An end to the Western sprawl?

Discuss new retail, dining, business and residential projects within St. Charles County, including St. Charles, O'Fallon, St. Peters, Wentzville and more.
^ I think that new-ish outdoor mall out in Lake St. Louis is kind of struggling as well... I suspect anything in Warrenton is just going to weaken things further for a rather over-retailed exurbia.

And as this thread has re-opened, here's a link to a recent P-D column (subscription piece) about sprawl slowing down a bit...

St. Louis' sprawl is slowing, and so is America's\
http://www.stltoday.com/business/column ... 6e15d.html

The St. Louis area added 74 square miles of developed land between 2000 and 2010, but that was 31 percent slower than the development pace of the 1990s...

I assume the great recession had an impact on things but in the aftermath it doesn't appear that things are going hog wild out there like in the old days.
“Our suburbs fall apart quickly when they are not maintained. The miles of asphalt and concrete roadway, the vast expanse of front and back yards, the facades of fake rock and supposedly maintenance-free vinyl… these all take immense time and spare resources to keep them in order. America’s suburbs are not financially viable, even with the affluent living in them. As the poor become more of a presence there, it’s hard to see how these places can keep from unraveling” [Strong Towns]. “And it’s hard to see America not simply blaming the poor in response. When it takes the income of multiple families to maintain one suburban house, we’re going to see multiple families living in one house. This will occur on streets with several other homes that are abandoned and falling apart completely, thus reinforcing every stereotype of poor people and their willingness — some contend desire — to live sub-normal lives. It will be easy to write them off.”
http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2016 ... verty-week
^Too alarmist. Our cities also fall apart quickly when they are not maintained, and suburbs have existed basically as long as cities have. Clayton, Skinker-DeBaliviere, Tower Grove South, Benton Park have been farm land, rural areas, suburban areas, and now varying degrees of urban areas. I get the source of the author's concern, but there are more ways forward than apocalyptic failure and rampant class conflict.
I don't think the contention is in reference to suburbs generally as a concept, but specifically as they have been practiced in the US for the last last fifty years more or less. The materials certainly have the appearance of less permanence. And there's little question that less is used now. You need look no further than stud spacings. All buildings will decay with time if not maintained. But the pace varies considerably by environment and material. We shall see.

Re:

stlmizzoutiger wrote:
I love Sandy Stokes's mentality. If more people were like Sandy, my dream of Jefferson City and Columbia offically being part of the St. Louis MSA/St. Louis suburbs may become...


We should go all the way and jump to a state-wide city...just not in my backyard!

:lol:
hebeters2 wrote:
“Our suburbs fall apart quickly when they are not maintained. The miles of asphalt and concrete roadway, the vast expanse of front and back yards, the facades of fake rock and supposedly maintenance-free vinyl… these all take immense time and spare resources to keep them in order. America’s suburbs are not financially viable, even with the affluent living in them. As the poor become more of a presence there, it’s hard to see how these places can keep from unraveling” [Strong Towns]. “And it’s hard to see America not simply blaming the poor in response. When it takes the income of multiple families to maintain one suburban house, we’re going to see multiple families living in one house. This will occur on streets with several other homes that are abandoned and falling apart completely, thus reinforcing every stereotype of poor people and their willingness — some contend desire — to live sub-normal lives. It will be easy to write them off.”
http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2016 ... verty-week


I like a lot of the stuff strongtowns puts out but they are unhinged sometimes with nonsense.
wabash wrote:
^Too alarmist. Our cities also fall apart quickly when they are not maintained, and suburbs have existed basically as long as cities have. Clayton, Skinker-DeBaliviere, Tower Grove South, Benton Park have been farm land, rural areas, suburban areas, and now varying degrees of urban areas. I get the source of the author's concern, but there are more ways forward than apocalyptic failure and rampant class conflict.


