Cherokee Street Enhancement Project

Posted by Jason Deem on June 17, 2009 | 24 Comments

The Board of Public Service has released engineering plans for the street scape improvements planned for Cherokee between Nebraska and Jefferson.

The plans include new pedestrian lighting, new trees, ADA compliant curb cuts at all intersections, and removal/replacement of the brick pavers between the sidewalk and the street with concrete.

The lighting will be 14′ high double globe fixtures at the intersections and single globe fixtures along the rest of the street.  The fixtures look great in the drawings but one thing that’s unclear is the material.  The plans specify “Cast Iron Light Pole Antique Street Lamps” however the manufacture’s web site which lists this model states “All components and decorative base shall be high-strength ASTM 356.1 Cast Aluminum”.

The trees specified are Hedge Maple, English Oak, and Japanese Zelkova.  All existing trees are planned to be removed.

At a meeting in December ’08 to obtain community input on the project, the majority of residents stated that they’d rather see concrete than pavers in between the sidewalk and curb because this area often gets torn up to install new water & sewer service when a building is rehabbed and then put back incorrectly.  Also, the pavers are much more expensive than concrete.  The group felt that with so many rehabs left to do, the money saved by not using pavers would be better spent on high-quality lighting.

What’s not included:
New Sidewalks
Tree Grates

I can understand the budgetary reasons for not including new sidewalks but traditional cast iron tree grates would be a nice addition to the street that should fit into a $1.4 million budget.  The proposed ground cover in the tree wells (St. John’s Wort on the North side of the street and Periwinkle on the South side) will collect trash and get trampled as pedistrian traffic continues to increase.

The table to the left (click to enlarge) lists all items and quatieis to be provided.

The plans will be discussed at the Cherokee Station Business Association meeting tomorrow night – 6pm @ 2715 Cherokee.  A construction timeline has not yet been made public.

  1. Angelo on June 18, 2009 1:37 am

    I’m a little confused. Are the plans set in stone or is the CSBA going to help complete the project’s plans?

    I volunteered for the relevant committee but have not yet been called to a meeting.

  2. Alissa Nelson on June 18, 2009 4:57 pm

    I remember that the landscape architects at the meeting said that the light poles wouldn’t actually be cast iron, since they just isn’t done anymore; however, at least they didn’t go with fiberglass, right?

  3. Michael Sullivan on June 20, 2009 6:27 pm

    I suspect they will use the precast standards, they are considerably less expensive than the cast iron components. If you’re headed North for any reason you can see them in place on Riverview, just North of I-70. They’re not cast iron, but they are reasonably handsome.

  4. Susan on June 20, 2009 7:30 pm

    So are these the final lights? And did the street get a say in them? Can’t say I’m a huge fan. I was hoping for something modern and unique instead of fake antique.

  5. Jason on June 20, 2009 8:14 pm

    These lights are also installed on Grand right outside the Fox. Mike G. took a trip down there yesterday to check them out and said the posts looked like cast iron to him. I uploaded the photos he took here. I’m not stuck on cast iron, but I wanted to make sure we don’t end up with a cheap looking ultra-smooth aluminum replication. From another photo on the manufacturer’s web site and mike’s photos it looks like the posts are a heavier metal and the light fixtures (top part) are aluminum. I think they look pretty good. The CSBA has formed a committee to review the plans in detail and provide feedback to BPS. My understanding is that there’s no guaranty they will take the feedback into consideration but if enough people feel strongly about making a change to the plans it sounds like it’s still possible.

  6. Jason on June 20, 2009 8:39 pm

    I just found the web site specs for the poles in the plans. They are indeed cast iron.

  7. Michael Sullivan on June 21, 2009 12:42 am

    I wouldn’t expect anything original or unique from this outfit. This project was destined to be a cookie cutter from the onset. Everything has to look the same. It’s more cost effective that way. This one is off the charts on the lack of originality scale. If you get a chance to go to Ann Arbor, they had a project similar to this that utilized LED lighting. The lights actually brighten and dim as pedestrian traffic walk up and down the street. They figure the energy and maintenance dollars they will save on the low energy lighting will offset the extra cost of the sophisticated LED lighting system. And it looks really cool also. It wouldn’t surprise me if there was Federal Money around for a green tinted infrastructure project like this. But what do I know? I would have never guessed that a 25’wide vacant lot on Texas and Cherokee would have been as valuable as it apparently is either.

