Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Krewson Fails the Central West End and the City, Leads Preservation Board to Condemn San Luis
Last night after more that three hours of testimony including about 30 citizens, organizations and a developer speaking out against demolition of the San Luis, 28th Ward Alderman Lyda Krewson stood before the Preservation Board and gave her blessing for a parking lot. While Lyda acknowledged that a parking lot is not the highest and best use of the prime site at Lindell and Taylor, she stated that because the Archdiocese does not want to sell the San Luis that she would rather not see it standing vacant.
Instead of asking the full board if a motion could be heard, Preservation Board Chairman Richard Callow (a friend of Krewson) asked board member and 7th Ward Alderman Phyllis Young for a motion. Young of course following the tradition of aldermanic courtesy, presented a motion to support the request for demolition. David Richardson seconded the motion and argued that the outdated ordinance for the Central West End historic district excluded the San Luis. When the vote was called, Anthony Robinson and Melanie Fathman voted against the motion. Chairman Richard Callow broke the tie with a yes vote for demolition. John Burse and Michael Killeen, two board members who are architects and typically vote for preservation were unfortunately absent, as was vice chair Mary Johnson.
Ultimately this battle is not simply about a building. It is about a City's willingness to stand up and exert control over it's built environment, promoting a vibrant urbanity that will attract and retain residents or to allow an unrestrained free for all in land use and development like so many faceless suburban waste lands. It is likely that a citizen appeal to last nights decision will be filed by the Friends of the San Luis.