Of course there are more ways forward than apocalyptic failure and rampant class conflict, but those are pretty much the only two results we've seen over time play out in St. Louis (and probably all similar cities). So it isn't alarmist to expect that will be what continues to happen as poor people migrate into the suburbs.
What If Urban Sprawl Is the Only Realistic Way to Create Affordable Cities?
http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2016/09/ ... le-cities/
I think the article makes a few false assumptions: First, it paints a dichotomy between suburban style housing and "towers." While these might be two extremes there are a lot of shades in the middle. There's quite a lot of room for density without going to "towers." A tall, narrow row house can have roughly the same footprint as a low but wide ranch home. (Or even more.) Replacing low single family homes with a larger number of taller narrower single family homes can increase density considerably. And that's not even counting small apartments like two family flats and walkups. Second, it assumes that San Francisco and New York condo prices are the result of going up, where they might well have more to do with trendiness. Sure, the cost per square foot is higher as you go up, but is it really that much higher? And at what rate does it increase? In naval architecture there was a rule of thumb that every knot above about thirty required that you double the power output. I seem to recall there is a similar rule about the cost of additional stories. But it doesn't start at two. If the cost of the second story is 110% of the cost of the first and the cost of the land is more than 10% of the first story building cost then you can actually decrease the real total cost per square foot by going up. I very much suspect this is actually the case for a while. Where the break point falls will be a factor of local land, labor, and material costs. Not sure how many stories, but it's a darn relevant question that the article fails to address. And the second and third stories increase density just as much as the hundredth and hundred and first. Third, it appears to assume that home ownership is the most desirable housing state. Why should this necessarily be the case? To me the important thing is stability: I want to reliably know that I can stay where I am for a certain length of time for a certain predictable cost. Ownership is only one way to get that stability. So in summary: wow that's a weak little article. It's short on length and shorter on information.
There may be an evolutionary reason suburbia feels so miserable
http://www.businessinsider.com/why-subu ... bad-2016-9
hebeters2 wrote:
There may be an evolutionary reason suburbia feels so miserable
http://www.businessinsider.com/why-subu ... bad-2016-9


I'm all for cities and urban development, but the article didn't have any compelling points IMO. They missed some of the biggest problems as they just churned out an article.

The argument that socializing in cities is easier because you don't commute in a car is a little odd. When I lived in cities, I was never stopping to have conversations and develop relationships on my way to school or work. Maybe some people do, but that is probably more to do with the individual than their surroundings.

The description of impersonal, cookie-cutter, with lack of defined spaces describes high-rise living as well. Superimpose the floorplans of those tall buildings (or just 5-10 story ones) with the picture they show from the air of the pattern of buildings and it will be the same; monotonous and uninspired. So most towers are exactly uniform :shock: Then again, people don't live 1000' above the suburbs, flying around discovering how they look similar. I don't think manhattan looking straight down is exactly exciting either...because you don't experience it that way. Better argument would have been about the flow of people and movement, which usually worse in suburbs where there is no overall plan.

Then bemoaning the trees lining residential roadways as barriers creating a tunnel effect...ughhh. Driving the tree-less streets of nyc isn't any better. So the argument is to what, remove the trees in suburbs? Lol, they aren't solid, the branches are up high, you can see houses, etc. Point about buying milk downstairs is more valid than getting in your car. Although if you dissect the actions...you end up at a store either way, interacting with clerks, and employees. Better argument for that may be driving is worse for the environment and there is a time loss. As well the trees aren't a problem blocking some view, it's that you aren't going to stop at the houses you're driving by in the suburbs, while in a city you might stop at a shop you see. Totally different problem.

Not sure what to say about the "organization of a city is more natural"...never heard that one before! Yes, grids stretching for miles are totally natural...and they site "organic order" (totally lacking in most cities which are not urban-planned) with a link to an article about why offices are horrible...the same ones in cities...ok? The convenience and access of a city on the ground is exciting, not the organic feel of the grid it's placed on.

Cities being more intuitive...yes, some are! Organic...not really!
For a few years it seemed that Americans were moving to the cities, but now the trends are toward the suburbs once again. Long-turn trends favor suburbs even more.
https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles ... gs-of-tech
hebeters2 wrote:
For a few years it seemed that Americans were moving to the cities, but now the trends are toward the suburbs once again. Long-turn trends favor suburbs even more.
https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles ... gs-of-tech


^ meh. no doubt the suburbs aren't going anywhere but that article is just paragraph after paragraph of wishful speculation from a guy with an admitted suburban bias.
Don't you guys think that retail in the suburbs could really struggle in the future? As people buy more things online, and as drones become a more popular asset, don't you think people in the suburbs will be a lot less likely to get in their car, drive to a store, and purchase the product in person?

