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Friday, April 11, 2008

No reprieve for North Kingshighway and Page?

My impassioned email to 18th Ward Alderman Terry Kennedy failed yet again, this time in the case of the commercial building at 4972 Page (I received a similar response to my email re: Kennedy's allowance of demolition of scattered mansions along the Midtown/Central West End reaches of Washington). Judging by the email, it seems the Roberts Brothers are intent on demolition, and Mr. Kennedy is opting for gentle dissuasion rather than outright demo denial.

Thank you for your email. I have spoken to representatives from the Roberts Companies about this buidling [sic] urging saving the building and bracing the corner. My plan is to continue this dialog with them. In our last converstaion [sic] they were still planning on demolition.

And in logic-less reverse order, here is the email that prompted such a response:

Dear Mr. Kennedy:

I know you are a busy man, but I hope you will take the time to review the matter of the demolition of the commercial building at 4972 Page at North Kingshighway.

North St. Louis is losing too many of its residential buildings. That much is confirmed by driving around many neighborhoods that are now significantly depopulated of both their buildings and their residents. Aerial views, available through Google Maps, are perhaps more instructive, as the totality of the loss and its massive scale are immediately evident.

Many recognize that the loss of homes is a loss of stability for neighborhoods. The new ones quite often aren't built as sturdily and are not as attractive where they do get built. Far too many remain vacant and fallow lots, collecting crime and trash.

Few people speak out for the commercial buildings, however. Strip centers rise in the place of old commercial structures (like 4972 Page) across this city and are shuttered a decade later, a blight upon the neighborhood. Few residents of north St. Louis could ever hope to start up a business in a service-starved neighborhood such as Fountain Park when the only available commercial plots are big (and small) boxes whose rents are prohibitive to moderate income small entrepreneurs.

In short, I ask you to review the necessity of this demolition. If stabilized, this structure could be an income- and diversity- and activity-producing structure for the neighborhood. Given neighboring Academy's recent upswing, and the continued push of the Central West End northward, this corner could be vital in stabilizing a long suffering neighborhood such as Fountain Park. It could also provide a space for a needed service--office space, a neighborhood meeting place, a grocer, a furniture store (again)--the list goes on. If too much of the neighborhood sees demolition, the emptying neighborhood will only grow more dangerous to the residents that are left and will grow ever less hopeful for any sort of reinvestment that could help to improve the quality of life.

As the Roberts Brothers are the owners, surely the offending corner of the building could be braced as it awaits some better use than a vacant lot.

Thank you so much for your time.


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