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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


Readers: Saint Louis University Shouldn’t Be Allowed To Raze The Historic Pevely Dairy Complex

College campuses often reflect their location: rural, suburban or urban. Although Saint Louis University is in an urban location, it is doing a great job of destroying all aspects of urban life.

ABOVE: The former Pevely Dairy at Grand & Chouteau (click image for map)

Last week the majority of readers that voted in the poll do not want this to continue:

Q: Should the St. Louis Preservation Board allow SLU to raze the former Pevely Dairy building at Grand & Chouteau?

  1. No 134 [66.34%]
  2. Yes 43 [21.29%]
  3. Maybe 14 [6.93%]
  4. Other: 9 [4.46%]
  5. Unsure/No Opinion 2 [0.99%]

The 43 “Yes” answers must be from those who think they have a rational look at life.

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

The reality is each and every time an urban building is replaced with an anti-urban building set behind a green lawn the environment is denigrated, making revitalization that much harder. Wealthy institutions know this will help them but more land, something they couldn’t do if areas thrived with private investment.

Here are the nine other answers provided by readers:

  1. Not the main structure.
  2. Hell no! Apparently SLU thinks its interests are parallel to ours. WRONG!
  3. only if they replace it with a huge fountain or better yet museum of fountains
  4. Yes, SLU doesn’t own enough vacant land for this project.
  5. No, there’s a shortage of university housing, build reasonably price apts
  6. Need to see post-demo land use plans before final determination
  7. SLU has a Center for Sustainability with no real estate–rehab Pevely for that
  8. No, they should renovate it and add on another building if needed
  9. If it can’t be rehabbed

From the nomination (PDF) to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009:

The Pevely Dairy Company Plant sits on an approximately eight-acre site in the Midtown Neighborhood of St. Louis on the west side of South Grand Boulevard between Chouteau and Hickory Avenues. 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. It features a three-bay façade with large display windows in the first level, and retains the original wood door and pedimented entrance surround. A terra cotta cornice with colored tile designs ornaments the flat roofline. Many of the original wood industrial windows have also been retained on this building, as well as the glazed brick walls and floors and intricate woodwork. 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. Featuring metal hopper windows, three loading docks, two metal coolers and two steam tanks, the milk plant’s architecture is primarily functional rather than artistic. The interior retains its glazed brick walls and floors, as well as large, open storage rooms that include concrete mushroom columns. A 1928 garage is located south of the milk plant at 1101 Motard Avenue. This brick, arch-roofed structure retains original glazed glass metal windows, with sliding metal doors and stepped parapet walls on the east and west elevations. The interior consists of an open parking area with a concrete floor. Originally connected to a boiler and powerhouse, the 1943 smokestack now sits across a parking lot from the office building. The brick structure includes a glazed brick design spelling out the Pevely name. The adjacent parking lot and a lot between the milk plant and garage have historically served as open parking and loading space, and are included in the boundary. Though three of the Pevely structures have burned since the period of significance, the factory as a whole retains the industrial structures primarily associated with the company. These buildings are in good condition and continue to reflect their industrial significance.

The issue is said to be on the November 28th Preservation Board agenda, which isn’t available yet. I’m glad to see Mary “One” Johnson is no longer on the board, she consistently voted in favor of demolitions.

Saint Louis University must show the structure(s) cannot be reused — not necessarily for their intended purpose  but for any reasonable use. We’ll see how they try to spin this at the meeting.

– Steve Patterson


Poll: Should Saint Louis University be Allowed to Raze the Former Pevely Dairy Building at Grand & Chouteau?

ABOVE: The former Pevely Dairy at Grand & Chouteau (click image for map)

Father Biondi, President of Saint Louis University, must get a rush razing buildings, putting up fences and killing off potentially interesting areas. Word broke last week SLU wants to clear away the remainder of the Pevely Dairy at the SW corner of Grand & Chouteau:

The complex, at Chouteau Avenue and South Grand Boulevard, is made up of large brick buildings erected between 1915 and 1945. SLU has sought demolition permits for the buildings, which are on the National Register of Historic Places. The university argues the buildings can’t accommodate a modern medical practice. (STLtoday.com)

The Preservation Board will consider allowing demolition at their November 28th meeting (4pm). The poll this week asks simply if you think permission should be granted. Many will answer no but some may say maybe if SLU can show the building can’t be rehabbed. Others will say yes because you think since they own the building it is within their right to remove it from the landscape. The poll is in the right sidebar.

– Steve Patterson


New Resource Room For Area Homeless

December 17, 2010 Homeless, SLU, STL Region 5 Comments
ABOVE: New resource room at The Bridge
ABOVE: New resource room at The Bridge

On Wednesday a new Community Resource Room was opened at The Bridge, “a drop-in center providing a variety of services for the sojourners in downtown St. Louis, MO who are currently living without a home of their own.” The Bridge provides many services, including “in excess of 3000 meals per week.

So when Bridge Executive Director Kathleen Wilder posted plans for the ribbon cutting on Facebook, I knew I had to be there. Here is a short video from Wednesday afternoon:


Saint Louis University Social Work student Jessica Mueller led the project, transforming a room once piled with stuff to an attractive room with books and six new computers.  This project was her practicum. Unfortunately, demand for services exceeds supply.  If you have time and/or money please consider helping out.

– Steve Patterson


Loft apartments going into midtown buildings once targeted for razing

June 19, 2010 Midtown, Real Estate, SLU 7 Comments

A few years ago Saint Louis University (SLU) wanted to raze many buildings they had purchased in midtown near their main campus to construct a new arena.  After the objections of many (and a few lawsuits the arena plans were shifted to another campus adjacent location.  SLU did raze one building on Locust for a parking lot (view prior post) but others remained.  The area is emerging with restaurants, lofts, shops and clubs so the decision to put loft apartments into two structures is welcomed news.

These two buildings are being transformed into the West Locust Lofts:

“West Locust Lofts is located in Midtown Saint Louis, one block north of Saint Louis University. With 12,000 theatre seats within four blocks, 12 galleries and museums and over 1500 cultural events with 1.3 million visitors each year, this Saint Louis neighborhood is unique in the country.”

Not so sure about the unique part, many universities are in vibrant urban areas.

– Steve Patterson