We covered the exterior of the newly renovated Soldier’s Memorial. This post discussed the interior and the exhibits.
I recently took a scooter ride down Martin Luther King Avenue from Downtown to the St. Louis border with Wellston, MO. The ride yielded 165 photos documenting this time and place in some struggling areas of our city. Some light discussion and photos of this important east-west street that forms a border for seventeen separate neighborhoods.
The design and architecture firm to lead us toward the future of a fully realized Chouteau Greenway was chosen this week. Here are some quick thoughts and high-level considerations given to the jury report and strengths/weaknesses discussed. Well done Great Rivers Greenway! This city is doing things right an headed in the right direction.
Yeah, we are the Brick City. We are also becoming the Beer City of the Midwest. The history is certainly there, but the influx of microbreweries since Schlafly broke the mold in 1991 has been amazing to witness.
1991, the year STL malt broke!
Usually we look back at our past and pine for the good old days (World's Fair and Riverboats, I'm looking at you). Fact is, when it comes to beer, the past was indeed great...but the present and future is better.
St. Louis' beer scene is on the rise and getting more and more diverse. I thought we could only sustain maybe five breweries in St. Louis (a city of ~310,000). Boy was I wrong.
Netflix recently made "The Sunshine Makers" available for streaming.
This 2015 documentary chronicles the life and times of two men, Nicholas Sand and Tim Scully, who together set in motion the psychedelic revolution of the late 1960's. Both men were idealists who thought that if everyone would just drop a little acid, the world would be a better place. People would be kinder to each other and the planet, have a larger awareness outside of one's own selfish desires, etc, etc.
Scully was a sharp scientist who knew the formula to make lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and had a method to produce and tablet it for distribution. Sand was driven by idealism and spiritualism and bent on bringing the psychedelic experience to the masses. The two became underground chemists who made the drug and did indeed change the world...for a little while anyway. They made massive amounts of LSD and got it in the hands of an entire generation, globally.
Continuing on my favorite development proposals and under-construction projects in 2016, this one is a proposal, but seems to be well on its way toward real action bringing another St. Louis classic back to life.
The massive 13-story Jefferson Arms building at 415 North Tucker, between Locust and St. Charles Streets in the Downtown West Neighborhood is a 1904 classic that has been sitting empty for nearly ten years. But a ~$103.7M plan from a Dallas, TX developer Alterra International will convert the building to 240 apartments, a Marriott Hotel and 1st floor commercial space.
One of the things that appeals to me the most about the project is the bullishness of people investing money from outside the region. Outside investment is one of the things we need most. In fact, add new immigrants, residents and workers from outside the region and you have a nice list of what St. Louis could really use.
"We actually fell in love with this one. It's not a good idea as a developer to fall in love, but we did because it's absolutely beautiful," said Mike Sarimsakcs, president of Alterra International. "The outside is just gorgeous."
The above link has some great photos of the interior,
Sure, you're not supposed to show your cards during a negotiation, but it's great to see people come to St. Louis and see what I see: potential.
Alterra further spoke to this potential in a St. Louis Business Journal story in June, 2016 where Sarimsakcs was quoted as showing interest in the Butler Brothers building just west of here as well. Bring it on!
Alterra is also exploring a partnership with Sovereign Partners to overhaul the giant Butler Brothers building at 1717 Olive St. That building has an appraised value of $2.4 million, according to city records. Sarimsakci said if the partnership agreement goes through, Alterra would invest about $90 million to transform the 718,000-square-foot building into lofts and creative office space.
Here's to hope that the Jefferson Arms will be the first in a long line of buildings Alterra purchases and develops in St. Louis.
St. Louis is a diamond in the rough and I just don't think the powers that be/old money in the suburbs are enough to get us to the next level; we'll need outside investors with optimism and bullishness instead of the knee jerk grasping for silver bullets when what we really need is block by block investment, new ideas, commitment to the things that will, well...make St. Louis great again (bad, I know). But it's worth pointing out that there was mention of a Trump Hotel in the Jefferson Arms.
