Cherokee street retail development

Discuss construction activity, major renovations, office projects, streetscape improvements, etc. in South City -- defined by the area south of Interstate 44/55.
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South City Art Supply is moving to 4532 Olive in the CWE:

https://www.facebook.com/notes/st-louis ... 502222554/
Well, that's probably a good move for them as it will put them closer to a lot of art students, but it's a bit of a personal bummer as it puts them a good bit further from me. And I was just beginning to go in there. I don't doubt they'll be a good fit and they'll do good things in the neighborhood. I do hope someone worthwhile picks up their building, as it's a great location and a neat old building.
their old building on cherokee just sold, not sure to whom.
I’m confused about the statement the owners made. They say they are moving to the central corridor and dropping south city from their name to “correct a mistake” among other things. Are they implying that choosing to locate your business in south city and referencing south city in your name is bad, provincial or even racist? I understand if they want to move purely because they think the new location will increase sales, but I’m curious if they are implying something worse about south city in general.
Hm. I didn't read it that way. Here is the release: https://www.facebook.com/notes/st-louis ... 502222554/

From what I read they enjoyed their time on Cherokee and have learned a lot about the biz and, in opening up a new shop, will be able to do things better than the first time and with more room and supplies that they have discovered their customers want.

Dropping 'South' made sense because the new space isn't in South City and reflects their goals to become a citywide/region destination.
I've stopped at the counter and yakked a few times myself and the owners always seemed pretty upbeat on St. Louis in general and Cherokee in particular. I believe they live nearby, and I expect that will remain true even after the move. I have a hard time imagining they mean anything negative by the statement, name change, or move. I expect they'd much prefer to be properly accessible. If there's a mistake it's that the second floor wasn't, really. Space and budgetary constraints of an old building, I would guess, but something I wouldn't doubt they'd like to correct. And being more central to more people, and closer to more art students will almost certainly be a good move for them.
Damn that trolley! Oh wait

RFT - Cherokee Street Record Shop Kismet Creative Center Is Closing Its Doors

https://www.riverfronttimes.com/musicbl ... -its-doors
"She said, 'If they ask how you feel about it, tell them I'm pissed because people in the area and outside the area are more interested in craft beers than in actual crafts.'"
:roll:

honestly, i never had any idea what this place was. had no idea they hosted shows. wish i had.

frankly, though, i'm pretty burnt out on the a-bunch-of-random-junk-crammed-into-a-room-with-exposed-brick type shops that litter St. Louis. maybe i'm just getting old but i'm over the grit chic thing. not saying i want strip malls or big boxes, but i'm more drawn to businesses with a clean, modern look these days.
There's a place called Tacos and Ice Cream. I liked it.
Apparently Vista Ramen has already closed. Surprising. I thought it was doing well. The turnover seems to be getting worse. I’m a little concerned that Cherokee has risen as far as it’s gonna rise without gentrification (i.e. higher incomes moving in). But there also isn’t really a driver for it in that part of town (e.g. Wash U). Sure hope the momentum hasn’t died...
Two points:

First, Vista Ramen didn't really impress me. It was very expensive and the ramen was . . . okay. Good ramen, but not worth the price. There was nothing that made the place stand out to me. It was pretty. I liked the decor. But I went once and never went back.

Second, why does Cherokee need more? Things are now mostly occupied. Seems like it's floating pretty close to full occupancy to me. A few stores a year close. But a few open every year too. I can't imagine Vista's space will stay vacant long. Where would you put more? If you want to spread the love off Cherokee to the north and south that's splendid. But I'm not sure higher income is required for that. Just more people. It'll happen. I'm not worried. Cherokee is doing fine. No need to mess with success.
There is already a diner going in place of Vista. Owner is the same as The Cut in Fortune Teller.

Hoping for late night hours but for right now will only be breakfast and lunch and there is going to be "no elevation" in the food. As in, not fancy at all. Sounds right up Cherokee's alley.

I think Vista's direction was misplaced on that location. It wasn't at a price point or fare accessible to the surrounding neighborhood. It was almost offensive to me that they popped up a $15 bowl of ramen joint on Cherokee. Seemed very out of touch with the reality of the neighborhood and almost to the point that which it was trying to create a movement towards more expensive/high brow dining experiences on the strip.
^ & ^^ Mud House isn't cheap, and that place kills it. Though I suppose it's a different beast in that you can just go buy a cup of coffee or a scone w/o having to drop $10–$15 on food. (The Mud House owners co-owned Vista). I never ate at Vista so can't speak to the quality of the food. It just seemed like it was consistently crowded whenever I walked by to go to Hop Shop. I'm concerned about KAMP around the corner on Jefferson, too. I don't think they're doing much business. Do I think it's maybe a little silly to open a high-end camping gear store on Cherokee given the current demographics? Yeah. But ideally we need neighborhoods that can support places like KAMP along with cheap diners and ethnic grocers. And that's going to require an infusion of wealth: i.e. some gentrification. I mean, despite recent success with bars and bong shops the neighborhood is still not healthy. Vacant buildings on the blocks surrounding Cherokee are not selling. There are still a number of storefronts that are empty: the old I Scream Cakes location, now 2720, the old Salvation Army. Now, I'm certainly not knocking the progress the district has made–it's astounding–nor am I calling for total displacement of current residents. I'm just not sure that the neighborhood can continue to progress without some level of gentrification. 100+ year old brick homes are not cheap to rehab/maintain.

