Bummed About the City Razing Old Buildings? Now You Can Track It Online

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This North St. Louis house, built in 1899, was slated for demolition
Until recently, it wasn't easy to know how many old buildings in the city were slated for the wrecking ball, much less what kind of shape they were in.

Now there's a one-stop shop for it: The "Demolition Docket."

Since April, the independent Preservation Research Office (PRO) has been running the new blog, utilizing government data that's always been available, only not in such a user-friendly format.

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When It's 4 a.m., Go to Eat-Rite Diner for a Slinger -- or a Reason to Love St. Louis Again

Photo Courtesy of Flickr/Phil Roussin
The Eat-Rite Diner at 622 Chouteau

In the right rear corner of the Eat-Rite Diner, up by the security camera, there's a cluster of holes in the porcelain tile. A robber blasted those into the wall with a shotgun in the 1980s. He came in one night trying to hold up the place, but the cooks were too busy to notice — at first. So he fired off a round. That got everyone's attention.

What happened next — how much he stole, whether he truly pistol-whipped someone, whether he got caught — depends on which staffer you ask. Eat-Rite lore is like that. Details get added or elided over time. But it's a decent yarn, and a decent yarn can pull you through the night shift.

Last week, Riverfront Times sat through three consecutive night shifts at the Eat-Rite Diner at Chouteau Avenue and Seventh Street. It's fair to wonder why. The menu hasn't changed much in 45 years. The building is just a 516-square-foot dive a few blocks south of Busch Stadium. Only thirteen customers can eat at the counter at a time. It grosses maybe a few hundred bucks on an average night.

Yet Eat-Rite is unique in our city's nocturnal ecosystem. It's the sole kitchen within a three-mile radius of the Arch that stays open all night and lets you dine in — making it a sort of bottleneck, a place through which the peckish must pass to get their after-hours pancakes or omelets.

- See also: St. Louis' Most Hangover-Friendly Diners

It attracts St. Louisans of all moods: the drunks and demons, clowns and curmudgeons, philosophers and philanthropists. At Eat-Rite, you chow down next to folks who didn't attend your high school and don't care about your career. Black, white, 99 percent or 1 percent — sometimes the only trait you share is a craving for the slinger, that hot wreckage of breakfast foods that the owners, the Powers family, claim they developed three decades ago.

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St. Louis Swap Meet Gets City Green Light -- For Now

Categories: Bidness, Community

Photo by Abby Gillardi
A scene from the St. Louis Swap Meet last weekend.

The city's Board of Adjustment has upheld the occupancy permit for the five-week-old St. Louis Swap Meet -- a flea market held every Sunday off Cherokee Street's Antique Row.

As we chronicled last week, some veteran Antique Row merchants had feared the weekly event would harm their shops. They appealed the permit, urging the city to make sure the vendors obtained business licenses and paid sales tax.

The board's decision essentially allows the Swap Meet to carry on as before, meaning that founder Martin Casas will not be responsible for making sure his vendors follow the rules. Flea markets in Belleville, Illinois; St. Peters and the city's Tower Grove neighborhood operate with similar freedom; it's up to each participant to comply with applicable laws, not the organizers.

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Row on Cherokee's Antique Row: Merchants Take on St. Louis Swap Meet

Categories: Bidness, Community

Photo by Nicholas Phillips
Resale merch at the St. Louis Swap Meet
From the outside, the first St. Louis Swap Meet looked like a score. Some 5,000 souls swarmed the placid Marine Villa neighborhood on Sunday, May 17. Trekking to the eastern end of Cherokee Street, they found 91 vendors who had set up booths in the old Lemp Brewery's gravel parking. There they milled among new and used goods, and even some produce.

The metro area's newest flea market couldn't contain the bustle. Shoppers spooled onto adjacent Antique Row, where more than a dozen red-brick shops sell vintage merchandise in the shade of zelkova and oak trees. Most dealers are closed on Sundays, but some opened their doors that afternoon and saw a bump in traffic. The Mud House, a cafe/restaurant five blocks west, was open too. Its line grew out to the sidewalk. Co-owner Jeremy Miller later said it as one of the highest-grossing Sundays in his cafe's six-year history.

"The St. Louis Swap Meet was a great success," Miller's wife and co-owner, Casey, wrote a few days later on the Cherokee Antique Row Facebook page. But then she clarified: "Please know that the majority of the businesses on the street are not opposing the market."

"Haters gonna hate," she continued. "The rest of us will continue to do business in harmony with everybody else."

"My thoughts exactly," Jovanka Hammond, co-owner of Hammond's Antiques & Books, replied on Miller's post. She lamented unnamed "mischief-makers" with a "negative" agenda who "misinformed" people.

