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Biondi Threatened To Move Saint Louis University Medical To St. Louis County

The presentations were completed and the Planning Commission had asked questions of Saint Louis University representatives about their appeal. Don Roe, Director of the St. Louis Urban Design & Planning Agency was discussing procedures with the members of the Planning Commission and Saint Louis University President Biondi got up and spoke for an additional two minutes — saying if the demolition of the Pevely office building isn’t granted he’ll move the medical center to St. Louis County.

ABOVE: The former Pevely Dairy at Grand & Chouteau

Biondi shouldn’t have been allowed to speak at that point — anyone else in the room would have been silenced immediately. But what he said was a very clear threat –don’t overturn the Preservation Board’s decision and we’ll abandon the city like every other catholic hospital in town has done before us!

Sorry for the poor audio:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ub8u2khAo3c

“What I forsee, if you don’t approve our request, is that we would have to shut down our medical school and find property in west county,” noting that 35 years ago, Maryville offered up land for the university to move west. Earlier, Biondi cited the school’s record of renovating and restoring historic buildings and also highlighted the law school’s impending move to downtown. (KMOX)

The Planning Commission voted to reverse the the Preservation Board and allow demolition of the corner office building with the condition a permit has been issued for construction of the new project.  They reversed the Preservation Board and allowed demolition of the historic smokestack without any conditions. They modified the Preservation Board decision on the milk plant and garage to allow demolition to proceed at once on those.

- Steve Patterson

  • Imran

    I was sitting a few seats away. When Ivy Pinkston asked them if they still planned to put up a museum to the Pevely in the lobby of the new building, Biondi’s lawyer turned towards him and Biondi whispered to him ‘say yes’. Not ‘yes’ but ‘say yes’. I had heard things about Biondi before but his behavior at the meeting yesterday was an eye opener for me (not that I care about a stupid museum to the Pevely btw)

  • Imran

    I was sitting a few seats away. When Ivy Pinkston asked them if they still planned to put up a museum to the Pevely in the lobby of the new building, Biondi’s lawyer turned towards him and Biondi whispered to him ‘say yes’. Not ‘yes’ but ‘say yes’. I had heard things about Biondi before but his behavior at the meeting yesterday was an eye opener for me (not that I care about a stupid museum to the Pevely btw)

    • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

      He’s spent years destroying the formerly urban midtown. In his presentation & little rant he voiced his hatred for urbanity. He mentioned the idea of street, sidewalk and then building as if it’s a bad thing — he doesn’t get that’s what many of us desire — we don’t want buildings set way back behind lawns. I want to be n the sidewalk and be able to reach out and touch the building, look in a window, enter a doorway.

  • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

    He’s spent years destroying the formerly urban midtown. In his presentation & little rant he voiced his hatred for urbanity. He mentioned the idea of street, sidewalk and then building as if it’s a bad thing — he doesn’t get that’s what many of us desire — we don’t want buildings set way back behind lawns. I want to be n the sidewalk and be able to reach out and touch the building, look in a window, enter a doorway.

  • Fozzie

    St. Louis ought to bend over backwards to help the likes of Biondi and McKee who are willing to invest in the city.   Being relatively new to STL, you clearly don’t remember how decrepit the area near SLU was 20 years ago.

  • Fozzie

    St. Louis ought to bend over backwards to help the likes of Biondi and McKee who are willing to invest in the city.   Being relatively new to STL, you clearly don’t remember how decrepit the area near SLU was 20 years ago.

    • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

      I’ve been here more than 21 years. I remember the area well since I banked at Lindell & Grand where a fountain exists now. The area was dense & urban with great potential. But Biondi erased all that potential. They city has bent over for Biondi.

      • Bradley

        I went SLU in the late eighties and early nineties. I lived
        on campus and later a few blocks away. It was a great experience in an urban
        setting.  Since graduating I have watched
        with sadness as this environment has disappeared.   I
        lived in D.C. and saw urban University’s grow and embrace their environment. SLU’s
        ongoing tendencies to bulldoze the surrounding community, trying to toe in a suburban
        oasis in what was once a vibrant neighborhood does not contribute to the
        surrounding community, businesses buildings and architecture that depend on density
        to sustain their viability and relevance. 
        I still hope that SLU might begin to embrace and contribute to their
        surroundings, but I would not mind if the move to an area that fits their
        current vision. 

        • student

          density depends on # of people and the # of people in stl city is decreasing.  Obviously what biondi is doing is for the benefit of the school but had he done it any other way it would decrease the cohesiveness of the school we have now.

    • MattH

      The city has bent over for Biondi and we have a wasteland of a “midtown” in most places.  At some point, someone has to call his bluff.  The commission had a great opportunity to do so last night and failed.

  • Msrdls

    There is no doubt Fr. Biondi is an administrator first and a meantime priest. As an administrator, he is obviously competent. As a priest, he fails to measure up to the standards that the Jesuits set in my mind when I attended Jesuit high school in the Los Angeles area. In my opinion, Ash Wednesday 2012 was a great day in the history of SLU, but very dark for the Society of Jesus. (Cor ad cor loquitor, Fr. Biondi)

    On another issue: I question the negotiating skills and street-smarts of the City’s review board because preservation of the smokestack could easily have been listed as a condition of the deal, and SLU would certainly have gratefully accepted it and abided by it.

  • Msrdls

    There is no doubt Fr. Biondi is an administrator first and a meantime priest. As an administrator, he is obviously competent. As a priest, he fails to measure up to the standards that the Jesuits set in my mind when I attended Jesuit high school in the Los Angeles area. In my opinion, Ash Wednesday 2012 was a great day in the history of SLU, but very dark for the Society of Jesus. (Cor ad cor loquitor, Fr. Biondi)

    On another issue: I question the negotiating skills and street-smarts of the City’s review board because preservation of the smokestack could easily have been listed as a condition of the deal, and SLU would certainly have gratefully accepted it and abided by it.

  • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

    I’ve been here more than 21 years. I remember the area well since I banked at Lindell & Grand where a fountain exists now. The area was dense & urban with great potential. But Biondi erased all that potential. They city has bent over for Biondi.

  • MattH

    The city has bent over for Biondi and we have a wasteland of a “midtown” in most places.  At some point, someone has to call his bluff.  The commission had a great opportunity to do so last night and failed.

  • City Tax Payer

    Let him move to the county.  Get a tax payer on that property. 

  • City Tax Payer

    Let him move to the county.  Get a tax payer on that property. 

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t it a sin to lie, Fr. Biondi?

  • tennave

    Isn’t it a sin to lie, Fr. Biondi?

  • The MINGE

    Wow, what a jerk!

  • The MINGE

    Wow, what a jerk!

  • http://yastlblog.blogspot.com/ Kevin B

    After a decision by the Planning Commission overturns that of the Preservation Board, isn’t the next step supposed to be an opportunity for public response? I think Biondi’s outburst (and yes, it was a frustrated, selfish outburst) was a clear breach of meeting decorum and reason to declare the proceedings tarnished.

    That was, after all, SLU’s reasoning for a Commission review, right? They initially said that the Preservation Board procedure was done improperly. Well, it goes both ways and to make an unfounded and undocumented statement such as that outside of your allotted 20 minutes should be considered a serious infraction.

  • http://yastlblog.blogspot.com/ Kevin B

    After a decision by the Planning Commission overturns that of the Preservation Board, isn’t the next step supposed to be an opportunity for public response? I think Biondi’s outburst (and yes, it was a frustrated, selfish outburst) was a clear breach of meeting decorum and reason to declare the proceedings tarnished.

    That was, after all, SLU’s reasoning for a Commission review, right? They initially said that the Preservation Board procedure was done improperly. Well, it goes both ways and to make an unfounded and undocumented statement such as that outside of your allotted 20 minutes should be considered a serious infraction.