and not to offend anyone, but as someone who owns a home/lives in a very un-gentrified neighborhood, it bugs me that there are a couple of prominent voices (well, at least one) on this blog and on Twitter that consistently decry anything that resembles gentrification while living in one of the city's most gentrified neighborhoods and gushing about it constantly.
^ :?:
^Don't get me wrong. I think there's still plenty of room for growth, particularly as you get off the main drag. But it feels to me as though it's happening with things just as they are right now, that the growth is happening with a good, healthy mix of things: groceries, retail, restaurants, services . . . Nice mix of incomes and backgrounds. Great food. Not much to complain about. And restoration is slowly but surely spreading. Even fairly big projects like Earthbound are happening periodically. It's a far sight better than it was fifteen or twenty years ago when there was really not much but antique stores.

As to maintaining or restoring century old brick houses, I don't really think it's any worse fifty year old frame. Gut restorations are always expensive. Maintenance is never truly cheap. But at least the fabric of old brick houses is usually pretty dang solid. (Usually.) . . .

Honestly, home ownership is always a challenge. And the longer you defer the maintenance the more expensive it will become. *gives water-heater distinct side-eye*
I'll jump in here real quick just to say I loved Vista and went quite a bit. I thought the food and drinks were very good and like the vibe of the small space.

I spoke to one of the managers there a while back and he said they were struggling in the hot months. That makes sense as who wants hot ramen soup when it's 100 out? I can agree that maybe it would have lasted longer in a different area perhaps but don't think that was the only issue.
As a business owner on Cherokee for almost 9 years, I wanted to jump in say that despite some high profile turnover lately, there are several new businesses getting ready to open, and a few others preparing to expand. I am sad to see places like 2720, Vista, Spoked and Master Pieza close-- no doubt they were all part of what makes Cherokee special. But Cherokee Street by nature is an urban laboratory of diverse businesses, many of which are an extension of an individual's wild idea and/or sheer passion. Cherokee Street is a place where you can try out your crazy ideas, unconventional as they may be. That's the magic of this street. The business district today is exponentially improved compared to when we opened our shop in 2010. So many buildings have been rehabbed and some new ones built, dozens of new businesses opened, and most importantly, an increasingly engaged and invested community of merchants and residents who really care. Cherokee Street embodies everything I love about the city-- it's often overlooked and sometimes written off, it's dense and urban, it's charming and historic, it's funky and artistic and amazingly diverse, it's unpolished and organic. It's not the suburbs, and that's how we like it. Exciting things are happening here, and we remain more committed than ever to Cherokee Street.
No, Mud House isn't "cheap" but I'd consider it affordable for quality food and coffee. I also feel that the other side of Jefferson is a lot different culturally. Mud House doesn't need to be cheap because it's a destination hipster brunch spot. It's what's hot right now and it also pushes a better value and experience. Not expensive ramen when there are $2 tacos right down the street.
^^ gasm, on a scale of zero to The Grove, how much would you say Cherokee has stimulated the housing market in the surrounding blocks? i know it's different in The Grove due to institutional support from Wash U, but it doesn't seem like anything comparable is happening around Cherokee.

i didn't realize Spoke had also closed. that sucks. my concern is that, while experimentation is fun, at some point a neighborhood needs stability to survive long-term. it needs an established population with enough income to maintain the infrastructure and a complete set of practical businesses in addition to bars, coffee shops, and tattoo parlors.