  8. Jean Durel on June 22, 2009 8:35 am

    Michael, thanks for the info on LED lighting in Ann Arbor. I did a quick google search and found this article giving a description of the project:
    It seems to make not only good financial sense but is also good for the environment.

  9. Yes, yes on July 4, 2009 12:32 am

    I think Cherokee St can be a great place to visit and hang out at, specially with all of its history. Unfortunately, at this time I find Cherokee St. a scary, spooky, creapy street to walk through and mainly because of all those big trees in such a narrow street.

    All those big trees darkens the street specially at night time. When I walked through Cherokee St, I was affraid someone would come out from behind a tree trunk and rob me, and at night time…forget it! I´ll stay away from that place.

    Despite some of the coments in here opposing bars and food shops, I think that well organized, well managed bars, food shops, and night life will bring Cherokee St alive.

    Look around St. Louis and you will see that all the best commercial streets in St. Louis have some sort of night life, and if you cut down those trees and illuminate the street, it would be another beautiful street to visit in St. Louis.

  10. Amber on July 4, 2009 8:35 am

    Seriously? Cut down all the trees to make a more beautiful space? I can’t even think of a single tree on Cherokee that has a big enough trunk to hide a child, let alone a larger person.

  11. Alissa on July 4, 2009 10:16 am

    There are some Bradford pears on the 2900 block that should come down, honestly. But those aren’t in the commercial district, so I’m not sure why this anonymous poster is so frightened. And I’m also not sure why he/she feels the need to rehash the whole tired bars debate AGAIN when we were discussing pedestrian lighting.

  12. Michael Sullivan on July 4, 2009 2:11 pm

    One of the charms of Cherokee lies in the fact that it is narrow. It’s a street. Long ago before the shopping mall experiment was born, shopping districts such as Cherokee were purposely designed this way. Many imagined them as closed spaces, kind of like a giant living room where all kinds of folks could come together in a large neutral zone and share common experiences like eating, drinking and shopping. It’s one of the reasons why the shared space on Texas and California made so much sense, it would have given people another reason to visit the area, and possibly encourage them to stay. Bars and restaurants would certainly compliment activities here, but we still need an avenue to showcase our greatest resource, and that is the people that live and work here. Obviously yes,yes above did not have the opportunity to be around here prior to the several storms we have had over the past 5 years or so that decimated the tree population on Cherokee so dramatically. Cherokee Street in the Springtime with all the Bradford Pears in bloom at the same time was a glorious and breathtaking site. If yes,yes believes the edgeless, bland and treeless experience is most desirable, I would suggest a trip to Crestwood Mall, a natural end to such a vivid example of an unnatural environment.
    Michael Sullivan

  13. yes yes on July 7, 2009 1:22 am

    Well, maybe I went overboard when I said cut down all the trees, what I meant was to cut down all the big trees, and replace them with smaller well trim trees that will not cover up the lighting posts.

    What good will it due to install new fancy lighting posts if the light will be cover with the big trees? but then again, if you only interest is a small section of Cherokee st, then you are correct. I was thinking about the entire Cherokee St from Grand av to Broadway av.

    If you observe Cherokee St the way I did, when you enter Cherokee St from Gravois Av, Cherokee St looks UGLY, and Scary, I think that something should be done there to make the visitor want to continue driving through exploring Cherokee St. But, I’m getting the impression that this organization is only concern with a small section of Cherokee St, and not the entire street.

    So I rest my case.

  14. Alissa on July 16, 2009 7:09 am

    To clarify, this website DOES serve as a sounding board for residents and organizations along the whole of Cherokee. However, the streetscape improvements only covers the stretch from Nebraska to Jefferson.

  15. fairview matt on August 3, 2009 11:41 pm

    I personally thought that the first time I saw Cherokee at night, with the incandescent light filtering through those trees was one of the most mysterious, transcendent things I’ve ever seen in a city.

    Nice call on the idea of LED lights w/ a variable intensity on Cherokee. Do something interesting with the street lighting if possible…people will come down just to look at the lights.