I honestly wouldn't be shocked if blight came to the suburbs in that form. We're already seeing indoor shopping malls die off. Here in Kansas City, we basically only have two left. Maybe three or four. I can count far more dead malls.

I think it's going to be important in the future for physical retail stores to be near walkable communities.
KansasCitian wrote:
Don't you guys think that retail in the suburbs could really struggle in the future?


Yes.

KansasCitian wrote:
I honestly wouldn't be shocked if blight came to the suburbs


Big box blight and strip mall blight have been going on for years now and I expect it to get worse. I grew up in West County in the 80s. It's pretty amazing to take a drive down Manchester road from say 270 west to Wildwood. Maybe my memories are more rosy than reality, but man does it look bad these days. That's not even taking into account Ellisville's cancelled Wal-Mart plans that appears to have turned a huge swath of what used to be car dealerships into a desert of crumbling asphalt.

All that said, it appears there is still good demand for living in West County.
I just see a number of problems hitting the suburbs. I think driverless cars could have a huge impact as well.

I wouldn't be shocked if human drivers are banned in the next 40 years. When people are calling up their driverless uber in 2056 to go places, would they rather be in a densely populated area like the CWE, where they'd have a choice on whether to walk or pay the transportation fare, or in Chesterfield or St. Charles, where the fare will be pricey every time you use it due to the distance between you and everything you do?
^ I agree but glad you pegged that at 40 years cause we won't be having truly autonomous cars on any meaningful scale for a long time. advances in tech, certainly, and maybe some limited commercial systems, but there are still enormous challenges ahead for self-driving cars.
Driverless cars will be a big boost for the suburbs and sprawl in general. Uber prices are pretty far down the list of people's choices of where to live. Ease of commute to work - which driverless cars would significantly increase - is much higher.
All of that said, the commercial collapse has already begun. One need look no further than Crestwood. The vacancy rate along Watson is astronomical. It's not remotely just the mall. Every strip mall along that road is half empty or worse, even the newest ones. The closest major shopping center I can think of that's reasonably full is Yorkshire Plaza, and even that is smaller than it once was, what with the chunk carved out to make the pharmacy. And guess what? It's further in, in an area that's somewhat more dense. (Slightly.) I don't see smart cars eliminating automobiles or killing suburbs in the short or even medium term. (And I don't see why it would ever be illegal to own a manually operated automobile, in spite of the alarmists out there. People still own horses, for crying out loud. And bicycles. And people will always be allowed to walk. None of that is likely to be outlawed. Ever. The new thing will economically replace the old, and the old will get more expensive as it becomes more of a hobby and the support goes away. Sure, smart cars will be safer. But all cars will be safer as smart cars proliferate. As the density of dumb cars drops those will become almost magically safer too.) But I do think it's becoming clear that retail is suffering in the 'burbs. Maybe more than in the city. And it seems quite likely that at least some of that is e-tail's doing. Driverless cars might not get people out of the suburbs, but it will probably do a number on even more shops. A few destination shops will survive. And neighborhood stores in denser areas.
symphonicpoet wrote:
All of that said, the commercial collapse has already begun. One need look no further than Crestwood. The vacancy rate along Watson is astronomical. It's not remotely just the mall. Every strip mall along that road is half empty or worse, even the newest ones. The closest major shopping center I can think of that's reasonably full is Yorkshire Plaza, and even that is smaller than it once was, what with the chunk carved out to make the pharmacy. And guess what? It's further in, in an area that's somewhat more dense. (Slightly.) I don't see smart cars eliminating automobiles or killing suburbs in the short or even medium term. (And I don't see why it would ever be illegal to own a manually operated automobile, in spite of the alarmists out there. People still own horses, for crying out loud. And bicycles. And people will always be allowed to walk. None of that is likely to be outlawed. Ever. The new thing will economically replace the old, and the old will get more expensive as it becomes more of a hobby and the support goes away. Sure, smart cars will be safer. But all cars will be safer as smart cars proliferate. As the density of dumb cars drops those will become almost magically safer too.) But I do think it's becoming clear that retail is suffering in the 'burbs. Maybe more than in the city. And it seems quite likely that at least some of that is e-tail's doing. Driverless cars might not get people out of the suburbs, but it will probably do a number on even more shops. A few destination shops will survive. And neighborhood stores in denser areas.


