Home » History/Preservation »Midtown » Currently Reading:

Was 3901 Forest Park Too Old To Fight For?

July 9, 2011 History/Preservation, Midtown 40 Comments

Many are upset about plans to raze the “flying saucer” at Forest Park & Grand as well as the former headquarters of the American Automobile Association of Missouri at Lindell and Vandeventer. But near both buildings, at Vandeventer & Forest Park, a building dating to 1901 is nearly gone.

ABOVE: 3901 Forest Park on July 7, 2011

It wasn’t mid-centry modern, it was 1901 industrial.

ABOVE: 3901 Forest Park on a Sanborn Fire Insurance map from 1909

The building held the corner nicely, standing watch over the intersection as it had done for more than a century. Neither of the modern buildings nearby hold their corners at all.

ABOVE: 3901 Forest Park before demolition, source Google

Sure it’s ugly but with new windows, the old storefronts opened up and a recreated cornice it could have been spectacular. The demolition permit was applied for on March 17, 2011.  I did not see it on any agenda of the Preservation Board.  The property is in a Preservation Review District.  It’s also in the Cortex Life Sciences District, which meant it’s fate had already been determined.

We will get this district about 20% built when cities move onto the next big thing after life sciences research.

– Steve Patterson

 

Currently there are "40 comments" on this Article:

  1. Anonymous says:

    The loss of this building is shameful, especially since no plans for its replacement have been released.  Unfortunately, I was completely unaware of the demolition until the bulldozers showed up.

     
  2. STLgasm says:

    The loss of this building is shameful, especially since no plans for its replacement have been released.  Unfortunately, I was completely unaware of the demolition until the bulldozers showed up.

     
    • Chris says:

      I agree, they moved so fast that there was no time to stop them, even if we could have.

       
  3. Chris says:

    I agree, they moved so fast that there was no time to stop them, even if we could have.

     
  4. Douglas Duckworth says:

    Steve stop being a ‘brick kisser!’

     
  5. Douglas Duckworth says:

    Steve stop being a ‘brick kisser!’

     
    • Adam says:

       ^ can you believe the contempt? (dumb question. of course you can – it’s a saint louis alderman. who the f*ck slanders their constituents and then says “but that’s what they want so i’ll do it”?) i wanted to punch the a**hole.

       
      • Douglas Duckworth says:

        Conway is a dinosaur, reactionary in the fashion of the Sheriff of Malibu, and sounds like Rex the Libertarian saying we cant regulate private property. No wonder zoning and preservation laws are antiquated and selectively enforced! If the aldermen can’t impact private property then they should resign and let people take their place who can and will.

        I find this all ironic as he lives in a brick building and owns a brick bar both in neighborhoods which were once both viewed not feasible by the market yet now desirable because of such kissers.

         
  6. Adam says:

    my hunch is that Mr. Lower wanted to get this building down before anyone had a chance to protest (and i wouldn’t be at all surprised if Biondi – who sold them the building – whispered a few words of encouragement into his ear). i didn’t realize this was in a preservation review district – if that’s the case then some legal action needs to be taken to stop this mother f*cker from doing it again. i encourage everyone to contact him and tell him how much we appreciate his complete disregard for our city, in which he’s been living for all of 1 year. prior to this he oversaw the development of a research park near Shreveport, LA. my fear is that he sees midtown as another research park.

    contact info here: http://www.cortexstl.com

     
  7. Adam says:

    my hunch is that Mr. Lower wanted to get this building down before anyone had a chance to protest (and i wouldn’t be at all surprised if Biondi – who sold them the building – whispered a few words of encouragement into his ear). i didn’t realize this was in a preservation review district – if that’s the case then some legal action needs to be taken to stop this mother f*cker from doing it again. i encourage everyone to contact him and tell him how much we appreciate his complete disregard for our city, in which he’s been living for all of 1 year. prior to this he oversaw the development of a research park near Shreveport, LA. my fear is that he sees midtown as another research park.

    contact info here: http://www.cortexstl.com

     
  8. Adam says:

     ^ can you believe the contempt? (dumb question. of course you can – it’s a saint louis alderman. who the f*ck slanders their constituents and then says “but that’s what they want so i’ll do it”?) i wanted to punch the a**hole.