    • JZ71

      No, the next step is to appeal the decision in Circuit Court.

  • Daniel L.

    I wrote an e-mail to my Alderwoman. While I’m pretty confident it won’t matter, I encourage everyone to do the same if you care not only about this decision that is bad for the city, but also the clear stench of corruption and willingness to please the powers that be in the face of popular opposition. Maybe if they realize that enough of their precious few votes are under threat they will do something. You can find your aldermen here: http://stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/aldermen/search-for-your-alderman.cfm

  • Daniel L.

    I wrote an e-mail to my Alderwoman. While I’m pretty confident it won’t matter, I encourage everyone to do the same if you care not only about this decision that is bad for the city, but also the clear stench of corruption and willingness to please the powers that be in the face of popular opposition. Maybe if they realize that enough of their precious few votes are under threat they will do something. You can find your aldermen here: http://stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/aldermen/search-for-your-alderman.cfm

  • Bradley

    I went SLU in the late eighties and early nineties. I lived
    on campus and later a few blocks away. It was a great experience in an urban
    setting.  Since graduating I have watched
    with sadness as this environment has disappeared.   I
    lived in D.C. and saw urban University’s grow and embrace their environment. SLU’s
    ongoing tendencies to bulldoze the surrounding community, trying to toe in a suburban
    oasis in what was once a vibrant neighborhood does not contribute to the
    surrounding community, businesses buildings and architecture that depend on density
    to sustain their viability and relevance. 
    I still hope that SLU might begin to embrace and contribute to their
    surroundings, but I would not mind if the move to an area that fits their
    current vision. 

  • Ashamed

    It seems like the city, by their very decisions, is invalidating its historic preservation ordinances. If someone with means were to challenge them, the long list of cases like the Pevely Dairy would be precedence for eliminating all preservation review in the city. You can’t selectively enforce your laws.

  • Ashamed

    It seems like the city, by their very decisions, is invalidating its historic preservation ordinances. If someone with means were to challenge them, the long list of cases like the Pevely Dairy would be precedence for eliminating all preservation review in the city. You can’t selectively enforce your laws.

    • JZ71

      No, the city is following the letter of the law.  The preservation ordinances do allow for demolition, either immediately, if it’s a life safety issue, or with due process, as is occuring here.  The ordinances also allow for modifications, additions and new construction, with proper review, as well.  Preservation ordinances help save old buildings and historic neighborhoods, but they are not absolute.  Property owners continue to have rights, including demolition, it just takes longer if it’s an historic structure.

  • Shabadoo

    I hate SLU because of what they have done and continue to do in Midtowne(sp).  But it is far from a waste land.  The Fox, the sheldon, the grnadel, the powell, CAM, Pulitzer, firebird, fubar, jazz at the bistro, the new plush.  Midtowne alley is really starting to grow, the street scape is in good shape on that part of locust.  its not all gloom and boon

  • Shabadoo

    I hate SLU because of what they have done and continue to do in Midtowne(sp).  But it is far from a waste land.  The Fox, the sheldon, the grnadel, the powell, CAM, Pulitzer, firebird, fubar, jazz at the bistro, the new plush.  Midtowne alley is really starting to grow, the street scape is in good shape on that part of locust.  its not all gloom and boon

    • http://yastlblog.blogspot.com/ Kevin B

      You’re right, Grand Avenue is great…in places. 

      As you said, north of SLU’s campus, the Grand Arts Center is very viable and continues to encourage development northward. South Grand is possibly the most culturally diverse stretch of dining/entertainment in the city. A little further south you hit the Compton Hill and Tower Grove districts…two great neighborhoods whose building stock is relatively dense. But then you have SLU in the center of it all, and continuing its reach. Outside of the Cathedral and a couple of rehabbed buildings near the Lindell intersection, you have fenced in greenspace and parking lots for deep-set structures all along that stretch, from Lindell to 64-40.

      In any other city, Grand Blvd. would be a vital and active north-south connector for neighborhoods, entertainment and activity. Students at SLU and visitors to Grand Center and the southside restaurants and parks would all have an equal share in amenities and investment. Instead, we have a severely auto-centric urban “highway” which is continuing further down that path.

      Even now – with year’s of land-hoarding, demolition and disinvestment – the #70 Grand bus line is the most used in the city. By their actions, SLU is at least ambivalent toward this fact and is, at worst, actively discouraging public transportation and walkability for all but its on-campus students. 

      • Shabadoo

        Lets try to avoid saying things like  “In any other city, Grand Blvd. would be a vital and active north-south
        connector for neighborhoods”.  First of all it already is that.  And it has major issues with improving an urban landscape.  Lots of cities have shitty roads and bridges horrible for pedestrians, with terrible planning.  Having lived in CHI for 5 years; you take your life in your hands when you are a pedestrian out of the sliver of fancy near north neighborhoods.  Thankfully we are talking about t his kind of thing and maybe, just maybe, someone down at city hall will listen. 

        • Kevin B

          I’ll rephrase. “In MANY cities” then. I live in Chicago now — Lakeview East, work in Old Town — and I have yet to encounter a main street as autocentric as Grand. The closest I can think of is Division…which has similar disinvestment and a whole other socio-heavy aspect w/ the former Cabrini Green.

          With that said, I feel much safer, secure and, yes, comfortable walking west on Division than I do on this stretch of Grand. The difference is that city leaders in Chicago recognize these holes in the streetscape and are working to fill them in at the street. This decision by the Planning Commission seems counter to that goal.

          • JZ71

            I’d argue that SLU is not the biggest culprit along Grand, it’s the transportation infrastructure that’s the real buzz kill.  Between Forest Park Parkway, 40/64 and the railroads, there’s a multi-block stretch that consists solely of bridges, viaducts and on and off ramps.  In Denver, when viaducts were replaced in a similar area, a concerted effort was made to shorten them and bring them down to or below grade; here, the old viaduct is being rebuilt higher and wider!  SLU controls only a few blocks along Grand, at both the main campus and at the medical center, and they continue to build and maintain what they own.  Could it be “better”?  Yes!  But compared to what’s between the two campuses, it’s “bad” for pedestrians more because of the traffic volumes and a lack of on-street parking than any lack urban building types.

          • Shabadoo

            Your northside bias is astounding.  Try every street on the south and west side.

    • Branwell1

      Very true. And the bright spots you cite involve the reuse of old and/or historic structures, as opposed to leveling them for “green space”, fountains and art that looks like it was picked out by a 4th-grader. If the “arguments” used against preserving the Pevely building were applied to other old structures around town, we’d have even more dead, er, ahem, open spaces…

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t the next step in the process an appeal to the Circuit Court?
     
    Bottom line, the Planning Commission has a legally defined role.  Their decisions must meet the established legal criteria for approval or denial.  Whether or not a speaker was provided more of an opportunity to speak than others is a minor point.  It also doesn’t matter if any speaker is (perceived to be) a “jerk”, a smooth-talking developer or an “off-the-wall” activist.  The commission is charged with listening to and looking at the evidence before them and then making an informed decision within the scope of their powers, period!
     
    To successfully mount an appeal to this decision, someone first needs to argue, then successfully prove, that an error of fact occured.  Not liking the decision is not enough, nor is arguing academic ideas, like the destruction of the urban fabric, that aren’t codified in city ordinances and/or under the direct control of the comission:
     
    3.48.070 Planning Commission powers and duties.
    E. The Planning Commission may hear appeals of decisions of the Preservation Board, consistent with the procedures described in Ordinance 64689 and the Planning Commission may promulgate rules, consistent herewith, and with other applicable law, concerning the conduct of review of such decision.
     
