SNIA Seeks Community Feedback

By Emma Klues | 20 Comments

The Shaw Neighborhood Improvement Association (SNIA) is seeking responses from Shaw residents for a ten day period prior to their April 18th Board of Directors meeting on a potential development in the neighborhood. Background on this matter as follows:

On Jul. 28, 2015, the Community Development Administration (CDA), in conjunction with Alderman Steve Conway, sent out a request for proposals (RFP) concerning the property at 3901-05 Shaw (the former Salamah’s Market, Shaw and 39th), with responses due Jan. 30, 2016. On Feb. 14, the accepted proposals were invited to present to the CDA, Alderman Conway, and board members of Tower Grove Neighborhood Community Development Corporation (TGNCDC) and the Shaw Neighborhood Improvement Association (SNIA). After those presentations, two projects were asked to respond in writing to questions gathered from that meeting. Wild Carrot has responded and is seeking a letter of support from SNIA. The other proposal, Shaw Public Market, has yet to respond to requests. The proposals were given additional time to respond, with an extended deadline of Monday, Apr. 15. If and when the Shaw Public Market Proposal responds to requests, the process to hold a meeting and determine neighborhood input will proceed. The current matter at hand is solely regarding the proposal that responded to date, Wild Carrot.

A meeting was held Mar. 29 for Alderman Conway, SNIA representatives, and invited neighbors from the surrounding blocks of 3900 Shaw to directly address block-level concerns with the Wild Carrot proposal.

A brief breakdown of The Wild Carrot’s proposal is as follows:

The historic rehabilitation described in this proposal calls for the building to be redeveloped into three parts: a 6,000 square foot event space with a two bedroom apartment (above) and a separate 1,200 square foot retail suite accessed from 39th Street. The event space will be operated by co-developers Laura and Casey Bunch, who will also reside above in the apartment. Wild Carrot is open to feedback from neighbors to help determine a tenant for the retail space.

The space will primarily host wedding events Friday through Saturday, with last call for drinks at 11:30pm and events ending by midnight. The Bunches seek neighborhood input on other community-focused events, such as a monthly community movie night or First Friday events open to the public, featuring music and artists. Additionally the Bunches are open to hosting neighborhood meetings in the space when schedules allow.

The project renovation will follow the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Rehabilitation, striving to refurbish the building to match historic photos of the exterior. The south elevation will have the original masonry openings restored and new, painted, wood, double-hung windows installed on the second floor. The ground floor will include new storefront openings, and replicas of the previous ticket window, display panels, and awning.

The Wild Carrot is also seeking purchase of the two city-owned lots located at DeTonty and 39th. These vacant lots will be left primarily as green space, with new concrete parking areas located on the alley. The property at 3900 DeTonty will be re-landscaped to serve as an outdoor event space and the property at 3866 DeTonty will be used as a garden to support the functions of the event space.

At the neighborhood’s request, security and valet parking can be written into each event contract as stipulated by the liquor license. In an effort to address neighborhood concerns and ease the burden on the surrounding blocks, the Bunches have also secured three additional parking lots in the neighborhood to accommodate overflow parking.

The full proposal can be found at the link below. Paper copies are available at the SNIA office at 4103 Shenandoah Ave.

http://towergrovecdc.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/WILD-CARROT-Proposal-3901-Shaw.pdf

SNIA is seeking responses from Shaw residents for a ten day period prior to their April 18th Board of Directors meeting, where a vote will be taken to determine whether or not to write a letter of support for The Wild Carrot proposal. Responses (which are public record) can be delivered via email at snia@shawstlouis.org or by calling 314.312.2280, which is set up to receive voicemails or texts for the sole purpose of receiving feedback to SNIA. Responses will be compiled and presented to the Board of Directors prior to voting. The ultimate decision on the project lies with Alderman Conway and the CDA.

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Crystal Owens says

I love this idea and completely support the people behind it! What a great addition to that area. I can only see good coming from this development adding to community events and growth.

