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Stop the Dust

September 12, 2009 Central West End, History/Preservation, Parking 17 Comments

Many fought hard to keep the 1960s San Luis Apartments at Lindell and N. Taylor (map link).  The battle, however, was lost and the demolition crews have been busy razing the structure.  Little remained on Thursday:

Above: we can see the spray of water as the building was being wrecked.  The water spray didn’t appear to be effective in other directions.  Driving through the area you could see dust everywhere.

Neighbors (presumably) expressed their view on the alley side of the old garage being razed.

The dust will end once the building is fully razed.  And just think, they won’t need any help from construction noise since the St. Louis Archdiocese is paving the prominent corner to store cars.

– Steve Patterson


Currently there are "17 comments" on this Article:

  1. john w. says:

    A number of the Friends of the San Luis were perfectly aware that this building was coming down, and that the remaining purpose of this fight was awareness. I’d say the group did a bang-up job getting local media attention (from several outlets, including television), and had there been the time to assemble a compelling reuse vision it’s likely that many more St. Louisans would have seen the potential of this building and the madness of continuing demolitions in urban St. Louis.

  2. Todd says:

    I’m new to the area and saw the wrecking ball swinging out my kitchen window yesterday. Though it wasn’t an especially beautiful structure, I’m saddened to learn that it’s being turned into a parking lot! Lindell is a strangely suburban street for being in such a dense area (e.g., Schnuck’s strip mall complex, generally horrible intersection at Euclid [besides the library]). This won’t help.

  3. john w. says:

    …whish is why groups like Friends of the San Luis form to advocate urbanism and preservation. The principal violator at Euclid/Lindell is the parking lot across the street from Plaza Dental and the Schlafly branch library.

  4. Steve–

    You know I’m a big fan of you and what you have done with your blog. But one of your greatest failures as a steward of St. Louis (if you even accept that title) was to condemn the San Luis an “un-urban” building. The built environment rarely affords “compromise” and so we have to weigh that fact when we fight to save buildings from demolition. The alternative was, now is, a surface parking lot–and the building itself could have been given a snazzy glass atrium to push it a bit closer to the street and human-scale it a bit.

    Yet the absence of your voice in this matter was pronounced.

    We now have surface parking on Lindell. While it’s better than structured parking (since surface lots don’t require demolition for new construction), it’s still a long-term parking lot for the Central West End. Great.

    Next time, I would not be so literal with your application of what is or is not an “urban” building. The San Luis was better constructed and more attractive than some recently built and proposed new construction which certainly “hugs the sidewalk line” and attempts to evoke neo-traditional design (see Mills’ development on West Pine; and, though I like it overall, the old Salad Bowl site’s Villas of St. Louis development).

    [slp — Matt, I repeatedly said the building was better than a parking lot. I was not going to pretend it was something it was not. Even if I had stated it was the most urban structure in St. Louis the end result would have been the same. Parking lots & garages rule in St. Louis.]

  5. Todd says:

    The Bank of America is also a pretty terrible structure at Lindell / Euclid (in addition to the parking lot). It’s as though a suburban bank (complete with drive up windows) was airdropped into a dense, urban neighborhood.

  6. Jimmy Z says:

    It’s interesting that I’ve heard nothing about the building(s) coming down on the NW corner of Euclid and Forest Park Parkway. Is that because they’re being replaced immediately with a new structure, and not a parking lot? Or because they’re not mid-century modern?

  7. Leo says:

    “It’s interesting that I’ve heard nothing about the building(s) coming down on the NW corner of Euclid and Forest Park Parkway. Is that because they’re being replaced immediately with a new structure, and not a parking lot? Or because they’re not mid-century modern?”

    The two lower buildings were built in 1905. Weren’t these that urban preservationist should fought for?

    So why fight for a mid-century building and not for one from 1905?

  8. Todd says:

    The building on the NW corner of Euclid (a low rise mixed use [though built before planner types had invented the term] brick apartment building) is indeed half demolished. I’d be interested to know what’s replacing it.

    As a recent transplant, the extent to which St. Louis has and continues to blithely destroy its (excellent) architectural heritage shocks me.

  9. Webby says:

    Barnes Jewish is expanding:

    Demolition is under way on two Central West End buildings that BJC Healthcare will replace with a $75 million, 12-story tower for outpatient clinics, doctors’ offices and its corporate headquarters.

    Rising at the northwest corner of Forest Park and South Euclid avenues, the tower will extend north to the building that houses Majestic restaurant, at 4900 Laclede Avenue. The tower’s completion is expected in early 2012.

    The city’s Preservation Board voted July 27 to approve demolition of buildings to make way for BJC’s new tower and a small park. The structures at 4901 Forest Park, known as the Ettrick Building, and 3 South Euclid were completed in 1905 as apartments and ground-floor shops. Occupancy has dwindled in recent years.

