Friday, December 19, 2003

After a busy semester, I'm back in the blog world.

I find myself in Brentwood, MO more often than I'd like these days. Not that I have anything particular against this city founded in 1919, of only 2.5 square miles and about 7,700 residents.

Despite its small size, the "City of Warmth" is a full-service suburb, with its own police and fire departments, an independent public library, and a parks and recreation system including 15-acre Memorial Park, 13-acre Brentwood Park, four smaller parks, a parkway on a former streetcar right-of-way, and a flagship recreation center complete with an indoor ice arena. Brentwood even has its own zip code, 63144.

All these great services are paid for by tax revenues no doubt enhanced by folks like me, from outside Brentwood, who spend our disposable income there at a variety of retailers.

Many of these retailers have no locations in the City of St. Louis, so Brentwood gets our dollars. Brentwood is home to the big box stores that Clayton doesn't want or need and that came along after Richmond Heights' Westroads Shopping Center morphed into the big fancy St. Louis Galleria, "Where the Best Stores Put Their Best Store."

It helps that Brentwood is adjacent to one of the most congested highway junctions in the St. Louis region, at Highway 40 and I-170 (the Innerbelt).

Brentwood is home to some major chains where I find myself going because there's no equivalent in or near my neighborhood.

-- PetsMart
-- Borders Books & Music
-- Organized Living
-- Target Greatland
-- Dierbergs Supermarket
-- Romano's Macaroni Grill
-- Whole Foods Market
-- Cost Plus World Market
-- Gateway Country
-- Circuit City

Not to mention a number of other stores where I do not shop but which also do not have a St. Louis City location.

To make it worse, these stores are concentrated close together in three shopping centers along Eager Road, a highly congested outer road for Highway 40 and connector route between Brentwood Blvd., I-170 and Hanley Rd.

The centers are all named for their location: Brentwood Square, Brentwood Pointe, and Brentwood Promenade. The three centers are not connected to each other, so driving is essential to get from one to another.

The Pointe and the Promenade are actually next to each other, but the Pointe is about 30 feet higher in elevation, separated from the Promenade by a concrete retaining wall. At least both of them have a back exit to Hanley Industrial Court, but for the uninitiated, that's a recipe for getting lost quickly.

The Promenade even has a Brentwood Blvd. entrance via Rose Ave. that also provides a direct connection to the Square, avoiding Eager entirely. But that route is also not well-known. So the traffic snarls along Eager, a not-so-eager arterial road.

And yes Target does have a Hampton Ave. at Chippewa St. store, but it has degraded in quality over the past year or two, partly because a new Target Greatland is supposed to be built on the site.

Also I sometimes go to the Home Depot on Hanley Rd. in Brentwood when the S. Kingshighway store in the City is out of stock on something, which seems to happen pretty often lately.

Yes, I know there are alternatives to the big box chain stores, but sometimes the big boxes do have better prices and longer hours, even if they are not all that convenient to access.