    Going to http://www.slpl.lib.mo.us/cco/ords/data/ord4689.htm . . . . it appears that the fundamental argument revolves around defining a ”reasonable beneficial use of the property”.  It’s a battle of the experts, with experts in preservation arguing the property can and should be saved, and experts in medical architecture arguing that new construction will provide a far superior final product.reasonable beneficial use of the property”.  It’s a battle of the experts, with experts in preservation arguing the property can and should be saved, and experts in medical architecture arguing that new construction will provide a far superior final product.

    Does money talk?  Absolutely.  Another remedy in the ordinance is for the city to condemn and take ownership of the property, IF it’s of that great importance to the larger city.  I don’t see that happening.  The real solution lies not in trying to make Fr. Biondi see the error of his ways, the real solution is to make buying, owning, renovating, occupying and using historic structures more attractive and popular, eliminating the financial incentive to just make them go away.  All these old buildings were built to serve specific purposes.  Many of these uses have changed or disappeared over the past century, or more.  To expect that there will or can’t be change in the built environment is crazy!  Yes, buildings can and should be repurposed, but actions speak louder than words.  SLU is dropping big bucks in the midtown area, and outside of the Grand Center area, I’m not seeing many other people spending even a tenth of what SLU has, is and will apparently continue to do so.  Does that give them a pass to things “their” way, even if I don’t agree?  Unfortunately, yes.

  • JZ71

    Isn’t the next step in the process an appeal to the Circuit Court?
     
    Bottom line, the Planning Commission has a legally defined role.  Their decisions must meet the established legal criteria for approval or denial.  Whether or not a speaker was provided more of an opportunity to speak than others is a minor point.  It also doesn’t matter if any speaker is (perceived to be) a “jerk”, a smooth-talking developer or an “off-the-wall” activist.  The commission is charged with listening to and looking at the evidence before them and then making an informed decision within the scope of their powers, period!
     
    To successfully mount an appeal to this decision, someone first needs to argue, then successfully prove, that an error of fact occured.  Not liking the decision is not enough, nor is arguing academic ideas, like the destruction of the urban fabric, that aren’t codified in city ordinances and/or under the direct control of the comission:
     
    3.48.070 Planning Commission powers and duties.
    E. The Planning Commission may hear appeals of decisions of the Preservation Board, consistent with the procedures described in Ordinance 64689 and the Planning Commission may promulgate rules, consistent herewith, and with other applicable law, concerning the conduct of review of such decision.
     
    Going to http://www.slpl.lib.mo.us/cco/ords/data/ord4689.htm . . . . it appears that the fundamental argument revolves around defining a ”reasonable beneficial use of the property”.  It’s a battle of the experts, with experts in preservation arguing the property can and should be saved, and experts in medical architecture arguing that new construction will provide a far superior final product.

    Does money talk?  Absolutely.  Another remedy in the ordinance is for the city to condemn and take ownership of the property, IF it’s of that great importance to the larger city.  I don’t see that happening.  The real solution lies not in trying to make Fr. Biondi see the error of his ways, the real solution is to make buying, owning, renovating, occupying and using historic structures more attractive and popular, eliminating the financial incentive to just make them go away.  All these old buildings were built to serve specific purposes.  Many of these uses have changed or disappeared over the past century, or more.  To expect that there will or can’t be change in the built environment is crazy!  Yes, buildings can and should be repurposed, but actions speak louder than words.  SLU is dropping big bucks in the midtown area, and outside of the Grand Center area, I’m not seeing many other people spending even a tenth of what SLU has, is and will apparently continue to do so.  Does that give SLU a pass to do things “their” way, even if I don’t agree?  Unfortunately, in my mind, yes.

    • Douglas Duckworth

      “The real solution lies not in trying to make Fr. Biondi see the error of
      his ways, the real solution is to make buying, owning, renovating,
      occupying and using historic structures more attractive and popular,
      eliminating the financial incentive to just make them go away.”

      100% Bullshit.

      Proposals existed not too long ago to make this building residential. 

      Biondi bought the building, knowing it’s historic, because he owns the elected officials and knows these committees are a sham.  People are mad not simply because a historic building will be coming down, they do every day in Saint Louis, but due to the immense amount of obvious corruption present in how this deal went down.  The system is structured to preserve the wishes of the moneyed elite and defer to their experts, rather than the will of the people and those professionals who testify in the public interest.  

      • JZ71

        Yes, there was a proposal to do residential lofts.  Guess what, that didn’t happen, most likely because the real estate market crashed.  That’s the problem with plans, it’s a lot easier to put them on paper than to actually bring them to fruition.  And is the system biased toward owners?  Absolutely yes!  But that’s exactly how our system is structured and works, private property ownership comes with rights.  We don’t live under communistic or socialistic rule, we live in a democracy.  You’re right, “The system is structured to preserve the wishes of the moneyed elite and defer to their experts, rather than the will of the people and those professionals who testify in the public interest.”  The difference is that you see this as a bad thing and I and others don’t. It’s easy to cloak oneself in the mantle of the “public interest” and claim primacy, but given how the process is proceeding, it appears that preservastionists may actually be in the minority (even though they absolutely know what’s best).

        Money talks.  If people want to save historic buildings, guess what?  We have a whole bunch to pick from, and boy are they affordable.  In other cities, they’d be gone, snapped up and renovated.  We can “plan” all we want, but if there aren’t buyers, developers and tenants out there, the plans will never happen.  We can either (continue to) mothball them, hoping that someone will put them to a new use in 10, 20 or 30 years or we can let people like Biondi or McKee knock them down and pursue a new, apparently more-viable, vision.

        Would I like to see this buildings and similar ones become lofts and advertising offices?  Sure, I would.  But on the continuum of new development > vacant dirt / brownfield > vacant & boarded up > unrenovated and marginally occupied > renovated and fully occupied, our city has an excess of decrepit and unused structures, in various states of disrepair and decay, to the point it will take DECADES before they all get repurposed.  Our city is much better served by having occupied structures, old or new, than we are in trying to warehouse thousands of vacant structures, just waiting for the “right” users to come along.

  • Anonymous

    No, the city is following the letter of the law.  The preservation ordinances do allow for demolition, either immediately, if it’s a life safety issue, or with due process, as is occuring here.  The ordinances also allow for modifications, additions and new construction, with proper review, as well.  Preservation ordinances help save old buildings and historic neighborhoods, but they are not absolute.  Property owners continue to have rights, including demolition, it just takes longer if it’s an historic structure.

  • Anonymous

    No, the next step is to appeal the decision in Circuit Court.

  • http://yastlblog.blogspot.com/ Kevin B

    You’re right, Grand Avenue is great…in places. 

    As you said, north of SLU’s campus, the Grand Arts Center is very viable and continues to encourage development northward. South Grand is possibly the most culturally diverse stretch of dining/entertainment in the city. A little further south you hit the Compton Hill and Tower Grove districts…two great neighborhoods whose building stock is relatively dense. But then you have SLU in the center of it all, and continuing its reach. Outside of the Cathedral and a couple of rehabbed buildings near the Lindell intersection, you have fenced in greenspace and parking lots for deep-set structures all along that stretch, from Lindell to 64-40.

    In any other city, Grand Blvd. would be a vital and active north-south connector for neighborhoods, entertainment and activity. Students at SLU and visitors to Grand Center and the southside restaurants and parks would all have an equal share in amenities and investment. Instead, we have a severely auto-centric urban “highway” which is continuing further down that path.

    Even now – with year’s of land-hoarding, demolition and disinvestment – the #70 Grand bus line is the most used in the city. By their actions, SLU is at least ambivalent toward this fact and is, at worst, actively discouraging public transportation and walkability for all but its on-campus students. 

