University City | St. Louis Public Radio

University City

Judy Gladney poses for a portrait at the University City High School auditorium on Oct. 10, 2019.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Before Judy Gladney was among the first black students to integrate University City High School, she and her family were the first black people to move into a gated community in the city called University Hills.

For Gladney, 67, being among the first was almost a family tradition. 

“We were a family of firsts," Gladney said. “My father was a physician. He broke down many barriers. He was the first (black) head of a department of medicine at St. Louis U. We were one of the first black families at Pilgrim Congregational Church. So it was a lifestyle for us to constantly be in diverse environments.”

Erica Vickers Cage Ellen Futterman Judy Gladney
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

University City, Missouri, is considered to be among the more diverse communities in a region still grappling with the stubborn legacy of segregation. But five decades ago, things were different in U. City, including at the local schools.

When Judy Gladney began attending University City High School in the '60s, she was one of its very first African American students, and found herself bridging two disparate worlds. So did Eric Vickers, Gladney’s future husband.

Years later, the two would send their children through the same school district, which is now largely nonwhite. As Gladney looked toward her 50th high school reunion this month, she joined St. Louis on the Air host Sarah Fenske on Monday alongside her daughter Erica Vickers Cage and local journalist and storyteller Ellen Futterman.

Danny Wicentowski is a staff writer at the Riverfront Times.
Alexis Moore | St. Louis Public Radio

Danny Wicentowski conducted lots of different interviews for his latest Riverfront Times cover story digging into the status of a proposed $190 million Novus redevelopment near Interstate 170 and Olive Boulevard. The same word — limbo — kept popping up in his conversations with various sources, as he mentions in his piece.

The proposed development was publicly unveiled more than a year ago. Yet residents and business owners in the path of the Costco-focused "University Place" are still waiting to find out whether it's definitely moving forward. That's left their future in the neighborhood uncertain.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Wicentowski about his reporting on the saga. The conversation also included comments from longtime U City homeowner Letha Baptiste, who has thus far declined to accept Novus’ offer of an option contract on her house.

Fireworks and Fair St. Louis returned to the Gateway Arch Wednesday, July 4, 2018, for Independence Day celebrations in St. Louis on July 4, 2018.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Police departments in St. Louis and St. Louis County are trying to deter illegal firework use this Fourth of July. 

Last year, St. Louis police issued just one citation for fireworks-related crimes on July Fourth, according to a department spokesperson. 

But the department announced in June that this Independence Day, officers will enforce local laws that prohibit the use of fireworks. 

Carl Walker, the owner of Klippers Barber Salon in Jeffrey Plaza, relaxes and talks with his staff. He has already made plans to relocate.
Andy Field | St. Louis Public Radio

As the University City City Council decides whether to pass a proposal to redevelop a section of the St. Louis region’s “unofficial” Chinatown, business owners who would be displaced are deciding whether to begin relocating.  

The city council had planned to vote in January on Webster Groves-based Novus Development plans to redevelop the area at Olive Boulevard and Interstate 170 — often referred to as Olive Link.

But the proposal returned to negotiations in February after a University City resident found a roughly $24 million miscalculation in the development’s projected sales-tax revenue. The real estate developer’s plans include building a big-box store — rumored to be a Costco — luxury apartments and a senior living facility.

Assistant Children's Librarian LaRita Wright uses the library's video studio to record a storytime session.
Patrick Wall

The University City Public Library is using grant money to offer free film production classes, hire a part-time coding instructor and purchase film equipment.

The $68,000 grant from the University City Commission on Access and Local Original Programming is aimed at funding technology and filmmaking classes at the library.

Business owners in Jeffrey Plaza on Olive Boulevard say they have not been receiving updates about a proposed development that would displace them.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The University City Tax Increment Financing commission approved a proposal Thursday that would release millions of dollars in money for development in the 3rd Ward. The commission voted 10-2 in favor of the financing plan.

But residents remained split on how the city should bring those improvements to fruition.

Much of the redevelopment proposal hinges on the first phase of the plan secured by local company Novus Development. The plans would bring big box retail and high-end living to a location near Interstate 170 and Olive Boulevard.

Business owners in Jeffrey Plaza on Olive Boulevard say they have not been receiving updates about a proposed development that would displace them.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Residents and business owners in University City are split over whether the city should spend taxpayer money on a plan that would bring a big-box retailer and other amenities to Olive Boulevard.

