university city
One of America’s 10 Great Streets has just gotten greater, if we do say so ourselves. The Loop Trolley has completed the major track installation in the Delmar Loop well ahead of Thanksgiving and the holiday shopping season. At this writing, traffic barriers were to be removed Nov. 10, and by the time you read this, the Loop was to be all ready for the Xmas shopping onslaught. (Yeah, they celebrate Black Friday down here, too. But if you want to venture away from hearth and home on Turkey Day itself to shop, go to a big-box store or an outlet mall. If you want a bite to eat that isn’t turkey hash, turkey soup or turk-a-bob, that’s another story. Why not try one of the many Loop eateries over the long weekend?) Officials say construction is on schedule and 50 percent of the track from the lions to the Missouri History Museum is installed. Contractors will continue installing light poles and working on the westbound station stops at Leland and Limit, but all major work in the business district is slated for completion by next Tuesday (Nov. 24). This minor work will barely have an impact on parking spaces, officials promise. You can bet that Joe Edwards, president of the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District, is smiling even more ebulliently than he is in the hologram at Blueberry Hill. Note: There will not be trolley cars yet. The ‘All Aboard!’ is slated for late next year.

Clayton.11-18-15BThe building at Maryland and Gay avenues in Clayton had been part of the Brown Shoe complex since 1975, although the offices were dormant for years. Buzz began in the aughts that it would be razed in favor of a new residential complex. And more. Well, the city approved the project in May, and now the walls are a-tumblin’ down. The spot is set to become more 21st century by 2017, not that the Gateway City’s ‘Second Downtown’ isn’t already. But the county seat will continue its sparkle. Adjacent to the former railroad right-of-way now known as the Centennial Greenway, a popular hiking and biking trail, this project from Covington Development will evolve into a $55 million, five-story mixed-use building known as The Vanguard, with some 225 condo units. Of course, ‘mixed-use’ is just the rather pedestrian term for an urban concept that has been all the rage for decades among the cognoscenti and illuminati in Chicago, L.A., NYC, along Washington Avenue and environs downtown … and, of course, Clayton. (Enjoy the glittery nightscape around The Ritz much? We sure do.) ‘Pedestrian’ in this context means people can shop where they live, plus moneyed tourists get to join in the festivities. Luxury apartments and high-end boutique retail and dining (read: probably no Jimmy John’s or Applebee’s) will be within walking or cycling distance from the greenway, so bicycle racks will be available in abundance.

If we were to print just about anything that Bob Nation said to at least one city employee, or excerpt emails surrounding his expletiveladen tirade(s) over the summer, you would be shocked, dismayed, (redacted) and maybe even feel like (redacted) yourself! Chesterfield’s city council two weeks ago (Nov. 4) voted unanimously to censure the mayor for his behavior. The electronic paper trail is eyebrow-raising, to say the least. Reportedly, the mayor and his attorney characterized the situation as something of a witch hunt designed to remove the first-term official from office. Surprising? Not. Wethinks they protesteth too much. The city council said nothing of the sort; in fact, they praised Nation as well as held him accountable. Come the next month or so, we’ll get an idea of just how loud the registers are ringing up the hill at Chesterfield Mall and at the retail mecca of outlet malls, restaurants and big-box stores in a valley that once featured Annie Gunn’s and little else. (Well, there was a county jail down in Gumbo once upon a time.) So much for what we won’t say about what the mayor shouldn’t have said. Once again, this whole brouhaha has to do with Chesterfield feeling that it’s not getting a large enough slice of the county’s sales-tax pie. Council members also may feel, to a man (and woman), that it just ain’t fair, but on record they’ve been comparatively diplomatic about it. And what’s a mayor supposed to be but a diplomat? Alas and alack; Hizzoner needs to exercise restraint of pen and tongue.

webster groves
What’re the holidays without a holiday house tour? Webster Groves has one of the best, and I can vouch for that. The baked goodies, music and seasonal crafts are second to none, even though I will admit to not having visited all six or so of the fine homes festooned from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day … if that’s how most of you other festive folks do it. (Green stuff can stay up past St. Patrick’s Day as far as I’m concerned.) The 24th annual Webster Holiday House Tour benefits Hixson Middle School’s PTO. This year’s holly jolly will be held on Sunday, Dec. 6, from noon until 4 p.m. Think snow!

st. louis
StL.11-18-15Got the blues? It might not be seasonal affective disorder. And rather than blue, you might actually feel kind of sunny because you’re prescient, looking into next year … when W.C. Handy’s St. Louis Blues comes to the metro, fo’ real, sort of. Do you have ESP? Do we? No, we get press releases around here. Which means we can announce— cue the mouth harp—that the National Blues Museum is scheduled to open its doors Saturday, April 2, 2016, at 6th and Washington in the Mercantile Exchange (MX) District. Too bad Muddy Waters won’t be here to see it, or Duane Allman, Hendrix or (sigh) the late, great B.B. King, who passed away recently. How blue can you get? Twenty-three thousand square feet of blue. Donors include the likes of you and me, as well as icons and Grammy winners aplenty: Buddy Guy, Robert Cray and Derek Trucks, to name a few. National fundraising efforts have included public and private entities in the watershed of the Big Muddy. To wit: Rob Endicott of Bryan Cave is board chairman. John Goodman has ponied up. The space will encompass all things blues … past, present and future … including an intimate (150-seat) performance area. The attraction-to-be will boast more than 16,000 square feet of interactive technology and artifact-driven exhibits, special event spaces and classrooms. I, for one, believe the hype. It sounds like it could be in the same league as the halls of fame and museums in Cleveland (Rock) and Nashville (Country). I’ve visited the one in Nashville, and it’s not nearly as big as our dome downtown, but it’s huge, for Howlin’ Wolf’s sake! Beyond the galleries and exhibits, we can expect the National Blues Museum to host public programs, educational events and other community-based activities. Let’s put our scratchiest 45s on the turntable to celebrate! (Hey, does anybody have a turntable, i.e. record player, that works?)

Pictured: Loop Trolley