Search This Blog (A.K.A. "I Dote On...")

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Carondelet Commons?


I never expected the Steins Broadway developer's proposed rehab-arama in Carondelet and the Patch! 300 Units! I guess that's the best strategy: propose new units during a downturn; investors realize by the the time of construction that the market could be totally different (and better).

One of the best parts of this announcement is this:

The renovation of the former Coca Cola syrup plant at 8125 Michigan Ave. into 78 apartments and about 20,000 square feet of commercial space, along with the construction of 16 new apartments nearby. This would be in partnership with Rothschild Development, which developed the former St. Boniface Catholic Church, 7622 Michigan Ave., into the Ivory Theatre.

That's this building right here. (Sorry, Street View wouldn't go on Michigan, actually. But it does give a sense of the scale we're working with.)

View Larger Map

I see this location as having major potential for a neighborhood grocery store. I know, I know, Loughborough Commons is perilously close by, its newly minted Schnucks underwhelming (but satisfying) shoppers all over the South Side and South County. But at 20,000 sq. ft., a perfectly functional and MUCH more walkable grocery store could serve the venerable and highly urban Patch neighborhood (or, "South Carondelet" as it's referred to in the article).

There's another possible setback, but one which I think is false. This site isn't on a major street. How would anyone know that it's even there?

The beauty of pedestrian-oriented urbanism is that the buildings are not intended for the destination-oriented shopper, those auto-mobile, if you will. It's intended to be used, as an amenity, for neighborhood residents. To be sure, many, if not most, residents would drive anyway. But it's still at a perfectly urban scale that would encourage many to walk. Such a store would be St. Louis's first walkable full-service grocery. For that alone, it would be monumental.

I am reminded of New Orleans' Uptown's Whole Foods store in an old transit depot on the famous seven-mile retail and restaurant-laden Magazine Street.

While this picture (credit goes to Walter Parenteau's flickr page; click the photo to visit the page) does not hint at the incredible number of pedestrians who filter in and out of the shed, nor the seamless blend into a mixed-use neighborhood, take my word for it. This store is a neighborhood amenity. Take a look on New Orleans Craigslist...the Whole Foods is listed on most ads for an Uptown apartment.

Now, I'm not necessarily pushing for a Whole Foods, or a Trader Joe's, being, as they are chains, but suffice it to say that they are far superior to the best Schnucks is going to give us. They emphasize healthy, organic foods as well, often purchasing from local farmers. In short, if a local guy could pull this location off, great! Otherwise, I would welcome a WF or a TJ!

Anyhow, here's to hoping the Patch becomes an even more viable and functional urban neighborhood as all of these rehabs and new constructions become reality. I am crossing my fingers that it will happen. Just to taunt the larger and more suburban neighbor--why not call the Coca-Cola Syrup factory Carondelet Commons? It, after all, would be more truly a commons.


Fashion STL Style!

Fashion STL Style!
St. Louis Gives You the Shirt Off of Its Own Back!

Next American City

Next American City
Your Go-To Source for Urban Affairs

Join the StreetsBlog Network!

Join the StreetsBlog Network!
Your Source for Livable Streets

Trust in Rust!

Trust in Rust!
News from the Rustbelt

Dotage St. Louis -- Blogging the St. Louis Built Environment Since 2008

Topics: Historic Preservation, Politics and Government, Development, Architecture, Urban Planning, Urban Design, Local Business, Crime and Safety, Neighborhoods, and Anything Else Relating to Making St. Louis a Better City!