  • Branwell1

    Very true. And the bright spots you cite involve the reuse of old and/or historic structures, as opposed to leveling them for “green space”, fountains and art that looks like it was picked out by a 4th-grader. If the “arguments” used against preserving the Pevely building were applied to other old structures around town, we’d have even more dead, er, ahem, open spaces…

  • Branwell1

    Very true. And the bright spots you cite involve the reuse of old and/or historic structures, as opposed to leveling them for “green space”, fountains and art that looks like it was picked out by a 4th-grader. If the “arguments” used against preserving the Pevely building were applied to other old structures around town, we’d have even more dead, er, ahem, open spaces…

  • Douglas Duckworth

    “The real solution lies not in trying to make Fr. Biondi see the error of
    his ways, the real solution is to make buying, owning, renovating,
    occupying and using historic structures more attractive and popular,
    eliminating the financial incentive to just make them go away.”

    100% Bullshit.

    Proposals existed not too long ago to make this building residential. 

    Biondi bought the building, knowing it’s historic, because he owns the elected officials and knows these committees are a sham.  People are mad not simply because a historic building will be coming down, they do every day in Saint Louis, but due to the immense amount of obvious corruption present in how this deal went down.  The system is structured to preserve the wishes of the moneyed elite and defer to their experts, rather than the will of the people and those professionals who testify in the public interest.  

  • Shabadoo

    Lets try to avoid saying things like  “In any other city, Grand Blvd. would be a vital and active north-south
    connector for neighborhoods”.  First of all it already is that.  And it has major issues with improving an urban landscape.  Lots of cities have shitty roads and bridges horrible for pedestrians, with terrible planning.  Having lived in CHI for 5 years; you take your life in your hands when you are a pedestrian out of the sliver of fancy near north neighborhoods.  Thankfully we are talking about t his kind of thing and maybe, just maybe, someone down at city hall will listen. 

  • pf

    Until someone else is willing to invest in this part of the city, Fr. Biondi should be allowed to buy property and use it as he sees fit. There is no one else who is willing to do so. SLU is full of buildings that have been renovated to meet the specific needs of the school. It is not “100% Bullshit”, it makes sense. The committee could have asked that SLU keep the historic parts of the building which I am sure they would have found a way to do so. If the city were to only have historic buildings, it would not look as pretty as you all may think. It is called progress and doing what is best for the city. What is an abandoned building going to do for the greater city? There are far too many empty lots so why not let someone do good? It will assist in attracting people to the midtown area. SLU has improved the area drastically over many years. SLU itself is also part of the Saint Louis history, afterall it is the oldest university west of the Mississippi.

  • pf

    Until someone else is willing to invest in this part of the city, Fr. Biondi should be allowed to buy property and use it as he sees fit. There is no one else who is willing to do so. SLU is full of buildings that have been renovated to meet the specific needs of the school. It is not “100% Bullshit”, it makes sense. The committee could have asked that SLU keep the historic parts of the building which I am sure they would have found a way to do so. If the city were to only have historic buildings, it would not look as pretty as you all may think. It is called progress and doing what is best for the city. What is an abandoned building going to do for the greater city? There are far too many empty lots so why not let someone do good? It will assist in attracting people to the midtown area. SLU has improved the area drastically over many years. SLU itself is also part of the Saint Louis history, afterall it is the oldest university west of the Mississippi.

    • Guest

       SLU owns most of the empty lots in Midtown. So how much good is SLU doing?

  • Msrdls

    Fr. Biondi:  In high school, we were inspired by the Jesuits to become “Men for Others”–men who would  develop a sense of justice and a desire to serve God and humanity. We were told that the Jesuit goal was to direct students to become competent, compasssionate and to develop a spiritual conscience.
    Father, do you still remember the ideal of majis? Or have you lost your desire to create a greater good through personal action?  In confession, junior year, a wise Jesuit advised me to “scratch the surface”. That advice served me well and somewhat turned my life around. I think you need to scratch the surface, Father.

  • Msrdls

    Fr. Biondi:  In high school, we were inspired by the Jesuits to become “Men for Others”–men who would  develop a sense of justice and a desire to serve God and humanity. We were told that the Jesuit goal was to direct students to become competent, compasssionate and to develop a spiritual conscience.
    Father, do you still remember the ideal of majis? Or have you lost your desire to create a greater good through personal action?  In confession, junior year, a wise Jesuit advised me to “scratch the surface”. That advice served me well and somewhat turned my life around. I think you need to scratch the surface, Father.

    • Moral Compass

       Please

  • Anonymous

    I work in midtown, in this hideous little complex at Ewing & Scott Ave.  We were discussing the Pevely situation at work today and every single person was completely content with the outcome, using the old “any sort of new building is better than an empty building,” to which I replied “but what about the building WE’RE in? Of the ten or so office spaces, at least half of them are vacant. New buildings do not equate growth. Furthermore, every single person here complains about how we’re in the middle of the city but we can’t even walk anywhere to get a cup of coffee or a sandwich. THIS SITUATION IS WHY WE CAN’T WALK TO GET A CUP OF COFFEE PEOPLE.” Then I realized that every single person I work with lives in the suburbs.They don’t care about bricks, they care about the convenience of Starbucks. At first I was extremely disappointed by last night’s outcome, but since then I’ve become way more pissed about everyone’s blatant disregard. 

  • not_erica

    I work in midtown, in this hideous little complex at Ewing & Scott Ave.  We were discussing the Pevely situation at work today and every single person was completely content with the outcome, using the old “any sort of new building is better than an empty building,” to which I replied “but what about the building WE’RE in? Of the ten or so office spaces, at least half of them are vacant. New buildings do not equate growth. Furthermore, every single person here complains about how we’re in the middle of the city but we can’t even walk anywhere to get a cup of coffee or a sandwich. THIS SITUATION IS WHY WE CAN’T WALK TO GET A CUP OF COFFEE PEOPLE.” Then I realized that every single person I work with lives in the suburbs.They don’t care about bricks, they care about the convenience of Starbucks. At first I was extremely disappointed by last night’s outcome, but since then I’ve become way more pissed about everyone’s blatant disregard. 

  • Moral Compass

     Please

  • Kevin B

    I’ll rephrase. “In MANY cities” then. I live in Chicago now — Lakeview East, work in Old Town — and I have yet to encounter a main street as autocentric as Grand. The closest I can think of is Division…which has similar disinvestment and a whole other socio-heavy aspect w/ the former Cabrini Green.

    With that said, I feel much safer, secure and, yes, comfortable walking west on Division than I do on this stretch of Grand. The difference is that city leaders in Chicago recognize these holes in the streetscape and are working to fill them in at the street. This decision by the Planning Commission seems counter to that goal.

  • Moe

    For all the crying over a building and evil of Fr. Biondi…..Where was the screaming when BJC did the same thing just a few years ago?  BJC is a BILLION dollar corporation (that happens to be tax free) and has done more harm to the CWE than SLU has done to Mid-town.  Oh…and each of you pick up your check books….buy the buildings you want to preserve or move into the area to help stabilize them,…THEN you can complain.  And I’m not talking about living in the CWE, South City, the Condos downtown. Move into the areas SLU is helping to stablize….then I will listen to your opinion with some weight.

  • Moe

    For all the crying over a building and evil of Fr. Biondi…..Where was the screaming when BJC did the same thing just a few years ago?  BJC is a BILLION dollar corporation (that happens to be tax free) and has done more harm to the CWE than SLU has done to Mid-town.  Oh…and each of you pick up your check books….buy the buildings you want to preserve or move into the area to help stabilize them,…THEN you can complain.  And I’m not talking about living in the CWE, South City, the Condos downtown. Move into the areas SLU is helping to stablize….then I will listen to your opinion with some weight.

