Monday, October 10, 2011

Selling Out The Neighborhood

Manchester & Vandeventer
The 28 Mayor System strikes again! As NextSTL reported last week, 17th Ward Alderman Joe Roddy and the Grove Community Improvement District sold out the eastern entrance to the neighborhood in return for $40,000 per year.

How is this allowed to happen? Because the System is set up to allow Aldermen to obtain zoning variances at their whim with no regard for what is good for a neighborhood or good for the City. While development may be years away due to the economy, the Commerce Bank site directly across Vandeventer would be a much less desirable location if a proposed QuickTrip is built.

The Grove has come a long way from the former Manchester strip of abandoned storefronts. With a critical mass of restaurants, bars, services, an emerging retail scene and, as NextSTL mentioned, even a tattoo shop, which is proof that people are now starting to hang out in the Grove instead of just heading to a few bars or a restaurant. What the Grove does not necessarily need is a giant gas station/convenient store replacing an existing restaurant in a unique eclectic building as an anchor at the east end of the district, no less at the hands of the CID which should be protecting the district from this very type of activity.

What would it look like if the South Grand CID sold out to QuickTrip?

South Grand at ArsenalSouth Grand QuickTrip
Imagine the beautiful 2-story building facing Tower Grove Park at the north end of South Grand as a QuckTrip! Pretty awful, right?

What if the Loop Special Business District sold Out to QuickTrip?

Delmar LoopDelmar QuickTrip
Imagine the recently renovated 3-story mixed use building at Skinker & Delmar as a QuckTrip, because, hey you can never have too many gas stations, right?

Both of these are are somewhat extreme scenarios and both would have very little chance of occurring because both South Grand and the Loop have historic districts and maybe more importantly, strong neighborhood associations in the area. This however did not stop a new surface parking lot from replacing a non-historic building in the Loop this year.

So what can we do about this? Well, not much until we change the System. We can start by talking to our respective Aldermen and demanding a comprehensive overhaul of the City zoning code. Demand that these kinds of decisions be made by planners, not Aldermen, most of whom have no qualifications whatsoever to be making these types of planning and development decisions.

Spaghetteria Mamma Mia
One thing that could be done now is to make QuickTrip re-use the existing building that currently houses Spaghetteria Mamma Mia and Bellon Wrecking. The building is in a Preservation Review District, which means that unless Roddy has conspired some kind of loop hole, the building should go before the Preservation Board in order to be demolished. The photo below shows that the open lot at the corner and the depth of the parcel would allow QuickTrip to install their pumps and canopy while keeping and possible using the existing building.

Spaghetteria Mamma Mia Corner


samizdat said...

Joe Roddy, why are you such a fucking Tool? More importantly, I thought the Grove was inhabited by smart hipster people. Why would they sign off on this? Not so smart, after all?

Anonymous said...

Well... what does Don Bellon have to say about this?

Vanishing STL said...

Don Bellon should be embarrassed for selling out.

They created something very unique at that corner with the re-use of building materials and opening a restaurant in front of their offices. Pretty innovative for someone who wrecks buildings for a living, but now they are willing to just throw it all away.

Ergonomic Chair said...

This just goes to say that changes can occur unexpectedly and it would just be up to the people how they will stick with it.

Michael Anderson said...

The world is a junkie strung out on gasoline. -David Bromberg

Interesting post!

Anonymous said...

What you can do is you can make sure they don't ever get a liquor license. Drum up neighborhood opposition now and make it very clear that any attempt to get any kind of liquor license will be the subject of intense challenge.

jackie said...

I am protesting the issuance of any more liquor licenses in the Grove. There are 14 active licenses at this time and if we don't preserve the few (5)storefronts we have left West of Tower Grove the residents/visitors won't have any retail space to support. Our Neighborhood needs a restoration (not re-development) of our shopping district. Select (alcohol free) businesses need to locate on Manchester. We have enough bars/restaurants. There will be a hearing at City Hall with the Excise Commission on the 17Th of January at 2:30pm in room 416. If you want to lend your support to limiting the number of liquor licenses on Manchester in favor of other type retail/service space,your presence will be appreciated.