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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wrong! Tower Grove East takes a punch; the Ville ducks one.

Earlier this year, I posted about the unique St. Louis architectural style: the free-standing flounder house. Specifically, the one located at 2915 Minnesota (see below) that Kacie Starr Triplett (6th Ward) wanted demolished.

I made the a prediction in the post that the Flounder house would be saved. Testimony regarding the rarity of these structures in the city, the house's potential to be affordable housing (due to its diminutive size) in a continuously improving neighborhood, etc. would certainly render it safe I thought.

Not so. The Preservation Board approved the demolition 4-2.

Terry Kennedy (18th Ward) was one of those in favor of demolition.

Again, I emailed him. Here is what he had to say:

The overwhelming testimony from the citizens on that block and surrounding community was for demolition. The board heard story after story of the horrors and safety issues living around and near the building. Several of these citizens asked how much longer, after seven years waiting, will they have to wait until this building is demo. The testimony also said this building was extensively marketed as a part of the rehab arama in the area and no buyer and/or developer had come forward. Still further, the proforma presented to the board indicated that it was not cost effective for renovation. There was no real, factual information presented to the contrary. There were two proforma both of which indicating that it was not cost effective. From my recollection, the board was also told that no developer had come forward or would come forward to do the rehab with out large amounts of public funds which was not reasonable.

Quite ironically, my earlier post used the Ville as an example of a neighborhood for which preservation interests were simply not strong enough. But in the latest Preservation Board meeting, it was the Ville's history that was spared and not Tower Grove East's, as I had predicted.

That's right. The demolition of 4568 St. Ferdinand (see earlier post on that as well) was denied.

Are we so shortsighted as to demolish our derelict buildings (rather than secure them; institute a block or neighborhood watch; aggressively market them) when those buildings are rare contributors to our historic built environment?

I can't help but think despite Alderman Kennedy's words that there's a better solution.


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