More signs of the actual residential neighborhood that is downtown STL: Washington Avenue Christmas Trees, for sale from a lot at 14th and Washington. I guess you could even drag a sled down there from your loft!
Local Harvest Café is open. It's across Morganford from Local Harvest Grocery. We stopped by after visiting Tower Grove Farmers' Market. The Horine-Ryan-Earnest-McClelland local food empire continues to grow.
The build-out at the café looks great. Stop by sometime soon for a sandwich or parfait*. Their hours are currently:
7 a.m - 2 p.m., Tuesday - Friday
8 a.m. - 3 p.m., Saturday
* "You know what else everybody likes? Parfaits. Have you ever met a person, you say, 'Let’s get some parfait,' they say, 'Hell no, I don’t like no parfait'? Parfaits are delicious." Donkey, Shrek
On the World Wide Webs, that is; check out this nifty video shot by one of their rabid customers. (Rabid in fervor, of course, not from pesticide-laden foods....)
Joining other savvy business districts around town, the Morgan Ford Business District merchants have banded together like so many friendly pirates to sponsor a Holiday Open House. On Tuesday, Dec. 11th, from 6-9 p.m., you can make your merry way among the businesses along the street (some of our faves are Local Harvest Grocery, Three Monkeys — where we recommend the awesome Jungle Juice, Grove Furnishings — where we recommend the neighborhood-specific Christmas cards, Tin Can Tavern, Vintage Haberdashery and more), and register for prizes, enjoy carolers, etc.
Dawgs, everyone's favorite community media outlet, KDHX, is sportin' some kicky new t-shirts on their merch page, designed by the wunderkinds at STLStyle. Now, to choose between "Get It On" and "The Soundtrack of St. Louis"....
Want super-fresh eggs (and super-cool pets)? What are you — chicken?
Tomorrow night at 7:30 at Local Harvest Grocery, 3148 Morganford, city residents with desires such as the above can hear tales from the henhouse, as St. Louis resident Julia Weese-Young shakes a tailfeather and appears at the store to discuss the ins and outs of raising chickens in your own backyard. Her feathered friends Cadbury and Peep will be along for the fun: fly the coop on a Wednesday night and come get the poop!
Two things I found out on the same day:
3140 Pennsylvania Avenue, one of the first green, urban houses from EcoUrban Homes, should come on the market this month for around $200,000. EcoUrban Homes is the first company in Missouri to make LEED-certified, prefabricated, infill homes. The company is building in the Tower Grove East and Benton Park West neighborhoods. Its Solstice model is designed to be 80% more energy efficient than a conventional residence of similar size. For more information, contact Jay Swoboda at firstname.lastname@example.org or 314-231-0400 ext. 4. You may recognize that name from the curiously punctuated Whats Up Magazine.
Update: There's an article in today's Post-Dispatch about EcoUrban Homes.
(Ed. note--Folks: another popular feature we used to include in the zine version of TheCommonspace.org were the "Eat Me in St. Louis" reviews of city restaurants penned by John Ginsburg. We don't want you to be wandering around out there, hungry in the urban jungle, without some guidance; herewith, an installment concerning Arcelia's, in Lafayette Square.)
"Eat Me in St. Louis
2001 Park Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63104
This review features a return to the Dinner Club, and its support of Dining Out for Life, St. Louis Effort for AIDS’ annual restaurant fundraiser. Arcelia’s sits across from the northeast corner of Lafayette Park, and has remained a steady source to satisfy your Mexican cravings long before the recent commercial development gained serious speed just one block east.
Each diner was handed two menus, which was confusing at first for some...Read more ...
The latest edition of the Business Journal, in an article by Patrick L. Thimangu, details an ordinance recently put forward by Aldermanic President Jim Shrewsbury and the 13th Ward's Fred Wessels: it would require the green-building LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) code to be met for any new or renovated city-owned buildings of 5,000 square feet or greater. Clayton already has such a requirement in place, and there are currently 8 buildings in the STL area meeting one of the LEED levels (certified, silver, gold and platinum). Aiming just above the bottom rung, the proposed bill would require silver certification for the city of St. Louis.
(Alberici Group, which built its Platinum-certified headquarters at Page and 170, had the highest-ever rating for a new construction LEED project, for LEED trivia buffs out there.)
Saint Louis Investment Realty News is a monthly, full-color, eight-page newsletter published by Matt Kastner that's a must-read for people interested in city development and real estate investment news. Subscriptions are free.
In other development news, MayorSlay.com has juicy bits today about South Grand, MLK, the North Broadway Industrial Corridor and North Euclid.
But at least that West County venue has ankled the redundant "UMB Bank Bank Bank Pavilion" moniker, in a new deal that has Verizon at the reins and the name "Verizon Wireless Amphitheater" on the marquee. We are slightly mystified (and not a little scared) by this revelation: "concert-goers will be able to interact with the crowd using their cell phones."
Whatever, dude. I must admit that since I got old and cranky, there hasn't been a show in at least four years (and there've been some I would've loved!) that could lure me out there. But I allow that reasonable people may disagree.
(warning: some salty language follows)
Can't remember how I first came across this gem of a local publication, but I have in my possession a copy of the June 1992 edition of "Venice Views," evidently put out by the good folks at Venice Café. In particular, this unsigned editorial column (reprinted here verbatim) provides edifying reading for a Friday in October, 2006.
"TOURISTS INVADE ST. LOUIS?
Wow, can you imagine it? People walking the streets of St. Louis? Have you ever been to New Orleans? What in the hell does St. Louis have to offer the weekend visitor (besides Venice Café)?
Try to picture this, street musicians playing on the corners of the Landing, the football game just let out, the Admiral is readying herself for a gambling adventure cruise, and sixty seven percent of the people you see are from another city spending their hard earned money, here in St. Louis, on their weekend fling.
The riverfront would be a whole new world! We got to get these fucks out of control. We need to legalize a lot of things that should have never been illegal. No music taxes, legalize prostitution, gambling, bring talent to the streets, light up this damn town.
I do believe we have a chance. Ashcroft has got to go. Bring on Vince. We have a good chance of getting a football team back, and it is up to us to vote for our Mayor and to legalize riverboat gambling on our side of the gateway. To get street entertainment legal, I guess I'm not sure how to go about that, and the hookers...they'll always be here.
Damn! This really frustrates me, but don't you think if there was more to do, more ways to vent ones self through creative outlets, there may be less anger in this city? Kids and adults making money from wealthy tourist as they entertain them from the streets while awaiting to aboard the next gambling cruise, as apposed to selling crack to unfortunate soles on welfare?
