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SLU Parking Lot Violates City Rules Governing Location and Materials

January 24, 2008 Parking, SLU 10 Comments

IMG_9612.JPGAs Joni Mitchell sang, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Last year Saint Louis University (aka SLU) razed a building along Lindell Blvd. The former mansion next door was spared for the moment, likely while they finish raising funds for the expanded law school. In the meantime the university has used the site of the razed building for a parking lot.

This parking lot, an extension of what existed behind the now razed structure, has two characteristics which put it at odds with city regulations on parking lots — first, it extends beyond the established building line and two it is gravel.

This is the same issue we saw over on Halliday St. — with all the buildings aligned the last thing we want to see is a parking lot projecting out in the space between the building line and the public street (sidewalk & roadway). Now, you might say, “hey this is only temporary” and you’d be right. But temporary for how long, a couple of years? So what happens when a business person in the city wants to put in a temporary parking lot also in front of the building line until they can make other arrangements?

Also at issue here is the material. Numerous others have tried to get away with having gravel only parking lots. Environmentally speaking, the gravel is better than typical asphalt because storm water can seep back into the ground rather than creating more runoff. However, it also looks a bit tacky, especially in such a prominent location.

Here are a few additional pictures:




Perhaps SLU got a variance from the city to allow the parking to extend beyond the building line and be of gravel for a limited period of time. While I’d like to think that SLU would take such steps when not complying with the rules I’m guessing that is not the case. I’d also like the think the city would not allow SLU to step out of line given they don’t allow others to do the same.  The main SLU campus is located in the city’s 19th Ward.


Currently there are "10 comments" on this Article:

  1. Do you oppose the demolition of the Mansion? Another protest, with more support, is under consideration.

    SLU has plenty of green space for it’s law school expansion. There is no reason to demolish this wonderful second empire mansion.

    [SLP — The demolition of the mansion and the expansion of the law school, while related, is not the subject of this post.]

  2. that’s the last straw sir. Tell Christopher that he can expect a phone call from Burke regarding your behaviour any time now.

  3. Kara says:

    I can’t see from the photo, is the main entrance to the building not accessible from the street due to the fence and parking lot? Are pedestrians forced to walk on a drive way and through a parking lot to enter the front door of a victorian mansion?

  4. Columbusite says:

    For a university to do such a thing is a travesty and shows that it only serves its self interests and could care less about the city, which is the same attitude of OSU towards our city for the most part. They even built suburban style apartment buildings on west campus, so progressive. This situation closely mirrors the imminent demolition of the local Firestone Mansion (his cousin who was vice-prez of the Columbus Buggy Company) by the Columbus Foundation, who has otherwise done good for the city through their philanthropy. They don’t want to let it sit there any longer and they need parking for events so it’s going to be a grass lot.

  5. J says:

    Would the same code apply to the sea of gravel surface event parking on the site of the Bottle District?

  6. Scott O. says:

    Removing Mansion = Bad.
    Gravel Parking = Something to consider. Because: Its lighter colored and reduces the (very significant) heat island effect in cities, and as already mentioned it absorbs rainwater, reducing the load on infrastucture and potentially reducing waste or polluted runoff entering rivers.
    Check out new parking at the World’s fair pavillion and at the Botanical Gardens for two different water permeable parking solutions.

  7. Jim Zavist says:

    I seriously doubt that SLU expects to have a non-compliant lot “fly under the radar”, so I’m guessing that, yes, they do have a permit from the city for a “temporary” lot. My problem is less with its current state and more with the definition of “temporary”. Most construction sites have and need temporary facilities for the duration of the project, and there’s little public purpose in requiring the same level of quality that’s expected with permanent facilities. Bottom line, just how “temporary” will this lot be? 1 year? 10 years? My vote is for at least five years (which would argue for permanent pavement and curbs and gutters).
    My big other objection to this lot is simplly urban design. On the plus side, there are shrubs and a fence separating it from the public sidewalk, a pretty unusual occurance around here. The big negative is context – why does it need to be next to the sidewalk (other than the simple fact that you can fit more cars on the lot) and not set back to align with the faces of the adjacent structures? This looks like th classic hoosier “solution” of parking in the front yard . . .

  8. equals42 says:

    Scott O brings up the parking lots at the World’s Fair World’s Pavilion and at the Botanical Gardens. I haven’t seen the Pavilion’s parking surface. The Botanical Garden has a wonderful surface which allows rainwater to be absorbed. Does anyone know how much more difficult those surfaces are to create? Can other items like storm sewers be reduced for developers when these surfaces are utilized to offset any additional costs? Just curious.

  9. scott says:

    SLU and other big entities are destroying what had made st. Louis a special place, especially in the CWE. Why don’t they just bulldoze the arch, it isnt used very much and it would make a great parking lot for baseball games in that new stadium that we sooo desperately needed and with everyone stopping off at baseball village…..

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