^ Cherokee does feel culturally different east of Jefferson, but it draws from the same local population. while not expensive, it's definitely not difficult to drop $20 on a meal at Mud House. i agree that it's a destination, but it's been hot for a long time–since before it was Mud House (used to be Mississippi Mud House, with different owners I believe)–and it's definitely not just hipsters. it manages to draw significant, sustained business from outside the immediate neighborhood, while Vista didn't for whatever reason.
St. Louis does not have a single gentrified neighborhood. We have vacancy and emptiness courtesy of urban sprawl.
urban_dilettante wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 6:42 pm
it needs an established population with enough income to maintain the infrastructure and a complete set of practical businesses in addition to bars, coffee shops, and tattoo parlors.
What gave you the impression that all that was there was bars coffee shops, and tattoo parlors? There are several grocery stores and bakeries. There's a cell phone joint, barber shops, and a printer's office. There's anitque shops, junk stores, a car repair joint or two. Heck, there's a small Buddhist temple. It's about as diversified a commercial strip as any in this town. What do you want? It's there. You want clothes? Sure. Furniture? Absolutely. Food? Check. Entertainment? In spades. There's professional services, albeit aimed at an immigrant community. It's a good strip. It's getting better. In a lot of ways it actually feels much more lively to me than the Grove, at least during the day. How many grocery stores are there in the Grove right now? They're both good spots, but they're different. Catering to different clients. They've grown differently due to the different natures of the projects. The area around Cherokee was far less distressed to begin with. Less of a blank slate. And there hasn't been the enormous infusion of cash. It's also further from the central corridor and the major employment hotspots. It's more of an independent community. The Grove has become something of a satellite to Cortex and its institutional anchors. More students. More up and coming young tech professionals. More apartments. More transient, in a lot of ways. Where Cherokee is more stable. The Grove almost looks like a bubble. If healthcare or education ever took a serious hit (and they might) . . . watch out. I don't expect it, mind. The Grove is surely a lot safer than downtown Columbia, since St. Louis is much more diversified. And there are two major anchor institutions rather than one. (Three if you count Barnes as separate, which you almost should.) But it's not a fair comparison, so I think at least a few of us are taking offense at that. Or the implication that there's not much other than bars there. There IS a complete set of practical business. A fairly healthy one. Surprisingly so.
^ first of all, i never said the Grove was better than Cherokee, and pretty sure i acknowledged that the dynamics are different. i simply asked a long-time, local business owner if he thinks Cherokee's success has spurred investment in the surrounding neighborhood similar to–not the same as–what the Grove is seeing. it seems to me that it hasn't, really, but i hope i'm wrong.

also never said there is nothing but bars, coffee shops, and tattoo parlors. but where, within walking distance, can i buy new men's clothing (not vintage)? shoes? where can I buy quality supplies for my dogs? where can i buy hardware? and frankly, Schnuck's and Save-A-Lot don't have great selections for vegetarians.

i'm not sh*tting on Cherokee. i love Cherokee. i worry about its continued success. but like virtually every other neighborhood in St. Louis, it still has a ways to go before it becomes self-sustaining (and, of course, i know that "Cherokee" isn't a neighborhood but i'm using it as a stand-in for the nearer parts of Benton Park West, Gravois Park, etc.). my concern is that investment in the surrounding neighborhood is not keeping pace with Cherokee itself. again, i hope that's incorrect. but abandonment seems to jump around in St. Louis and unless growth is sustained in Benton Park West/Gravois Park, etc.–which implies some level of gentrification–we may very well see Cherokee decline again.

again, not tying to pick on Cherokee specifically. St. Louis, in general, has an abnormally low storefront index even compared to our peers: http://cityobservatory.org/the-storefront-index/. it's odd because the city, overall, has a relatively high walk score compared to many of our peers: https://www.walkscore.com/MO/St._Louis. i guess we're all just used to driving to the suburbs for our shopping needs.
The big Mexican grocery immediately west of the Cinderella has new mens clothes and shoes.

Hardware is not an everyday need, and thus not the sort of thing that I would necessarily expect within easy walking distance. Not everything will always be available without a trip. That's an unreasonable expectation. What you want is everyday stuff.

I'm not sure if there's pet food there, but . . . there's food. That you could feed to pets in a pinch. And pets are, to be frank, less common outside middle class white culture. (And fancy pet food is virtually unknown.)

I feel like you're looking at this through a particular set of cultural blinders. And we're working from competing assumptions and preferences. (I like to eat more or less everything, so I go everywhere there's food. And . . . well . . . food isn't always vegetarian. You'd do better with Asian food for that. Better culture of vegetarianism for religious reasons. There is an Asian grocery there, but it's small and the hours are hit and miss. It's not one I frequent. There might actually be two, come to think, but I've only been in one.)

Anyway, I mean no offense, but I think it might help to look at some of the implications. The bars, coffee shops, and tattoo parlors was almost a quote. I paraphrased, But given it's contrast to the "complete set of practical businesses" it was a fairly obvious implication: that Cherokee has only certain kinds of businesses. It has these but lacks others. And you listed some of the hipster sorts but skipped all the immigrant kinds. It very much sounds as though you want the place to have different kinds of people than it presently does. And there I take offense.

In all honesty, it seems like far and away one of the healthiest mixes of people in town. And you keep asserting that it will somehow fall on hard times if it doesn't become more upscale, and by implication more trendy. More not immigrant. Not Mexican. You have consistently ignored the enormous concentration of unsexy but well maintained everyday services of a sort not seen anywhere else save, perhaps, the Hill.

And it's hard not to come to the conclusion that you're ignoring them because they're not there for you. You don't use them so you don't see them. This is pretty profoundly normal. We all do that sometimes. But it's important that we try to step outside it.
^ Good point and very well stated.
As a business owner on Cherokee for almost 9 years, I wanted to jump in say that despite some high profile turnover lately, there are several new businesses getting ready to open, and a few others preparing to expand.
Any hints as to the new biz and expansions?