The other side of Shaw

After last week’s positive article on the status on Shaw Boulevard, I figured it was only fair to followup with another article focusing on the less polished side. Taking that angle, while there are plenty of residential buildings along the street that still need attention, it’s the commercial properties that have the single greatest impact on the street’s image.

Rather than go down a list of all the properties that could use improvement, I have picked the 4 biggest commercial problem-properties along Shaw Blvd in the Shaw Neighborhood for this example. If these four properties could be turned around, Shaw Avenue could justifiably reclaim its role as the unofficial Broadway of Shaw. Here is a quick breakdown

4175 & 4200 Shaw – Intersection of Shaw and Klemm

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These properties share the Shaw and Klemm intersection with the Mullanphy Elementary School. As such, any issues of safety get a lot of attention. The convenience store at 4200 Shaw has exterior camera surveillance and restricts loitering around the building. The old service station at 4175 Shaw is vacant, but it is kept relatively uncluttered to prevent anyone with less than ideal intentions from watching the schoolkids. In this capacity both of these buildings prevent few issue.

A quick glance, however, shows that they are far from perfect. Both of these properties are one of the first things a person sees when they drive down Shaw from the nearby Missouri Botanical Gardens. Not a good first impression. They are both hideous and need significant cosmetic upgrades. The convenience store is a mixed-use property, with apartments upstairs, but the storefront windows are blacked out and covered with bars. It is unkempt, dirty and always raises the question of what they are hiding. Such a space would be a great location for a restaurant, retails hop or even a more appropriately decorated convenience store.

The service station is simply a waste of space. If the property will not be reopened as a service shop it should just be torn down. It has no significant historic value. However, there could be potentiality ground contaminants  on the lot, which could be poses a problem. Regardless, this property is at the western doorstep to the neighborhood an says anything but welcome.

3969 Shaw – Intersection of Shaw and Lawrence

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This property appears to be a former gas station on is probably the biggest eyesore and waste of space on this list. The building itself is tiny, but the lot is buildable. There really seems to be no reason to keep this building standing unless there is some secret history in play. Fortunately, the property was recent secured by the St. Louis Land Reutilization Authority (LRA) so redevelopment might soon be in the cards for this one. Of course, there is also potential for environment concerns with old gas tanks as with the old service station at 4175 Shaw.

1819 39th – Intersection of Shaw and 39th

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This is my favorite one. Or least favorite, depending on how you look at it. This convenience mart at the corner of Shaw and 39th is a mix of aesthetic nightmare and crime magnet. It also happens to be the first commercial building you come across in the neighborhood on an approach from the east or north. Nearly every window in the building is in major need of painting. The signs are ugly, the facade is ugly… it is ugly. Looking at the City’s complaint records, there have been 70 official citations on the building in the last ten years. They seem to have a problem with properly storing trash and fighting of infestations of insects and rodents. The property is just hideous in every way.

As for the crime angle, I have personally witnessed two drug deals in front of the building in the past few years. I have heard many similar stories from others familiar with the property, including one person who was actually approached to buy cocaine while he sat in his car writing notes about a nearby property. The police seem to be aware of this, and I have seen arrests outside the property, but the activity continues. Come springtime it will be business as usual.

Thankfully, this property is on the hit-list of the both Neighborhood and City officials as well as the police force. As efforts become more proactive, things will likely clean up on their own, or action will be forced upon the owners.

So there you have it. The four biggest commercial problem-properties along Shaw Avenue. With the LRA and police and local officials involved, in the cases of 1819 39th and 3969 Shaw, there is real hope that these properties can be turned around in the next few years. As for the less intrusive properties at Shaw and Lawrence, perhaps time and improved market conditions will help those along. The street and the neighborhood would be that much better for it.

Check out the companion piece to this article: Sasha’s on Shaw sets up Shop

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10 Responses to The other side of Shaw

  1. Brian S. February 3, 2009 at 1:27 pm #

    That last one is really bad – if that one gets cleaned up, it would be a great sign for the neighborhood.

    I actually like old garages and filling stations. The garage on Shaw could be re-used in creative ways – maybe along the lines of the Third Degree Glass Studio on Delmar, which is also in a converted garage. Filling stations seem a little harder to deal with, especially one as small as the one on Shaw. Might make a cool snow-cone/ice cream stand or small drive-in type restaurant (like Carl’s on Manchester?).

    • Matt Kastner February 4, 2009 at 2:16 pm #

      I always thought you could enclose that filling station. If the drivethru area was glassed in it could be a nice little space with a good amount of parking. The work would be pretty cheap to do as well.

  2. Abby October 28, 2009 at 2:22 pm #

    They finally tore down the old gas stations at Shaw and Lawrence! 🙂

    • Matt Kastner November 2, 2009 at 8:08 pm #

      That makes me a little bit sad. I always though it could be some quirky reuse project. Hopefully something worthwhile is built in its place

  3. Erin March 13, 2010 at 11:49 am #

    Thanks – I live on the 4100 block of Shaw and we as neighbors have tried many different avenues to do SOMETHING about Regal Foods and the old repair shop. The shop is in probate court (?) there were squatters and lots of other issues surrounding taxes and ownership. Luckily it is at least cleaned up of all of the debris. Regal food just won’t change. They were offered a matching amount of money (up to $10K) to fix up the store… they refused.

    I would LOVE to see Shaw restored to a true boulevard (which is what all of the street signs say – as well as our mortgage papers!) I know that the old gas station at Lawrence and Shaw is possibly turning into a learning garden for St Margaret’s school. Pretty cool. I also heard talk of new bump outs for the entrances to the neighborhood. Maybe someday we might see some pedestrian lighting and new sidewalks… a girl can dream, can’t she!

    Shaw (the neighborhood) is judged by what people see on Shaw the street…

    • Matt Kastner March 13, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

      Thanks for the update. As the weather warms, it is always interesting to see how things change. Shaw has made some good progress in the past few years, but it sounds like it might take awhile to get to the finish line. Keep up the good work fighting places like Regal.

  4. bri September 3, 2010 at 2:47 am #

    i live by gravois and russell you know how many deals i see on a ragulry basis alot drug deals

  5. bri September 3, 2010 at 2:53 am #

    1831 russell is a problem what can i do i have tried everthing

    • samizdat September 10, 2010 at 11:09 am #

      Alderman? Is that Craig Schmidt’s ward? Police? Take pix. Though be careful about it, for obvious reasons. Get all of the property numbers (street addresses) near that location, or for that matter on your block, and the next time you see dealing activity, call 911, not the 231-1212 non-emergency nuisance number, and give the street address. Make certain of it. Some of the dispatchers get a little cranky about vagueness. Take down license plate numbers of suspected dealers/customers, and save them. Again, be careful. Some of these nitwits don’t take kindly to someone getting all up in there business. Clean up the trash on your half of your block. Yeah, I know it’s not directly your responsibility, except directly in front of, and behind, your property, but it’s a psychological thing. Oh, and call–or email on the City’s site–about trash and uncut grass, pealing paint, broken windows, you get the gist. Yeah, I know, that’s alot of work. But if you have other neighbors who are as concerned about these issues as you, you could share these efforts with them. Cheers.

      • Matt Kastner September 10, 2010 at 11:34 am #

        Steve Conway is the alderman there. You make good points, but I want to reiterate to anyone playing detective TO BE CAREFUL!

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