Yet the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported there's no truth to that but it didn't stop anti-Trump protestors to make a stop in front of the building to speak their minds.
photo credit: St. Louis Post-Dispatch Staff Photo In September, 2016 The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on some of the details surrounding the project timelines:
Work to turn the dilapidated and vacant Jefferson Arms into offices, apartments, restaurants and a hotel could begin as early as January, the prospective developer said Thursday.
Mike Sarimsakci, whose Dallas-based Alterra International has the 13-story downtown St. Louis building under contract, said he plans to complete the purchase in December. Clearing the Jefferson Arms of debris and beginning the environmental cleanup would then get underway, he said.
Renovation will begin with construction of shops and restaurants on the first floor and in the basement of the Jefferson Arms, at 415 North Tucker Boulevard, Sarimsakci said in an interview in St. Louis. Opening the retail outlets will occur before completion of market-rate apartments in the original section of the historic building that debuted as the Hotel Jefferson in time for the 1904 World’s Fair. Apartments also would occupy the top two floors of the hotel’s 1920s addition on Locust Street.
A hotel of about 240 rooms will fill the rest of the addition, said Sarimsakci, adding that the operator might be the Trump, Marriott or Divan Group hotel chain. The entire project could be done by January 2020.
It'll be great to see the windows lighting up along Tucker Boulevard once again. Again, this is a case where tax credits seem justifiable. Not only does the developer benefit, but so do we, the people of St. Louis who can extend one of our turn of the century beauties into the future. We can set ourselves apart from other cities with our architecture and beauty. Remember, not all cities have this wealth.
Here's a rendering showing the southern view:
How can you not be excited about this one? Maybe with the removal of more of our larger vacant buildings from the market, we'll start to see more of the many smaller buildings start to get new life Downtown.
This is the second of two sports related favorites from 2016. The first was the Cardinal/Cordish proposal for a mixed-use development at Ballpark Village.
The next is the potential for MLS soccer in our fair city. The league is expanding and they indicated that St. Louis is one of the top cities under consideration for a team.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced Thursday that Teams 25 and 26 will be announced during the second or third quarter of 2017, at an expansion fee of $150 million each, and begin MLS play by 2020. Teams 27 and 28 will be announced at a later date, at a price delivered in conjunction with the timeline.
The league acknowledged ownership groups from 10 markets have publicly expressed interest in securing an MLS expansion team: Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa/St. Petersburg.
Interested expansion owners must submit applications by Jan. 31, 2017. After review, a series of in-person meetings will take place during the first and second quarters of 2017.
2017 is going to be a critical year for St. Louis when it comes to this burgeoning sport.
Let me first say, I love sports. Really all sports, but I'm not an MLS soccer fan to date. That would change if we got a team. My kids love soccer. They are into it, they understand it, they play it in the CYC and SLPS. They would beg to go to games just as they do to Blues games.
Secondly, I have had the pleasure of working with people from all around the world. Argentinians, Colombians, Mexicans, Chileans, Belgians, Spaniards and Brazilians, they all have hard core fans. I've never seen such devotion to a team or a sport. It is infectious to be around. It is exhilarating just to be around them and hear them talk about their teams. The chanting, the songs, the colors, the pride...it is like nothing we have here...maybe college football, but Illinois and Missouri aren't those kind of teams.
I think soccer is one of the growth sports for the next century in the U.S. MLS in the most international sport and could help retain and grow our Latino, African and Eastern European populations. I think it could help to attract and retain the next generation of people who will consider living and working in St. Louis.
If any of these owners actually live in St. Louis, I apologize, but my guess is they are County residents who are not being asked for public $ at the city/county level and not expected to own the stadium if the team decides to pull a Arizona Cardinals/Los Angeles Rams move.
Now remember, some of these same well-meaning folks were behind building a second NFL stadium for the Rams. No offense, but they don't understand what people who live in St. Louis need. It is not stadiums, it is $ for schools, neighborhood stabilization, potholes, and cameras, cops, investigators and prosecutors to combat the out of control crime we have to deal with. It's always easier to spend someone else's money.
The group includes St. Louis Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III, World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh, prominent hotelier Bob O’Loughlin, UniGroup President Jim Powers, St. Louis Blues CEO Chris Zimmerman and former NFL task force co-chairman Dave Peacock.
