u. city
Whitney Hulling went to her senior prom in style, thanks to the women of the U. City Police Department. Members of the department’s Ladies Encouraging Others (LEO) group donated their own money to send Whitney to the prom and have her hair and nails done. (Shoes? What about shoes? OMG, they had to be fabulous!) The U. City Police Association donated Whitney’s dress, which LEO enlisted Kewana Waddell to design and create—in blue, natch. A hairstylist and a makeup artist donated their services. (Oh, and we heard you the first time! Whitney picked out the perfect pair of sparkly sandals at Aldo.) If you hadn’t heard of LEO, that’s because it hasn’t been active in U. City for much more than a year. After serving 10 years with StL police, officer Latoya Draggs brought LEO to the U. City department, where she has been since 2017. It comprises 14 female officers, dispatchers and record room clerks. LEO decided Whitney was tops after reaching out to U. City High School administrators and guidance counselors to find a star.

Whitney is all that, boasting a 3.9 GPA and staying actively involved in student leadership. What’s more, she had choices when she got to the April 28 event: Since she went solo, she wasn’t stuck with having to dance all night long with ‘the one who brought her.’ Although they definitely had her back, the cops didn’t pick her up or drop her off at the dance. Her parents drove her, but not without a sendoff by the UCPD. Last year, LEO sponsored one student for prom and paid for another student’s ticket.

Nicaya Wiley of Kirkwood High School danced her heart out April 28 at The Fabulous Fox to win the St. Louis Teen Talent Competition. Along with first place, she took home an $8,000 college scholarship, underwritten by Ameren Corp. Charitable Trust. Nicaya, 16, chose jazz-pop standard “This Bitter Earth,” made famous by Dinah Washington, for her routine and was judged tops among 15 metro high school acts. Students competed for more than $40,000 in college scholarships, cash awards and special prizes. The panel of judges—performing arts pros with careers in film, TV and Broadway—had the difficult job of evaluating performers on their interpretation, stage presence, technical ability and originality.

Second place and a $6,000 college scholarship sponsored by John Russell went to Labels, a dance group comprising Arielle Adams, 16, Hazelwood Central; Kelsey Carnes, 16, Francis Howell North; Madison Alexander, 14, Incarnate Word Academy; and DessaRae Lampkins, De’Jai Walker and Brooke Reese, all 17, from Hazelwood Central. Third place and a $4,000 scholarship went to Pattonville student Josh Royal, 17, for his vocal performance of “She’s Out of My Life.” Last year’s first-place winner, Christina Jones, returned to sing “God Bless the Child” and “The Greatest Love of All.” Many additional special awards and prizes went to finalists and semifinalists, including the $1,000 cash Audience Choice Award, which went to Labels for their performance. The Nine Network recorded the really big ‘shew’ for a special program to be aired at 5 p.m. Sunday, May 20—with rebroadcasts on May 22, 26, and 27 at 11 a.m. Mark your 2019 calendars (does anyone have one of those to mark up yet?) for the ninth annual competition, which is slated for April 13.

des peres
St. Luke’s Hospital has finalized the purchase of Des Peres Hospital from Tenet Healthcare Corp. The acquisition includes the Des Peres Medical Office Building and Tenet-owned physician practices in St. Louis. The new name of the hospital? Drumroll, please: St. Luke’s Des Peres Hospital. The 143-bed medical center has served the community for more than 40 years. Officials say St. Luke’s is the metro’s only independent health care provider. Anyone in the area who is interested can attend one of two meetings on what the acquisition means for residents: 6:30 p.m. May 22 and 8:30 a.m. May 24 at The Lodge Des Peres, 1050 Des Peres Road. St. Luke’s should be a familiar name for many: St. Luke’s in Chesterfield, with 493 beds, is also the exclusive alliance provider for the nation’s No. 1 heart hospital, Cleveland Clinic’s Heart & Vascular Institute.

forest park
Can we get there from here in Forest Park, forever? (Little play on words there. You’ll get it in a few lines.) Regional leaders have been ‘nogginating’ about this since early last year. A long-range ‘Great Streets’ study incorporates insights from transportation and urban planning professionals, park officials and the public to improve safety, access, and circulation in and around the park. The study’s lead consultant is Design Workshop, a landscape architecture, urban planning and design agency that has completed projects in 30 countries over the past 45 years.