David Semmelmayer says

The commitment to the financial viability of this project and the Bunches' statements about fitting into the neighborhood seem genuine given their business plan and efforts concerning parking. For these reasons, in addition to the promise of the proposal to revitalize this section of Shaw with a business fitting to the neighborhood, I believe the Wild Carrot Proposal should receive a letter of support.

Annie Rice says

I understand the process for emailing for public comment, but I was wondering if you could post what parking lots the Bunches have secured, since parking was a community concern? And if there are any updates to their timeline since we're already into April? Thanks!

Mike says

I am decidedly against this idea. First, I think that this is a terrible use of such a key and integral part of our neighborhood. This corner serves as the gateway to the neighborhood from the North and the East. It is such an important area. And we want to fill it with an event space that most residents will never set foot inside. This is a shameful use of one of the most important parcels in Shaw. Find something better to do with this space. I, like many others, am very disappointed with the use that has been made of the project at Thurman and Russell. This follows in that same style by underutilizing prime real estate for projects that add very little value to the actual citizens of Shaw. Why are we allowing just any project to take over this space when it will add nothing to our lives as citizens? Let this space become something for all of us - a market, a restaurant, something cool and dynamic and inspirational. Look to the future, consider innovation, instead of putting a boring event space in this spot, less than a mile South of another event space at 39th and Chouteau. The only thing this will add to the neighborhood is intense traffic once or twice a week. It won't enrich our lives or our neighborhood. I am so very against it. We can do better, we should do better, we must do better.

Thomas Williams says

My first preference was, and remains, the public market proposal. The public market would encourage foot traffic as opposed to cars. It is something everyone in the immediate neighborhood could use, on a daily basis. It would encourage a sense of community and allow us to actually get to know each other. If the developers can get their financing in order, they get my full support.

I attended the March meeting with the event space developers & came away with the feeling they do care about Shaw and understand our concerns about traffic and parking. However, in spite of their nod toward community activities, I doubt I will ever go there. An event space is better than nothing, but not the best.

Dean Wright says

The people proposing this project are neighbors and they want a vibrant neighborhood place as much as anyone. They also need to make a living to support a $1,000,000+ renovation of this building. I would also say that there are many vacant or under utilized buildings in Shaw that could support markets, artist spaces, restaurants, brew pubs, etc. bring your money and ideas and let's make Shaw even better but don't throw out a great idea and the opportunity to renovate a key building.

Chad Beck says

I live down the street and think this is a lovely way to fill this space and a great addition to the neighborhood! I love the functionality that the space will provide. It sounds like you will be able to support the neighborhood. I can't wait to see the development and wish you both the best!

Cara Johnson says

The Wild Carrot projects sounds like an exciting development in the neighborhood. I live right up the block at 39th and Castleman, and hope that more of the week days and nights will have scheduled local music, author readings, and events to expand the venue space from primarily weddings since this will mostly be for people outside of the neighborhood.

For the retail space on 39th, I would be interested in seeing shops for common goods that people in the neighborhood need/use regularly- a laundromat, a plant/gardening shop, massage services, a book shop, homegoods, etc.

For weddings, it will be very important to have valet and off street parking available since the neighborhood street parking fills up on weekends and in the evenings quickly.

Matt says

I was going to leave a comment, but apparently the process is streamlined...

Emma Klues says

Matt, surely you can appreciate a volunteer neighborhood association wanting comments to come in through consistent channels. It's good to get the word out in various ways and asking for consistent feed back is common.

Joshua Steinmetz says

My wife and I bought 3938 Shaw Blvd two years ago. In that time a vacant property next door has been rehabbed and sold. Another home in need of repair is being worked on and will sell soon. We successfully encouraged a landlord to evict dangerous neighbors on the 3900 block. We have a beautiful new school building on the Southwest corner of the block. Now we have the opportunity to turn a large commercial property on an intersection that serves as a way in and out of Shaw into something impressive. Frankly we're blowing it.

I have raised numerous legitimate concerns at public meetings (and do not believe they have been addressed or even taken seriously) and the response I have heard more than any other has been well a million dollar renovation is better than nothing. That is absolutely false, I can think of many problems that will arise if we choose the wrong million dollar renovation.