Hells bells! Bungee jump the arch. St. Louis is one of the most historic places in our country, so why are we still living with historic laws? Actually the old laws were probably better, who knows, all I know is that we have to change them and the only way for us to do that is to lobby and VOTE.
St. Louis doesn't have to be a hell hole, I really can picture a brighter future for this city...can you?"
Other political/economic ramifications notwithstanding (see: did we really have to lose a building for this?), the new downtown branch of the St. Louis Public Library, dubbed "Central Express," opened on Wednesday in the Old Post Office building on Olive St. Its hours are M-F, 8 a.m.-6 p.m., and offerings are of the streamlined, mini-branch variety, including popular fiction/nonfiction and DVDs, CDs and books on CD.
As the librarians say, "Check it out!"
James Cook has posted a cartoon on his TOONrefugee site under the heading "Cardinals join a long list of panhandling sports teams."
First Jesus, then Moses, now this!
Word comes from Great Rivers Biennial winner Matthew Strauss of a new "alternative" gallery space to sprout at 4568 Manchester, called White Flag Projects. Grand opening happens Saturday, Sept. 16, and the season will feature shows from the likes of Bill Smith, Jerald Ieans and Ernest Trova. (There's not much on the site yet, so you might drop a line to email@example.com for more details, if'n you're interested.)
Stella Blues, a new restaurant and bar, is slated to open the second week of July at 3269 Morganford. The space, which was formerly occupied by Morganford Smokehouse, is at the corner of Morganford and Fyler. It has been completely remodeled by the new owners. Their menu is available on their website. As a resident of Tower Grove South, it's nice to have two thriving business districts within easy walking distance.
For those of you wondering what the plans are for the Commerce Bank parking lot just east of Grand between Hartford and Juniata, Sara Langan has the scoop in the spring issue of the Tower Grove Heights Gazette. At the neighborhood association's March meeting, Alderman Conway said Commerce Bank has agreed to sell part of the lot to Steve Adrod, a developer who plans to build six ten-unit condo buildings. Each building will have ten underground parking spaces.
The former Roosevelt Savings and Loan at the corner of Grand and Juniata will be replaced with a two-story public parking garage with retail shops on the first level and 140-150 parking spaces. People who work on Grand will be encouraged to park in the garage to free up more street parking.
A tax increment financing district is being created to fund $3 to 6 million of the whole development, with the financing contingent upon the construction of the parking garage.
In other South Grand news reported by Sara, Susan Anderson has left her position as the executive director of the South Grand Community Improvement District to work for Metropolitan Design & Building.
Tipped off by community development directress extraordinaire Rachelle L'Ecuyer that the brand-new City of Maplewood web site has debuted. Check it out and find out more about the rip-roarin' Maplewood Community Fair coming up in June.
The Downtown St. Louis Partnership, wherever it may be, has just published this year's edition of the Downtown Dining Guide, and it's exciting to report nearly 200 venues in the slim pamphlet, ranging from the stalwarts (Tony's, Dooley's, Maurizio's) to the new kids on the block (Flannery's, Café Mattino, Tenth Street Italian). My fondest wish is that these get circulated far and wide...especially to those serving jury duty, which for some people is their triennial visit downtown: may they never have to darken the door of crappy chains again.
Advertising makes the publishing world go 'round. I'd like to give a quick shout out to the two current advertisers on the STL Syndicate network of sites, CityWide Wooden Fences and Steve Patterson. CityWide Wooden Fences is "committed to designing and building wooden fences in the City of St. Louis." Realtor Steve Patterson has a listing for a big, rehabbed house near I-55 and Loughborough for $184,900.
It's cheap and easy to advertise with the STL Syndicate. Banner ads are only a penny per view. We can help you reach web savvy St. Louisans who support local businesses and are involved in their communities.
Also reported recently in the St. Louis Business Journal: Metro is in negotiations with an unnamed vendor to provide short (5-20 minute) helicopter sightseeing rides, originating on a barge to be located 100 feet north of the north leg of the Arch. Five minutes hardly seems worth it, no? Maybe it's more then plenty, though; the few times I've been in a helicopter, it required a bottle full of ginger tablets and some serious visualization to keep from tossing my cookies.
Home Eco, St. Louis' first environmentally friendly home goods store opens this month in South St. Louis. The retail store and showroom brings St. Louisans a new way to shop for planet-friendly products for home and garden.
Located at 4611 Macklind Avenue in the South Hampton neighborhood, just four blocks south of Chippewa at Devonshire, Home Eco offers a range of renewable, sustainable, recycled and just plain good-for-the-earth goods for the home.
Native St. Louisans Terry Winkelmann and Phil Judd conceived of the idea after discovering many of the products the couple needed for their new home were not available in St. Louis stores.
"There are a lot of virtual 'green' stores on the web and mail order catalogs," notes Winkelmann, "but I don't always want to try things sight unseen, or pay for shipping heavy items like a compost tumbler. I guess I'm a Show-Me Stater, but I have to see something to know if I really need it."
National news media like The New York Times and Wall Street Journal call retailers who embrace the concept "Green General Stores," "Eco Boutiques," or "Sustainable Living Stores."
A sampling of Home Eco's selection of sustainably made products includes: composters, bamboo and cork flooring, bioplastic trash bags, recycling bins, organic cotton sheets, hemp apparel, soy candles, kenaf cards, and soon, solar panels and other renewable energy products.
Store hours are Tuesday through Friday 11 to 7 and Saturday 10 to 4.
Winkelmann, a writer and real estate agent who grew up in the neighborhood, manages the store, while Judd, who also owns Acme Information Technology, brings his technical expertise to the renewable energy side of the new business. Both are members of Green Drinks, Co-op America, and Heartland Renewable Energy Society.
For more information, contact Terry Winkelmann or Phil Judd at 351-2000 during store hours.
Over Crown Royal, Alizé, Hpnotiq and cheese onion rings during Disco-T's set at Marsha's Ltd., the challenge presented itself: to try to visit all the bars selling tickets for Tavern Nite 2006. No timeframe has been set, but the list of illustrious watering holes is as follows (I've already been to the ones that are crossed out):
St. Louis Nites
11 Stl. Brothers
Two of a Kind
Midwest Men & Women's Club
This Is It
Creme de la Creme
East St. Louis/St. Louis
Do any of you have a review to share with the class?
Tavern Nite 2006 will be held on Sunday, March 12 at the Omega Center (3900 Goodfellow at Natural Bridge). It's presented by St. Louis Nights Magazine and will feature Theodis Ealy, AKA the guy who sings that "Stand Up In It" song, which is a popular selection on north-city jukeboxes. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Doors at 7, show at 8, BYOB, food by Mammer Jammer. Call 367-1742 to reserve a table of eight.