Jim Woodcock, global sports co-lead and senior vice president at FleishmanHillard, said the group — which is dubbing itself MLS2STL — came together naturally as several of its members, including Woodcock, began asking about MLS ownership following the departure of the St. Louis Rams. (source)
But the pretty pictures and potential for the city were a bit tarnished by the need for massive adjacent and on-site surface parking lots that are not needed 348 days out of the year, and financial support of public tax money from St. Louis only. No St. Charles, St. Clair, Madison, Jefferson or St. Louis County support has been asked for to date, just good old money bags St. Louis. Yeah right. We are broke and need the money more than any city in the region. But we're supposed to bankroll this thing for 17 professional sports games a year (more if you make the playoffs). The Blues bring 41 games and the Cards bring 81.
Oh, and they want the city to own the stadium. Remember how this works Rams fans? It is not smart investment.
I want MLS soccer here, but we should not be the only city paying for it.
However, I expect in any negotiation the first offer is the one that most benefits the party making the offer. This is how most negotiations work. It is now up to the leaders in the city to pass the napkin back across the table with a better offer.
And hopefully the voters can decide if the public money from St. Louis should go to another sports stadium that we own.
Remember how this played out with the Rams? It is happening again.
As a citizen and voter in St. Louis, I am willing to pitch in some for this team. The terms have to be reasonable and the ratio of public funds should match the wealth of the region. If it does, this could be a great regional effort to bring a popular and growing sport to St. Louis.
The region can play together nicely and bring a team here. St. Louis would be a great location, we just need to not get completely screwed over financially.
It can work, but will it? Look no further than Great Rivers Greenway or the Zoo Museum District to see the amazing things we can do when we pool our resources.
It will be fun to watch it all play out in 2017.
Viva St. Louis.
Eternal Flame Park is one of a series of six parks along Market Street in the Downtown West Neighborhood. Working west from Tucker Boulevard and Market Street you have Poelker Park, Washington Square Park and Kaufmann Park, then Memorial Plaza Park/Gateway Mall Plaza (including Eternal Flame Park and the one across from the Park Pacific which is not listed on the city website), Serra Sculpture Park, Aloe Plaza and Aloe Plaza West. The beautiful and peaceful Soldier's Memorial Military Museum is also part of this stretch of land and I will include that in a separate post.
The Serra Sculpture Park is one of a series of six parks along Market Street in the Downtown West Neighborhood. Working west from Tucker Boulevard and Market Street you have Poelker Park, Washington Square Park and Kaufmann Park, then Memorial Plaza Park (including Eternal Flame Park and the one across from the Park Pacific which is not listed on the city website), Aloe Plaza and Aloe Plaza West. The beautiful and peaceful Soldier's Memorial Military Museum is also part of this stretch of land and I will include that in a separate post.
Washington Square Park is one of a series of six parks along Market Street in the Downtown West Neighborhood. Working west from Tucker Boulevard and Market Street you have Poelker Park, Washington Square Park and Kaufmann Park, then Memorial Plaza Park (including Eternal Flame Park and the one across from the Park Pacific which is not listed on the city website), Aloe Plaza and Aloe Plaza West. The beautiful and peaceful Soldier's Memorial Military Museum is also part of this stretch of land and I will include that in a separate post.
Kaufmann Park is one of a series of six parks along Market Street in the Downtown West Neighborhood. Working west from Tucker Boulevard and Market Street you have Poelker Park, Washington Square Park and Kaufmann Park, then Memorial Plaza Park (including Eternal Flame Park and the one across from the Park Pacific which is not listed on the city website), Aloe Plaza and Aloe Plaza West. The beautiful and peaceful Soldier's Memorial Military Museum is also part of this stretch of land and I will include that in a separate post.
Poelker Park is one of a series of six parks along Market Street in the Downtown West Neighborhood. Working west from Tucker Boulevard and Market Street you have Poelker Park, Washington Square Park and Kaufman Park, then Memorial Plaza Park (including Eternal Flame Park and the one across from the Park Pacific which is not listed on the city website), Aloe Plaza and Aloe Plaza West. The beautiful and peaceful Soldier's Memorial Military Museum is also part of this stretch of land and I will include that in a separate post.