  • AM STL

    Perhaps I’m biased as I’ve lived in midtown around SLU’s campus for 6 years now but the comments on this post are really unsubstantiated.  We’ve heard from people who live in chicago, people who live in the suburbs and people who claim that an abandoned building with mainly plywood for windows surrounded by a rallys and a captain d’s is more appealing and contributes more to the progress of this city.  No one has provided evidence for the viability or usefulness of the pevely building nor have they offered alternative solutions for who will invest in the city if Biondi does not. What you have to understand is that Biondi is an administrator, he is charged with controlling the best interests of the school and its mission.  I’ve met the man and don’t particularly find him to be a warm and caring person as you might expect in a priest but the man has done incredible things for the university.  Endowment, Enrollment, and Rankings are higher than ever and the recent developments of the law school and Chaifetz has made a huge commitment and investment in the city.  I don’t understand how people can argue that an unused, abandoned building with “historical merit” will better serve the community than a state of the art ambulatory care center.  Even if you are going off of aesthetic appeal as many have argued, the building is simply not appealing and does not draw people or business to the area.  On the other hand, the new Doisy Research building across the street has continued the tradition of Edward Doisy, a scientist and St. Louis legend who discovered Vitamin K.  This building houses the very Nobel Prize that he won through his work at the University.  

    In my 6 years in midtown I have seen a plethora of restaurants and independant businesses crop up and succeed quite well, mostly through the patronage of SLU students, faculty, and their visitors to town.  To name a few: Pappys, Triumph Grill, Buffalo Brewing Company, Six Row brewing company, The Lab gym and fitness center, and within the last year, Hamburger Mary’s, Flying Cow Frozen Yogurt, Urban Chestnut brewing company, The Fieldhouse and many others.  To imply that there are no options within walking distance for coffee may be true at the location mentioned but within 300 yards of the proposed building site there is Kiernan Cycle’s Cafe, Crave Coffee House and Fresh Gatherings (A cafe run by Nutrition and Dietetic students at SLU devoted to using local, sustainable food sources).  Perhaps those who have commented simply don’t experience the area as much as those who live there but I’ve yet to see a point I can agree with and honestly I’m looking hard for one.  I don’t particularly agree with some of Biondi’s tactics but its simply not reasonable on this occasion to say that this abandoned building is more practical, more aesthetically pleasure or more progressive for the city than the proposed project

  • AM STL

    Perhaps I’m biased as I’ve lived in midtown around SLU’s campus for 6 years now but the comments on this post are really unsubstantiated.  We’ve heard from people who live in chicago, people who live in the suburbs and people who claim that an abandoned building with mainly plywood for windows surrounded by a rallys and a captain d’s is more appealing and contributes more to the progress of this city.  No one has provided evidence for the viability or usefulness of the pevely building nor have they offered alternative solutions for who will invest in the city if Biondi does not. What you have to understand is that Biondi is an administrator, he is charged with controlling the best interests of the school and its mission.  I’ve met the man and don’t particularly find him to be a warm and caring person as you might expect in a priest but the man has done incredible things for the university.  Endowment, Enrollment, and Rankings are higher than ever and the recent developments of the law school and Chaifetz has made a huge commitment and investment in the city.  I don’t understand how people can argue that an unused, abandoned building with “historical merit” will better serve the community than a state of the art ambulatory care center.  Even if you are going off of aesthetic appeal as many have argued, the building is simply not appealing and does not draw people or business to the area.  On the other hand, the new Doisy Research building across the street has continued the tradition of Edward Doisy, a scientist and St. Louis legend who discovered Vitamin K.  This building houses the very Nobel Prize that he won through his work at the University.  

    In my 6 years in midtown I have seen a plethora of restaurants and independant businesses crop up and succeed quite well, mostly through the patronage of SLU students, faculty, and their visitors to town.  To name a few: Pappys, Triumph Grill, Buffalo Brewing Company, Six Row brewing company, The Lab gym and fitness center, and within the last year, Hamburger Mary’s, Flying Cow Frozen Yogurt, Urban Chestnut brewing company, The Fieldhouse and many others.  To imply that there are no options within walking distance for coffee may be true at the location mentioned but within 300 yards of the proposed building site there is Kiernan Cycle’s Cafe, Crave Coffee House and Fresh Gatherings (A cafe run by Nutrition and Dietetic students at SLU devoted to using local, sustainable food sources).  Perhaps those who have commented simply don’t experience the area as much as those who live there but I’ve yet to see a point I can agree with and honestly I’m looking hard for one.  I don’t particularly agree with some of Biondi’s tactics but its simply not reasonable on this occasion to say that this abandoned building is more practical, more aesthetically pleasure or more progressive for the city than the proposed project

    • Shabadoo

      Thank You, midtowne(sp) is pretty cool actually.  But Slu tears down too many buildings.  As a Midtowner you would also know that the pevely building is really barely midtowne(sp) at all, and wont affect the urban landscape of Grand and Washington (I know that is probably Grand Center, but I think of them together). 

  • Anonymous

    Yes, there was a proposal to do residential lofts.  Guess what, that didn’t happen, most likely because the real estate market crashed.  That’s the problem with plans, it’s a lot easier to put them on paper than to actually bring them to fruition.  And is the system biased toward owners?  Absolutely yes!  But that’s exactly how our system is structured and works, private property ownership comes with rights.  We don’t live under communistic or socialistic rule, we live in a democracy.  You’re right, “The system is structured to preserve the wishes of the moneyed elite and defer to their experts, rather than the will of the people and those professionals who testify in the public interest.”  The difference is that you see this as a bad thing and I and others don’t. It’s easy to cloak oneself in the mantle of the “public interest” and claim primacy, but given how the process is proceeding, it appears that preservastionists may actually be in the minority (even though they absolutely know what’s best).

    Money talks.  If people want to save historic buildings, guess what?  We have a whole bunch to pick from, and boy are they affordable.  In other cities, they’d be gone, snapped up and renovated.  We can “plan” all we want, but if there aren’t buyers, developers and tenants out there, the plans will never happen.  We can either (continue to) mothball them, hoping that someone will put them to a new use in 10, 20 or 30 years or we can let people like Biondi or McKee knock them down and pursue a new, apparently more-viable, vision.

    Would I like to see this buildings and similar ones become lofts and advertising offices?  Sure, I would.  But on the continuum of new development > vacant dirt / brownfield > vacant & boarded up > unrenovated and marginally occupied > renovated and fully occupied, our city has an excess of decrepit and unused structures, in various states of disrepair and decay, to the point it will take DECADES before they all get repurposed.  Our city is much better served by having occupied structures, old or new, than we are in trying to warehouse thousands of vacant structures, just waiting for the “right” users to come along.

  • Anonymous

    I’d argue that SLU is not the biggest culprit along Grand, it’s the transportation infrastructure that’s the real buzz kill.  Between Forest Park Parkway, 40/64 and the railroads, there’s a multi-block stretch that consists solely of bridges, viaducts and on and off ramps.  In Denver, when viaducts were replaced in a similar area, a concerted effort was made to shorten them and bring them down to or below grade; here, the old viaduct is being rebuilt higher and wider!  SLU controls only a few blocks along Grand, at both the main campus and at the medical center, and they continue to build and maintain what they own.  Could it be “better”?  Yes!  But compared to what’s between the two campuses, it’s “bad” for pedestrians more because of the traffic volumes and a lack of on-street parking than any lack urban building types.

  • Guest

     SLU owns most of the empty lots in Midtown. So how much good is SLU doing?

  • Moe

    “He’s spent years destroying the formerly urban midtown.”  Urban midtown?  In what dream?  Back in the mid-80′s when SLU was near bankruptcy and NO ONE would be caught dead on or near the campus along comes Fr. Biondi and has transformed SLU and the mid-town.  Back then, if he had said mid-town is too unsafe for our students and we are moving to the County, people would not be complaining but applauding his actions.  Here we are 30 years later and Mid-Town has been transformed.  All, yes ALL of the theaters, diners, bars, and other shops would not have been left to rot.

    The Jesuit mission for the Greater Good is exactly what SLU has done.  Biondi not only improved SLU but improved the greater good of St. Louis.  Whiners not withstanding.

