed from the start. (Unless of course you've got Kit in your pockets, which would be a true new-generation miracle.)

I'd also remind you of this thread which started in 2008, or roughly this point in this thread, which was 2008, or even this thread, which goes all the way back to 2007.

So quit lecturing me about being pessimistic (as well as not "working" for something -- you should have a quick chat with Rick about what work I've done). The boulevard idea wasn't exclusively mine, but it's not out of the question that you, Alex, heard it here first.

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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby Alex Ihnen » Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:26 pm

If you don't think you'll need to have Claire firmly on board before anything happens, you guys are doomed from the start.


Maybe the question is how do you get there. Do you get in touch with McCaskill and say, "hey, we have a great idea and we need you on board," or do you build local business and organizational support to demonstrate that the community supports your visions first?

OK - I'll quit the "lecturing". And I sincerely do want to thank you for your work, Joe. I hope that you continue to be a positive part of the process.
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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby quincunx » Thu Jun 24, 2010 3:00 pm

I'm not sure how to react to this article. The more things change the more they stay the same?
To Mayor Schoemehl, improving the public schools is the key to a self- sustaining recovery.

How many times has this been said since 1985? It still takes tax breaks to get a development going or retain a business and the law firms, etc have become very adept at playing munis against each other for goodies.
I appreciate the description of the rehabing of DeB Place since it remains stable today. I hope that's the case for neighborhoods that are one the rise today. I worry we won't get enough people moving into the city to maintain stability in more places.

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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby ttricamo » Thu Jun 24, 2010 3:44 pm

Alex Ihnen wrote:Maybe the question is how do you get there. Do you get in touch with McCaskill and say, "hey, we have a great idea and we need you on board," or do you build local business and organizational support to demonstrate that the community supports your visions first?


Does the community actually support your Vision? I think City to River is a great cause, and one that I firmly support. I do feel as though City to River has done a poor job of addressing the primary concern of many County residents: What the hell happens to the travel time of the people that currently use I-70? Pointedly, If I live in South County and I work in North County, how much longer will it take me to get to work? Attempting to compare the new traffic situation to Kingshighway means nothing for people that don't use Kingshighway, and explaining the traffic situation as "self-healing" is extremely vague.

Alex - I don't mean this as an attack on your cause. I'm merely suggesting that people's perception matters; so address it. By addressing the concerns of their constituents, you may garner the support of a politician here and there.

But I digress.

BONWICH - how would you make City To River work?

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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby ttricamo » Thu Jun 24, 2010 3:58 pm

Extremely Fascinating. This article serves as a major learning lesson.

In terms of approach, does anyone actually see any difference between the attempt at revitalization then and the attempt at revitalization now?

I would say the key elements in the 1985 approach, per this article, are:
Historic Tax Credits
Large Scale Commercial Development
Large Scale Residential Development
Organic Residential Development
Random business people taking "a chance" on St. Louis

Rather frighteningly, I see no difference in the current approach.

How long do we ignore the pink elephants? (Crime, Schools, Infrastructure) Schoemehl mentions schools as long-range goal, and crime has a one-line mention in this article.

The blueprint of what didn't work is there.

Perception is strangling this city.

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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby Alex Ihnen » Thu Jun 24, 2010 4:03 pm

ttricamo wrote:Does the community actually support your Vision? What the hell happens to the travel time of the people that currently use I-70? Pointedly, If I live in South County and I work in North County, how much longer will it take me to get to work?


Well, that's our question too. We're working hard to find out.

Regarding the added time, we are looking at 3-5 minutes. This would be a 1.4-mile boulevard. Currently, we estimate that traffic averages 50-60mph along this stretch of I-70 (it can be much, much slower during rush hour and/or when there's an accident). With a boulevard one might average 15-20mph (though potentially much faster with properly synchronized lights). So let's take 60mph average v. 15mph....

60mph for 1.4 miles = 1min 24sec
15mph for 1.4 miles = 5min 36sec

for a difference of 4min 12sec

That's a very, very conservative measurement. We don't shy away from the fact that those wishing to simply pass through downtown on their way to somewhere else will have a couple minutes added to their travel (though again, this isn't I-70, I-55, I-64 or I-44 traffic to any of these, but only I-55/I-44 traffic wishing to go north/west on I-70). What we do say is if that is the only (or main) negative, that the positives far outweigh that concern.