The park is located in the shadow of some of St. Louis' most beautiful buildings, the Shell Building and the Central Library that recently underwent a $70M renovation.
Update 01/24/14: Schlafly came upon my blog post and got a hold of me soon after publishing. Come week's end, I was sitting in
at the Schlafly Taproom with the CEO/Co-Founder drinking a rauchbier and talking the future of Schlafly, politics and city vs. the county and how some folks think St. Louis and Maplewood are both cool and soulful places, yet are still entirely different places still, undeniably part of the metro region. And furthermore, how others like to feel the entire County is St. Louis, and others draw the line at I-170 east to the river. It was fun.
Shared beers, debate, eye-contact and a hand shake upon parting ways are respectful communications that I cherish. And I'm thankful that we have local breweries that care enough about their legacy, reputation and future to invite STL lovers to talk about it one:one. Even if we have different ideas about what defines St. Louis, it is great to debate it and Schafly's future.
The one thing I walked away with was that Schlafly wants to stay and grow in St. Louis if the cards are in their favor.
After listening and trying to understand the situation, here's my take:
Settling down in St. Louis will be a challenge. Schlafly wants 40 acres and rail access; and, as you might expect, 40 acres don't come easy in a city this geographically small. Think about it...the south side is out of the question. Then, you are beholden to working with Paul McKee if the city gives you the shaft on the riverfront from the Patch to the Riverview neighborhood.
I wouldn't be surprised if Schlafly has a couple very simple options:
1. McKee's NorthSide
2. the St. Louis suburbs/county within the I-170 belt
I think St. Louis has an amazing brewing history. Have the suburbs of St. Louis ever had a brewery other than Schlafly in Maplewood, MO? I can't think of one, but Schlafly sits on a turning point in STL history. Build on our already rich brewing history, or move to the burbs and try to establish the new brewing culture in St. Louis County.
If Schalfy chooses St. Louis, it will be historic. If they move to the inner-ring burbs it will be historic. History will tell the story. I love being along for the ride and I hope Paul McKee and Schlafly choose St. Louis and not a tiny town in the burbs for the future of our brewing history. I hope a city that almost unanimously votes (6-1) to subsidize a local utility (Laclede Gas) to move a couple blocks within the same city to the tune of $7M can come up with incentives and a deal to keep Schlafly growing in St. Louis.
Readers, what would you like to see? Would you like to see Schlafly as a St. Louis entity, or does it not matter whether they settle down in Maryland Heights, Fenton, East St. Louis or Hillsdale? As long as they are X miles from St. Louis, is that good enough? If so, what is "x"? Secondly should a beer label bare the name of the city it is brewed in? Meaning does it matter when InBev has St. Louis, MO on the label of every Bud Light whether or not is was bottled here or Wiliamsburg, VA.; or, does it matter for craft breweries small or large to identify with a true and honest place? Is there a difference?
Viva la STL and Schlafly! Mark Groth.
Okay, I've read that a blog post should be no longer than 800 words, but I'm off work for a few days around the holidays and I'm thinking about my list of predictions for 2014...and one of them has something to do with Schlafly's desired expansion of operations. I can't stop from ramblin' on on and on like a 60's folk poet on the potential of STL's beer scene...so this is a long post.
You may know the popular Dos Equis ads of late where you have the aged, seemingly distinguished gentlemen with the elegant Spanish-tinged accent speaking about Hemingway-like adventures...and at the end of the day when it's time for a drink...he chooses Dos Equis.
"I don't always drink beer, but when I do...it's Dos Equis..."
You get it...anyhow, like that guy I don't drink beer as much as I'd like to either...but when I do, dammit it's a local brew for this St. Louisan...but this wasn't always the case. The Dos Equis guy above is just the latest in a long line of guys schilling for the mass produced, in this case, slightly above average beers owned and produced by huge publicly traded multi-national corporations. I am not at all against Dos Equis, Budweiser or Stag or any other mass produced lager...it's just that I'm old and I want to enjoy a tasty beer these days as opposed to a cheap coldie. Beer is a celebration in middle age, not a guzzling marathon as in days of old.