LiveWire Media is moving from the Central West End to 3115 South Grand, better known as the Dickmann Building. I used to work for LiveWire and still do the occasional freelance project for them. The Dickmann is owned by Tim Boyle.
Hartford Coffee Company has a new website address: www.hartfordcommunitycafe.com
They're dubbing their second-floor space for grown-ups the "Java Lounge." You can preview it on Sunday, February 19 from 5-8 p.m. during the reception for proprietor James Fox's art show. Rumor has it that DJ Akita will be spinning at Hartford that evening, fresh on the heels of his appearance at The Royale the night before.
It's too early to be an April Fool's joke, so we can only take it on face value: the often chilly relationship between Anheuser-Busch and our town's second-largest brewer, Schlafly, was warmed by a shared toast of Poor Richard's Ale yesterday afternoon.
Don't expect August III and Tom to start sending out joint Christmas cards or anything: it's really all about business (specifically, how beer in general is losing some of it to wine and spirits).
According to the story in today's Post, "The ale and toast also reflect Anheuser-Busch's efforts to reach out to smaller brewers as part of a bigger campaign to enhance the image of beer."
Still, it's nice to see the fine beverage can inspire the troops to truce and hoist a glass for a moment. We think Ben would be proud.
The fall 2005 issue of At Home featured editorial coverage and/or ads for the following new residential developments in the city:
At Home is a good magazine that's been getting even better. They're bumping up to six issues in 2006. You can subscribe for $9.95.
Here's St. Louis Centre's entry at Dead Malls dot Com.
Chris Goodson and Trace Shaughnessy are tackling another project in Lafayette Square. The Gilded Age Renovation partners are building the Union Club, three floors of condos with ground-level commercial space, on the site of the former Aldi's grocery store at Jefferson and Lafayette. Yomi Martin, Nelly's retail derrrty and cousin, will operate Jerseyville, a sports bar and restaurant, on the ground floor. (I had to make this about hip hop somehow.)
Goodson and Shaughnessy's signature project is the transformation of the City Hospital complex into the Georgian Condominiums. The development's amateurish website has some pretty photos of the display units and a nice rendering of the front elevation. They seem to have jumped the gun a bit with the big "NOW OPEN" banner on the side of the building (the standard punch line is "... to the elements"), but we'll cut them plenty of slack for taking on such a mindblowingly big and difficult project.
Barnraising Development is working to bring a farmers' market to the Tower Grove area. You can help by filling out this short online survey. They're hoping to have the market up and running in the spring.
The Pitted Olive is slated to open tomorrow at 5815 Hampton, offering quality food to go. Their deli, catering and wine menus are available on their website. The owner, Michael Holmes, has worked at Spiros, Bristols, Fedora Cafe, Balabans, Seven Gables Inn, Patty Long Ninth Street Abbey, Lynch Street Bistro, Harry's Restaurant and Bar, J.P Fields, Greenbrier Hills Country Club and Truffles in Ladue.
Tower Grove Park, the historic Victorian walking park that is the jewel of south St. Louis, will soon be even leafier, thanks to a recent $200K grant for restoration and enhancement of the urban forest from the Whitaker Foundation. That's in addition to a challenge issued by the foundation for an extra $150K, if the park can raise dollar-for-dollar matching funds within the next four years.
The park, in case you weren't paying attention in Botany 101, is home to 8,000 trees and "woody shrubs" (I think I dated him in college) of more than 300 varieties, including plenty planted by park benefactor Henry Shaw his own bad self.
In what's become a common plot line on Washington Avenue, the McGowan brothers asked Velvet to move out after tripling the rent on their space. The venerable dance hall is celebrating its tenth anniversary on Saturday, an unheard of feat of longevity in the quick-turnover world of nightclubs.
Here's what Velvet's Doug Hall had to say about it in Velvet's online forums:
Early last week we recieved a vauge phone message from one of the McGowans requesting we vacate the property by the end of October. This came as a shock to us as we were promised last year that we would alway be given at least 90 days warning. We deeply regret the short notice please understand if it were up to us we would at least stretch this through NYE. Our last official night will be the 29th of October.
We will not relocate Velvet however we are looking for a venue to do our AMP shows and to maybe do some of our sat night shows.
When Washington Avenue's developers have succeeded in recreating Plaza Frontenac, will anyone go there?
According to a text message from Ajay Zutshi's phone, the long-awaited Riley's opens today at 4 p.m. The pub is located in the Tower Grove East neighborhood at Arsenal and Arkansas.
Update: We have been to the Promised Land. We stopped by Riley's around midnight. The service was comically slow, which perfectly befits a place that took the better part of a decade to open. It's a nice looking bar lots of wood and a tin ceiling on one side of the space. The Irish theme is in full effect. Even though it was opening day, the air was already thick with CBGB-quality smoke. In addition to drinks, they serve St. Louis-style pizza. In the grand northside tradition, there was a woman selling roses and teddy bears.
A Post-Dispatch article by Charlene Prost about a new office building to be built in Grand Center included this praiseworthy quote from Vince Schoemehl:
"We've got to do something to get rid of all these surface parking lots out here," Schoemehl said. "They're non-urban (and) create a negative image," he said. "Grand Center is not in the business of continuing to operate parking lots. We are in the business of developing this neighborhood."
The UNSCENE "Urban Navigator" map of South Grand shows Mekong, Sekisui and the Upstairs Lounge in the wrong locations. That, my friends, is what you get when you rely on a Chicago-based company to tell you what's cool about St. Louis.
There was an article in the August 30th issue of The Wall Street Journal about the St. Louis-based Save-A-Lot grocery chain. Save-A-Lot has turned the amazing discovery that poor people in urban areas have to eat too into a winning business strategy. Who'da thunk?
Save-A-Lot also operates Deal$ dollar stores.
There are some preliminary renderings of the Bottle District on the website of St. Louis-based Clayco Construction's Forum Studio. Daniel Libeskind (yes, that Daniel Libeskind) is working with the Forum Studio on the design.
In a Post-Dispatch article, Charlene Prost says the Bottle District's three condo towers "would bring a distinctive new look to the city skyline." As a counterpoint, James Howard Kunstler has called Libeskind's proposal for the World Trade Center site "the set for a German expressionist horror movie."
Personally, I hope there are some unique, local, owner-operated businesses to go with the tourist trap entertainment megaplexes planned for the Bottle District.
The Royale has a stylish new website, befitting a stylish establishment.