    I do appreciate using concrete instead of pavers on Cherokee. I am reminded of why this is a bad idea every time I twist my ankle on S. Grand.

  16. michael on July 12, 2010 7:11 pm

    This is a bit embarrassing. I don’t understand only putting forth a half-ass budget for such a unique neighborhood. Improved street lighting and ADA are no brainer (way to go guys), but spend your $1.4 million on that and do the rest when you have the capitol to invest in the character and scale of the street. Concerns about safety because of trees less than a foot wide are misguided. I say let them grow and replace as needed, don’t strip the street naked for the next 20 years. Almost every great street has great street trees. I don’t think replacing 25-30 year old Bradford pears (even though they are trash) with 5 year old zelkovas is much of an improvement. It will be another 20 years until anybody can get decent shade. But I suppose now there will be nothing to hinder the illumination of shiny new pre-cast concrete where our beautiful brick pavers used to be. And since there are no benches I guess I can sit in the gutter, in the hot sun, on my slick new concrete curb and pick periwinkles.

  17. Tim on July 13, 2010 12:38 pm

    The Horror!

    Cherokee Street Beautification Project:

    Step One:

    Cut down all the trees.

    Whaaa? Seriously?

    Left my pad Monday morning all is well…I round the corner of Jefferson and Cherokee about 6:45pm Monday evening and felt like I had just been punched right in the gut. I went to bed feeling like I wanted to throw up. I got in my car this morning feeling like I wanted to throw up…..
    Hopefully this will pass.

    It’s almost like someone had it out for the neighborhood. What is the one thing that we can do to have the single greatest negative impact on the overall feel of the strip? “Hey, by golly I think I’ve got it! Lets cut down all the trees!” Brilliant!

    So sad.

    Just give it a try…drive from Lemp St. to Gravois St…
    Everything starts out looking great!…the second you cross over Jefferson it looks like a tornado leveled the place…then you hit Nebraska and everything looks nice again…. Hmmmmmm

    A nice swift kick in the nads for a great neighborhood on the rebound.

    Yeah, I know, the milk has already been spilled here. I will proceed to get over it the second the I “submit my comment.”

    I am a new resident to (west) Cherokee Street (the cool side) 🙂 This being said, I am a life long southsider and have been bumbing the Cherokee Strip since I was about 9 years old. I am now 34. My family has been living in the surrounding areas for the past 80 years that I know about. We have a lot of history here.

    I was not aware of this website until I tried to figure out who cut down all our freagin trees, this morning. Now that I know it is here I will attempt to stay more up to date with the goings on in the hood…and speak up when I feel the need.

    I mean, if safety was truly one of the real concerns here then maybe we should cut down all the trees on the other side of Jefferson. Lets cut down all those stinkin trees in the Central West End too!
    South Grand? sure….lets make some mulch!


    Thanks for the soap box to stand on.


  18. A-team on August 18, 2010 2:40 pm

    Let’s be honest, cutting down all of those trees was a disgrace, and probably a decisive step toward making the place into a safe place for the likes of starbucks, Panera, and bar louie. Those tress are dead now, and they can’t be brought back. As another piece of Cherokee’s charm is taken, I hope that all those involved will notice before this vibrant dynamic district is homogenized.

  19. Scott on August 21, 2010 10:29 am

    I live on the East side of Jefferson and must say that it was a shock to view the carnage looking west down Cherokee from the Jefferson intersection. Since the initial shock, I’ve noticed how this carnage has better revealed the amazingling intact streetscape, the extraordinary charm of some buildings, the quality renovation taking place everywhere, and what I believe is the execution of a vision well suited for the district. I don’t have any skin in this game but I’d bet that the people who do are the ones who are moving this vision forward. I don’t believe that vision includes any national chains in the near future but so what if it does. The whole area would benefit tremendously by the extremely slow gentrification that might follow.

  20. woodenhead on August 21, 2010 1:37 pm

    we need more clowns-where are all the clowns?

  21. sockpuppet on August 28, 2010 12:55 am

    the clowns went looking for the trees.

  22. Bob on August 30, 2010 1:59 pm

    I saw a tree once-it was in a sort of cage…a hand cuff for a tree…a trunk cuff really-made of cast iron-and it was growing in a concrete box…it was in a museum of artifacts from the early 21st century

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