     
  9. Adam says:

    sorry about all the cursing but saint louis bullsh*t is putting me in a really bad mood right now.

     
  10. Adam says:

    sorry about all the cursing but saint louis bullsh*t is putting me in a really bad mood right now.

     
  11. Douglas Duckworth says:

    Conway is a dinosaur, reactionary in the fashion of the Sheriff of Malibu, and sounds like Rex the Libertarian saying we cant regulate private property. No wonder zoning and preservation laws are antiquated and selectively enforced! If the aldermen can’t impact private property then they should resign and let people take their place who can and will.

    I find this all ironic as he lives in a brick building and owns a brick bar both in neighborhoods which were once both viewed not feasible by the market yet now desirable because of such kissers.

     
  12. FYI: This location is in the 17th ward, Joe Roddy is the alderman.

     
  13. Douglas Duckworth says:

    Yes, I’m talking about Conway’s offensive statement on the Del Taco.

     
  14. Anonymous says:

    Show me the money.  “Sure it’s ugly but with new windows, the old storefronts opened up and a recreated cornice it could have been spectacular.”  This is a true statement for thousands of structures in the city.  Where are the thousands of users knocking down the owners’ doors looking to move in?!  It’s knid of like telling my neighbor that he needs to fix up his 20-year-old minivan – it needs a lot of work, but it’s also kind of a classic.  I think he should keep it instead of trading it in on a newer model.  Who should be the decider?  Me or him?  The same goes for all these old buildings.  Sure, they have a lot of potential, but where are the doer’s, not just the talkers?  It takes serious money to put in “new windows, the old storefronts opened up and a recreated cornice”.  It’s either a labor of love or a rational business decision.  The former relies on idealists with deep pockets, the latter relies on tenants or buyers willing to pay the costs of renovating a century-old structure.  Either way, show me the money . . .

     
  15. JZ71 says:

    Show me the money.  “Sure it’s ugly but with new windows, the old storefronts opened up and a recreated cornice it could have been spectacular.”  This is a true statement for thousands of structures in the city.  Where are the thousands of users knocking down the owners’ doors looking to move in?!  It’s knid of like telling my neighbor that he needs to fix up his 20-year-old minivan – it needs a lot of work, but it’s also kind of a classic.  I think he should keep it instead of trading it in on a newer model.  Who should be the decider?  Me or him?  The same goes for all these old buildings.  Sure, they have a lot of potential, but where are the doer’s, not just the talkers?  It takes serious money to put in “new windows, the old storefronts opened up and a recreated cornice”.  It’s either a labor of love or a rational business decision.  The former relies on idealists with deep pockets, the latter relies on tenants or buyers willing to pay the costs of renovating a century-old structure.  Either way, show me the money . . .

     
    • Show me the proof the Cortex district will actually pay off someday, that we won’t be stuck with a bunch of expensive & boring buildings and too few jobs to show for it.
      Remember that in most of the city the aldermen are holding properties for development and in other parts big entities are buying up large areas so those who are interested can’t buy anything. The interest exists but the systems work against the little guy doing anything about it.

       
      • Tpekren says:

        Show me the proof that the little guy will save this town?  Give me a break Steve, St. Louis has been on a downward spiral for decades and this your thought.  Now a property owner has to prove they will be successful before they can do anything!!  Who in their right mind with any financial ability show up in this town if that is the position you advocate.  Thats like a bank telling someone to prove they will have a job for thirty years before they give them a mortgage.

        As far as expensive and boring buildings that supposedly CORTEX will built.  What do you think this property was considered at the time it was built!! It was a utility building to support an industrial activity.  What the people cared about at the time it was built was JOBS!!! Yes, you might not think CORTEX will succeed but has a better chance then many ideas you can float at bringing jobs back to the city.  A city very much dependent on payroll earnings tax.

