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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Olympia Investments is Demolishing Dogtown

A poster on the Urban St. Louis forum has alerted St. Louisans to an unnecessary and upsetting demolition in Dogtown--specifically the Franz Park section.

Olympia Investments, associated with the restaurant of the same name on McCausland, is tearing down two properties across the street from their establishment. As of right now, the reason can only be speculated. These two parcels border on an already existent parking lot. These freshly cleared lots will likely become more parking for the popular Greek restaurant.

These are the properties getting the axe:

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Both 1532 and 1536 McCausland have demolition permits dating to December of 2009. UrbanSTL forumer DogtownB&R reports that at least one of these homes is already down.

You might be asking yourself: what's the big deal about the demolition of two small frame houses in an otherwise stable neighborhood? If the demolition were occurring for some new cutting edge new construction, I'd agree that this would not be a big loss.

If the answer is parking, though, we have a familiar dilemma in St. Louis. A destination restaurant thinks it needs more and more parking to succeed. The surroundings become something entirely un-urban in the process. How many of your favorite restaurants in the St. Louis area have adjacent parking that hampers the urban experience? The unqualified answer is too many.

St. Louis will never be a walking city if people expect to find adjacent, free parking everywhere they go. Again, while the purpose of these demolitions is speculative at this point, I'll go out on a limb and still condemn Olympia for making Dogtown uglier and less walkable.

And I really condemn the City of St. Louis, whose urban design guidelines should prevent decisions like this...or at least give the neighborhood a chance to review such demolitions. This makes me wonder also: why didn't these demolitions go before the Preservation Board? The 24th Ward, in which the two structures lie, is a preservation review ward, which means that all proposed demolitions should go before the Board. Anyone have the answer?

I would recommend going on Yelp to "review" Olympia's neighborliness.

UPDATE (@ 5:04 PM EST): Just called Olympia. The person with whom I spoke confirmed that the homes are to become a parking lot.


Will said...

boo. And I have plans to dine there tomorrow.

Kara said...

I have ben to Olympia many times and never once had a problem finding parking within a few feet of the front door. Neighborhood demolition leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I won't be going there anymore.

Vanishing STL said...

Someone just emailed me about this yesterday, and I was just about to do a post about it. He only mentioned one house, so it's two! Even more ridiculous. There is no reason for this with their existing lots and all the parking available on the street. They have been there for years, so it is not like this is a new use in the area.

I will no longer be going to Olympia either. I recommend Michael's down on Manchester just west of McCausland. Their food is better anyway.

STLgasm said...

I'm going to put the kibosh on Olympia's kabobs.

Don't they realize that part of their appeal is their cozy neighborhood location? Some people and places can't leave good enough alone.

Michael R. Allen said...

The demolitions are stupid, but bashing a family-owned city small business makes me very uncomfortable.

As a certain blog reminds us: Hate the game, not the players.

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