As reported on Sunday, Bowood Farms intends to demolish 4608 Washington Boulevard, a two and a half story home.
What is the intended replacement: a parking lot.
The Cultural Resources Office will apparently recommend denial of a demolition permit for such a use.
Bowood Farms' website challenges its visitors with this when they first enter the site:
Enter our plant filled garden oasis and you will forget that you are in the urban Central West End of St. Louis, Missouri.
How true that statement is when a neighborhood business proves itself a decidedly anti-urban neighbor with such an action! Don't get me wrong. Bowood deserves much credit for rehabilitating their old auto repair warehouse into a gem of a business in an overlooked portion of the Central West End. But this proposed demolition is absurd.
Bowood likely has a full parking supply from on-street parking alone. The case for a parking lot is weak, in my opinion (zoning may have something else to say...). Even if a parking lot is strongly desired, it should not go atop a lovely home that could be put to better use.
I wrote the following on the Bowood Farms community bulletin board, only to see it removed within hours:
Even as a new member of the Central West End community, Bowood Farms has already established itself as a fixture of the neighborhood. The once neglected northern portion of the Central West End is now being seen as an area laden with potential for redevelopment.
I was shocked, therefore, to hear that Bowood intends to wreck the gorgeous 2 1/2 story home at 4608 Washington. Nothing could be more destructive and damaging to that historic block (which has suffered too much already over the years). Further, this is a waste of that inimitable structure's embedded energy; its innards will end up in a landfill. Somehow, a business that encourages ecology of any kind demolishing a perfectly fine building seems contradictory.
Bowood: I ask you to withdraw your demolition permit if you wish to be a better community steward. Too many vacant lots exist already, and the loss of this home for that block might just be a death knell to its realization as a connected and vital piece of the Central West End.
This demolition must not be allowed. The folks who are against the demolition of the San Luis Apartments on Lindell for a surface lot should take note. Even though 4608 Washington is just one, somewhat small building in comparison, the horribly anti-urban sentiments of the plan are very similar.
1. A perfectly re-usable building will be felled;
2. The site of the demolished building will become a (presumably) unsightly parking lot;
3. Central West End's urbanity and architectural heritage will suffer.
Please do what you can to protest this demolition. The first step would be to call/email 18th Ward Alderman Terry Kennedy. Let him know this plan is unacceptable for an urban, diverse, vibrant neighborhood. Washington Boulevard has been neglected for far too long, and this plan only further erodes its potential. You could also call Bowood Farms itself and gently let them know you think they are making a mistake. Being confrontational would help no one, though, so keep that in mind.
The next step, and the most important one, would be to show up at the Preservation Board meeting to testify against the demolition. The next meeting is on Monday, March 23, 2009 at 4:00 p.m. The location is 1015 Locust, Suite 1200.
It is important to protect landmarks both big and small in neighborhoods that wish to remain urban, livable environments.