This post could perhaps alternately be entitled “Four Corners,” because it is very much the story of how four corners can have so different fates. Starting from top to bottom:
1) The site of a large house that has sat empty for seven years, in Ballwin.
3. Marquette High school in Chesterfield as well.
If the reader has been paying attention, he or she will note that three different suburbs control the intersection of Clarkson Road and Kehrs Mill Road, two old farm roads laid out in the 1840’s or 1850’s and never designed or platted to successfully channel large amounts of suburban commuter traffic.
The corner in Ballwin, now the site of a large house and thick forested growth, is now slated to become a Schnuck’s grocery store. Why? There are many issues, most notably the blatant decline of the city of Ballwin in the last ten years. The aging commercial strip along Manchester Road is obsolete and so choked with traffic as to be one of the most horrible places to drive, let alone walk, in the entire St. Louis metropolitan area–if not in the entire United States. The second issue is large chains seeking to poach off of their competitors’ customers, successfully or not. The Clarkson corridor is flooded with grocery stores, and Schnuck’s is undoubtably jealous of more upscale Dierberg’s, Whole Foods and Straubs getting a piece of the action while Schnuck’s sits on a run-down and decrepit store on Manchester.
The city of Ballwin, doomed by its suburban sprawl model, is grasping at straws as it attempts to revive its tax base and steal revenue from its neighbors. Chesterfield Valley, in all of its venal banality, is actually a more pleasant place to shop than Manchester Road, and increasingly smaller suburbs such as Ballwin must break its own laws in a frantic attempt to chase the almighty tax dollar.
How can this be done better? Easily, with the combination of the 91 municipalities into preferably one, or maybe at the most twenty larger suburbs that are more economically viable. We see the desperation of tiny–no, minuscule–municipalities in North County and their speed traps, and we see the desperation of older suburbs such as Ballwin look on as their poorly built strip malls vacate and flee to the newly built north of Chesterfield. Then, just maybe, if we can come together and put our own individual desires behind us, we will see an end to the balkanization of our metropolitan area.
Update: The Straub’s mentioned above closed after less than a year in business, and the Schnuck’s opened in late 2012.