Thursday, January 05, 2006

5055 Arsenal

5055 Arsenal

5055 Arsenal Street is the address of the Schnucks supermarket "On The Hill" which of course is not really in The Hill neighborhood, so it's officially known as the Arsenal Schnucks.

Schnucks got a building permit last month for a $350,000 renovation of this store. This store was built in 1984, making it not exactly new by Schnucks standards. So, it is showing its age in places. It is also not a 24-hour store, being open only from 6 am to midnight.

Also later this year, the City plans to replace the adjacent Arsenal Street bridge over the Union Pacific tracks.

This seems like smart timing: while the bridge is closed, cutting off access from the west, renovate the store.

However, it does beg the question: what about the South City Schnucks at 3430 South Grand? It was built in 1989, and is about 20,000 square feet larger than the Arsenal store. No major interior building permits have been issued since it was built, although Schnucks did a fair amount of renovation work there in 2000.

However, customer service, cleanliness and produce quality at the South City Schnucks certainly leave something to be desired. And the security guards are rather arrogant at times. So, many people who have other options choose to drive further west; it is, after all, the easternmost full-service grocery store in South St. Louis.

If you're gonna pay the same Schnucks price, why not at least get better service and selection? If you're willing to sacrifice service, you could at least get better prices at Shop N Save in the already trashy-looking "new" Gravois Plaza.

The 950 Loughborough Avenue store (built in 1978) is being replaced as part of the controversial Loughborough Commons big-box center, and already had some renovation work done back in 1996 after Schnucks acquired it in the 1995 buyout of National Supermarkets.

The Gravois store at 7450 Hampton at Gravois, was extensively remodeled and expanded in 2000. Schnucks remodeled it along with the Affton and Webster Groves stores, eliminating the Schnucks Station Restaurant at each store. This store is 24-hours, and has great produce and meat selection. Plus it's conveniently located on several major bus lines, next to the Gravois-Hampton MetroBus transfer center. It was built in 1963, I believe as a Bettendorf's.

The Hampton Village store is as fancy as any West County location, and is 24 hours. It was built in 1993 as a National store, and acquired only 2 years later by Schnucks. Ironically, Schnucks had closed and demolished their former Hampton Village store, in the old village market building, only a few years earlier.

I've noticed a recent Schnucks trend in North County is to close two stores and replace them with one. This happened in Bridgeton, where a new store opened in late 2005 near St. Charles Rock Road and N. Lindbergh, replacing both the Carrollton store and the Breckenridge Hills store; and will happen again when the new Jennings store opens on the former site of Northland Shopping Center, replacing both the current Jennings store at Jennings Station and West Florissant (its sign is often visible upon approach to Lambert from the east!) and the Dellwood store at 10148 West Florissant.

Indirectly, the same thing happened in North City, when City Plaza opened: the Newstead and Natural Bridge store closed immediately, and about two years later the North Oaks Plaza store at Natural Bridge and Lucas Hunt also closed.

While these investments suggest Schnucks does not plan such a two-to-one pattern in South St. Louis, the closure of both the Delmar and Cass stores in the past several years does leave the Lindell store as the only one operating in the central corridor.


Anonymous said...

But without the westward shopping habits of southsiders patronizing the Arsenal Schnucks, the store would likely be hurt by the nine-month closure of the Arsenal bridge. IOW, if many folks are arriving at Arsenal from the east, then sales should be fine during bridge reconstruction.

Myself, I live to the west of the bridge, between the Hampton Village and Arsenal locations. Still, I always patronize Arsenal, since it's smaller and less busy. During construction, I will likely shop more often at the new Save-A-Lot instead of using the snooty, cramped Hampton Village store. It may mean more trips for less groceries, but it will be my way to deal with the bridge closure.

Urban Review - St. Louis said...

I'd love to see Schnuck's replace the Arsenal store ala Target. That is, put the bulk of the parking underneath. And build the store up to Arsenal.

Perhaps when we finally get MetroLink through here in 20 years they'll go a nice TOD on the site?

Matt Fernandez said...

DESCO do a TOD? You're joking, right?

Anonymous said...

Ironically, the North-South MetroLink line should just be called the DESCO line. It travels from the Union/Natural Bridge Schnuck's-anchored plaza to the vacant Cass Schnuck's on the northside, then to the Arsenal Schnuck's and Loughborough Commons on the southside.

But like Matt, I too am skeptical of DESCO proposing any TOD anytime soon. Fortunately, at Arsenal, there is vacant and underutilized properties all along nearby Brannon, from Arsenal to Fyler. So while DESCO may take awhile to realize a more walkable retail center, at least nearby sites could see dense housing.

Claire Nowak-Boyd said...

All I know is, as long as DESCO is still suing Marcia Behrendt and Roger Plackemeier for a ridiculous sum over their (obviously failed) attempt to save the Century Building, I don't care what the hell renovations they do, Schnucks won't see one single puny penny of mine!

Wait, I can think of a renovation that would make me shop there again--rebuilding both the Century Building and all the homes at Loughborough Commons!

Joe said...

Depending whose figures you believe, Schnucks has 31% to 34% market share of the St. Louis metro grocery biz. So, yeah, despite their ubiquity, there are other options.

I probably buy more at Shop N Save than Schnucks these days. But SNS doesn't carry everything.

Ain't no way you'll get me to shop at Wal-Mart for groceries.

But since they are still union-labor, I do go to Schnucks occasionally. Just not the S Grand at Gravois store, unless I'm desperate. Foodland and Straub's are also union. I'm not sure about the store on Grand and Magnolia (Grand Supermarket I think it's called now?).

National Fan said...

I like to do most of my shopping at Schnucks. Whenever possible, I like to shop at Schnucks Duchesne(originally National) in St. Charles. It's a smaller store, and I'm afraid Schnucks will eventually close (or replace it). That seems to be Schnucks' trend, at least with the old National stores. There is NO WAY I would ever buy groceries at Wal*Mart, and I buy as little as possible there. Wal*Mart has contributed to the closing of several smaller stores, and even some Schnucks stores. Most of those were Nationals. I wish that National was still here, I would do my shopping there!