The divide was apparent at a Wednesday meeting, where city leaders tried to make a case for Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to revitalize the area known as Olive Link.

Business owners in Jeffrey Plaza on Olive Boulevard say they have not been receiving updates about a proposed development that would displace them.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis once had a thriving hub for Chinese immigrants moving to the city. Historical records show in 1894 there were about 1,000 people of Chinese heritage living in St. Louis, many of whom had moved to the region from California in the middle part of the century.

A St. Louis Public Radio listener wanted to know how so many Chinese businesses came to exist at Olive Boulevard near Interstate 170 in University City. The listener also wanted to know why hasn’t there been more expansion of Asian businesses there. 

File photo. Artist Solomon Thurman painted this piece of two African-American men, a police officer and a man wearing a Hands Up Don't Shoot shirt after Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown.
File | Provided |Solomon Thurman

The Missouri Arts Council is honoring three St. Louisans and one local hot spot with its 2018 annual awards.

The council chose Solomon Thurman for its Individual Artist award. Thurman is perhaps best known for a piece air travelers see every day: the 51-foot-long “Black Americans in Flight” mural at St. Louis’ Lambert International Airport. He created the work in 1990 with his mentor, the late Spencer Taylor.

Hundreds of volunteers donned stocking caps and work gloves Saturday to clean up empty lots and complete minor home repairs in University City.

Cold temperatures prevented workers from pouring concrete, but city residents and others from throughout the St. Louis region cleared brush, picked up trash, cleaned gutters and painted railings.

Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

 

As tensions rise in the Old City of Jerusalem, hundreds of people gathered on Delmar Boulevard in University City Sunday evening to show their support — some for Palestinians and others for the Israeli government.

Stones painted with ladybugs and hearts now mark the affected headstones. A little girl in Florida painted the stones. May 2017
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Executive director Anita Feigenbaum is standing in the rain, amid repaired headstones at Chesed Shel Emeth, the historic Jewish cemetery in University City that made international headlines last February after vandals knocked over 154 grave markers.

“Starting here, you would just see rows knocked down,’’ Feigenbaum said, pointing from beneath her umbrella. “There’s an example of a monument that was totally knocked down. And broken.”

University City lions at city hall (2010)
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

Fair housing advocates in University City are planning to bring back a bill the City Council killed this week. The proposal would have protected people who use Section 8 vouchers from discrimination.

Had it passed, the bill would have made the municipality the second in the St. Louis region to ban housing discrimination based on a renter’s source of income.

“We’re disappointed,” said Glenn Burleigh, a community engagement specialist at the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council who helped create the bill. "University City has always touted itself as being extremely progressive and pushing forward toward integration, [but] has not taken the charge from the Ferguson Commission and helped moved us forward here.”

Loop Trolley construction in Feb. 2016
LoopTrolley.com

Another busy intersection in the Delmar Loop will be shut down starting Monday for Loop Trolley construction. More than 85 percent of the track for the project has been installed, but traffic won’t be allowed at Skinker and Delmar boulevards for at least the next 12 days.

paper ballot voting places
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

Updated as story develops: St. Louis County’s municipal elections got off to a rocky start on Tuesday, with many polling places quickly running out of ballots. An appeals court extended voting until 9 p.m., but the decision came late. Shortly after 5 p.m., Circuit Judge Maura B. McShane denied a request to extend voting. In a hand-written order, the presiding judge in the county said "the court denies petitioners' request and doesn't believe it has authority to extend the hours."

In an email, Eric Fey, Democratic director of the St. Louis County Board of Elections, said, "Any ballots cast after 7:00 pm as a result of the court order will not be counted tonight."

University City lions at city hall (2010)
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

A University City preservationist group called Heritage Sites Protection Initiative handed over petitions to the St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners last week with what it hopes to be enough signatures to take its cause off the streets and front porches of U. City and onto the ballot in April 2016.

The initiative wants to beef up protection for seven historic structures in this inner-ring community.

UCityNeeds.me director Chris Paavola, (left), speaks with a resident during a results party Saturday at the Heman Park Community Center. Paavola and other University Center organizers launched a campaign to link residents with causes they care about.
Kameel Stanley | St. Louis Public Radio

Organizers of UCityNeeds.me had a simple goal in mind when they launched their interactive social campaign this summer:

Find out what residents in University City want and need from their community. It didn’t take long to get the answer.