Stardust begat the Indigo Room begat Club Isis begat The Formula.
Apparently, bar dancing is part of the plan to attract a "sophisticated, upscale" crowd to the corner of Washington and Tucker. That's my kind of classy!
In other Washington Avenue club news, Lotus now occupies the former LO space at 501 North 15th, a fact that has been driven into my inbox by five more-or-less identical messages from Easy Productions and B&W Presents in the last week. Lotus seems to be taking great pains to identify itself with LO, as evidenced by the prominent "LO" in its logo and a curiously punctuated line in all of the email messages I received that reads "Lotus ( I.E... THE FORMER LO ) ????".
Tin Can Tavern (3157 Morganford in Tower Grove South) has added a 42" plasma TV to show NFL Sunday Ticket. They've also concocted a new menu item dubbed the Bibby Burger, which is a burger stuffed into a pastry shell with cheese and other toppings then deep fried. I can feel my arteries clogging just typing that.
Tin Can has live music Thursday through Sunday. When hockey season rolls around, they're going to be giving away a pair of Blues tickets every Tuesday night.
Tipster (and fellow member of the Connecticut Cartel) Ajay Zutshi sent in these tasty bits:
- Riley's, the phantom pub on Arsenal and Arkansas, is now sporting a Fat Tire neon sign in one of its windows. Heretofore, those windows sported only plain white curtains. Could this be an indicator that it may actually open to the public sometime soon?
- The space formerly known as Gulf Coast Cafe is re-opening sometime in the next week. The new owner is named Ayub and the new restaurant is called Sameem. It's an Afghani restaurant and the menu reads "Featuring authentic Afgani Cuisine of Lamb, Beef, Chicken & Veal." Tough luck for you vegetarians.
The menu lists a lunch buffet for $6.99, dinner buffet for $7.99. Carry-outs are $5 and $7 for lunch and dinner, respectively; add a buck for soda. Those are pretty reasonable prices, which befits the area.
Man, this blogging thing is a lot easier when the readers write the content. I don't even have to put on pants and leave the house.
Thomas Crone, our eye on the street, tells us that retro clothier FiFi's has a flyer in its window at 3190 South Grand that says, "As of August 6th we will be at 6172 Delmar across from the Pin up Bowl in the Loop... Please stop in and see the new Shop or give us a call at 314-773-2234."
I guess they'll have to change their domain name (fifisongrand.com), too. While they're at it, they can correct the line on their site that says, "Comming [sic] soon to our new location."
Ajay Zutshi confirmed the news of FiFi's impending move and one-upped TC by noting that there's also a sign on the door of Gulf Coast Cafe that says it's closed. Calling the number on the sign yielded no further details.
Overheard this morning in line at Clayton's Banner Cleaners, comment from an anonymous City Hall spouse: "I don't know if he wants you to deliver his shirts to him or wants me to pick them up -- I know he was worried that it would be bad for him to get delivery, because, you know, this is the county and he's at City Hall in the city. I don't really want to say much more in front of other people..."
Reassurance from Banner employee: "Oh, it's no problem: we deliver to four or five people at St. Louis City Hall."
Making a name for himself before the sign even reflects the name change, Steven Fitzpatrick Smith, local impresario and owner of the soon-to-really-be The Royale Food & Spirits, is profiled in today's Post as one of 37 bar owners who are honoring the Lohr Teamsters' strike and refusing A-B deliveries.
Compton Gate Condominiums is taking reservations now for fall/winter 2006 occupancy. The 36-unit development is located at 2201 S. Grand Blvd., on the site of a former Shoney's. Prices start at $230,000 plus a $182 monthly condo fee for the 1,246-square-foot model. That's $185 per square foot.
Where do so many people get that kind of money?
The city's STD clinic is moving from the Health Department building at 634 N. Grand Blvd. to the Smiley Urgent Care Center, in the St. Louis ConnectCare facility at 5535 Delmar Blvd.
I'm assuming this is part of the plan to empty out 634 N. Grand, which is also home to Grand Center and several arts organizations, before rehabbing the building for a different use. If that happens, the (at least temporary) evacuation of that stretch of Grand will be another step toward being complete. Rhythm & Brews (541 N. Grand Blvd.) is closing at the end of the month. 615 N. Grand Blvd. (formerly The Commonspace and People's Coffee) has been vacant since September 2004.
I don't know about you, but I love UMA, the STL Syndicate's first advertiser. Mike Finan's downtown shop at 313 N. 11th St. carries all sorts of cool, urban home accessories, including spa products and candles from St. Louis-based K. Hall Designs. We spotted K. Hall's bath and body products at a chi-chi store in Ventura, CA. (Hint: UMA is a lot closer.)
The Syndicate's second advertiser is Dawn Griffin, a city-focused Realtor at Blue Ribbon's office in the Central West End. Her listing for 3966 Connecticut notes that it's within walking distance to Hartford Coffee Co. I think you've arrived as a destination business when you start showing up as an amenity in real estate ads. Speaking of Hartford Coffee, James and Shannon are having an open house for their new venture, Thurman Community Café (located at Thurman and Shenandoah in the Shaw neighborhood), at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
There's a group ad for the Morganford business district on page 53 of this week's RFT (the one with the cover story about Core). I'm guessing that this is the first time in quite a while that there have been enough viable businesses on Morganford with an ad budget to pull that off.
And finally, because I can't stand for this post to be all sunshine with no rain, here are a trio of banner ads for businesses that no longer exist that used to run on The Commonspace site. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both, and there you have the Facts of Life (TM). A moment of silence, please ...
The Hi-Pointe-De Mun district, just west of Forest Park and north of Clayton Road, was recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The two subdivisions were laid out in 1917 and 1923. Placement on the Register makes qualifying rehabilitation projects within the district eligible for federal and state tax credits. The Register is the federal government's official list of historic properties worthy of preservation you know, like the Century Building.
52 of the 130 properties in the Morganford business district in Tower Grove South have changed hands since 2002.
Strangely, the name of the road is "Morganford" according to the post office, but the street signs say "Morgan Ford." Discuss.
GreenMarket is a new farmers market that's coming to the Central West End on Saturdays between June 4 and October 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. It will be held at 4814 Washington Avenue, on the parking lot next to the Pierce Arrow Building (home of LiveWire Media). The market will feature produce and gourmet items from local growers and live music.
The Shop at Spring and Wyoming is now carrying ceramics by Greg Svendsen. Stop by and check them out. They're open Thursdays 11-4, Fridays 12-5 and Saturdays 11-4. Note to Susie Gudermuth, The Shop's proprietress: those hours aren't exactly customer friendly for people who have a regular 9 to 5.
