Talk of the Towns

Talk of the Towns: 3.11.20

Like the old Armory on the south side of Interstate 64/U.S. 40, the factory had been just another abandoned building of a certain age. But both complexes are being redeveloped on either side of the lower, eastbound section of the double-decker highway, which threads the eye of a concrete needle there. The $210 million-and-change rehab of a graffiti-adorned former industrial site into City Foundry STL, which hugs the north side of the highway, is slated to open sometime this spring as an entertainment/restaurant/office complex. Notably, the project at 3700 Forest Park Ave. recently received a $40 million infusion from a Florida investor, raising the ante for fabulousness even higher. But this was after it already was evolving into something terrific: Alamo Drafthouse includes a 10-screen movie theater concept. The Food Hall—not a ‘food court,’ mind you (too mall-ish)—will feature foodie-suitable dining options, as many are concept eateries from metro chefs. Meanwhile, Punch Bowl Social House will offer ‘adult’ punch flavors, with or without alcohol, and a diner-style scratch kitchen—along with bowling, karaoke, ping-pong, foosball and virtual-reality gaming. (If you don’t need booze to bowl, maybe you do for karaoke, whether you’re trying to sing or being forced to listen.) Great Rivers Greenway is ensuring the burgeoning Midtown district will become, as promised, an honest-to-goodness community—rendering the highway moot—with trails linking offices to residences to entertainment … to Cortex, to SLU, to Grand Center … and to the moon, Alice! OK, Alice, not the moon, although some parcels required environmental remediation to make them suitable for 21st-century human occupation

the metro
Got pot? No? Confused, huh? Remember, recreational marijuana is only sold on the right side of the river. Illinois, that is. So stock up on Doritos and Hostess Ho-Hos for the drive. (But remember: You still need to worry about an impaired-driving stop, even though there’s no breathalyzer for THC. Plus, your lousy driving could hurt someone.) OK. It still will be a while before medical marijuana is sold here. ‘Commencement inspections’ must be completed at the 70-plus dispensaries set to open in the three Congressional districts in and around the StL. All of that said, check out this headline at Missouri Has 35,000 Registered Medical Marijuana Patients and Zero Dispensaries. Read: Prepare for a hot mess when dispensaries open, sometime this summer.

university city
I first saw the completely bumper-stickered Honda sedan four years ago. Dozens of stickers covered almost every square inch of painted surface; all read ‘Bernie 2016.’ This was that February when Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire Democratic primary. Bernie, 74 at the time, had just about a snowball’s chance in hell for the Democratic nomination, and none of us has to be reminded of what happened that November. This round, he’s 78, a heart attack survivor and—as of March 4—not the juggernaut he’d been just the week before, when it was still, “Joe who?” Meanwhile, reportedly, the cyber-sneaky Russians have been ‘enhancing’ Bernie’s chances to be the nominee. Could he survive a match-up against Trump, on whose behalf the Russkis hacked then, and reportedly are again? Anyhow, about this car. I happened upon the ‘Bernie 2016’-stickered Honda again the other day (didn’t have my camera with me that time, either). The stickers were really, really faded. Not one was for 2020. I hailed the driver, who wasn’t the millennial I expected. She was Medicare age, like me. And she obviously didn’t want to talk to One. More. Person. about her Damn. Bumper Stickers. She seemed crabby, like Bernie always does. Mute the TV next time you see him. Imagine him shaking his fist and yelling, “You kids, get off my lawn!”