        St. Louis needs changes to its governance as yourself and most posters duly noted.  Have no arguement with that and gladly support the notion that you start first by decreasing the number of alderman and updating its zoning laws.  It would be also helpful that city residents regain control of its police department as well as the same residents willing to vote on their alderman (the city has lousy turnout other then a Presidential election) and support a few more school bonds within the next decade.

        But somehow and somewhere you have to find middle ground, for me the priority should be the AAA Lindell building and talking a certain developer into incorporating a unique little building into his development on Grand Ave. 

         
        • JZ71 says:

          “Big entities are buying up large areas so those who are interested can’t buy anything.  The interest exists but the systems work against the little guy doing anything about it.”  Huh?!  It only takes money – most sellers only want top dollar for their property.  They don’t care if it’s Cortex, Paul McKee or Joe Sixpack.  They just want to sell and get out.  The only way “the systems work against the little guy” is that the little guy can’t whip out his or her checkbook and write a check with 5 or 6 zeros on it!  Available capital, alone, defines “big guy” and “little guy”.  How do you propose to change that?  And what really counts isn’t how much capital one has, it’s how one chooses to spend it – many of the “better” projects around here have been completed by “big guys” – size does not define results!

           
          • Wrong!! When the city owns the property you want via the LRA you’ve got to be buddies with the alderman, but even that might not be enough. Even when the building you want is privately owned the seller may say they have a higher offer from Washington University, SLU or other institution with deep pockets that can wait 20+ years to assemble land before they begin to do anything with it. Open your eyes, this has been going on for decades!

             
          • JZ71 says:

            Agree on the LRA, but disagree on the “institutions with deep pockets” argument.  A “higher offer” is just that, a better offer for the seller.  You used to be in real estate, you know sellers want top dollar.  If I were selling, I wouldn’t care if Wash U. or Doug Duckworth were the buyer.  Is it “fair” that institutions have “deep pockets”?  That they need to assemble larger tracts from multiple smaller ones?  Being poor / unwealthy sucks, but it’s life, and life ain’t fair.  I’d like to be able to pay $20,000 for a new Corvette, but all I can buy for $20K is a loaded Corolla.  Is that “fair”?!  And as for the LRA, the vast majority of their properties are in need of a LOT of work, and most folks would be better off buying something from a private seller.

             
          • I’m talking about targeting areas, buying every property in sight, doing nothing so prices drop so they can buy out the rest. An example is south of Manchester and west of Tower Grove.

             
          • JZ71 says:

            It sounds like the real issue, then, is the concept of land assemblage and redevelopment, not who actually may be saving and redeveloping existing structures.  The next question then becomes should the city actively discourage the whole concept of land assemblage?  Are we better off with benign, but gradual, neglect of multiple older structures, or are we better off, in certain parts of the city, knocking everything down and starting over?  Are we willing to force larger operations to choose between living with a patchwork of older, smaller structures or moving to the suburbs, where they can create the newr and/or larger campuses they desire?  (I can guess your answer, but what are the economic implications?)  Should we disband the LRA and sell all their properties for whatever the market will deliver, today?

             
        • Adam says:

          “Now a property owner has to prove they will be successful before they can do anything!!”

          if by “anything” you mean buy a property with the intention of razing it while having no plan for development, then yes. that’s f*cking stupid and no successful city does so on the scale that it’s done here.

          “for me the priority should be the AAA Lindell building and talking a
          certain developer into incorporating a unique little building into his
          development on Grand Ave.”

          priority over what?

           
  16. Show me the proof the Cortex district will actually pay off someday, that we won’t be stuck with a bunch of expensive & boring buildings and too few jobs to show for it.
    Remember that in most of the city the aldermen are holding properties for development and in other parts big entities are buying up large areas so those who are interested can’t buy anything. The interest exists but the systems work against the little guy doing anything about it.

     
  17. Anonymous says:

    Dozens, if
    not hundreds of sound buildings are demolished in the City every year. It is
    difficult, if not impossible to highlight each one. I will stop talking about
    it, but it is why a document like the City of London Unitary Development Plan
    is needed for St. Louis. It is a comprehensive document of strategic
    goals that
    cover all aspects of a city from shopping to transport and movement to historic
    preservation.

