Friday, April 22, 2016

OP-ED: Jamieson Avenue, Commercial Corridor?

Kati Guerra w/her parrot Izzy
Hello, I’m Kati Guerra. My partner, Felicia Foland, and I moved into a beautifully renovated home on the 6800 block of Fyler at the beginning of January. It has been a pleasure to meet many of our new neighbors and to settle into this neighborhood of families, community-minded churches, and small businesses. Needless to say, it came as a great surprise to learn of the Circle K expansion plans in February. Should the Circle K gain a liquor license and go through with its plans, they will be our new, very big, bright, and loud neighbors to the west! While this is not what we signed up for when we bought our home, this is a matter of great important which is at hand and one which we wish to handle as skillfully as possible.

Needless to say, we have many concerns about what such an expansion will mean for us and our near neighbors, namely those within the 350 ft petition circle. We worry about the devaluation of our homes due to increased light, noise, and air pollution, the increased traffic congestion at an already problematic intersection, and the great potential for Circle K’s negligent management to worsen with an larger footprint. Many of our neighbors share the same concerns, as is evidenced by the yard signs you may see in and around Fyler and Bradley Avenues today.

However, our concerns also extend to the larger neighborhood. The idea that a large multinational corporate enterprise such as Circle K wants expand into property zoned residential brings up another concern which I wish to share with you.

We have been told by Circle K’s representatives that their store at Jamieson and Fyler is a very successful business. This is due to the fact that Jamieson Ave is a major traffic artery with intersections at I-44 and Arsenal on one end, and Chippewa and Hampton on the other, bisecting several South Side neighborhoods. It is for this reason that Circle K sees an advantage in expanding their operation and selling liquor.

Currently, the only businesses along Jamieson Ave. between Arsenal and Chippewa are family owned, “Mom and Pop” businesses such as Anmar Photography, Yoga St. Louis, Mom’s Deli, Southwest Family Chiropractic, and Lindenwood Drug. These small-scale enterprises fit seamlessly within the residential character of our neighborhood. If Circle K is allowed to rezone another residential lot and expand, the “small gas station on the corner” will become a Mega- Gas Station. The further expansion into residential property will establish a precedent for the Jamieson Ave corridor, setting the stage for similar large-scale businesses to develop on this heavily travelled thoroughfare, much the way we have seen development on Chippewa, Hampton, and Watson.

As neighbors who live within close proximity to this corridor, I suggest we ask, “Do we want greater business development on Jamieson Avenue?” and “If so, what kind of businesses would fit our residential needs and character?” These are questions which we must ask ourselves as we consider the Circle K expansion plan. It is my belief that it is very important for a neighborhood like ours to define its vision for itself before others do it for us.

At a recent block captain meeting of the Lindenwood Park Neighboorhood Association, President Janet Desnoyer expressed the association’s interest in establishing a Commercial Development Plan for Lindenwood Park. I believe this is a very good idea.

Many of the best and sought-after neighborhoods in the city have developed and executed these plans with great success. The neighborhood association in tandem with city officials can work together to attract and keep the kind of business enterprises that fit the neighborhoods best.

From our perspective, these should be the kind of businesses which enrich the character of the neighborhood and make it more attractive to greater residential property development. These commercial developments should not be of a scale which require considerable rezoning of residential property to commercial, causing adjoining residential property depreciation. These should also be the kind of businesses which attract the interest of residents throughout the city. This neighborhood-positive kind of development can be seen in the recent rise of the Macklind Business District and there are many other examples throughout the city. Developments which enhance a neighborhood and invite residential investment are a win-win for both neighborhoods and businesses alike.

LPNA will be hosting a public meeting at Timothy Lutheran on April 27th starting at 7:00pm. Circle K representatives will lay out their plan and answer questions. If you or your neighbors plan to attend, please keep these ideas about the future of Jamieson Avenue in mind. If you are in the liquor license petition circle, I strongly urge you to not sign their liquor license petition. Please do not allow a mega gas station to swallow residential property and alter the character of Jamieson Avenue and the neighborhood, possibly forever. We all want to see the Circle K property improved and be a prosperous asset for them, but there is no reason they cannot work within their current property lines and services to do so. In this way, everyone would stand to gain something of value.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


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  1. Thank you a thoughtful and complete writing on the possibility of the expansion. I appreciate how you consider the entire neighborhood and speak so respectfully.

  2. Well written, and excellent ideas. I hope all works out for the best interests of the neighborhood and its residents.

  3. In speaking with neighbors who live within the 350 foot radius of the possible Circle K expansion, I see that that many people have not yet considered a likely future of commercial sprawl to our our Jamieson corners with large businesses that already have small commercial zoning. Chippewa went commercial between Jamieson and Watson in the 60''s and 70's. A plan will have to be made by citizens and their elected and volunteer civic leaders if there is to be any steering of the spread other than the flow money, without regard for people, makes. Are we prepared for this? To those people outside the 350 who don't understand some of the responses within 350 as to the expansion, I suggest visiting the allys and boundries of homes to commercial properties an put oneself in the living rooms and sleeping areas and yards of those homes. LIndenwood Park will not be an desireable neighborhood with homes that are swamped by poorly executed commercial businesses.