So what's my call these days? Urban Chestnut...it is the greatest beer I've ever had, anywhere, anytime. I'm loving this beer. I know beer is like pizza...some people just like what they like and can't explain it in a convincing way why one is better than the other. It's so subjective and just an academic argument...but man, I love the St. Louis brewing scene. For my money, UCBC is the best call. That's not to say I don't love the great comfy cozy space and crazy delicious sandwiches and Jenga and checkers at
at 3714 Holt Avenue in the Tower Grove South neighborhood.
That's not to say I don't love the Saison from
at a bar stool in the renovated Coke syrup plant at 8125 Michigan Avenue in the Carondelet neighborhood.
That's not to say I haven't drank 8 bazillion Schlafly pale ales and pie holed countless mussels at the Downtown West Tap Room (pioneers of DTW).
brewed in St. Louis? Or Maplewood or Wisconsin...too confusing
That's not to say I don't love the wheat ale (whale) from
at 3690 Forest Park Avenue in the Midtown neighborhood.
brings a great amount of traffic to the Old Rockhouse area just north of Soulard and just south of Busch Stadium at 1220 S. 8th Street; the PiPA (an American pale ale brewed specifically for Pi) is my call when I visit Pi Pizzeria in the MX building. Many of my friends say this is the best call in town.
When I'm downtown and in the mood for a beer, I've gotta stop by
at 1409 Washington Avenue in the Downtown West neighborhood; I love how their tasting room opens up onto an alley and is tucked away from the traffic on Washington.
I haven't even been to all the microbrews in town:
at 6413 Clayton Avenue in the Clayton-Tamm neighborhood of Dogtown
at 721 North 2nd Street in the Downtown neighborhood on Laclede's Landing.
Point is, I love the beer culture that is brewing and crowning in St. Louis. I think we have the history, the great spaces, the momentum and the fucking chutzpah to brag, just a little (we are self deprecating folk here). Again, I've never...never...NEVER...had a better selection of beers than at UCBC. I'll tell anyone that will listen that the Czech Pilsner was the best Pilsner I've ever had...I've sat in the biergarten and yakked about it...but they don't brew it any more....this is part of the fun. They make amazing, kick ass, expensive and highly crafted beer and then pull it. Like they said in the Godfather, they keep pulling me back in.
The biergarten at Compton and Washington so reminds me of my small town Illinois upbringing in Millstadt, Smithton, Freeburg, etc complete with chat surface, yellow light bulbs strung across picnic tables with Winston and fish fry smells melding into a 1970s dream. We kids could buy beer and bring it back to Mom and Dad at the table (Sweet was playing on the a.m. radio). UCBC has the same vibe. They and Civil Life even have toys and a sandbox for kids while parents socialize. Love it.
So it's great to see UCBC expanding their operations to bring this goodness to the masses. They chose a location for their new, larger brewery in the former Renard Paper Company on Manchester Avenue in "the Grove" or Forest Park Southeast neighborhood.
They are taking a building that was formerly an uninviting distribution dead space along the hip Manchester stretch between Kingshighway and Vandeventer and are adding windows and softening the pedestrian and passer-by views along this stretch.
google street view image
To something along the lines of this:
But hey, let's not get so love struck on the newer kids on the block. Let's show some respect to our first entry into the micro brew scene in STL. It was Schlafly. They taught me how to like beer that tasted like something. They taught me that it was fun to go Downtown after 5:00 pm. At one point in my life, I said Schlafly was the best beer in a bottle.
As a point of reference, I'm no better than the common beer drinker. I'd been sneaking Hamm's from my dad's garage stash since the 1980s. But, I grew up on Natural Light from the 1980s through the 1990s (we called it "Natch" as opposed to people around here who call it Natty Light) and MGD and Busch and Red White and Blue, Stag and Beast and other worse malt liquor swills like Crazy Horse and others that I beg to forget...when I wanted to have a special night, we bought Michelob or Lowenbrau (which tasted just like the previously mentioned beers, but the T.V. commercials made you believe otherwise).
