Of particular interest to me is the call for residents--not the Building Division--to review proposals for demolitions in all of north St. Louis (not just the project area, even).
Neighborhood Control of Preservation and Demolition: We propose an immediate moratorium on demolition north of Delmar, and meaningful neighborhood control of preservation and demolition. In order to preserve the valuable housing stock and architectural heritage north of Delmar, we believe that all of north city should be put under a revised form of Preservation Review, where proposed demolitions would need to be approved by the Neighborhood Development Advisory Board prior to review by the St. Louis Preservation Review Board. In addition, we expect any emergency demolitions be approved by the Neighborhood Advisory Board prior to approval by the Building Division, to prevent a developer from using this known loophole in preservation planning to demolish salvageable historic buildings which meet community standards for rehabilitation. This will preserve the community’s ability to access the State Historic Tax Credit program as an engine for economic development.
Emergency demolition permits are the easiest way to bypass preservation legislation in the city. Simply let your building precipitously decay (removing boards from windows helps) and watch as the city grants you an emergency demolition permit.
But a lot of the North Side is not in either a local historic district or a National Register District. North Side wards are also basically missing from Preservation Review, a process that ensures each demolition permit is reviewed by the Cultural Resources Office instead of simply going straight through to the Building Division, who almost always approves permits.
This bold suggestion of having the community review what of their building stock is important to them is innovative. It may not be airtight itself (some people, especially without architectural backgrounds, tend to unilaterally favor new construction at the expense of old). But the language in the CBA is still a bold step in the right direction of instituting citywide Preservation Review.
It's unbelievable to me that a city in 2009 would allow for a huge North Side warehouse to be dismantled (for a parking lot? This is getting beyond old.) Yet this demolition sailed through without so much as a notice at a grocery store.
This is simply unacceptable. The NorthSide CBA is one of the only public voices I have heard that has proposed this "radical" solution to our city falling further into an unwalkable, uninteresting, semi-rural haven for the automobile.