At the on-again, off-again Potter's Workshop, in the striving Forest Park Southeast neighborhood, we note that — for the moment — it's on again, at least on Saturdays from noon-3, when (says a poster in the front windows), it's "Open Clay Studio" time.
Left Bank Books is expanding next door into the space previously occupied by Marty's Baking. In addition to more room for books and magazines, they'll have a public restroom. They're hoping to have the space up and running by June 11.
The Excise Division hearing for Mangia Italiano's proposed sidewalk café is on May 3 at 3:30 p.m. in City Hall room 416.
The Medicine Shoppe is closed on Saturday and Sunday. During the week, it's only open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday - Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday. If they're wondering why they can't compete with the evil empire of Walgreens (whose door I will not darken), there's their answer.
Spiegelglass Construction has started work on the future home of Lemongrass on the southwest corner of Juniata and Grand (formerly St. Louis Wok).
MetroLink stops between Grand and Wellston will be closed today and tomorrow due to construction of the cross-county extension. Extra buses are being run in place of the trains. Word to the wise: they're towing cars parked at the Grand MetroLink station, and you won't be able to get your car back until the tow lot opens on Monday.
According to an article in the New York Times, Science Applications International Corporation (S.A.I.C.) has agreed to pay Uncle Sam $2.5 million to settle a fraud suit. They were accused of illegally overcharging the Air Force for environmental cleanup work in Texas. S.A.I.C. should get along well with the developer of their new digs in the Anderson Building (2337 South Grand), Tim Boyle. (Thanks to Jason McClelland for sending this news our way.)
Continuing the renaissance in Tower Grove South, Bill Waggoner, Ana Casey and John Pipkins are set to open Grove Furnishings at 3169 Morganford Road on Wednesday. When it's up, their web site will be at www.grovefurnishings.com.
Okay, let's be clear: we heart Downtown. Love the burgeoning street life, Gallery Urbis Orbis, Kitchen K, City Grocers, the Century Building (RIP), Cardinals game days and so on and so on, shobee doobee doo.
But we've got to put the brakes on our enthusiasm a little bit for the latest project, the Roberts Orpheum Theater (nee Orpheum Theater, then American Theater, before reverting to maiden name.) At Wednesday's grand opening and ribbon cutting -- featuring all the usual suspects, including freshly re-elected mayor Francis Slay, the ebullient brothers Roberts, PR handler and clock-watcher Gentry Trotter, prince of parking Steve Stogel, the Rep's Steve Woolf (checking out the competition?), SLDC's Rodney Crim, planning dreamboat Rollin Stanley, alderwoman-for-life Dorothy Kirner, Entertainment St. Louis' Mike Kociela and about 100 others -- we were primed to gush. But except for some areas of new carpet, we weren't sure where the millions on renovation had been spent.
Crumbly plaster, peeling paint, missing lightbulbs, tarnished brass, broken step nosing, dusty curtains...all in a place that hosts its first show Sunday (the Backstreet Boys). Even the basics, things that don't cost a dime, weren't done: the carpets hadn't been vaccummed, the wooden stage floor looked to have not been swept, the windows were dingy. Granted, the place itself is pretty amazing, with architectural details worth noting all around. But we want to be blown away, proud to take out-of-town friends there, and it still looks like faded glory.
In a Post-Dispatch article a mere one month ago, Kevin Johnson wrote, "As for the renovations, the managers promise that the 1,400-seat venue will be upscale and beautiful..."
Sounds like they've got a long weekend ahead of them.
This is priceless: in the Business Journal's special "Chesterfield" pull-out section (April 1 issue, so I'm holding out slim hope the whole thing's an April Fool's gag), an ad for "Three Choice Communities for The Up-and-Coming Professionals" includes a joint called "CityPlace Condominiums," in Creve Coeur.
The "come again?" pause is the description of these sparkling new units as providing "the excitement of semi-urban living." What in the name of Jane Jacobs is "semi-urban living"? It's like they know "suburb" is a bad word, but they also know "urban" is a lie. They seem to think "semi-urban" means "walk to shopping and fine dining."
Now, I don't know if you've been out Olive way lately, but ain't nowhere I'd be caught dead (har har) walking to. For starters, you'd be a smudge in zero-60. And where are you hoofing it to? Applebee's??
Tin Can Tavern & Grille (3157 Morganford in Tower Grove South) is set to open on Monday, March 7. They won't be serving liquor until they get their license, which should hopefully happen by the 16th.
In the St.-Louis-is-a-small-world category, their accountant is the son of my high school trigonometry teacher. Josh Alt, one of Tin Can's proprietors, is the bassist and lead vocalist for Secret Cajun Band.
Cee Wisp Communications
Re: Save the Skybridge
Embargo: Thursday, February 4, 5 p.m.
ST. LOUIS As reported in Martin Van Der Werf's column in the Post-Dispatch today, efforts are afoot to remove the pedestrian "skybridge" from the St. Louis Centre complex, thereby forever altering the scenic streetscape along this burgeoning section of Washington Avenue. In response, a group of concerned citizens is planning a multi-pronged approach to keep the historic skybridge intact.
"Changing the dramatic exterior of the St. Louis Center skybridge would be a mistake," says Franklin Jennings, a spokesperson for the ad-hoc "Save the Skybridge" effort. "Once torn asunder, the views in this area of eastern Downtown would never be the same. We consider the skybridge to be part-and-parcel of the robust nature and dramatic vista of this working neighborhood. It has been a part of Downtown for roughly two decades. Our contention is that it should be serviceable for at least two generations."
With City Hall rainmakers likely favoring the demolition of this structure which linked the old Dillard's department store to the vibrant commercial hub of the Centre overtures will be made to insurgent Mayoral candidates Bill Haas and Irene Smith.
"These are people who regularly trade in the ideas market," says Jennings. "No 'isms' apply with them. Particularly age-ism, which is clearly in effect with this anti-preservation move. The thought that the contemporary design aesthetics of the late-'70s and early-'80s can be so wantonly tossed aside, shows that our civic leadership doesn't value Generation X, the people who grew up with the architecture so vividly brought to life by the skybridge. This seems to stand in stark contrast with ballyhooed efforts to woo young residents to the City."
Jennings suggests that those interested become immediately involved, first by purchasing goods and services from the vendors that call St. Louis Centre home.
"Nothing speaks louder than a consumer response," Jennings says. "And the range and scope of commercial endeavors currently taking place in the Centre will surely surprise those who've not shopped there in several years."