"We all have a lot to lose if we don't wake up," Hammond wrote. "In a more perfect world, my choice would be to keep this private rather than public, but the line has to be drawn somewhere."

Haters? Mischief makers? Over a flea market?

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Ferguson Municipal Public Library Is 2015 "Library of the Year"

Photo by Mitch Ryals
Shaila and Janeatha Evans were among the many Ferguson residents who came to the library after unrest closed the schools. Here they show off their art projects to RFT journalist Mitch Ryals.

The Ferguson Municipal Public Library is the 2015 Library of the Year.

The $10,000 prize, officially titled the 2015 Library Journal/Gale Cengage Learning Library of the Year, was announced yesterday. The award is given to the library that "most profoundly demonstrates service to the community, creativity and innovation in developing specific community programs or a dramatic increase in library usage; and leadership in creating programs that can be emulated by other libraries."

Naturally, the library's role in serving the community during the unrest that gripped Ferguson last summer was what caught the judges' eye.

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St. Louis Is the Most Affordable Rental Market for New Grads

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Tim Hamilton
St. Louis is No. 1 for grads seeking affordable rent, according to a new Trulia study.

If you're a new graduate looking for a city where you can actually afford an apartment without bunking up three to a bedroom, look no further.

St. Louis is where you ought to move.

That's according to a new study from real estate site Trulia, which compared salary data for new graduates with the cost of rental housing. St. Louis' combination of relatively generous starting salaries, coupled with extremely affordable housing, earned it the study's No. 1 spot as the most affordable rental market for new grads in the U.S.

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Strange Folk Festival Founder Autumn Wiggins Battles City of O'Fallon Over Event She Created

Categories: Arts, Community

Photo by Jennifer Silverberg
Autumn Wiggins
Almost ten years ago, Autumn Wiggins started the Strange Folk Festival in her hometown of O'Fallon, Illinois -- and in the next decade, grew it into one of the Midwest's premiere indie arts festivals.

By this January, however, Wiggins says she felt battered by the Ferguson-related unrest that left her South Grand shop, Upcycle Exchange, with broken windows. She was also weary of how much work she was putting into the festival. She told the O'Fallon Arts Commission she wanted to pull the plug.

But to Wiggins' surprise, the city suggested that they actually owned Strange Folk -- and began making plans for the 2015 iteration without her.

That's when things got ugly. Now the city's attempt at what local crafters call a "fake folk fest" has led to dueling legal threats, cease and desist letters, and even the intervention of local police.

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Tivoli Theatre Reopens After Water Main Break (UPDATED)

Categories: Arts, Community

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The Tivoli Theatre
Photo courtesy of Flickr/Paul Sableman
UPDATE on April 24: The Tivoli reopened after nearly a week for its 9:30 p.m. showing on Friday, April 24. See update at end of post.

Originally published on April 21. Original post follows....

A water-main break on Delmar has closed the Tivoli Theatre -- and it could be the weekend before it's reopened.

That's meant canceled programming for QFest, the gay/lesbian film festival hosted at the theater by Cinema St. Louis, which kicked off Sunday and was supposed to run through Thursday. Those films have been rescheduled for next week, says the Tivoli's Tom Anson.

The problem was a 115-year-old water line, says Joe Edwards, who owns the Tivoli building.

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Arson Guts North County Home, Claiming Life of Beloved Rescue Dog

Categories: Community, Crime

Greg Stinson and Nichole Torpea with Murphy in happier times.
Greg Stinson and his fiancee, Nichole Torpea, were both at work on Monday (he at Ralston-Purina, she at a St. Charles garden center) when they began receiving frantic messages from a neighbor they barely knew. "Your house is on fire. You need to come home now!"

They rushed back to St. John, the north St. Louis County municipality where Stinson had bought a home in 2003. But it was already too late.

"At that point, everything that had been done was done," Stinson says.

The house was a burnt shell. Virtually all of their possessions had been destroyed. And their dog, a beloved lab mix rescue named Murphy, was dead.

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St. Louis is America's Most Charitable City

Categories: Community

Towboat Garage via Flickr
St. Louisans donating supplies to tornado victims in Joplin.
St. Louis is the most giving city in America.

That feather in the Lou's cap comes per the tenth annual national study from nonprofit Charity Navigator, which analyzes the financial, accountability and transparency practices of charities in the 30 largest philanthropic marketplaces in the country.

St. Louis has consistently ranked high in studies of philanthropic cities, though that didn't stop Charity Navigator from admitting what the rest of the country must be thinking: St. Louis? Really?

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