The Grove's Close Confines Have Residents and Club Owners Battling Over Noise

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On a recent Tuesday evening Fratello and Moore invite Riverfront Times into their home to experience the cacophony firsthand. On the night's bill at the Ready Room: four punk bands featuring opener Animal Teeth, a show relocated from the Demo. The couple invite their neighbor, Rachel Siegert, a senior real estate agent for Ameren to sit in the living room, sip wine and weigh in.

It's surprisingly hushed. At best, it sounds like someone behind the house might be playing a radio.

"We're embarrassed by this quiet evening," Fratello confesses. "This is only 10 or 15 percent of how it usually sounds."

Moore and Siegert agree.

"Tell them that whatever they're doing tonight, keep doing it. These are ideal living conditions," Fratello says.

They walk down the block to Siegert's house to stand in the back yard — the Demo's back wall in sight.

"We normally wouldn't even be able to have this conversation right now," she says. "Had I known that two live-music venues were going to open just feet away from my bedroom, I would have never purchased my home."

Resident Rachel Siegert thinks that a healthy mix of representation for residents and business owners is vital to the success of the neighborhood. - Steve Truesdell
Steve Truesdell
Resident Rachel Siegert thinks that a healthy mix of representation for residents and business owners is vital to the success of the neighborhood.

Though the usage of the venue's sound system — and ultimately the overall stage volume — will certainly vary from show to show, it's an illustration of how confusing and subjective things in the Grove have become. And the situation is fluid. For example, the Forest Park Southeast Development Committee's ranks have recently changed. Half of its members were replaced by new ones. Siegert, who served on the committee for the past year, has been cycled off. Meanwhile, new members, including John Boldt, one of the venues' building owners, will take her place.

"It seems awfully convenient, doesn't it?" says Siegert.

As of Monday, July 28, Cavanagh says he has collected enough signatures for the Demo's liquor license to move forward. However, the protest petition will delay the hearing for 30 days.

Regardless of their frustration at the current situation, it seems that none of the three neighbors actively want to see the venues closed.

"We want everything on the Manchester strip to thrive. We want it to succeed, but it's got to happen in a way that doesn't prevent people from enjoying their own home," says Fratello. "It is still our hope that, in tandem with or outside of the meetings with the excise commissioner with both clubs, we can make progress."

Still, the Grove continues to grow.

Reliance Bank is completing a $1 million rehab at the corner of Tower Grove and Manchester avenues, and a three-story development project at the Old Donut House at 4321 Manchester will offer a ground-level floor of new commercial property this fall. And in early August another new business will fill a space on the 4200 block of Manchester. Music Record Shop will open in the 650-square-foot space between the Demo and the Ready Room, nearly doubling the size of its previous location in Kirkwood. The shop will likely generate some noise of its own.

"I'm really excited about being open. It's an ideal situation for a music record store to be between two different venues," says founder Mark Carter. "The Grove's just the place to be. It's the perfect fit for us, and I still believe in it 100 percent."

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