Additionally, speaking in terms of numbers of people affected, more than 80% of traffic on I-70 downtown was determined to be bound for downtown in the Danforth report of a couple years ago. So, there are some who will be affected, but not many in the bigger picture.
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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby ttricamo » Thu Jun 24, 2010 4:07 pm

Alex Ihnen wrote:
ttricamo wrote:Does the community actually support your Vision? What the hell happens to the travel time of the people that currently use I-70? Pointedly, If I live in South County and I work in North County, how much longer will it take me to get to work?


Well, that's our question too. We're working hard to find out.

Regarding the added time, we are looking at 3-5 minutes. This would be a 1.4-mile boulevard. Currently, we estimate that traffic averages 50-60mph along this stretch of I-70 (it can be much, much slower during rush hour and/or when there's an accident). With a boulevard one might average 15-20mph (though potentially much faster with properly synchronized lights). So let's take 60mph average v. 15mph....

60mph for 1.4 miles = 1min 24sec
15mph for 1.4 miles = 5min 36sec

for a difference of 4min 12sec

That's a very, very conservative measurement. We don't shy away from the fact that those wishing to simply pass through downtown on their way to somewhere else will have a couple minutes added to their travel (though again, this isn't I-70, I-55, I-64 or I-44 traffic to any of these, but only I-55/I-44 traffic wishing to go north/west on I-70). What we do say is if that is the only (or main) negative, that the positives far outweigh that concern.

Additionally, speaking in terms of numbers of people affected, more than 80% of traffic on I-70 downtown was determined to be bound for downtown in the Danforth report of a couple years ago. So, there are some who will be affected, but not many in the bigger picture.


Awesome! Does this include the slowdown and speed up to enter and exit the Boulevard? Also what is the factor applied for rush hour congestion? I would definitely get some pretty charts and graphs for this info. Great stuff!

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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby Alex Ihnen » Thu Jun 24, 2010 4:09 pm

Thanks. Yes...and we're working on it!
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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby the count » Thu Jun 24, 2010 11:24 pm

bonwich wrote:
SoulardX wrote:Hmmmm, who was the always-cynical Bonwich of 1980s St. Louis?


Mais non! I was anything but cynical in the 1980s. I figured things were finally changing. I also held that view, to varying degrees, through Technology Gateway, Downtown Now! and St. Louis 2004.


Mais vous êtes très sceptique aujourd'hui.

bonwich wrote:Oh, horsecrap, Alex.


Merde, Alexandre!

bonwich wrote: I said nothing derogatory about the effort underway. What I did say, and perhaps you could use your supermoderator status to rebut as opposed to calling names, is that there are NO civic leaders yet on board with this plan. (If there are, NAME them and quit this catty "we're going to have an announcement soon" crap.)


Si, vous avez dit cela avec le dedain! (thought I'd throw in some French myself, after Joe's "mais non!")

bonwich wrote:Again, THIS DOES NOT DEMEAN THE EFFORT. But answer me this: City To River is clearly a visionary concept. But pragmatically, it's going to take some, if not many, members of local civic "leadership" to make it happen. Why has not a SINGLE Danforth, Fleming, Slay, McCaskill, blah blah blah, had the guts to champion the cause?


Because politicians/business leaders are mostly interested in causes they deem attainable. I am not saying that City to River's plan is not viable. But if the lid is perceived as a home run it will be a tough sell.
Although I am personally not convinced, I feel Alex and co. are doing a hell of a job.

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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby DaronDierkes » Fri Jun 25, 2010 5:56 am

Mais non! I was anything but cynical in the 1980s. I figured things were finally changing. I also held that view, to varying degrees, through Technology Gateway, Downtown Now! and St. Louis 2004.


Those deserve wiki pages for sure. St. Louis 2004 was a massive disappointment for me personally. Promises were made!

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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby timeforguinness » Fri Jun 25, 2010 8:36 am

Alex Ihnen wrote:
ttricamo wrote:Does the community actually support your Vision? What the hell happens to the travel time of the people that currently use I-70? Pointedly, If I live in South County and I work in North County, how much longer will it take me to get to work?


Well, that's our question too. We're working hard to find out.

Regarding the added time, we are looking at 3-5 minutes. This would be a 1.4-mile boulevard. Currently, we estimate that traffic averages 50-60mph along this stretch of I-70 (it can be much, much slower during rush hour and/or when there's an accident). With a boulevard one might average 15-20mph (though potentially much faster with properly synchronized lights). So let's take 60mph average v. 15mph....

