Crestwood mall and intelligent thinking

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The mall closest to where I live is the Crestwood Mall, a rather sad, indoor mall that has lost much of its business in the last few years. Last year it was purchased and the new owners will be converting it into an outdoor, village like setting, which I think is a great idea. However, they have to wait until the long-term leases expire, which means that we’re stuck with the sad, indoor mall for another 3-5 years.

Enter a little creative thinking.

The owners of the mall contacted several art groups with a question: if we convert the large, vacant department store into an artist area, could you use the space? Not only were the artists interested, the owners received more applications than they could grant.

The area that used to be the large Dillard’s Department store is now the new ArtSpace: a theater, dance studio, and artist gallery, where the artists get the space for nominal rent, as long as they pay the utilities and fix the area up. The mall owners fill the dead space, and attract new visitors. The artists get a communal area that is guaranteed to attract people from far and wide, because nothing like this has ever been done before. From the Post Dispatch Story:

Those that have started to move in include Laumeier Sculpture Park, DaySpring School of the Arts, Jeane Vogel Fine Art, Marble Stage Theatre, the Hangar and the bookstore I Don’t Want to Kiss a Llama.

In exchange for the space, the arts groups agree to decorate the shop windows, a convenient way to call attention to their work. They have to pay for utilities, but the rent “is just north of nothing,” said Son, in some cases as low as $50 a month […] Each space will be arranged to suit its group’s needs. For example, Son expects several dance companies to share one of the big spaces. One painter — who enjoys talking to visitors while he works — plans to turn his space into a studio; another group of artists plans to work elsewhere, but show and sell their paintings in a collective gallery. A fabric artist, a jewelry designer and an organization that recycles industrial materials for school art projects will be ArtSpace neighbors, too.

Absolutely brilliant idea. This ensures that not only will the mall attendance dramatically pick up, which will be healthy for the existing stores and restaurants, but the art groups get an excellent chance for exposure to a wider audience.


Voting in Missouri

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Missouri does not have early voting, so we’re expecting a busy day at the polls tomorrow. Make sure you’re all set with what you need to vote in Missouri, which is one of the identifications listed in this page. The Missouri Secretary of State’s office also provides a handy poll place and sample ballot lookup. The sample ballot is especially important to making sure you’re prepared to vote before you head to the polls.

You probably already know who you’re going to vote for when it comes to President and Governor and so on, but you may not be sure of how to vote when it comes to that long list of judges that always seem to fill up these ballots. The Missouri Bar Association puts out a list of judges by region and how well the judge did with surveys given to both lawyers and jurors. Based on the surveys the MoBar then gives a retain or not recommendation. For St. Louis County, most of the judges were highly rated. One was given a do not retain ranking, and a couple of others were given a more qualified retain recommendation. I ended up retaining all but three judges on my sample ballot.

Most of the ballot issues are not as straight forward as they seem, and it pays to put some time into reviewing what’s up for a vote. I’ve found that the national Ballotopedia to be a helpful place to start, though just searching on each measure or amendment brings up opposition and support arguments. As an example of a Ballotopedia page is one for Proposition A, which has to do with removing loss limits. The issue has been tied to school funding, but when you scratch the surface, you find that the issue is really being paid for by the existing casinos who want to encourage more people to lose money, while preventing other casinos from being built. At the same time, proponents point to the implication with Proposition A that schools will get more money. It’s an important ballot item, like all of the other ballot items, and you need to spend time with each.

For what it’s worth, my own voting recommendations are:

  • Vote No on Constitutional Amendment 1, about English being the ‘official language’ in government meetings. English is already the official language in Missouri. It’s a silly bill put out by those wanting to cater to the paranoid and the xenophobic.
  • Vote Yes on Constitutional Amendment 4, regarding how financing of storm water control projects are funded. This is a difficult to read bill, and I resorted to Google searches to find opinions on the bill. Eventually, the fact that this bill had such broad bipartisan support in the state senate won me over, though I still think about just letting this one slide on the ballot with a non-vote.
  • Vote No on Proposition A, to remove casino loss limits. Too often corporate interests tie political initiatives to school funding as a way of getting a controversial bill passed. Removing loss limits is only going to add to a growing gambling problem afflicting this state, as well as encourage people to lose too much in the heat of the moment. In addition, the Proposition also prohibits any new casinos, which I believe should be controlled by community planning boards, not the Casino Queen, the main sponsor of this bill. Both Republican and Democratic candidates for governor are against this bill, which demonstrates broad bipartisan opposition to the bill, because I don’t believe the two agree on anything else.
  • Vote No on Proposition B, on creating a new home care council. The concept is good, but the wording in the proposal is vague. What exactly are the powers attributed to this council? What will they do that isn’t handled by other agencies? I like the idea of a watch dog for in-home care professionals, but a badly done proposition isn’t going to help anyone.
  • Vote Yes on Proposition C, which would mandate that energy providers use clean energy sources, up to 15% over time. The organizations in favor of the bill are many, with Ameren being about the sole opposition to the bill. Ameren would prefer “market forces” dictate the use of clean energy. I would assume these are the same market forces that have kept our banks healthy. No, we can’t depend on business to do the right thing.
  • Within St. Louis county, my main interest is on Proposition M, which would provide Metro funding. Gas prices may be cheap now, but they’re not going to last. A forward thinking community is one that plans for, and supports, mass transit, including light rail. Some people are unhappy at the cost overruns the Shrewsbury line cost the tax payers, but punishing a facility that is good for the community for the past actions of people no longer associated with the facility, is penny wise, and pound foolish.
  • As regards to the other St. Louis County initiatives: I’m voting Yes on Proposition C , 1, I, and H. In fact, I’m voting Yes across the board for St. Louis county initiatives. Most of the issues are related to taxes, and include support for our wonderful parks, children services, and necessary capital improvements.
Climate Change Weather

Floods. Again.

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Ike continues to rain destruction down in its path. It’s good to hear the storm surges weren’t as bad along the Gulf, but they were bad enough. Hopefully, though, loss of life will be minimal.

Ike just passed through the St. Louis area with both wind and rain. A lot of rain that combined with the remnants of Lowell from the Pacific. Sad as it is to say, we’re again looking at major flooding along the Meramec, Missouri, and Mississippi rivers.

This will be our third major flooding event in six months.