    Also scheduled to come down is the four-story building at 4949 Forest Park, erected in 1934 for the Shoenberg Nursing School. Now vacant, it served for many years as a nurses’ residence. June Fowler, BJC’s spokeswoman, said Friday that the site will be used as the construction staging area for the tower project. While another building may eventually go on the Shoenberg site, it will be set aside as green space after the tower is done.

    In recommending approval of BJC’s demolition requests, the Preservation Board’s staff noted that the new tower, designed by the Christner architecture firm, will have “a storefront system to replicate the rhythm and integrity of the historic streetscape scale on the first floor.”

    The staff also said the park, between the Barnes-Jewish parking garage and St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, will benefit the church and the neighborhood.

    (excerpts from an article on STLtoday.com)


  10. Jimmy Z says:

    BJC – the creature that ate (is eating) the CWE?!

  11. Todd says:

    I rather wish the hospital would stay south of Forest Park Ave. On the plus side, perhaps this will improve the terrible pedestrian crossing of Forest Park Ave. at Euclid, which seems to have the world’s most poorly programed pedestrian signals, resulting in regular en masse jaywalking.

  12. Jimmy Z says:

    According to the P-D article, they’ll be building a bridge acros FPP; I doubt it’ll be open to the general public.

  13. Jimmy Z, your snide questions aside, apparently you missed out on the coverage of the demolition of the Ettrick Apartments. Do a Google search. Some of us protested.

  14. Jimmy Z says:

    Michael – I just did, and found only three links, two of which were on your blog. And not trying to be snide, it’s pretty obvious that those protests were about as effective as those against the demolition of the San Luis. So, should I be following your postings as closely as I follow Steve’s? Probably. I’d learn a lot more local history.

    My reasons for tying the fate of the Ettrick Apartments to the fate of the San Luis are multiple, and include the apparent power of institutional users to do pretty much what they want, the lack of real protection for too many buildings in historic districts, the need for viable reuses and the need to maintain the street edge to maintain a neighborhood’s fabric. I’ve also seen what happens when any large institution is allowed to sprawl as it grows, whether it’s a hospital or a university. The open street grid becomes increasingly compromised (see the existing campuses for BJC, SLU, Wash U, etc., etc.) and the institution erects barriers, both physical and psychological, at their ever-expanding perimeter. This incursion north of FPP won’t be the end, and much like fighting wildfires, now that this barrier’s been jumped, what’s to slow them down now?

    Is this demolition somehow better since BJC has a plan to build something new? Maybe. Obviously, it’ll be better than just a surface parking lot. But not having seen any visual details on the new structure, it’s hard to guess how the street edge will be maintained, or not. And, like you, I have concerns about creating another “park”, public or private, in conjunction with this project, and I have real concerns about the bridge going across FPP. Washington, downtown, has been negatively impacted for years by a ‘wonderful’ pedestrian bridge that’s now poised to be removed, finally. I see similar negative impacts to this major gateway to Forest Park, yet I’m hearing absolutely no pushback to this anti-pedestrian (at street level) initiative. (I doubt this will be like the Las Vegas strip, with truly public bridges, but a lot more like the Ameren campus, with “skyways” linking buildings above street level.)

    Bottom line, either we need to preserve, by finding viable new uses, or we need to forgo the charade of historic review. Having a historic preservation ordinances that aren’t effective at actually preserving existing buildings, be they vintage 1910 or 1960, is silly and creates a false sense of security. Obviously, tax credits only go so far, especially if you’re already a non-profit institution. And while blogging is a great way to vent, second only to going to public hearings, the reality is what’s actually happening out in the real world. Until more property owners buy into the value of preservation, demolition and replacement will apparently continue to be the predominant solution in too much of the city . . .

  15. anon says:

    Demolition and replacement is usually only done as a last resort, often after failed attempts to sell a building.

    It’s usually the last step in a long, slow process.

    The truth is, most demolitions don’t lead to replacements. They lead to vacant lots.

    It’s usually the last step in a long, slow process.

  16. john w. says:

    I wouldn’t believe that any historic building being demolished by BJC is falling because all other avenues have been exhausted. The split second they decided the wanted that land for expansion, the historic building’s headstone was being carved.

  17. Todd says:

    I would take a bridge across FPP if it was the type that had stairs heading up from the sidewalk. I’d probably not use one if it required me to go inside one building, up an elevator, cross the bridge, and go down an elevator inside another hospital building.

    A true pedestrian bridge would be great; a “skywalk” that connected two hospital buildings would be useless to me, as a CWE resident who commutes daily on the Metrolink. Regardless, the existing pedestrian signals at FPP need to be better programmed, because the intersection has tons of pedestrian traffic (rare in STL) and is set up poorly.


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