  • Moe

    “He’s spent years destroying the formerly urban midtown.”  Urban midtown?  In what dream?  Back in the mid-80′s when SLU was near bankruptcy and NO ONE would be caught dead on or near the campus along comes Fr. Biondi and has transformed SLU and the mid-town.  Back then, if he had said mid-town is too unsafe for our students and we are moving to the County, people would not be complaining but applauding his actions.  Here we are 30 years later and Mid-Town has been transformed.  All, yes ALL of the theaters, diners, bars, and other shops would not have been left to rot.

    The Jesuit mission for the Greater Good is exactly what SLU has done.  Biondi not only improved SLU but improved the greater good of St. Louis.  Whiners not withstanding.

    • Curly

      “The Jesuit mission for the Greater Good is exactly what SLU has done.  ”

      Until Biondi doesn’t get his way, then he threatens to take that good away from those who he says need it. Stand up guy.

      Just because SLU has done some “good” (according to you) that doesn’t give them reason to destroy the urban fabric of the city or bully/bribe/scare people into getting their way.

      There is a middle ground that can be reached, SLU just doesn’t want to hear it and, apparently, neither do you.

      • AM STL

        Biondi made a point in the meeting that he might have to move the medical school to the county if we weren’t able to expand as is needed.  Enrollment across the nation in medical schools is increasing by federal mandate to fill the increasing need for physicians.  Biondi made a legitimate point and unlike yourself and many people commenting here, the board had the common sense to realize that his investments in this city are worth accommodating and serve the better interests of both parties.   I would be inclined to agree with you regarding the wrongness of destroying true historical sites, but Pevely is far from St. Louis’ urban fabric.  Its frankly not a St. Louis landmark and would be better fit serving the community in some other capacity than a boarded up canvas for graffiti.  

  • Wroyjon

    all I can think of is what is too preserve? It’s a pile of ruble/.
     

  • Wroyjon

    all I can think of is what is too preserve? It’s a pile of ruble/.
     

    • Branwell1

      Wow, a pile of ruble?? That’s fantastic news! It should be easy to redevelop the Pevely building with a pile of rubles currently on-site. Perhaps it could be a new Russian embassy! Or maybe a Bullwinkle and Rocky museum of Cold War humor. Biondi could play Fearless Leader and we could have open casting for Boris and Natasha. With a pile o rubles to work with, interest will be intense.  

  • Shabadoo

    Your northside bias is astounding.  Try every street on the south and west side.

  • Shabadoo

    Thank You, midtowne(sp) is pretty cool actually.  But Slu tears down too many buildings.  As a Midtowner you would also know that the pevely building is really barely midtowne(sp) at all, and wont affect the urban landscape of Grand and Washington (I know that is probably Grand Center, but I think of them together). 

  • Bradley

    It would have been nice if Slu had taken BJC’s approach to
    urban planning.  Its design and density contributes
    to the surrounding urban community.

     While I was just one
    of the thousands of students that live on and later near SLU’s campus in the
    nineteen eighties, it was an “urban oasis” compared to what it has become.   Saint Louis University does not contribute to
    the surrounding neighborhood they push it away and tear it down.  This might have served Slu’s greater good,
    especially if you are one who likes dolphin pounds and generic looking clock
    towers, but simply creating space to distance itself from the surrounding blight
    and crime, is a self-serving and simplistic and definitely not the only option.

  • Bradley

    It would have been nice if Slu had taken BJC’s approach to
    urban planning.  Its design and density contributes
    to the surrounding urban community.

     While I was just one
    of the thousands of students that live on and later near SLU’s campus in the
    nineteen eighties, it was an “urban oasis” compared to what it has become.   Saint Louis University does not contribute to
    the surrounding neighborhood they push it away and tear it down.  This might have served Slu’s greater good,
    especially if you are one who likes dolphin pounds and generic looking clock
    towers, but simply creating space to distance itself from the surrounding blight
    and crime, is a self-serving and simplistic and definitely not the only option.

    • AM STL

      SLU doesn’t contribute to its surroundings? 
      It may be of interest to you that SLU was rated the #2 college in the nation this year for giving back to the community ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/01/slideshow_n_945940.html#s348315&title=No_2_St)  

      • Guest

        Just so you know, I’m also a recent graduate of SLU and a good friend of the people who run slu’s official community engagement programs. Even they are quick to point out the absurdity of that ranking and the shortcomings of the university in reaching out to the community.

  • Curly

    “The Jesuit mission for the Greater Good is exactly what SLU has done.  ”

    Until Biondi doesn’t get his way, then he threatens to take that good away from those who he says need it. Stand up guy.

    Just because SLU has done some “good” (according to you) that doesn’t give them reason to destroy the urban fabric of the city or bully/bribe/scare people into getting their way.

    There is a middle ground that can be reached, SLU just doesn’t want to hear it and, apparently, neither do you.

  • Semper Fi Guy

    Bulldoze that hunk of junk. Your trying to save a useless smoke stack? Heck, just relocate it an open a small coal fired utility.

  • Semper Fi Guy

    Bulldoze that hunk of junk. Your trying to save a useless smoke stack? Heck, just relocate it an open a small coal fired utility.

  • AM STL

    SLU doesn’t contribute to its surroundings? 
    It may be of interest to you that SLU was rated the #2 college in the nation this year for giving back to the community ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/01/slideshow_n_945940.html#s348315&title=No_2_St)  

  • AM STL

    Biondi made a point in the meeting that he might have to move the medical school to the county if we weren’t able to expand as is needed.  Enrollment across the nation in medical schools is increasing by federal mandate to fill the increasing need for physicians.  Biondi made a legitimate point and unlike yourself and many people commenting here, the board had the common sense to realize that his investments in this city are worth accommodating and serve the better interests of both parties.   I would be inclined to agree with you regarding the wrongness of destroying true historical sites, but Pevely is far from St. Louis’ urban fabric.  Its frankly not a St. Louis landmark and would be better fit serving the community in some other capacity than a boarded up canvas for graffiti.  

  • Branwell1

    Wow, a pile of ruble?? That’s fantastic news! It should be easy to redevelop the Pevely building with a pile of rubles currently on-site. Perhaps it could be a new Russian embassy! Or maybe a Bullwinkle and Rocky museum of Cold War humor. Biondi could play Fearless Leader and we could have open casting for Boris and Natasha. With a pile o rubles to work with, interest will be intense.  

  • Moe

    I am curious of one thing>  of all the bad mouthing SLU and Fr. Biondi…..why is NO ONE complaining about Pevely Dairy itself???????
    If Pevely had stood up as a GOOD CORPORATE neighbor, why didn’t they upgrade/remodel???  No, they took the cheap way out, fired the workers, and moved out of town…yet the silence over blaming Pevely for any of this is deafening.

  • Moe

    I am curious of one thing>  of all the bad mouthing SLU and Fr. Biondi…..why is NO ONE complaining about Pevely Dairy itself???????
    If Pevely had stood up as a GOOD CORPORATE neighbor, why didn’t they upgrade/remodel???  No, they took the cheap way out, fired the workers, and moved out of town…yet the silence over blaming Pevely for any of this is deafening.

  • Mark

    I could see Biondi’s position until the threat. Ha! Yeah, right. Biondi you could pick up the whole SLU Medical Center, after MILLIONS in investments have been made, and move it to St. Louis County? As Lil’ Jon would say, “Okay”. In my opinion, this is the kind of threat St. Louis should not accept at all. In these types of situations St. Louis and St. Charles counties should be polite enough to say, “We don’t want your sour grapes.” 

  • Mark

    I could see Biondi’s position until the threat. Ha! Yeah, right. Biondi you could pick up the whole SLU Medical Center, after MILLIONS in investments have been made, and move it to St. Louis County? As Lil’ Jon would say, “Okay”. In my opinion, this is the kind of threat St. Louis should not accept at all. In these types of situations St. Louis and St. Charles counties should be polite enough to say, “We don’t want your sour grapes.” 

