Since 1883 the demure Italianate mansion at 3740 Lindell Boulevard has stood witnessing the transformation of Lindell from Grand to Kingshighway from a tree-lined boulevard of grand homes of St. Louis' most notable residents to an eclectic mix of apartment buildings, hotels, various societies & religious institutions, businesses, as well the remaining mansions, which have been adapted for various uses.
Monday evening however, the St. Louis Preservation Board voted to allow SLU to demolish the mansion to make room for an expansion and re-styling of its law school. In what amounts to an arbitrary choice of style, SLU is saving the more grandiose turreted mansion to the east known as the "Queens Daughters" building and demolishing the more reserved mansion next door. The absence of strong preservation minded members John Burse and Michael Killeen left a 3 to 2 vote in favor of demolition. Those voting for demolition were: Mary "One" Johnson, Terry Kennedy and David Richardson. Barring an appeal of the decision, the 125 year old mansion will be demolished this summer.
Also at Monday's meeting the board voted with the exact same 3-2 split to demolish the last full block of historic commercial warehouses on the St. Louis Riverfront. The three buildings, which are owned by the LCRA are located at 1101 N. Leonor K. Sullivan Blvd. (Wharf Street) between Biddle and Carr. A four story 1880's warehouse occupies the middle of the block with an older one story limestone cold storage building to the north and a two story warehouse to the south dating from the mid 1900's.
The majority of St. Louis' riverfront warehouses were demolished in 1940 to make way for the arch grounds. While many historic buildings remain in both Laclede's Landing and Chouteau's Landing, none remain along the river fronting on Wharf Street. North of the doomed block both the Laclede Power Company and the remaining north half of a cold storage lie along Wharf Street, but their addresses are on Lewis to the west. The massive Ahsley Street Power Plant is east of Wharf Street, kitty corner to the three warehouses. Unfortunately the warehouses lie outside the North Riverfront Industrial Historic District which includes the buildings to the north.
While the one story and four story warehouses have some deterioration issues, such as a section of missing roof and some localized collapse of one wall, they are far from unsalvageable. Monday, an official from LCRA insisted that their presence would impede phase 2 of Lumiere Place, which calls for several residential buildings, with some retail space. The funny thing about this is that according to an article in the December 28, 2007 issue of the Business Journal, the LCRA had put out an RFP for rehabilitation of the three warehouses that was due on January 25th.
Once they did not receive any submittals, which is not too surprising given current economic conditions and the relative isolation away from re-developed properties, the LCRA suddenly deemed the buildings as in the way of development. However site plans and models that have been presented by Lumiere show the phase 2 development ending at Carr, south of the warehouses. Pinnacle has committed to $50 million in residential development. What they have shown south of Carr would easily satisfy this requirement. There have been no plans released for a phase 3 north of Carr... lets face it Pinnacle is a casino developer, not a residential developer. If these warehouses are indeed demolished, I predict that the site will remain a vacant gravel lot for up to a decade or more like the nearby Fresh Building which burned and it's remaining portion carelessly demolished in 2001.