Fast forward to the early-mid 1990s when I moved to St. Louis and Schlafly was my fancy time, my gentleman's call. I felt like I was a sophisticate when I ordered Schlafly...I love them for making me want to taste something in a beer. I felt so BIG CITY when I went to the Tap Room, remember kind readers, I am a Belleville, IL product, St. Louis was a foreign and awesome place to me as a 20-something person...as foreign as some dude from Kirkwood, but I never claimed to be from St. Louis :)
Schlafly is big time now. They are the biggest micro (oxymoron?) brew in Missouri now that
. But, I feel Schlafly is at a historical decision point.
Schlafly came on the scene around 1991 and carved out the perfect alternate niche that Sam Adams and other distributed beers of the time offered...more so, they survived the Busch's when that suburban St. Louis family still ruled the beer scene in these parts...before the Belgian In-Bev took over...when all the micros have proliferated in the wake of the big brewery becoming a global commodity vs. a locally driven American brewery.
Schlafly got bigger and bigger...they had the opportunity to expand their bottling operations in St. Louis yet chose the suburban city of Maplewood, MO, just outside the western borders of St. Louis like so many historically St. Louis companies have abandoned St. Louis for the staid burbs. I don't blame them for striking a good deal that makes economic and business sense, but Maplewood is not St. Louis and I thought this was a traditional St. Louis thing.
The St. Louis brewing history was extended outward to the burbs by Schlafly...not unlike the Busch family that eventually moved from Lindell Ave in the city to Grant's Farm and later Huntleigh, MO where the last ruling Busch still lives. If I'm not mistaken William Busch, the guy behind the Kraftig label is not a St. Louisan either and lived in Sunset Hills, MO/Grants Farm for most his childhood and in his adult years has not chosen to live in St. Louis either...but he has the opportunity to come back to St. Louis and brew his beer here instead of Wisconsin. There are amazing opportunities to set up in the original brewing community near ABI and stick his middle finger up at the Belgian's across I-55. I would support him for the simple fact that it would be an awesome "keep it local" play.
Anyhow, I let these details go. I have friends/family in Maplewood, and I get the allure, but it is NOT St. Louis (yet Schlafly falsely claims our good name...partially because no one outside of our region knows what Maplewood, or O'Fallon or any other tiny suburban enclave in the burbs is not really St. Louis by any logical, factual or otherwise stretch of the imagination.
What I'm saying, I guess, is that I hope Schlafly doubles down on St. Louis and bets on the future of St. Louis as a destination place for American brewing. They are looking to do a major expansion. I envision a beer tour someday which puts us on the map for hard core beer drinkers to visit. Can you image if Schlafly set up shop in Fenton, MO or Maryland Heights, MO or some other boring, out of the way suburban city? I wouldn't go out there. It would suck the soul from the tour. It would dilute the brand.
I dream of micro-brew tourist agency teaming with Metrobus to make tour maps of all the breweries with ride schedules publicized so people are allowed to "taste" every brewery and get a safe ride home or to the hotel. Metro could use the opportunity to teach people who don't normally use buses how to do it and people would be in a social setting and would feel more comfortable trying something new to them in a group. That would be awesome, riding from micro brew to micro brew. Midtown to Carondelet to Downtown, to Lafayette Sq...architecture and beer and St. Louis. I don't see O'Fallon or 2nd Shift or any other exurb micro brew being part of this...no soul, too far, lame-o spaces, etc. They aren't St. Louis either, and this vision would be a St. Louis Brewing Tour. Can you imagine the impact this would have for our reputation as people are taking from neighborhood to neighborhood and given a little history of each neighborhood and the brewing tradition of our forefather? The opportunity is huge.
Hey, Schlafly, you're getting bigger...move 1 was to go to Maplewood, move 2 was to go to Wisconsin...move 3 can be a further move from the home base or a huge statement to St. Louis and its brewing history. Do the right thing please. I want you guys to continue as a St. Louis entity. Wow, NorthSide would be perfect.
Stay true to the label and keep the beer brewed in the one and only St. Louis, MO beer capital of North America!
The French language immersion school is located at 1881 Pine Street in the Downtown West Neighborhood just across Olive Street from the future St. Louis Police Department headquarters. We interview a parent with a student at the school.