    Zoning in
    St. Louis is a useless tool, historic preservation laws are only a little
    better in that they ignore many buildings and surroundings that may contribute
    to a larger city plan. JZ brings up a valid point about money and investment. I
    would contend that if city planning had broad, underlying goals available to
    the public,developers and the government, it would encourage investment, including in buildings
    such as 3901.

    The
    fragmentation of development is a huge gap in city planning. Only a few days
    ago I drove along Hwy N, west of 40 in St. Charles County, I remember less than
    ten years ago a rural area of forests and farms. Now it is the usual
    subdivisions, with chain stores and strip malls in what were soybean fields.

    This is the
    last gasp of the automobile culture. These people will be looking for
    alternatives: sooner rather than later. Follow the money and the dying model that
    clings desperately to the past only because it is the model they use as their
    cash cow. Public officials of course go along. That is the reason for the expansion
    and sprawl, not because it is a viable solution for the region and the public.

    The City of
    London Unitary Development Plan is an attempt to offer a method of defining and
    implementing an urban future for St. Louis.

    It is not a
    matter of whether or not this particular building is neglected, but rather
    absence of a policy that directs the shape of a new city, (probably much like
    the old city in walkability and transit), into a true alternative to the
    mindless sprawl.

    The Unitary
    Development Plan could be developed online by citizens, potentially revolutionizing
    city government. Either that or we can just go ahead and keep building the same
    old crap.

     

     
  18. gmichaud says:

    Dozens, if
    not hundreds of sound buildings are demolished in the City every year. It is
    difficult, if not impossible to highlight each one. I will stop talking about
    it, but it is why a document like the City of London Unitary Development Plan
    is needed for St. Louis. It is a comprehensive document of strategic
    goals that
    cover all aspects of a city from shopping to transport and movement to historic
    preservation.

    Zoning in
    St. Louis is a useless tool, historic preservation laws are only a little
    better in that they ignore many buildings and surroundings that may contribute
    to a larger city plan. JZ brings up a valid point about money and investment. I
    would contend that if city planning had broad, underlying goals available to
    the public,developers and the government, it would encourage investment, including in buildings
    such as 3901.

    The
    fragmentation of development is a huge gap in city planning. Only a few days
    ago I drove along Hwy N, west of 40 in St. Charles County, I remember less than
    ten years ago a rural area of forests and farms. Now it is the usual
    subdivisions, with chain stores and strip malls in what were soybean fields.

    This is the
    last gasp of the automobile culture. These people will be looking for
    alternatives: sooner rather than later. Follow the money and the dying model that
    clings desperately to the past only because it is the model they use as their
    cash cow. Public officials of course go along. That is the reason for the expansion
    and sprawl, not because it is a viable solution for the region and the public.

    The City of
    London Unitary Development Plan is an attempt to offer a method of defining and
    implementing an urban future for St. Louis.

    It is not a
    matter of whether or not this particular building is neglected, but rather
    absence of a policy that directs the shape of a new city, (probably much like
    the old city in walkability and transit), into a true alternative to the
    mindless sprawl.

    The Unitary
    Development Plan could be developed online by citizens, potentially revolutionizing
    city government. Either that or we can just go ahead and keep building the same
    old crap.

     

     
  19. Tpekren says:

    Show me the proof that the little guy will save this town?  Give me a break Steve, St. Louis has been on a downward spiral for decades and this your thought.  Now a property owner has to prove they will be successful before they can do anything!!  Who in their right mind with any financial ability show up in this town if that is the position you advocate.  Thats like a bank telling someone to prove they will have a job for thirty years before they give them a mortgage.

    As far as expensive and boring buildings that supposedly CORTEX will built.  What do you think this property was considered at the time it was built!! It was a utility building to support an industrial activity.  What the people cared about at the time it was built was JOBS!!! Yes, you might not think CORTEX will succeed but has a better chance then many ideas you can float at bringing jobs back to the city.  A city very much dependent on payroll earnings tax.

