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