Last month, the Forest Park Great Streets team publicly presented concepts and operational recommendations developed with input from focus groups and the metro at large. East-West Gateway Council of Governments—in partnership with the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry, and Forest Park (wait for it …) Forever has been managing this initiative. The five key goals the study seeks to advance are:
» To improve how pedestrians and cyclists can safely enter and exit the park across all four major perimeter streets, and enjoyably and safely circulate through the park
» To alleviate congestion at the Hampton Avenue park entrance and improve circulation and parking access and information throughout the park
» To reimagine how a Forest Park circulator or shuttle could efficiently and sustainably assist in moving visitors through the 1,300-acre park
» To improve connections and transitions between different modes of travel within the park
» To expand uses for select park structures, e.g., the Spanish Pavilion

The full report includes many specific concepts and targeted areas for improvements, ranging from site-specific projects—such as making the Festival & Parking Plaza above The Muny a convenient transit hub to alleviate parking congestion around the zoo and art museum—to enhancing crosswalks and using technology to improve information about parking options and path etiquette. Like all other capital projects in the park, any decision to undertake any changes originating from this study will be subject to review by the Forest Park Advisory Board.

Maybe tumbleweeds roll across the vast parking lots when nobody’s looking. Once a shopping mecca, Chesterfield Mall is a virtual ghost town. A few dozen cars dotted the mostly empty asphalt on a recent Thursday, most of them outside The Cheesecake Factory and movie theater. Inside, if you listened very, very carefully, you could hear crickets. The kiddie choo-choo carried only five passengers, one at a time, by 2 p.m. Traffic inside Sears, once the nation’s proudest retailer and catalog presence, was practically nonexistent. Comfort food joints like Annie’s Pretzel Factory are shuttered. Even the nail salon has vamoosed. But there’s hope—not for Sears or many other brick-and mortar stores here, there or anywhere—but for the mall’s 170,000 square feet of floor. The Staenberg Group (TSG) has bought Sears, as well as Taubman Prestige Outlets in Chesterfield Valley, which represents approximately 300,000 square feet of outlet retail space. TSG, though it only has latched on to Sears at this writing, touts plans to transform the mall into a destination with “exhilarating entertainment, innovative dining and unique shopping.” Chesterfield Mall, at Clarkson Road and Hwy. 40/I-64, is “right at Main Street and Main Street,” says Tim Rowe, the company’s VP of leasing and development. Since the city has no ‘official’ downtown, this one day could be it, Rowe adds, what with plans for office and residential space, a supermarket, restaurants, specialty shopping and entertainment. Now, didn’t somebody somewhere say—at least 1,142 times—that only one outlet mall could survive in The Valley? Harrumph. Taubman, during an estimated 12-month transition phase, will be renamed Chesterfield Outlets, and customers will continue to find their favorite shops there. (Don’t count on Dillard’s or J.C. Penney as anchor tenants … those days are over. Slated to open by the end of 2018, Topgolf is the coming attraction that will tower above the outlet center’s eastern end.) Then, shoppers have only to venture across the bridge on the western end to connect with Chesterfield Commons, a so-called ‘power center’ that may well be, according to locals, the longest and largest of its kind anywhere. TSG is quite the innovator. Developing, leasing and managing commercial properties nationwide, the company has a portfolio of more than 200 shopping centers, with 1,000-plus restaurants and 1,000 retail stores. Altogether, that’s upwards of 35 million square feet … but who’s counting?