Meanwhile, online efforts will be undertaken through the (in-construction) internet portal: savetheskybridge.org.
"We've seen countless Downtown buildings saved through highly-public internet campaigns, featuring sharply-designed, highly-intuitive and dynamically-interactive sites" Jennings says. "Why not here?"
Now that information of the potential demolition of the historic skybridge is becoming public, Jennings hopes to tap into the goodwill built through other, recent efforts to save important Downtown landmarks. He stresses that "outside-the-big-box thinking" might be required here.
"Take the trendy 'windowless condo' idea so prevalent in the American Northwest," Jennings suggests. "It's not necessary for Downtown lofts to have, for example, 40 windows per unit. In our research, windowless condos are increasingly popular in rain-saturated, low-light cities such as Portland and Seattle, where adaptive reuse is treasured, not mocked. To target a handful of units to those with solid incomes and light sensitivity is simply good business."
For more information, contact Franklin Jennings through Cee Wisp Communications @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
In memory: Johnathan Swift, 1667-1742.
A slightly rogue website has been set up evidently to tell the musicians' side of the strike/work stoppage/lockout/whatever story; it's also shrewd PR for the various community events musicians continue to particpate in while Powell Hall sits silent.
Dateline: S. Grand near Arsenal
As of 11:16 p.m. Thursday (headed home after Cine 16), we can report that Erato Wine Bar seems to be open. And packed with happy people, if fleeting glances can be believed.
Atomic Cowboy has all sorts of fun things planned for their new location at 4140 Manchester, which is scheduled to open next year. Maplewood's loss is the city's gain.
If it's Tuesday, it must be re-branding time for Grand Center (the arts and entertainment district? The cultural and creative district?). Now we're on to "The Intersection of Art and Life," and to prove it, in place of the sad little gated trees that lined Grand until they were chopped down earlier this year, there are fancy topiary shrubs in stone planters that are inscribed "Grand Center" on one side and "The Intersection of Art and Life" on the other.
Please refer to it thusly until futher notice. New shrubbery will direct you if and when a change comes.
Everybody's favorite save, the South Side National Bank Building, is now under the control of West End Realty, which reportedly will renovate the landmark tower into $200K condos and retain commercial space on the lower floors.
Insider news is that the Crate & Barrel that opened last week, in a little off-the-beaten-path place called Richmond Heights, hoped to end the week at $190K rung at the registers...and ended up well over $300K.
Go crazy, people, go crazy! And hey, if you want to buy me a chair...
Word on the street is that the Rocket Bar (2001 Locust) will close its doors for good on New Year's Day.
Dateline: SAINT LOUIS GALLERIA
At around 1:45 p.m. today, pre-holiday shoppers (and, it must be noted, day-job scofflaws) were brought to an abrupt halt in their spending frenzies when all power to about half of the Galleria went out suddenly. The culprit? Fire at The Cheesecake Factory (probably too many candles on someone's giant-ass birthday cake, to go with the rest of their giant-ass portions...I mean, really, people: where do you think we get our giant asses??)
You could almost see folks who had been in a shopping haze awaken and think, "Wait, do I really need this?" They staggered out into the rainy day with wallets still intact.
Curiously, the entire western side of the mall was stricken — except for Victoria's Secret. So that's what those Angels are good for...
Whilst lunching at Amici's t'other day, I overheard the most hilarious (and sad) conversation between two women of a certain age, regarding the now-being-built Kirkwood Station Plaza development .
Woman the First: "I don't know, I just think it's going to be just like those ones downtown, you know, the, uh...what do you call them? Apartment-like things?"
Woman the Second: "Apartments? Condos?"
Woman the First: "No, that's not what I'm thinking of...with all the people living in them?"
(Me, almost smugly interrupting, sure that the word she's grasping for is the trendy one, "lofts." Seriously, I begin putting down my fork to lean over and offer that.)
Woman the First, triumphantly: "Pruitt-Igoe! That's it! The housing projects. That's what everyone saying about these new ones here."
Wow. New Urbanism's got a tough row to hoe to get Kirkwoodians on board, apparently.
(More hilarity as both women lamented why the development couldn't be "more like old-timey St. Charles"...and then they both talked about how much they liked to walk around there but would never, ever spend such money in those shoppes! Well, therein, your answer. *That's* why you can't have it.)
Beginning November 7th, Hartford Coffee Company (3974 Hartford Street) will be open until 7 p.m. on Sundays to accommodate more meetings and groups. Stop by sometime. You have 88 hours a week to choose from:
Monday - Thursday: 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 7 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. - 7 p.m
The Urban Knitters are all atwitter about Knitorious, St. Louis' new knitting and stitching store. Coincidentally, Knitorious occupies a location in the Clifton Heights neighborhood (6136 Southwest Ave) that was on the short list of spaces that The Commonspace considered moving into for its physical incarnation.
One wonders if the headache ball has a now-inevitable date with the Century building: Charlene Prost says we'll see movement by the end of this week.
For all those slathering fans out there (and you know who you are), an update from the plate-glass window of the soon-to-be Trader Joe's in Brentwood (formerly Zany Brainy): grand opening is set for October 29. One wonders, is Whole Foods shaking in its pricey boots?
I think you should all start camping out now. Who's bringing the Two-Buck Chuck?
The Bottle District is set to open just north of the Edward Jones Dome in 2006. For now, you'll have to be content to visit it online at its new website. The seven-block entertainment, retail, dining and residential development is being spearheaded by Dan McGuire of McGuire Moving & Storage, and Joe Edwards.
According to a reliable source, Wild Oats is asking people in the checkout line for their zip codes and phone numbers to determine where to put their second store in the St. Louis region. The survey started on September 28, and will conclude around October 12. If you'd like to have a Wild Oats grocery store (or, as their marketing department prefers to call it, a "natural marketplace") in the city, you know what to do: stop by the store at 8823 Ladue Road, and let them know that people who live in the city like nice things (like unbelievably expensive produce), too.
Within the next two weeks, SLU is hoping to send out an RFP to develop the property on the northeast corner of Grand and Lindell. Below is a photo of that corner taken in May 2001 before the two-story building that housed the Golden Dynasty restaurant was demolished. It's currently a vacant lot.
The Moolah Theatre is set to open at Lindell and Vandeventer in Grand Center this fall. It will be in the Moolah Shrine building, which is being developed by Amy and Amrit Gill. The theatre will feature the biggest movie screen in St. Louis (25 feet by 60 feet) and couch and stadium seating for 500 people. (Not to be outdone, The Commonspace will host its inaugural Bad Movie Night on Tues., Sept. 21 at 7:30 p.m. We have a five-foot screen and couch seating.) The Moolah Theatre will be operated by Harman Moseley's St. Louis Cinemas, which runs the theaters at Chase Park Plaza and the Galleria. The building will also be home to a bar, a bowling alley, a dining area and apartments.
