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Pevely Dairy Fate to be Decided Today, or Not?

The proposed demolition of the historic, and urban, Pevely Dairy complex at Grand and Chouteau is on today’s Preservation Board agenda, but won’t be heard:

St. Louis University’s request for permits to demolish the Pevely Dairy buildings is off Monday’s agenda of the city’s Preservation Board but that does not mean SLU is abandoning its effort to raze the historic complex.

A university spokesman said today that seeking a delay for a hearing on its request for demolition permits gives SLU more time to present its case to the city panel. SLU has said it wants to replace the Pevely complex with a building for its SLUCare physician’s practice. (STLtoday.com)

Part of me doesn’t trust that the issue won’t be decided at today’s meeting. But, it’s quite possible the staff will indicate the issue will be on the December agenda.The main problem I have is SLU’s false claim the historic structure is in the way.

Given the history of Saint Louis University these past two decades the Pevely building and smokestack aren’t in the way of a new building. No, they are where SLU President Fr. Biondi wants  grass and a fountain. Trying very hard not to use a few choice expletives!

ABOVE: SLU's anti-urban research building on the SE corner of Grand & Chouteau

Biondi hates urbanity, or maybe he just doesn’t know what makes a good city. The SLU campus is very pristine and in the center, interesting, But the edges are dead zones due to all the fenced lawns created by Biondi. Intended to make the area safer, SLU policies suck life out of the area to the point the sidewalks are nearly vacant, which isn’t safe. People create safety.

ABOVE: Most of the large site is occupied by non-historic structures

The smokestack and building at the corner, with the rooftop sign, are the two elements that should be saved. The warehouse elements in the foreground (above) should be replaced, just not with lifeless iron fencing with lawn.  New medical buildings can be built around & embracing the old. The smokestack could be the centerpiece of a courtyard. The architectural possibilities were explored during a recent design charrette:

After a thorough discussion of the site’s dimensions, SLU’s extensive landholdings in the area, and the university’s probable needs, participants subdivided into four groups. Each focused on a different approach, including converting the corner building into doctors’ offices with a larger modern addition, adapting it into market-rate housing and ancillary facilities for the medical school, finding additional on-site locations for new buildings, and generating an overall site plan to connect this corner to the rest of the university. (SLU Says It Can’t Reuse the Pevely Buildings; Local Designers Beg to Differ)

I look forward to seeing the many varied solutions these teams developed.

We must resist SLU’s efforts to destroy both Grand & Chouteau corridors. Biondi has already done a number of Grand at the main campus and the medical campus but hope remains for Chouteau and eventually Grand can be urbanized again, largely by  building over Biondi’s lawns.

ABOVE: The historic Pevely Dairy maintains the building line at both Grand & Chouteau

Where SLU has replaced walkable urban buildings with acres of fenced lawn we can build new 1-2 story “liner buildings” to recreate the walls of the urban street. The SW corner shouldn’t be destroyed, liner buildings can fix the anti-urban SE corner but two such corners would be a disaster.

The NE corner is a suburban fast-food chain and the never urban NW corner is being cleared for more dead SLU grass. Yawn.

ABOVE: The NW corner of Grand & Chouteau should be developed in a urban manner, respecting & engaging the sidewalk.

The Grand viaduct is being replaced and the MetroLink station getting rebuilt. The #70 Grand bus is Metro’s busiest and the #32 MLK bus travels up and down Chouteau & Manchester. If developed right, Grand & Chouteau could be a great pedestrian environment. Chouteau is important for connecting Lafayette Square & Downtown  to The Grove.

My guess is Biondi has surrounded himself with yes men that tell him he’s done a great job with the campuses. Well, on the chance he’ll read this post:

Stop it! You are destroying the city! What you’ve done will take decades to undo and it must be undone to create lively sidewalks. It sickens me my tuition helped fund your destructive ways. Retire!