    St. Louis needs changes to its governance as yourself and most posters duly noted.  Have no arguement with that and gladly support the notion that you start first by decreasing the number of alderman and updating its zoning laws.  It would be also helpful that city residents regain control of its police department as well as the same residents willing to vote on their alderman (the city has lousy turnout other then a Presidential election) and support a few more school bonds within the next decade.

    But somehow and somewhere you have to find middle ground, for me the priority should be the AAA Lindell building and talking a certain developer into incorporating a unique little building into his development on Grand Ave. 

     
  20. Anonymous says:

    “Big entities are buying up large areas so those who are interested can’t buy anything.  The interest exists but the systems work against the little guy doing anything about it.”  Huh?!  It only takes money – most sellers only want top dollar for their property.  They don’t care if it’s Cortex, Paul McKee or Joe Sixpack.  They just want to sell and get out.  The only way “the systems work against the little guy” is that the little guy can’t whip out his or her checkbook and write a check with 5 or 6 zeros on it!  Available capital, alone, defines “big guy” and “little guy”.  How do you propose to change that?  And what really counts isn’t how much capital one has, it’s how one chooses to spend it – many of the “better” projects around here have been completed by “big guys” – size does not define results!

     
  21. Wrong!! When the city owns the property you want via the LRA you’ve got to be buddies with the alderman, but even that might not be enough. Even when the building you want is privately owned the seller may say they have a higher offer from Washington University, SLU or other institution with deep pockets that can wait 20+ years to assemble land before they begin to do anything with it. Open your eyes, this has been going on for decades!

     
  22. JZ71 says:

    Agree on the LRA, but disagree on the “institutions with deep pockets” argument.  A “higher offer” is just that, a better offer for the seller.  You used to be in real estate, you know sellers want top dollar.  If I were selling, I wouldn’t care if Wash U. or Doug Duckworth were the buyer.  Is it “fair” that institutions have “deep pockets”?  That they need to assemble larger tracts from multiple smaller ones?  Being poor / unwealthy sucks, but it’s life, and life ain’t fair.  I’d like to be able to pay $20,000 for a new Corvette, but all I can buy for $20K is a loaded Corolla.  Is that “fair”?!  And as for the LRA, the vast majority of their properties are in need of a LOT of work, and most folks would be better off buying something from a private seller.

     
  23. I’m talking about targeting areas, buying every property in sight, doing nothing so prices drop so they can buy out the rest. An example is south of Manchester and west of Tower Grove.

     
  24. JZ71 says:

    It sounds like the real issue, then, is the concept of land assemblage and redevelopment, not who actually may be saving and redeveloping existing structures.  The next question then becomes should the city actively discourage the whole concept of land assemblage?  Are we better off with benign, but gradual, neglect of multiple older structures, or are we better off, in certain parts of the city, knocking everything down and starting over?  Are we willing to force larger operations to choose between living with a patchwork of older, smaller structures or moving to the suburbs, where they can create the newr and/or larger campuses they desire?  (I can guess your answer, but what are the economic implications?)  Should we disband the LRA and sell all their properties for whatever the market will deliver, today?

     
  25. Adam says:

    “Now a property owner has to prove they will be successful before they can do anything!!”

    if by “anything” you mean buy a property with the intention of razing it while having no plan for development, then yes. that’s f*cking stupid and no successful city does so on the scale that it’s done here.

    “for me the priority should be the AAA Lindell building and talking a
    certain developer into incorporating a unique little building into his
    development on Grand Ave.”

    priority over what?

     

Comment on this Article:

Advertisement



FACEBOOK POSTS

Unable to display Facebook posts.
Show error

Error: (#10) This endpoint requires the 'manage_pages' permission or the 'Page Public Content Access' feature. Refer to https://developers.facebook.com/docs/apps/review/login-permissions#manage-pages and https://developers.facebook.com/docs/apps/review/feature#reference-PAGES_ACCESS for details.
Type: OAuthException
Code: 10
Please refer to our Error Message Reference.

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe