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 David Richardson seconded the motion and argued that the outdated ordinance for the Central West End historic district excluded the San Luis.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.

18 comments:

STLgasm said...

I will be fully involved in the appeals process. I am so embarrassed for St. Louis.

Eleanor said...

Congratulations to all who advocated for the building - it is clear that with all the testimony and letters and such, this result is not due to a lack of support for the San Luis, but something more systemic and distressing.

How would an appeal process work?

Anonymous said...

The tone for the area was set in stone by the "New 64". More and larger highways, means more cars, more traffic and the need for more parking lots.

Nothing is more embarrassing then the failure of the citizenry to insist on something better than the New 64, the Main Street of the region. The trend is in place and will only get worse until economic reality slaps the region across the face for ignoring sustainable and more urban designs. The New 64 guarantees that homes will be exported and the "faceless suburban waste land" will be imported.
john

Chris said...

Amen.

Torchandtonic said...

Outrageous! As part of my family and several friends live in Krewsons ward, I am usually split on her overall voting record/decisions, but this one takes the cake. It is abhorrent; I will happily work to get her voted OUT in the next election!

Anonymous said...

Last night she lost my vote for any bid for higher office.

She would have had it, too.

Anonymous said...

I've been contemplating moving back to STL from NYC recently. However, things like this give me pause...

Anonymous said...

We must preserve private property rights and allow property owners to shape our cities within the larger framework of zoning.

Jeff said...

Good riddance to that eyesore of a building! I lived on Maryland/Taylor for a few years, and I have a few friends who have lived in the area for much longer. That block seems to have been cursed with two of the ugliest buildings known to man, next to a beautiful Cathedral, and surrounded by many upscale and unique apartment buildings, condos and homes.

I also know a few of the students who are currently at Rosati-Kain, and have friends who are alumni; the number one complaint has been a lack of proper parking for the students—at times, I have heard that Rosati-Kain has considered moving, because that area of the city is *not* the safest part of town, by a long shot. Parking your car on the street, you'd better either have shatter-proof glass, or never leave any reason for a passerby to break in. (My brother's car was broken into twice in two years on Taylor, and the second time nothing was even stolen!).

But I guess you'd rather see an ugly motor hotel, hearkening back to the worst era of American architecture since the founding of this country, than have a flourishing high school. Ah well, priorities.

It's also a major pain to live in that area when the Cathedral has huge events, because everyone is forced to park on the streets, clogging up a two block radius. Anything that helps alleviate that is good in my book.

Sorry, but you might as well put "epic win" on the picture at the top of this page—which, I might say, is not how the lot is actually going to look. There are other more updated renderings that I've seen that have a heck of a lot more green space than any other area in that strip of Lindell.

RIP, San Luis.

STLgasm said...

^^Jeff, have you checked out Chesterfield? Sounds like your kind of town!

Anonymous said...

The StL region is designed for the auto dependent and no amount of whining by "preservationists" will change that. Preserve our highways-parking lots, not empty buildings, Carheads Rule!

Anonymous said...

the san luis is not the most urban model in the first place...MOTOR hotel. it is the church's property. can't they do with it what they wish?

STLgasm said...

Some 7th grader apparently skipped school today.

Torchandtonic said...

Yes, I would like more mid-century modern buildings than Catholic high schools, thanks for asking.....I would also be in favor of Rosati Kain moving because I am tired of hearing how the poor little girls can't stand to walk 4 blocks or take public transit.

Jeff said...

I absolutely loved living in the Central West End, and aside from the occasional eyesore or two (San Luis included, along with the gaudy and out-of-place 'Indigo hotel' which still hasn't opened), it's a great area to be in.

But do you really want it to be a little 'island of Europeanism' or something? What do you have against people from the county enjoying our city. If you seriously want to live in an urban landscape with all the city conveniences, than I'm very sorry, but Saint Louis simply isn't your town. We're in a place called the Midwest. We don't have New York, London, Rome, or whatever other city you seem to idolize. It's Saint Louis, and it's a spread out metropolitan area.

If R-K high school wasn't there, that would be a great loss. The high school obviously maintains it's building, contributes back to the CWE, and is trying to maintain a good strip of Lindell Blvd.

From Wash U. through Forest Park, down to R-K, there's a lot of beautiful architecture along Lindell. And there are sore thumbs. The biggest, ugliest, most poorly constructed and covered-in-warts sore thumb is the abomination known as San Luis.

I'm sorry, but it has to go. If I were going to develop on that land, and ever hoped to make a dollar, I would not restore that building.

Anonymous said...

Its people like you that are hendering progress. The generations that created urban sprawl and new urbanism as their philosophy are the ones trying to continue these failures. It's pretty obivous that we are reaching a point when public transit, walking, urban environments, and community cohesion are the things that will keep our environment and our cities afloat. Encouraging yet another parking lot where parking isnt an extreme problem is incredible backwards.

Anonymous said...

Its people like you that are hendering progress. The generations that created urban sprawl and new urbanism as their philosophy are the ones trying to continue these failures. It's pretty obivous that we are reaching a point when public transit, walking, urban environments, and community cohesion are the things that will keep our environment and our cities afloat. Encouraging yet another parking lot where parking isnt an extreme problem is incredible backwards.

Anonymous said...

lol @ all of you old foagies using "fail" and "epic win".