– Steve Patterson

 

Currently there are "29 comments" on this Article:

  1. MMClubhouse says:

    I tend to agree with you on this one.  My only problem with your perspective is that you seem to be pie(ing) in the sky(ing) yet again.  The reality is, that SLU (while ruining many square blocks of the city and creating nothing of note or beauty in the area) is the only stabilizing force in that part of town.  I hate what they are doing, but it IS SLU’s property.

    It IS SLU’s property because the buildings and the land that they are located on are essentially worthless to commercial development.  Poverty surrounds and abounds in the area.  Would you rather the historic building sit vacant for 40 years until it begins to collapse like Cupples?  If SLU is blocked on this, that will be the buildings’ fates.  Non-Profit and gov’t. subsidized (TIF, Section 8, Abatement) enterprises are the only types of development that will risk locating in the city.  Everywhere I look, every big project is one of those. 

    SLU is not beholden to a market that might clamor for a more historic ascetic.  If there were a dearth of empty warehouses and a glut of potential developers, the city could demand more.  But, at the moment, the city is dealing with the reality of a dying retail, warehouse, AND manufacturing base.  It has absolutely NOTHING to put on the table.  It has to take what it can to stabilize a great big corner in the hopes of luring more foreign students with their expatriated money to spend in the city. 

    My concern is not so much with the nature of the building that will grow on this corner.  No, it is with the danger of another large parcel of potential for-profit land being taken off the tax rolls.  How much will the needed infrastructure improvements cost the city?  How much will those foreign students bring to the table to offset 100 years of essential tax abatement for the land?  What will the facility do to traffic in the area?  I am far more concerned with the practical implications of SLU’s expansion.  But, then again, if the current structure sits empty for 40 more years, what’s the difference?

    No matter what, you gotta admit, this is really exciting news for Captain D’s and Rallys!

     
  2. MMClubhouse says:

    I tend to agree with you on this one.  My only problem with your perspective is that you seem to be pie(ing) in the sky(ing) yet again.  The reality is, that SLU (while ruining many square blocks of the city and creating nothing of note or beauty in the area) is the only stabilizing force in that part of town.  I hate what they are doing, but it IS SLU’s property.

    It IS SLU’s property because the buildings and the land that they are located on are essentially worthless to commercial development.  Poverty surrounds and abounds in the area.  Would you rather the historic building sit vacant for 40 years until it begins to collapse like Cupples?  If SLU is blocked on this, that will be the buildings’ fates.  Non-Profit and gov’t. subsidized (TIF, Section 8, Abatement) enterprises are the only types of development that will risk locating in the city.  Everywhere I look, every big project is one of those. 

    SLU is not beholden to a market that might clamor for a more historic ascetic.  If there were a dearth of empty warehouses and a glut of potential developers, the city could demand more.  But, at the moment, the city is dealing with the reality of a dying retail, warehouse, AND manufacturing base.  It has absolutely NOTHING to put on the table.  It has to take what it can to stabilize a great big corner in the hopes of luring more foreign students with their expatriated money to spend in the city. 

    My concern is not so much with the nature of the building that will grow on this corner.  No, it is with the danger of another large parcel of potential for-profit land being taken off the tax rolls.  How much will the needed infrastructure improvements cost the city?  How much will those foreign students bring to the table to offset 100 years of essential tax abatement for the land?  What will the facility do to traffic in the area?  I am far more concerned with the practical implications of SLU’s expansion.  But, then again, if the current structure sits empty for 40 more years, what’s the difference?

    No matter what, you gotta admit, this is really exciting news for Captain D’s and Rallys!

     
    • What you call pie in the sky is my knowledge that the money spent to destroy St. Louis could help invigorate the city. If by stabilize you mean kill off all life, then yes.