First is the use of the building. The vast majority of the time this building would exist as proposed it would sit empty. What good does that do to revitalize a section of Shaw that needs it? A pretty building with nothing going on will change absolutely nothing. See the event space one mile north of this location at 39th and Chouteau for evidence of a pretty building with nothing going on. When I bring this up the response is usually surprise and a belief that the place was not used for anything.

Second is a logistical worry. How can I be assured I can leave my vehicle relatively close to my home? Not just me but my neighbors as well. The south side of the 3900 block of Shaw does not have an alley. We all must use the street to park and most of us have children. From memory I believe there are 11 or 12 residencies on the south side of 3900 block of Shaw, all but my home and my neighbors home are two or four family buildings. I have not spoken to a single resident on my block that didn't feel the exact same way I do about this as well.

Third, drunk drivers.

It would be classless of me to do nothing more than bash a proposal without giving some positive feedback so I will do that now.

In my opinion the way you develop a neighborhood is by creating opportunities that will benefit the people that live in it. I do not see why any proposal for this location that is not retail should be taken seriously. This intersection is busy, visible, and incredibly important to Shaw. This could be the hub of a new commercial district that will create many opportunities on 39th St.

The best use for the building would be a grocery and/or variety store. It's in a prime location. Not just walkable but also in a location that is passed by many commuters every day. This would not only be a benefit to neighbors having our day to day needs met within walking distance but it would also create jobs. I do not mean to disparage the Wild Carrots proposal but I do not see how that could create job options for Shaw.

The reason a store makes the most sense to me is it maximizes the amount of time families will have at home and in our own neighborhood as well as a part or full time job for several young people. Two lots, one directly behind this building and another on the opposite side of 39th between Shaw & Detonty could handle at least 40 vehicles. A use that would be open every day during day time working hours would not strain parking for residents living in an immediate location.

If I were in the position to make a decision on what happens at 3901 Shaw Blvd I would reject an event space here and seek a proposal that would have an impact on our neighborhood.

Elaine Kudwell says

After much thought, I want to amend my original comment which, unfortunately, amounted to " a bird in hand is worth two in the bush".
1. The space should be occupied by a business useable by the neighborhood .....not a business that will be closed much of the time.

2. I am very concerned about the yet unanswered parking question. Using Church and school parking lots doesn't cut it. Have those institutions been contacted? If so, are they agreeable? Will they be compensated? How about insurance? Security?

3. Admittedly the Shaw Market proposal is sketchy, however, Shaw residents are the designers, designers, and financiers. Most of them are long time Shaw residents and community leaders. I believe they deserve time to flesh out their proposal.

Anna Katherine says

After learning of all the positive things Wild Carrot will provide, I know this will be a great thing to the neighborhood.
In order to improve St. Louis and make it better, we MUST allow change. We MUST rehab these old, vacant buildings and give them life. Numerous businesses have been added the past few years and Shaw keeps getting better. I mean, look what Sasha's has done to the area, and Ice's Plain & Fancy... We must keep this up! With Wild Carrot, we we will have yoga, cycling classes and neighborhood events, etc if this space is approved. Sounds amazing to me!!

George says

I believe that an event space open a couple of days a week on Shaw is a waste of a valuable space and corner. There is already such space several blocks north on 39th and I do not see a large demand for a second.

Rather than engage in a passive process I think we would be well served to determine what kind of use would be best and then solicit persons or businesses that successfully operate elsewhere to bring that business to the project.

Adam Mizes says

I prefer the public market option to the wedding venue. There is a distinct lack of places in the neighborhood to get fresh produce regularly. The public market could help make Shaw into an even better urban car-optional neighborhood (a very desirable feature among young people), while the wedding venue cannot do this.

Korissa Zickrick says

This sounds like a great way to rehab a building and bring more life and business to the Shaw neighborhood! I love the idea and support the development. Given they reside in the neighborhood only reiterates the fact that they want to support and enhance the community.