Someone with the authority to do such a thing might have to suggest changing the name of Chesterfield, incorporated in 1988, to Staenbergville, Staenbergtown or Staenbergburg, considering how much of this fair city is being remade by The Staenberg Group (TSG). The real estate development company—TSG Properties, with offices in St. Louis and Denver and properties coast-to-coast—specializes in retail design, development and management. In the rapidly developing municipality of Staenbergburg—OK, Chesterfield—redesign and redevelopment are key to the TSG portfolio. Let’s start in the Valley: In the summer of 2013, two outlet malls opened, one just a few weeks after the other. Many thought it would be survival of the fittest. Despite predictions, both chugged along; each even started out with its own Brooks Brothers, J.Crew, PacSun, Famous Footwear and Gap outlets. But neither had a Topgolf location until TSG purchased the easternmost mall, Taubman Prestige Outlets, last April. It’s now The District, featuring the high-flying Topgolf driving range/sports bar/party center complex at the east end. It’s quite an imposing presence with netting seemingly high enough to keep stray balls from striking planes on their approach to or departure from Spirit of St. Louis Airport. The District will feature The Music Factory, a 3,000-seat indoor concert venue that will top capacity of The Pageant by almost 1,000 seats, slated to open in spring 2021. (A rep for Ted Nugent had no comment … JK. The first concert is yet to be announced.) Main Street, an indoor entertainment complex to feature bowling, billiards and karaoke, will be The Music Factory’s co-anchor tenant on the westernmost end of The District. ‘Eat. Play. Shop.’ is the tagline we’ve seen featured online. Then there’s stuff ‘up the hill:’ TSG’s recent acquisition, finally, of Chesterfield Mall, which the developer envisions as a multiuse complex, including residential units. But, wait! There’s more! Watch this space.

Photo: Bill Barrett

notable neighbors
Covid-19, the new coronavirus, is not the worst health crisis America faces today. Although not grabbing headlines lately, another crisis is three-fold, at least: rapidly increasing rates of mental illness, substance abuse and suicide. Alarmingly, many sufferers are young—teens and college kids. The pressures to succeed are more overwhelming than ever: Studies by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health found that 40% of college students surveyed feel depressed and have difficulty functioning, and 61% experience overwhelming anxiety. The pandemic here? Substance abuse. Students seeking help are increasingly likely to have attempted suicide or engaged in self harm. Yet existing approaches to this ever-growing crisis are not meeting the need, in large part because they fail to use a systemic approach to prevention and treatment. Quite simply, too many people wait for something to go wrong before addressing a problem, whether it’s crippling anxiety or a bad back, and then hope someone can fix it. Doctors say too few adopt a whole-person, preventive approach to overall well-being no matter the age. Lauren Munsch Dal Farra, M.D., an enthusiastic proponent of the integrative model, is CEO of PALM Health in Ladue. A cardiologist by specialty, Dal Farra was a prime leader in forming the Anthropedia Foundation with neurologist Dr. Sita Kedia and Kevin Cloninger, Ph.D., in 2004. Unfortunately, she says, too many people still believe a pill should cure most ills. Of course not. “We can’t solve a mental health crisis solely with pharmaceuticals,” Dal Farra emphasizes. “It’s essential to promote well-being. For instance, meditation furthers self-awareness, a deeper sense of meaning and purpose.” In fact, her path as a healer turned toward cardiology for its integrated approach: mind, body and soul. “It’s the intersection of a person’s genetics, lifestyle, personal choices, stress and inflammation, psyche, and pure biology,” says Dal Farra, 41, who completed herundergraduate work at the University of Colorado-Boulder. She earned her medical degree at SLU, with a residency at Wash. U. School of Medicine and fellowship at Mount Sinai Medical Center in NYC. Management is also in her skill set. PALM opened in 2016 in the former Busch’s Grove at Price and Clayton roads. “PALM and Anthropedia go hand in hand; PALM is inspired by Anthropedia’s scientific research,” says Dal Farra, who last month celebrated the grand opening of the Anthropedia Center for Well-Being on the edge of the SLU campus: 8,600 square feet in a historic building at 3693 Forest Park Ave. With any service, the center will provide complimentary meditation for SLU undergrads, who also receive a 50% discount on services (fees range from $5 to $30). All students in the metro will receive a 25% discount. Anthropedia and the university actively fundraise to subsidize costs; the center donates 20% of profits to the foundation. Diet, exercise and stress reduction are key elements of Anthropedia’s integrative approach to alleviating a systemic crisis. Coaches for a student’s well-being are an important person-to-person element of the center’s mission. “We need to get to the root causes,” Dal Farra says. “My role is to keep that global vision, to build the platform and operationalize it.”


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