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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Keep Your Eyes on Blairmont

Even though the rumor is that Blairmont is planning a mixed-use community that will incorporate preservation, their track record remains terribly suspect.

Demolition permits seemed to have spiked in the Blairmont neighborhoods (St. Louis Place and Jeff Vanderlou, primarily). Here are a few recent permits issued by the Building Division. All that are listed have been completed, which means these buildings are no more. Images are provided by the St. Louis Community Information Network site ("Geo St. Louis").

2513 Slattery
Neighborhood: Jeff Vanderlou
Owner: Sheridan Place
Demolished: January 20, 2009

Notes: The city describes the demolition permit as "Rubble Only--Emergency". Was this a brick rustled property?

2617 Slattery

Neighborhood: Jeff Vanderlou
Owner: VHS Partners
Demolished: January 20, 2009
This one is on the same block as the previous; they were both destroyed on the same day, leaving a massive gap in the middle of a long block. Hmm...

Notes: Another rubble removal.

2303 Hebert
Neighborhood: St. Louis Place
Owner: Blairmont Associates
Demolished: February 4, 2009

2318 Hebert
Neighborhood: St. Louis Place
Owner: Blairmont Associates
Demolished: February 11, 2009
Notes: This was an emergency demolition permit.

2547-49 Dodier Neighborhood: St. Louis Place
Owner: Dodier Investors
Demolished: March 13, 2009
Notes: This one is really upsetting because it's a corner building. Once these go, the integrity of the already weak block is bound to suffer.

Other non-Blairmont demolitions in the area:

2517 Glasgow (Jeff Vanderlou)

3110 N. 23rd (St. Louis Place) - This one is another tragic demolition. It's a gorgeous Second Empire alley house (it fronts the alley between Sullivan and Hebert). Wait, I should say it fronted. The city says it's gone as of February 24, 2009. Unique properties like this need careful stewardship, not careless disregard.

2249 Sullivan (St. Louis Place)
Another lost attractive corner building.

4135 Page (Vandeventer neighborhood).
Okay, so this isn't Blairmontville, but it's still unfortunate. The left (west) twin the set was demolished earlier this year.

The number of demolitions in the City of St. Louis per year without any sort of redevelopment plans seems staggering. Though I've only included North City demolitions here, with a focus on Blairmont, there are many surprises over the past couple months. These include demolitions in rows of housing that have never seen any alterations in their history (Bevo and Southwest Garden) and a corner unit in a very historic neighborhood (Tower Grove East).

St. Louis desperately needs citywide preservation review. Every time I return to St. Louis, it's emptier in multiple senses of the word. Blairmont has caused a quick degradation of a longtime suffering bunch of neighborhoods; they appear to have ramped up their destructive efforts as of late.

Why can't we citizens have a say?


john w. said...

2513 Slattery is/was about as handsome and simple an italianate home as can be. The psychopathic vacancy with which the city and other players like Blairmont (mostly Blairmont)dispatches these irreplaceable historic gems tells me that it may simply be too late for most of the 5th and 19th. The designate has been bounded, and apparently the Missouri legislators needed to the be at the disposal of McKee are in place. You ask why citizens don't have more say, and I'd like to know the answer to that, so how do you think we, the concerned, can effectively be heard and be relevant. Many counterpoints are raised by the residents themselves, and are non-vested distance from these neighorhoods leaves us in a very weak argumentative position.

Matt M. said...

If we can set up a citywide network of folks whose sole intent is on connecting the disparate neighborhoods' interests, then there will be no such thing as a non-vested interest in the city. In the meantime, though, the government of the city acts as if there's not a stakeholder in sight, and as if no one cares. If there is a visible group comprised of more than just white preservationists, we can then get somewhere. That is the challenge.

Michael R. Allen said...

Matt, the network idea is good, but given the way that politics operates in the 5th and 19th wards, it would have little impact. Constituents must lead the charge, and some have.

Old North is leading a charge -- a positive charge of activity as antidote to McKee, without expressly engaging/refuting him.

St. Louis Place through Neighbors for Social Justice has aimed straight at McKee, shedding light on the project and standing up for residents who may be affected.

Alas, there seems to be little organization in JeffVanderLou, and the St. Louis Place and Old North groups have not formed any real alliance.

The redevelopment process is controlled as much by the aldermen as by McKee, so the power here lies with people who can vote in the aldermanic races. Voting blocks can move mountains. The 5th and 19th wards were up for the current election cycle, and there was no display of anti-McKee voter activism in either election.

john w. said...

is four more years a short enough period of time for the remaining historic architecture to survive?

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