       
      • MMClubhouse says:

        Like I said, I share your lament.  I just think that we need to be
        realistic about what is happening.  SLU can hold the city hostage, just
        like all the other monied interests that exist in the area.  There is no
        other option.  What SLU wants to do is the only thing that ANYONE is
        willing, much less capable, to do.  These entities could care less about
        the city itself.  They care about their little fenced off corners. 
        That is the reality.  The pie in the sky perspective is that the city
        has any power over the successful enterprises in the city…it does
        not.  It is beholden to it’s benefactors.  Preservationists are few and
        lack the dollars or wherewithal to step in and develop these properties,
        so instead, SLU destroys and looks out for its own bottom line.  That
        is how the market has developed.  Or the lack of a market.  You do not
        want destruction, then you advocate dereliction.  That is fact.  Look
        around the city.  Either it gets torn down, or it sits.  The bigger the
        building the less market for redevelopment.  It is a sad fact.

        A few years back I took a class in medieval civilizations.  The
        instructor made a point about how The West and America specifically did
        not have any great cities that had disappeared.  He asked us if we knew
        why?  I suggested that perhaps it was because we had not been faced with
        the technological or industrial changes that heralded the demise of
        ancient cities.  That we were, indeed, too young to have been challenged
        in such a way.  That the inevitable march of time would do the same to
        Detroit, Cleveland, or a number of other cities.  Maybe that is what we
        face.  The crumbling of way of life symbolized by our iconic industrial
        complexes.  Maybe, the lament is not for the buildings, but for the loss
        of the power and hope and boundless optimism rooted in sacrifice and
        patriotism that the buildings represent.  Or, it could be the shame that
        is a powerful educational institution that should be concerned with at
        least referencing the past instead destroying it to gain more power and
        money for its non-taxed coffers.

         
        • Douglas Duckworth says:

          The city has powers of zoning, preservation review, and could have design guidelines if they passed enabling legislation.  The fact is that St. Louis’ leadership doesn’t use the tools they have because they defer to the judgement of people who follow outdated strategies.  This is a political problem not a structural one.  There is development going on in St. Louis and it could be ordered in a way which maximizes St. Louis’ potential rather than undermining its built environment, sense of place, and future.  

          People who are moving back to cities do not want this kind of development.  Across America re-urbanization is happening and St. Louis is not positioning itself to capitalize upon that trend.  Rather than leveraging our strengths, we allow senseless demolitions and suburban forms to propagate.  

           
  3. What you call pie in the sky is my knowledge that the money spent to destroy St. Louis could help invigorate the city

     
  4. Anonymous says:

    MMClubhouse makes a lot of the same points that I have.  If this is allegedly off the table for today’s meeting, why is there no comment on the Cupples Warehouse application?  Of the two structures, I’d see a bigger loss from Cupples.  And I disagree about how successfully the Pevely complex embraces the current “sidewalk” along Chouteau.  Between apparent road widenings over the years and an industrial complex designed with the main floor 4′-5′ above sidewalk level (to facilitate truck loading), walking here is neither attractive nor very safe feeling.*  And while I wouldn’t want to see the typical SLU fence and grass go in here, I could see where moving the building line back 8′-12′ and building new 2-3 story mixed-use structures along Chouteau could be successful.

    *Other successful warehouse redevelopment projects seem to be located on less-busy streets, streets where on-street parking can be added and a viable streetscape created.  These old industrial buildings were never designed to be pedestrian friendly, nor are new ones, and unless and until the city is willing to Grove-ify Chouteau in the same way they’re making parts of Manchester and Grand more pedestrian friendly, reusing this complex by “saving” it will remain a challenge.

     
  5. JZ71 says:

    MMClubhouse makes a lot of the same points that I have.  If this is allegedly off the table for today’s meeting, why is there no comment on the Cupples Warehouse application?  Of the two structures, I’d see a bigger loss from Cupples.  And I disagree about how successfully the Pevely complex embraces the current “sidewalk” along Chouteau.  Between apparent road widenings over the years and an industrial complex designed with the main floor 4′-5′ above sidewalk level (to facilitate truck loading), walking here is neither attractive nor very safe feeling.*  And while I wouldn’t want to see the typical SLU fence and grass go in here, I could see where moving the building line back 8′-12′ and building new 2-3 story mixed-use structures along Chouteau could be successful.