Missouri's first KaBloom franchise will open in the Grand South Grand Business District on Friday, August 27th, at 3101 South Grand, just across from Tower Grove Park. KaBloom is a totally new way for St. Louisans to buy flowers and potted plants. Our store is warm, inviting and fun with over 200 different varieties of the freshest flowers and plants you'll feel like you are walking through a garden.
It is important to us that we offer convenience, so our location (which was formerly occupied by Paramount Drug) is easily accessible to both pedestrian and vehicular traffic. We open early and close late, offering our customers an added layer of convenience that is not found with a traditional florist. Most importantly, we get our flowers and plants direct from the growers, so our flowers are fresher, our quality higher and our prices unbeatable. We believe flowers should be enjoyed everyday, not just on special occasions, and offer a European-style market which invites you to sample from the wide array of plants and fresh-cut flowers each week.
KaBloom's co-founders are Thomas G. Stemberg and David Hartstein. Mr. Stemberg is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Staples, Inc., the Office Superstore. Since its first store opening in May 1986, Staples has grown to over 1,300 stores worldwide. David Hartstein, KaBloom's President and CEO, co-founded Super Office, the first office superstore chain in Israel. In the summer of 1997, Mr. Hartstein returned to Boston to build KaBloom. KaBloom opened its doors in December 1998, with three avenues to purchase flowers: through the Internet at www.kabloom.com, by telephone at 1-800-KaBloom and at retail locations in greater metropolitan Boston. Consumer acceptance of KaBloom has been immediate. In fact, we have become known as "the Starbucks of flowers." There are now over 70 retail outlet locations in 26 states nationwide.
At KaBloom South Grand, we promise to inspire you with the most exciting varieties of the freshest, highest quality flowers at the best prices. Please stop by and allow Ray Grimes and his staff to introduce you to the KaBloom experience. We are proud to be part of the community and look forward to serving you and your friends!
3101 S. Grand
St. Louis, MO 63118
There's a lot in the works for Grand Center, home of The Commonspace. Vince Schoemehl laid out the game plan in an editorial in the Business Journal in May. Grand Center, Inc. is spending $100,000 on an intensive marketing campaign to promote "The Intersection of Art and Life" in the district. Their website has been redesigned to reflect the new theme. The marketing push, which also includes lots of in-kind advertising, is designed to go hand-in-hand with a $250 million redevelopment program.
Stop by and visit us sometime soon to see what all the buzz is about.
The Gateway Arch Riverfront and The Touring Cyclist have teamed up to provide St. Louis with a new and exciting way to tour the sights and sounds of the city or leisurely cycle the path along the riverfront by opening a new bike rental shop.
The Touring Cyclist will operate the bike rental shop located below the Arch on Leonor K. Sullivan Blvd. Rentals are available Monday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Riders that visit the shop will be provided with several suggested bike paths to explore, including the St. Louis Riverfront Trail along the Mississippi, and trails leading to the City Museum, Union Station, Anheuser Busch Brewery, and Forest Park. Maps provided show detailed directions to guide bikers along the various paths. Bike rentals cost $12 for 2 hours and $25 for all day. To accommodate individuals, families and groups, tandem bikes, trailers and tag-a-longs are available at additional costs. For more information contact Tom Etling or Lindsey Ruud at 314-621-4040.
Yet another reason to visit the excellent Subterranean Books in the Loop: Javier has realized the vision and completed the little loft gallery that has been in the planning stages for some time. At the moment, you can see a few pieces from this year's "Bread and Roses" exhibit, including a decorative mirror by Sheila Suderwalla entitled "Democracy Looks Like You," and a moving painting by Tim Varner, "Supporting Our Troops." Stop by and climb the stairs if you're in the neighborhood.
CNET News.com ran an article about St. Louis-based (well, sort of St. Louis-based they have a 636 area code) 321 Studios, which makes software that lets you copy DVDs and games. Unfortunately, it's not cheery news for the local economy. The beleaguered company is facing a swarm of lawsuits from entertainment companies with deep pockets. At stake is the important issue of where to draw the line between fair use and piracy when it comes to digital media. 321 Studios has had to lay off 95% of its 400 employees. Slashdot also picked up the story.
I heard a rumor that The Chocolate Bar has closed. Can anyone out there in blogland confirm that?
Update: It's worse than I thought. According to an email from a certain AP-award-winning journalist mentioned below, The Chocolate Bar is closed and so is LO. He says Tangerine is also gone or on its way out.
Update #2: The Commonspace scooped the Post. From Deb Peterson's column:
WISH AVE.: Blake Brokaw has closed his club Lo, and is set to close Tangerine on Saturday. Tangerine, a bar and restaurant, was set to mark its eight-year anniversary on Wash Ave. (aka Washington Avenue). Both places were considered linchpins of the hip area's redevelopment. Word is that the same fate is in store for Brokaw's "The Chocolate Bar" on Park Avenue in Lafayette Square.
Remember kids, you heard it here first.
Tower Grove Heights has arrived! Next thing you know, we'll have a wine bar in the neighborhood. (Erato Wine Bar is slated to open at 3117 S. Grand in the former Futon Express space.)
Word on the street is that Marty's Baking at the Left Bank (395 North Euclid in the Central West End) has closed. It's been a while since I've been there, but I was partial to their grilled sharp cheddar and tomato sandwich, even though it cost $5.75.
Well, it's a sad day, folks, but Linda Tucci (arguably the first lady of good STL dish, no disrespect to Peterson) is packing up her laptop and headed to Beantown.
As reported by Linda Tucci in the Post, five (5!) French restaurants/bars are coming to the Continental Life Building in Grand Center. The complex will open under the umbrella name of Le Continental and cost about $1 million to build out.
When asked for a comment, Groundskeeper Willie had this to say: listen
During one of our frequent visits to El Burrito Loco tonight (the delightful hole-in-the-wall on Bates, for those not in the know), we learned that the owner will soon be relocating to roomier digs at Loughborough and Gravois, with plans to expand with a bar, bigger dining room (it could hardly be smaller, I suppose) and a cultural area with pottery, art and information about Mexico. Viva el Burrito Loco!
Rumored to be within the time frame of two months.
For the love of all that is holy, please let commentary begin on this topic and overwhelm the camera-geek crowd...
After ten years in business, Siete Mares Mexican & Nicaraguan Restaurant has closed up shop at 3204 South Grand. I wonder if the arrival of Qdoba up the street influenced their decision. Siete Mares was locally owned. Qdoba is owned by San Diego-based Jack in the Box. Siete Mares generally had slow service. Qdoba is a fast food establishment.
Susie Gudermuth is opening a consignment shop to sell works by local artists at the corner of Spring and Wyoming in Tower Grove Heights.
Shouts out to our friends at BUILD — Businesses United for Independent Local Development — who also have a nice write-up in the Business Journal, and Schlafly co-founder Dan Kopman, who is a member. He has the guts to say that Schlafly hasn't signed on with RCGA because it seems so large that he doesn't know how his business could really be involved in a meaningful way; "But in helping other small businesses survive, that's something we can support."
Isn't it nice when people in charge of stuff actually seem to have the right instincts?
confirmed last night on the drive home from the radio show:
Qdoba at S. Grand and Arsenal is open. Ay, chihuahua!
I went to the Home Despot on South Kingshighway today to rent a truck. (FYI, you can't rent a truck at the Home Despot unless you're using it to move something you bought there; I ended up going to U-Haul up the street.) While I was there, I saw something that irked me. (A trip to the evil orange box almost always leaves me feeling irked for one reason or another.) That something was a display of four shiny new John Deere riding mowers. Number one, it's January. Number two, the store is in South City where everyone's yard is the size of a postage stamp. Something tells me those mowers are going to be sitting there for a while. Does Home Depot make any attempt to tailor the products in its stores to the communities in which they're located?
So, the Anderson Garage on Grand near Russell now sports a slapped-on banner over its near-permanent "Unique Office Lofts for Rent!" sandwich board, which says that it's 100% leased.
Perhaps it's contingent on a lesee-directed buildout? I can just imagine the directives now: "Well, we're going to need four walls, and a ceiling and roof if you can manage it. The broken glass and pigeon colonies -- while chic -- will have to go."
Can't wait to see what goes in there!
Amanda and I went to Pin-Up Bowl (6191 Delmar in the East Loop) with a few friends this week for a story she's writing for Where Magazine. Joe Edwards has done it again with this super-cool eight-lane bowling alley and lounge that has a couple of pool tables thrown in for good measure. The most striking part of the swank decor are the flat-screen TVs and video projectors pumping out MTV and the Cartoon Network. I wonder if Joe Edwards looks around St. Louis and thinks, "Jeez, do I have to do everything cool in this town? I mean, c'mon can I get a little help here?"
SLU has announced that it will be building its new 13,000-seat arena on the southwest corner of Compton and Laclede (map). The arena will be visible from Highway 40. It's scheduled to open in August 2005 and will cost $70 million. Earlier, there was talk of building the arena a bit farther north in Grand Center, but the land acquisition proved too costly. It'll be interesting to see what it's like getting in and out of the area when there's an event at the Fox, the Symphony and the arena all on the same night.
Tim Boyle bought the house at 3539 Hartford on 5/4/2001 for $77,000.00 with the intention of turning it into a parking lot for the St. Louis Bread Co. During the demolition hearings, he argued that the building was not worth saving. Now he's got it listed for $134,900 (MLS ID#: 357422). As far as I know, he hasn't done any work on it.
As reported in the Arch City Chronicle, Tim Boyle and Ald. Steve Conway are on the outs because Boyle has failed to make promised repairs to the Anderson Garage (2337 S. Grand), which he has owned for about six years. In retribution, Conway is holding up the liquor license for the Qdoba restaurant that's slated to move into the former Streetside Records space owned by Boyle.
Part of the south wall of the Anderson Garage has already collapsed. There are gaping holes in the roof, floors and walls. Yet, in the Business Journal's Summer 2002 Leasing Guide, the Anderson Building was listed as having been renovated in 2000. The rent was listed as $15.50 per square foot, and the leasing guide claimed that the building had 70 parking spaces
Some more back story: I called Tim Boyle in the spring of 2000 to ask him if he had any available office space on Grand for the company I was working for. He tried to sell me on the idea of moving into the Anderson, which he said would be completed in August (of 2000).
Café Madeleine in Tower Grove Park now offers its popular Sunday brunch year-round, with extended winter hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A full buffet selection is available at $14.95 for adults and $7.95 for children. The Café is operated by The Butler’s Pantry. To make a reservation, or for more information about brunch at Café Madeleine, call 314-575-5658.
Kids, I have been to the retail mountaintop, and am here to report back, firsthand, on St. Louis Mills.
It's part of my job, so there I was with the unwashed masses at 8 a.m. on Thursday morning. (Get this: the stores didn't even open until 10, but the retail gods still managed to pack the place with people at 8 in the morning!! Celia and her guitar were there on stage, warming up the crowd, and I have to say that I'd probably go to the ribbon-cutting at a Dumpster if percussion-happy Joia were part of the festivities...)
Anyhoo, shoppers wandered around like the undead, peering into the closed metal grates of stores like Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse (which is so big that it's listed as an "anchor," not just as "footwear," on the store directory), Primarily Purple (just what it sounds like) and the omnipresent stalwart of the outlet mall, Big Dogs. Storekeeps were forced to adopt one of a couple of coping mechanisms when faced with the hordes who were prohibited by Mills management from being allowed in to spend with abandon until Miss Missouri finished her opening-day festivities: some shuffled around, checking stock and getting their registers ready for business, and others came to the grate to engaged potential shoppers in a little from-behind-bars banter. The gatekeepers at Marshall's MegaStore caved under the pressure and threw their doors open a full hour before showtime...and were duly rewarded with crazed shoppers who couldn't get enough. (Tangential question: how, on opening day of new shops in a brand-new mall, did several stores have "Clearance" and "Reduced — Must Go Now!" merchandise from the get-go?)
My own assessment? Not too much to get excited about. I'd go back for Off 5th Saks Fifth Avenue Outlet, maybe Nine West and for the quirky Soda Jerks, who have nutty, regional soda favorites from around the country, available by the bottle (refreshing Moxie, anyone?). The inside skatepark and blacklight putt-putt course look fun. If you've got kids, they might dig the PBS playground area. Beyond that, just how many dollar stores does a mall need?? Trendspotters, keep your eyes on this one: a joint called Granny's, which is an "everything's-$3" store. Going after that upscale discount shopper?
Blueprints have been spotted for a Qdoba restaurant slated for about 2/3 of the former Streetside Records space at Grand and Arsenal. The oddly spelled, Colorado-based chain bills itself as a "Mexican Grill." They're also putting one in Chesterfield Commons.