Over a 30 day period, residents submitted more than 2,000 responses to this prompt: “My #HopeForUCity is…”

University City School District Superintendent Joylynn Pruitt (center), seen here at a district work session, will retire at the end of the 2015-2016 school year after nine years in the post.
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

University City School District Superintendent Dr. Joylynn Pruitt will retire at the end of next school year, according to an announcement released Tuesday.

Pruitt has spent eight years so far at the head of the U. City schools, and said by the end of her ninth year, it will be time for someone else to take the district to the “next level.”

voting booth for paper ballot
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

(Updated 10:45 a.m., Mon., March 10 with filing of Jayson Thornton in Kirkwood.)

A longstanding contract dispute between the union representing University City firefighters and some city officials could influence that city’s April 8 election of new council members.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 6, 2013 - The third annual University City Jazz Festival, set for this Saturday, Sept. 7 at Heman Park, continues to grow.

According to brothers Mike and Rob Silverman, who founded the event in 2011, there will be changes in the main stage setup, plus an additional second stage featuring student musicians.

(Courtesy University City Public Library Archives)

When Edward Gardner Lewis purchased the land that would become University City at the turn of the twentieth century, there wasn't much in the area beyond an amusement park, a race track and the loop of the trolley from which Delmar Loop gets its name. But he had a vision for a magazine empire and needed space to expand his printing presses. He built an iconic octagonal building for his headquarters overlooking the street car line and in view of the site of the upcoming 1904 World's Fair. From there, a bustling street of businesses grew, full of places to eat, shop and have a good time.

Jami Cox
Provided Jami Cox

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 24, 2013: When you think of someone responsible for starting a community outreach program, public speak out sessions with fire fighters, police chiefs, city officials, superintendents and youth engagement events, a seasoned campaign worker with years of invaluable experience is likely to come to mind.

But in this case, the instigator is 17 years old.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 21, 2013 - If names like Lasky, Rinaldi’s, Shanghai Café, the Varsity theater and Toddle House conjure up immediate memories of the University City Loop, M.M. Costantin has a book for you.

Costantin, who has lived in the area near the Loop for more than 40 years, has seen the area at its worst and its best, from the days when she really didn’t feel it was safe to take a walk down Delmar to today, when long lines mark the success of venues like the Pageant theater and restaurants like Pi.

University City lawyer sentenced on embezzlement charges

Sep 11, 2012
(via Flickr/Tracy O)

A former lawyer in St. Louis County is going to prison after embezzling nearly $500,000 from dozens of clients.

The U.S. Attorney's office says 53-year-old Jonathan McKee was sentenced Monday to five years in federal prison. He pleaded guilty in March to one felony count of mail fraud.

McKee had a general law practice in University City. Prosecutors said that between 2007 and 2011, he kept more than $495,000 in settlement money from insurance companies that should have gone to about 87 clients.

McKee was disbarred by both Missouri and Illinois last year.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 7, 2012 - "Express Yourself, Community Civility And Compassion," a collaborative art show running from Aug. 4-24, features a blend of old (over 55) and young (16-21) artists. The idea is to cross generations, having artists work together to explore themes of community, civility and compassion via a variety of media.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 6, 2012 - After University City officials voted last year to scrap a bill aimed at controlling crowds in the Delmar Loop, Mayor Shelley Welsch said two new groups, one local and one regional, were needed to address issues involving youth in the Loop and the metropolitan area.

Morning headlines: Monday, April 2, 2012

Apr 2, 2012
UPI/KMOX

Lambert Concourse reopens today

City officials are celebrating the reopening of the C Concourse at Lambert St. Louis International Airport today.

The concourse has been closed since April 22 of last year when a tornado hit causing significant damage.

The concourse is new and improved according to director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge with brighter ceilings, new lighting and new restrooms among the improvements. Hamm-Niebruegge recalls the evening the tornado hit.

View University City Flood Damage in a larger map

A long-delayed buyout of 26 properties in University City that were severely damaged by flash flooding in 2008 has gotten a final level of approval.

Chuck Berry statue installed in the Loop

Jul 1, 2011
Workers set the statue in place near Chuck Berry's star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame and near Blueberry Hill, where he played regular concerts in later years.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | file photo

Despite criticism, a statue of rock legend Chuck Berry was installed in University City, Mo. Friday in the Delmar Loop.

The statue was crafted by local artist Harry Weber and a formal dedication is planned for July 29.

Previously, critics voiced concerns that the statue was to be installed on city-owned land and that Berry spent time in jail.

Pages