    *Other successful warehouse redevelopment projects seem to be located on less-busy streets, streets where on-street parking can be added and a viable streetscape created.  These old industrial buildings were never designed to be pedestrian friendly, nor are new ones, and unless and until the city is willing to Grove-ify Chouteau in the same way they’re making parts of Manchester and Grand more pedestrian friendly, reusing this complex by “saving” it will remain a challenge.

     
    • Agreed, Cupples would be a huge loss. The building line at Pevely shouldn’t be moved back one inch. The school at Chouteau & Spring maintains the same line. In urban areas pedestrians should be able to touch buildings from the sidewalk. The corner building is very much a blank wall but the building isn’t long, new building fronts along Chouteau could have doors & windows.

       
  6. Agreed, Cupples would be a huge loss. The building line at Pevely shouldn’t be moved back one inch. The school at Chouteau & Spring maintains the same line. In urban areas pedestrians should be able to touch buildings from the sidewalk. The corner building is very much a blank wall but the building isn’t long, new building fronts along Chouteau could have doors & windows.

     
  7. MMClubhouse says:

    Like I said, I share your lament.  I just think that we need to be
    realistic about what is happening.  SLU can hold the city hostage, just
    like all the other monied interests that exist in the area.  There is no
    other option.  What SLU wants to do is the only thing that ANYONE is
    willing, much less capable, to do.  These entities could care less about
    the city itself.  They care about their little fenced off corners. 
    That is the reality.  The pie in the sky perspective is that the city
    has any power over the successful enterprises in the city…it does
    not.  It is beholden to it’s benefactors.  Preservationists are few and
    lack the dollars or wherewithal to step in and develop these properties,
    so instead, SLU destroys and looks out for its own bottom line.  That
    is how the market has developed.  Or the lack of a market.  You do not
    want destruction, then you advocate dereliction.  That is fact.  Look
    around the city.  Either it gets torn down, or it sits.  The bigger the
    building the less market for redevelopment.  It is a sad fact.

    A few years back I took a class in medieval civilizations.  The
    instructor made a point about how The West and America specifically did
    not have any great cities that had disappeared.  He asked us if we knew
    why?  I suggested that perhaps it was because we had not been faced with
    the technological or industrial changes that heralded the demise of
    ancient cities.  That we were, indeed, too young to have been challenged
    in such a way.  That the inevitable march of time would do the same to
    Detroit, Cleveland, or a number of other cities.  Maybe that is what we
    face.  The crumbling of way of life symbolized by our iconic industrial
    complexes.  Maybe, the lament is not for the buildings, but for the loss
    of the power and hope and boundless optimism rooted in sacrifice and
    patriotism that the buildings represent.  Or, it could be the shame that
    is a powerful educational institution that should be concerned with at
    least referencing the past instead destroying it to gain more power and
    money for its non-taxed coffers.

     
  8. Anonymous says:

    I’m confused – your second photo shows the nearly-block-long Chouteau elevation.  The only part I would consider “non-historic” / “contributing” is the white, metal-clad portion in the foreground; everything else, including the brick-in-filled, concrete-frame parts, would be historic in my eyes.  And to clarify my moving the building line back statement, I was assuming a wider public sidwewalk, not an 8′-12′ tree lawn.

     
  9. JZ71 says:

    I’m confused – your second photo shows the nearly-block-long Chouteau elevation.  The only part I would consider “non-historic” / “contributing” is the white, metal-clad portion in the foreground; everything else, including the brick-in-filled, concrete-frame parts, would be historic in my eyes.  And to clarify my moving the building line back statement, I was assuming a wider public sidwewalk, not an 8′-12′ tree lawn.

