Monday, October 25, 2004

NO on Amendment 3 News Conference

Thursday, October 28
11:00 AM
Central Reform Congregation
5020 Waterman (at Kingshighway)

Representatives from the legislative, education, healthcare and faith communities will be speaking out against Amendment 3.

People, Not Pavement!

For more information call:
Amy Blouin 314-518-8867,
Jennifer Hill 636-448-6478 or
Lise Bernstein 314-542-2269
(Missouri Budget Project)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Ballot Mnemonic

Here's an easy way to remember how you might consider voting on the propositions in the City of St. Louis:


NO: A-D-3

That is, YES on charter amendments B (make the civil service system more flexible), E (increase the maximum fine to $1000 - it's on the ballot again!), and C (make all those silly county offices appointive); and proposition K (children's services property tax levy - makes sense to me).

And, NO on charter amendments A (financial authority to the mayor alone), and D (reduction in Board of Aldermen size); and on state constitution amendment 3 (all gas tax $$ for roads only).

Friday, October 15, 2004

TARGETing St. Louis

The Hampton Avenue at Chippewa Street Target store will close in January 2005 to be demolished and replaced with a new, larger, modern store to open in October 2005, my old friend Tavia Evans reports in today's Post-Dispatch.

This is great news, not just for the St. Louis Hills neighborhood, but for the entire City of St. Louis. Here's why:

1) No tax abatement - unlike almost every new single family house built in the city since 1980.
2) No TIF - unlike most of the loft developments downtown.
3) No eminent domain, after all - instead, a Federal court decision helped things along.
4) A new, bigger store at an existing location, rather than a relocation.

Target came to an undisclosed agreement (i.e., big $$$ buyout) with the New York speculators who owned the property, which I believe was a Zayres before Target moved in around 1975.

Locally, most new Target stores in the past ten years or so have been built on new sites. This will be first I can recall built on the exact site where there was already an existing Target store.

South County Target (I-55 at I-270): Replaced a store several miles north on Lindbergh next to Ronnies Plaza.

Kirkwood Target (I-44 at Kirkwood Road): Replaced a store in downtown Kirkwood, whose site has since been redeveloped with high-end, high-density housing.

Brentwood Greatland Target (Highway 40 at I-170): Possibly the most visible retailing location in the entire St. Louis region, this store was not a replacement for a previous location, but an apparently very successful effort at entering a growing market. Hey, even the WashU shuttle stops there!

Florissant Target (North 67 about halfway between New Halls Ferry and New Florissant Road): I'm not sure of the timing on this one, but I think this store opened and the old one on "Target Drive" near New Halls Ferry at I-270 (right by Chuck E Cheese) closed.

I'm not sure about the Ballwin or Bridgeton stores since I've never shopped at either one.

Anyway, given the paucity of good quality retail in the City of St. Louis and inner-ring South County, this is a great development. The parking situation might be a little awkward, with a garage beneath and some surface parking on all three sides, but it's the only way to shoehorn a big box store into a relatively compact existing site surrounded by fairly expensive housing and other active retailers.

The only possible way to expand the site maybe would be to close off Bancroft Ave to through traffic and purchase the Bank of America across the way, which has a fairly deep lot with parking in front and back. But closing off that street wouldn't be popular with neighbors, and maybe Target and BoA can work out some kind of joint parking space usage deal, since that lot is usually empty. In addition to the site of the existing Target, the small corner site where the Fox Photo - and, back aways, White Castle - were located, is also included.

Yes, the City of St. Louis will take a sales tax hit because of this temporary closure, a double whammy with Sam's Club moving out of St. Louis Marketplace to Maplewood Commons on Hanley Road. However, it'll be worth it long-term -- especially compared to the Marketplace, where because the TIF is the only one where the city is on the hook to pay off the bonds, the Comptroller will have to dip into general revenue.

The existing Hampton Ave. Target - because everybody knows it will eventually close - has certainly declined in selection and quality over the past 18 months or so. My most recent shopping experiences there haven't been the greatest, and the snack bar seems a little dingy lately. So, yes, the Brentwood Greatland and on occasion South County stores have seen my credit card more lately. Also, on we have our wedding registry. (hint, hint ;-)

Anyway, this Target will certainly have a lock on the highly profitable southwest city market once it opens. Think about it -- what are the alternatives?

- St. Louis Marketplace K-Mart: Maybe it'll be open another 18 months, but don't count on it. The Marketplace is dead, I don't care what Tom Bauer says about those crazy Saaman Corporation townhouse developments.

- Hampton Village JCPenney: A good option for slightly better quality clothing than at Target, but even this store is showing its age (c. 1951), albeit pretty gracefully. It'll probably pick up some business during the Target closure.

- Maplewood Commons Wal-Mart: If you really want to fight the traffic on Hanley, be my guest. The same goes for the Brentwood Greatland Target -- the more crap that Richmond Heights, Maplewood, and Brentwood try to cram into view of Highway 40, I-170 and Hanley Road, the worse the traffic congestion gets, not just during rush hours but at lunch hour too. Yes, I still go there, but it's becoming less and less desirable. And the MetroLink - if it ever opens - will only really be convenient to Dierbergs and Best Buy, given the pedestrian un-friendly nature of these developments in inner-ring suburbia.

Even in Shrewsbury, Webster Groves, and Affton, there isn't a major department store. Yes Value City on Watson Road is sometimes identified as the Webster Groves store, and is frequented especially by many African-Americans from south city, but it's actually in Crestwood, whose city government tried and failed (so far) to get that site redeveloped as something fancier.

So, I predict a bright future for this new Target. Let's hope it comes off without a hitch so we can all start shopping there next Christmas.

Note: I do not hold any stock in Target Corporation, nor in any other corporation for that matter.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

City Ballot Now Available

The November 2nd Ballot for the City of St. Louis is now available for online perusal.

Also, take a look at a few fun electoral vote calculator maps online:

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Something Stinks Around Here...

Could this be the real reason that Michael Moore and Sean Hannity both cancelled their appearances (tonight and tomorrow, respectively) at The Pageant. Yeah, I know, pneumonia is Moore's reason, and Hannity I guess didn't like his travel arrangements.

But, hey, sewer gas isn't enough to keep away Chris Matthews!

Meanwhile, that PD story has a hilarious quote from STLFD Public Info Officer Kim Bacon. She says: "St. Louis seems to be a city filled with odd odors from day to day."

New St. Louis slogan: Justifiably Proud - of our odor.