    • JZ71

      It’s actually not an idle threat.  Other hospitals have moved here, while others have, and continue to develop, significant suburban facilities.  In Denver, the University of  Colorado Medical Center, Children’s Hospital AND their VA Hospital relocated from urban locations, similar to this one, to a shared brownfield suburban campus in Aurora.  At some point, a lack of available land, aging infrastructure, shifting demographics and “too much” government regulation, combined with finacial incentives and, yes, personal and political agendas, create enough of a dynamic that starting with a clean sheet of paper (finally?) makes sense.  Not everyone appreciates the “patina” and “energy” of urban living.  Some people actually prefer new, orderly, easy, “more convenient”, non-challenging options, especially when it comes to health care.  And as Moe alluded to, Pevely actually took the easy way out – it cost THEM significant money to move, after the “MILLIONS in investments” that THEY had made at this location.  Why would you assume that SLU would be any less pragmatic?!  They’ve just announced that they’re moving their law school!  GM moved from the north side to Wentzville, Ford moved from Sarah Street to Hazelwood, then shut down, Chrysler came and went in Fenton.  You may want to call it sour grapes, others may want to call it a shot across the bow, but assuming (as in make an ass out of you and me) that the costs to “abandon” midtown are or will remain prohibitive, is just flat out wrong.  Everything has a price, it’s all about balancing the positives against the negatives . . . .

  • Anonymous

    It’s actually not an idle threat.  Other hospitals have moved here, while others have, and continue to develop, significant suburban facilities.  In Denver, the University of  Colorado Medical Center, Children’s Hospital AND their VA Hospital relocated from urban locations, similar to this one, to a shared brownfield suburban campus in Aurora.  At some point, a lack of available land, aging infrastructure, shifting demographics and “too much” government regulation, combined with finacial incentives and, yes, personal and political agendas, create enough of a dynamic that starting with a clean sheet of paper (finally?) makes sense.  Not everyone appreciates the “patina” and “energy” of urban living.  Some people actually prefer new, orderly, easy, “more convenient”, non-challenging options, especially when it comes to health care.  And as Moe alluded to, Pevely actually took the easy way out – it cost THEM significant money to move, after the “MILLIONS in investments” that THEY had made at this location.  Why would you assume that SLU would be any less pragmatic?!  They’ve just announced that they’re moving their law school!  GM moved from the north side to Wentzville, Ford moved from Sarah Street to Hazelwood, then shut down, Chrysler came and went in Fenton.  You may want to call it sour grapes, others may want to call it a shot across the bow, but assuming (as in make an ass out of you and me) that the costs to “abandon” midtown are or will remain prohibitive, is just flat out wrong.  Everything has a price, it’s all about balancing the positives against the negatives . . . .

  • samizdat

    As I said over at Preservation Research: Anyone who believes that SLU could move–anywhere–at this time, with the lending market the way it is, is a complete and utter fool! It would take 2-3 BillionUSD to move just the campus proper to another location in the region. Don’t even get me started on how much rebuilding a state-of-the-art medical campus would cost. LOL!
    Biondi and the SLU trustees would be laughed out of every lending institution on the planet if they tried to borrow so much as a kopek, much less the staggering amount needed to rebuild SLU.

    As for this little extortionist thug, I would have thought that the “Reverend” modifier would mean more to him. It would seem not. Though I suppose that that it lends an air of piety to his name; undeserved, I might add.

  • samizdat

    As I said over at Preservation Research: Anyone who believes that SLU could move–anywhere–at this time, with the lending market the way it is, is a complete and utter fool! It would take 2-3 BillionUSD to move just the campus proper to another location in the region. Don’t even get me started on how much rebuilding a state-of-the-art medical campus would cost. LOL!
    Biondi and the SLU trustees would be laughed out of every lending institution on the planet if they tried to borrow so much as a kopek, much less the staggering amount needed to rebuild SLU.

    As for this little extortionist thug, I would have thought that the “Reverend” modifier would mean more to him. It would seem not. Though I suppose that that it lends an air of piety to his name; undeserved, I might add.

  • JZ71
  • moe

    @Samizdat….you vastly underestimate Fr. B’s fundraising capacity.  The arena and research building were built with zero loans.  His ability to raise the endowment to 800 million is unmatched.

  • moe

    @Samizdat….you vastly underestimate Fr. B’s fundraising capacity.  The arena and research building were built with zero loans.  His ability to raise the endowment to 800 million is unmatched.

    • samizdat

       We’re in a second Great Depression, or hadn’t you noticed? I’m extremely dubious of any chances for that level of fundraising. One of the biggest projects here in the STL over the last few years, the airport runway and improvements, cost 2-3 BillionUSD, and that scheme wasn’t exactly a lead pipe cinch. The new bridge over the Mississippi DT will cost about 500 million when all is said and done, and that project was nearly cratered by the bumpkin rural MO Legislators, who apparently have a more than visceral hatred of all things STL. This, in spite of the fact that the STL area supplies the lions share of the money that MO takes in. This isn’t Denver, either. See, people want to move to Denver, thus making the above-mentioned medical campus that much more likely. St. Louis, not so much. As the link above notes, the cost of the Anschutz/Fitzsimons will ultimately run around 4.3 BillionUSD. That number is nearly twice the cost of the airport improvements (which have proven to be unneeded, for the most part), and eight times the cost of the new Bridge. I’m sure that Il Duce is a competent fundraiser, but the notion that he could raise 2-4 Billion USD from donations here in the region in absurd. Not to mention the ethical and moral implications of asking for that kind of money for his pet project when other truly noteworthy and needful charitable orgs in the region are begging for money.

      Case in point: my wife works for a performing arts non-profit here. Not only do they do the performance every year, but they have extensive public outreach in the form of their education programs. Over the last few years, donations have dropped off, and one of the primary reasons given for this–at least from those who have given feedback–is that people have been giving more of what they have (less, I might add, because of the fraud that is Wall St) to humanitarian orgs. And they have made some cutbacks in those programs as a result. Does the “Reverend” Biondi want to be indirectly–perhaps directly–responsible for some child going hungry, or homeless? Or leaving a battered woman with no recourse to suffer at the hands of her abuser? Does he really want a mentally challenged veteran sleeping in a vacant building? The man is a heartless, soulless, craven, authoritarian megalomaniac. An arrogant pox upon the ass of society, and frankly, I doubt he would even care about anyone, unless they could help him get what he wants. His is less deserving of my respect than a mangy dog. It’s funny, though, I don’t hate the guy (though I acknowledge I have an intense dislike), I feel kind of sorry for him. He’s kind of pathetic, really.

  • GMichaud

    The whole government should be redone. Here is some thoughts I posted at  http://nextstl.com/. The whole corrupt government/corporate partnership has given us 50 years of decline in the City of St. Louis. How much longer can we put up with the nonsense that only fills the pockets of a few insiders.
    Government is nothing but a big game with the big guys connected to
    money and power calling the shots when they feel like it and then their
    little fiefdom in government complies. Rev. Biondi is not a Reverend
    anything, he is the same arrogant, self serving ego maniac identical
    with the governing crap everyone is subject to.
    A true Reverend, a
    true spiritual holy man, would have been a peace maker. He would have
    seen that the community was concerned to the extent that volunteers
    spent a day and more doing a design charette in an attempt to come up
    with better solutions that saves the Pevely Building.
    Biondi is on
    the wrong side of history. Oil dependencies will demand walkable,
    transit friendly environments that the Pevely Building is a good example
    of. Only a robust, urban orientated design would have had a chance to
    win over his opposition. As the client it is of course it is in his
    power to take this approach.
    Building car only environments, as the
    Doisy Center across the street and the glorified Walgreens Plan of the
    new project is a dead end for society and
    will be outdated as soon as it is built.
    A vast majority of the
    great, successful cities in the world, Paris, Rome, New York and so on,
    are walking and transit orientated cities, balanced with, not dominated
    by, the automobile. Cities that also build on their history.
    Rev
    Biondi is nothing but an ignorant, self serving stooge who is also a
    mini dictator. His threatening comments at the end of the hearing prove
    that without a doubt.