60mph for 1.4 miles = 1min 24sec
15mph for 1.4 miles = 5min 36sec

for a difference of 4min 12sec

That's a very, very conservative measurement. We don't shy away from the fact that those wishing to simply pass through downtown on their way to somewhere else will have a couple minutes added to their travel (though again, this isn't I-70, I-55, I-64 or I-44 traffic to any of these, but only I-55/I-44 traffic wishing to go north/west on I-70). What we do say is if that is the only (or main) negative, that the positives far outweigh that concern.

Additionally, speaking in terms of numbers of people affected, more than 80% of traffic on I-70 downtown was determined to be bound for downtown in the Danforth report of a couple years ago. So, there are some who will be affected, but not many in the bigger picture.


Alex,

Like you have previously stated, traffic is dynamic and patterns will change. I think that if one could capture that idea and present it, it could make for an easier sell for getting to or through the downtown area.

Is the City to River (CtR) group taking into consideration the additional loads that 4th, Broadway, Truman Parkway, and Tucker may see to help alleviate/displace the bulk of the traffic from the New Parkway/Boulevard? (If the new boulevard is built, these roadways will see the traffic increase during construction as well.)

Also, if there is an accident in that area, a commuter may now have an option to reroute themselves through downtown instead of sitting still on the highway.

Has CtR talked to any emergency responders? Would they prefer a boulevard or a lid?

Just some thoughts off the top of my head.

Thanks,
TFG
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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby jmedwick » Fri Jun 25, 2010 9:28 am

debaliviere wrote:
bonwich wrote:As for who said thinga are different now, pretty much every time I post a clip from the '80s or '90s, there are several expressions of that opinion.


Judging from a few items mentioned in that article, things are worse. Employment is under 100,000, large law and accounting firms have left, etc.


I agree. At least in the 1980s downtown was still the region's primary business district and most of the regional business leaders seemed to understand the value in locating offices there (as evidenced by the spate of new office construction downtown.)

Yes downtown may be better now as a residential area, but it is a freaking downtown. If the region's business leaders don't value it as a central business district (and clearly they don't- look no further than the series of business journal articles today touting Clayton's addition of so many law firms and other business professionals), then downtown is going to continue to struggle.
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Re: Downtown STL, Bright in 1985, will it be brighter this t

Unread postby bonwich » Fri Jun 25, 2010 10:21 am

Let me try to address this from a slightly different tangent, with examples.

For any number of the projects many on this board now consider urban screw-ups, there were alternatives -- probably viable alternatives -- that were proposed. The proposers, however, didn't belong to the club, and no matter how attractive (and I dare say "visionary") their proposals appeared, they were ultimately marginalized. (You would often hear them referred to as "mavericks," a code word that always meant they'd at best be patted on the head, or at worst sued for exercising their rights as citizens.)

Take the Gateway Mall. Donn Lipton owned the buildings (Buder, International, Title Guaranty, RIP) and presented a plan to keep those building, blow away some of the clunkier infill, and build new ones. But Donn never had lunch at the Bogey Club on Monday. The buildings were taken by eminent domain, and rather than having a dense downtown interior corridor with a bit of green space, we got, well... (Not to mention the loss of probably more than 100 entrepreneurial-style service business that occupied those buildings.)

Steve once wrote a very good then-and now commentary.

Anybody remember the Children's Building? It's now that fine surface lot immediately across from the Kielvis Trade Center. And that one had an actually-connected potential developer, Charlie Drury.

On a more general note, I can probably dig out any number of clips that pointed out that if Union Station's business model required it to charge for parking, it would fail.

Anyway, point being: We've never had a shortage of ideas; we have had, and continue to have, a combination of gross lack of leadership combined with virtually nil entrepreneurial spirit (which is equal to almost total risk aversion).

And this is why I'm skeptical, or some would (wrongly) say cynical, or just plain sad about the until-now reaction to City To River. (An idea, by the way, that I can prove I've been advocating for almost a decade.) The concept promoted by City To River has crystal-clear upside potential. Anyone with even a raindrop of vision and imagination can see that.

And yet, it's the Alexes and Ricks who are spearheading the effort. NOT ONE local "leader" is "leading." And don't give me this "leaders only support sure things" argument. Luther Ely Smith didn't have a sure thing. Turn old buildings, some of them in really bad disrepair, into hotels? That clearly wasn't a sure thing, but Charles Drury pulled it off multiple times. Craig Heller took a huge risk and achieved proof of concept, but then he got marginalized.

I'd like to believe that a few bright folks with visionary ideas can break through -- Bonasch Boulevard, anyone? -- but the local culture has never allowed that, and nothing that has occured recently has offered any evidence that things are going to change. Should the next generation just give up? Not at all. But you really are going to have to infiltrate that culture to become the next Luther Ely Smiths.



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