     
    • It is the original corner structure that is critical at this corner. Numerous additions were added but they don’t have the same significance. Plenty of room on the site for new buildings. The current width from building to curb is fine, just need a lane for on-street parking to separate pedestrians from passing traffic.

       
      • JZ71 says:

        So there are degrees of historical signifigance?  The original post included the original description / designation:  “Constructed between 1915 and 1945, the Pevely Dairy Company Plant was designed as the headquarters for the growing company; it remained in service as a dairy until November 2008. It is comprised of three buildings, a smokestack, and two parking lots. The 1915 four-story, red brick office building is located at 1001 South Grand Boulevard. . . . The 1916 milk plant sits behind the office building at 3626 Chouteau Avenue. This three-story brick and concrete industrial building had additions in 1943, 1945, 1975 and 1997. . . . A 1928 garage is located south of the milk plant at 1101 Motard Avenue. . . . Originally connected to a boiler and powerhouse, the 1943 smokestack now sits across a parking lot from the office building.”  The historic designation covers the whole site, not just the corner building.

         
  10. It is the original corner structure that is critical at this corner. Numerous additions were added but they don’t have the same significance. Plenty of room on the site for new buildings. The current width from building to curb is fine, just need a lane for on-street parking to separate pedestrians from passing traffic.

     
  11. JZ71 says:

    So there are degrees of historical signifigance?  The original post included the original description / designation:  “Constructed between 1915 and 1945, the Pevely Dairy Company Plant was designed as the headquarters for the growing company; it remained in service as a dairy until November 2008. It is comprised of three buildings, a smokestack, and two parking lots. The 1915 four-story, red brick office building is located at 1001 South Grand Boulevard. . . . The 1916 milk plant sits behind the office building at 3626 Chouteau Avenue. This three-story brick and concrete industrial building had additions in 1943, 1945, 1975 and 1997. . . . A 1928 garage is located south of the milk plant at 1101 Motard Avenue. . . . Originally connected to a boiler and powerhouse, the 1943 smokestack now sits across a parking lot from the office building.”  The historic designation covers the whole site, not just the corner building.

     
  12. Theresia says:

    Tear it all down. It’s ugly anyways and grass and a fountain are much prettier than some smoke-stack. Biondi is a hero of St. Louis

     
  13. Theresia says:

    Tear it all down. It’s ugly anyways and grass and a fountain are much prettier than some smoke-stack. Biondi is a hero of St. Louis

     
  14. Theresia says:

    Tear it all down. It’s ugly anyways and grass and a fountain are much prettier than some smoke-stack. Biondi is a hero of St. Louis

     
    • samizdat says:

      Biondi is a fascist, and a disgrace to his Roman Catholic faith. He has no more call to wear the collar than that anti-Semite and fellow fascist, Bishop Fulton Sheen. Hate-filled ignorance and mindless allegiance to his own institution has ruined him. SLU has been turning the blocks surrounding it into a wasteland. That’s not stabilization, that’s simply removing any of the factors which could have potentially created problems–from a PR standpoint–for SLU. In order to clear out those blocks, it’s likely that many individuals were eventually forced from their dwellings. That’s not at all Christian, judging by my understanding of my former Roman Catholic faith. The area around SLU is nothing but a dead zone, a ghetto for the students and staff of SLU. No one else–especially if you’re black and poor–is wanted, or needed.

       
  15. samizdat says:

    Biondi is a fascist, and a disgrace to his Roman Catholic faith. He has no more call to wear the collar than that anti-Semite and fellow fascist, Bishop Fulton Sheen. Hate-filled ignorance and mindless allegiance to his own institution has ruined him. SLU has been turning the blocks surrounding it into a wasteland. That’s not stabilization, that’s simply removing any of the factors which could have potentially created problems–from a PR standpoint–for SLU. In order to clear out those blocks, it’s likely that many individuals were eventually forced from their dwellings. That’s not at all Christian, judging by my understanding of my former Roman Catholic faith. The area around SLU is nothing but a dead zone, a ghetto for the students and staff of SLU. No one else–especially if you’re black and poor–is wanted, or needed.