One thing you seem to be missing is that 15-20 years ago Crestwood had one of the largest and nicest malls in the region and was basically the "South and Southwest STL Metro Retail Capital." Since that time period, the new West County Mall was built in a much easier to reach location, Kirkwood added a lot of big box options, Arnold and Fenton built very large big box retail areas (many people in these areas used to shop in Crestwood), South County Mall was renovated and expanded, and folks that lived along the Wildwood/Eureka I-44 corridor (who may have went to Crestwood rather regularly) can go to Chesterfield to do their shopping instead of drive in to Crestwood (which is farther and not as easy to get to the shopping areas). The stores that are remaining around/near Crestwood (like Sunset Hills retail if that counts and Yorkshire Plaza) primarily serve those living in their immediate surrounding neighborhood unlike in years past. It was simply a matter of time until that happened given the things I mentioned and the fact that many of the stores that are/were in Crestwood could be found in most/all of the newer retail areas that I mentioned.
West County Mall significantly predated that. It was rehabbed and expanded in the period you're describing, but it was already there. And it wasn't just Crestwood Plaza that disappeared. Sunset Plaza (since you mention that) has struggled, in spite of investment. It's holding on now, but the indoor portion of it is gone. The theatre is gone. The Borders is gone. The Marshall Field's is gone. It's . . . what, about half the size it once was? Maybe two thirds? It's still there, but there's less of it. Let's continue east. The next major shopping center is the pair of twin developments flanking the old Lindbergh Cadilac. The westernmost one is nearly half empty right now. (The former Office Max.) The next one east is more full (though still not completely), but largely with offices (insurance, real estate, banks, healthcare). What retail remains is increasingly discount retail. Not high rent stuff. Not high volume stuff. Across the street from the empty mall are a string of half empty strip malls. The Barnes and Noble closed to be replaced by a thrift store. The Best Buy is gone. Where there was once an auto repair shop there is now a temp staffing office and a camera shop and a string of vacant store fronts. There are fully a dozen shopping centers in the four miles separating Sunset Plaza from Yorkshire. It appears to me that all of them (the latter two included) are struggling. None of them has the kind of activity they had in the day. West County expanded. But not enough to account for all of that. Some of that is almost surely just loss. And look at all the struggle in older strip malls near and far, and even a few newer ones. Manchester was mentioned earlier. The outlet mall in Warrenton is . . . a ghost. The Mills is struggling. (And last sold for pennies on the dollar, didn't it?) Sure. The tax incentive two step has caused a lot of this, but all of it? There's an awful lot of empty. I wouldn't argue that online retail is the sole or even principal cause. It's more complicated than that. But I think it would be unwise to say it hasn't been a factor when entire sectors have largely evaporated. (Mm, let's see . . . Amazon vs. all the world's big bookstores! Tonight! Live, on pay per view! And the winner is?) Barnes and Noble is still clinging to the ropes, but I think it's fair to say that fight is over. So we've gone from a lot of large and busy regional shopping centers to a very few really large busy super-regional ones. We'll always have something. But will we ever see the kind of traffic on Watson, Manchester, Lindbergh, St. Charles Rock, New Halls Ferry, or Natural Bridge, that we used to? I just don't think these old retail strips are ever coming back in anything like the forms they once had. It's not just a few enclosed malls. It's whole streets. Sure, Kirkwood and Webster have built new retail . . . but they've also built small, almost walkable neighborhoods and the retail seems carefully geared to that. And who knows what will happen as we move forward? I can easily imagine that the big malls will survive a long time to come . . . but thirty years ago I'd have said the same thing about Crestwood and Northwest Plaza. Things change.
U.S. mall investors set to lose billions as retail gloom deepens
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-p ... SKCN12L0XB