  • GMichaud

    The whole government should be redone. Here is some thoughts I posted at  http://nextstl.com/. The whole corrupt government/corporate partnership has given us 50 years of decline in the City of St. Louis. How much longer can we put up with the nonsense that only fills the pockets of a few insiders.
    Government is nothing but a big game with the big guys connected to
    money and power calling the shots when they feel like it and then their
    little fiefdom in government complies. Rev. Biondi is not a Reverend
    anything, he is the same arrogant, self serving ego maniac identical
    with the governing crap everyone is subject to.
    A true Reverend, a
    true spiritual holy man, would have been a peace maker. He would have
    seen that the community was concerned to the extent that volunteers
    spent a day and more doing a design charette in an attempt to come up
    with better solutions that saves the Pevely Building.
    Biondi is on
    the wrong side of history. Oil dependencies will demand walkable,
    transit friendly environments that the Pevely Building is a good example
    of. Only a robust, urban orientated design would have had a chance to
    win over his opposition. As the client it is of course it is in his
    power to take this approach.
    Building car only environments, as the
    Doisy Center across the street and the glorified Walgreens Plan of the
    new project is a dead end for society and
    will be outdated as soon as it is built.
    A vast majority of the
    great, successful cities in the world, Paris, Rome, New York and so on,
    are walking and transit orientated cities, balanced with, not dominated
    by, the automobile. Cities that also build on their history.
    Rev
    Biondi is nothing but an ignorant, self serving stooge who is also a
    mini dictator. His threatening comments at the end of the hearing prove
    that without a doubt.

    • JZ71

      And how do you propose to make this a reality?  Do we need an Arab Spring here?

  • Anonymous

    And how do you propose to make this a reality?  Do we need an Arab Spring here?

  • student

    density depends on # of people and the # of people in stl city is decreasing.  Obviously what biondi is doing is for the benefit of the school but had he done it any other way it would decrease the cohesiveness of the school we have now.

  • Guest

    Just so you know, I’m also a recent graduate of SLU and a good friend of the people who run slu’s official community engagement programs. Even they are quick to point out the absurdity of that ranking and the shortcomings of the university in reaching out to the community.

  • samizdat

     We’re in a second Great Depression, or hadn’t you noticed? I’m extremely dubious of any chances for that level of fundraising. One of the biggest projects here in the STL over the last few years, the airport runway and improvements, cost 2-3 BillionUSD, and that scheme wasn’t exactly a lead pipe cinch. The new bridge over the Mississippi DT will cost about 500 million when all is said and done, and that project was nearly cratered by the bumpkin rural MO Legislators, who apparently have a more than visceral hatred of all things STL. This, in spite of the fact that the STL area supplies the lions share of the money that MO takes in. This isn’t Denver, either. See, people want to move to Denver, thus making the above-mentioned medical campus that much more likely. St. Louis, not so much. As the link above notes, the cost of the Anschutz/Fitzsimons will ultimately run around 4.3 BillionUSD. That number is nearly twice the cost of the airport improvements (which have proven to be unneeded, for the most part), and eight times the cost of the new Bridge. I’m sure that Il Duce is a competent fundraiser, but the notion that he could raise 2-4 Billion USD from donations here in the region in absurd. Not to mention the ethical and moral implications of asking for that kind of money for his pet project when other truly noteworthy and needful charitable orgs in the region are begging for money.

    Case in point: my wife works for a performing arts non-profit here. Not only do they do the performance every year, but they have extensive public outreach in the form of their education programs. Over the last few years, donations have dropped off, and one of the primary reasons given for this–at least from those who have given feedback–is that people have been giving more of what they have (less, I might add, because of the fraud that is Wall St) to humanitarian orgs. And they have made some cutbacks in those programs as a result. Does the “Reverend” Biondi want to be indirectly–perhaps directly–responsible for some child going hungry, or homeless? Or leaving a battered woman with no recourse to suffer at the hands of her abuser? Does he really want a mentally challenged veteran sleeping in a vacant building? The man is a heartless, soulless, craven, authoritarian megalomaniac. An arrogant pox upon the ass of society, and frankly, I doubt he would even care about anyone, unless they could help him get what he wants. His is less deserving of my respect than a mangy dog. It’s funny, though, I don’t hate the guy (though I acknowledge I have an intense dislike), I feel kind of sorry for him. He’s kind of pathetic, really.

  • observer

    Excellent move Father Biondi. The city has some who would keep a building rather than allow progress. I support you sir!

  • localcitizen

    I agree with “observer” in that this is why the city has areas that are crime-ridden and unattractive. Mayor Slay has been trying his best to improve the city but the preservation committee “preserves junk.

  • GMichaud

    Observer and localcitizen you don’t understand that the Pevely Building is only the underlying issue. It is the failure by Biondi to produce an urban orientated plan to replace the Pevely Building that is the problem. Instead he produces nothing but another suburban plan that is better suited for Chesterfield than this city site. I am beginning to think SLU alumni are for the most part not very critical thinkers. I keep seeing comments that are shallow and fail to understand or address the implications of urban planning decisions for the community.
    A major light rail station is near this site, in addition the new Grand Ave bridge is supposed to be more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. The public has a huge investment in a new walking, transit environment. All of this is simply ignored by SLU.
    And of course the city is at fault for letting this happen. But truly, what Biondi proposes on the southwest corner of Grand and Chouteau is nothing less than some of the most ignorant decision making I have ever seen. He basically is telling transit riders and pedestrians they can go to hell. Biondi has done some good, but generally speaking almost all of the site planning decisions of SLU in the past decade or so have not been high quality. But this corner, with the Pevely Building, is inexcusable for its lack of response to its surroundings.
    As I have pointed out before, in any great city of the world developers would fall all over themselves to design for transit, the pedestrian and the auto for the profit and exposure it provides. It is only in St. Louis second rate leadership, as supplied be Biondi, is acceptable. He pretends he is building in some suburban wasteland, all the while ignoring urban values with the positive impacts it has on society.

  • GMichaud

    Doisy Center Plaza could be salvaged with an urban approach.
    Here is a simple concept, the Doisy
    Center should be surrounded by dense
    buildings. If the Pevely is not retained, row buildings at street level along should
    climb Grand Ave with parking behind. Also buildings on the street across the
    intersection, just North of the Pevely site. In future city plans Captain D seafood
    and going east are replaced with density. And the non dense northern edge of Doisy along
    Carr Ave becomes an attractive walk and drive, quieter but still with density defined
    by architecture (and parking behind).

    The Plaza at the Doisy Center then becomes an important
    public space. It becomes a destination. It is physically shaping the
    environment to maximize its potential. The proximity to major transit becomes a
    plus for the University, for the Hospital, for the city, for the citizens, this
    in turn supports pedestrian activity and the general success of transit. 

    The organization of the space and environment around the Doisy Center is meaningless now; the
    Pevely site is a unique opportunity to forge a new future for St. Louis and for
    St. Louis University.  There are not many
    significant sites connected to light rail. To ignore this fact is pure madness.

    The failure of SLU leadership to act in its own interests is
    bad enough. The fact City Government is not even in this discussion indicates even
    greater shortcomings.

    As the design charette on the Pevely Building demonstrated, there are
    many possible solutions.  To settle for the
    current SLU solution for the Pevely site is a major failure on the part of the
    corporate/government establishment. 

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