     
  16. Anonymous says:

    While it may sound good to call Fr. Biondi a fascist, he and the university really don’t seem to fit the definition of fascism -  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facsism.  If anything, he’s probably more of a dictator and/or a meglomaniac . . . .

     
  17. Anonymous says:

    Rev Biondi is missing a chance to become a regional leader. Steve has illustrated that an optimum solution to the corner of  Grand and Chouteau is something resembling the existing Pevely Building. Architects in the Design Charette have found solutions to the Pevely site that meet program requirements of the University without the demolition of Pevely. That is what good and great architects and designers do. With the amount of open space surrounding the Pevely, numerous solutions are available.
    This is an important transit connection site. Manchester/Chouteau runs adjacent running east/west. The site is walking distance to trains that travel to Clayton, Downtown and many other destinations.Grand is a major transit thoroughfare and nearby Lindell connects to important institutions and neighborhoods.
    This is a portrait and a fragment of what transit systems look like in great cities. (And begin also to address the question of efficiency and travel times).
    The City of St. Louis fails in leadership. Rev Biondi has a chance to fill that vacuum. With wars for oil, global warming, and a host of other environmental problems, now is the time to act.

     
  18. gmichaud says:

    Rev Biondi is missing a chance to become a regional leader. Steve has illustrated that an optimum solution to the corner of  Grand and Chouteau is something resembling the existing Pevely Building. Architects in the Design Charette have found solutions to the Pevely site that meet program requirements of the University without the demolition of Pevely. That is what good and great architects and designers do. With the amount of open space surrounding the Pevely, numerous solutions are available.
    This is an important transit connection site. Manchester/Chouteau runs adjacent running east/west. The site is walking distance to trains that travel to Clayton, Downtown and many other destinations.Grand is a major transit thoroughfare and nearby Lindell connects to important institutions and neighborhoods.
    This is a portrait and a fragment of what transit systems look like in great cities. (And begin also to address the question of efficiency and travel times).
    The City of St. Louis fails in leadership. Rev Biondi has a chance to fill that vacuum. With wars for oil, global warming, and a host of other environmental problems, now is the time to act.

     
  19. Douglas Duckworth says:

    The city has powers of zoning, preservation review, and could have design guidelines if they passed enabling legislation.  The fact is that St. Louis’ leadership doesn’t use the tools they have because they defer to the judgement of people who follow outdated strategies.  This is a political problem not a structural one.  There is development going on in St. Louis and it could be ordered in a way which maximizes St. Louis’ potential rather than undermining its built environment, sense of place, and future.  

    People who are moving back to cities do not want this kind of development.  Across America re-urbanization is happening and St. Louis is not positioning itself to capitalize upon that trend.  Rather than leveraging our strengths, we allow senseless demolitions and suburban forms to propagate.  

     
  20. MB says:

    With the University’s bicentennial year (2018) coming up (which will roughly co-incide with Biondi’s 30th anni as SLU’s president), Biondi has his eye on history.  Namely his own place in SLU’s history.  Biondi will not be retiring anytime soon.  I think that the one of the best ways of approaching the issue is to remind Biondi that he could make his legacy more significant by ditching the acquisition/demolition/greenspace/Brother Mel/Floosie-in-the-Jacuzzi sculpture school of redevelopment that has characterized his reign thus far. 

     
  21. MB says:

    With the University’s bicentennial year (2018) coming up (which will roughly co-incide with Biondi’s 30th anni as SLU’s president), Biondi has his eye on history.  Namely his own place in SLU’s history.  Biondi will not be retiring anytime soon.  I think that the one of the best ways of approaching the issue is to remind Biondi that he could make his legacy more significant by ditching the acquisition/demolition/greenspace/Brother Mel/Floosie-in-the-Jacuzzi sculpture school of redevelopment that has characterized his reign thus far. 

     

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