Friday, February 26, 2010

Olympia Eats Into Franz Park

As Dotage St. Louis first posted Wednesday, Olympia, the Greek restaurant that has been a fixture on McCausland for years has suddenly demolished two houses across the street to expand one of two existing parking lots that they own at the intersection of McCauseland and Plateau.  I went by late yestererday afternoon to take a look and 1532 and 5536 McCausland had been reduced to piles of debris.

In the past two days there has been much conversation about this, mostly people condemning the action, as I have, but also a few people saying we should not blame Olympia.  Ultimately it seems that this is about being urban or not being urban.  We should blame Olympia for not realizing that some of their customer base appreciates that they are in an urban location and does not mind parking on the street when both their lots are full.  Some of us will no longer be patronizing Olympia because of what we feel is a lack of respect for the neighborhood where they are located.  I have no doubt that others probably expressed other opinions, but unfortunately they were the ones who spoke up.  

We should also blame the lack of leadership at the City from the Alderman to the lack of any comprehensive enforceable standards to govern this kind of action.  This is not the first time this has happened, and unless there are zoning standards that have the authority of law to prevent this from occurring, it will not be the last. 

The existing Olympia lot at the southeast corner of the intersection.  The second photo shows the smaller lot (with the piles of debris net door) on the northeast corner that will be expanded.

While parking on McCausland is restricted, there is plenty of extra street parking on Plateau that does not require crossing McCausland to get to the restaurant.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have a hard time imagining that Olympia is tearing those houses down just because they like throwing money away on unnecessary parking. I'm thinking the parking situation may be a bit different during the evening when people are home from their jobs and Olympia is busy.

Cockbag LLC said...

Thanks for posting this. I emailed you as well last week about this. Another aspect is that crossing that street is dangerous since many patrons do not wait for the light to change. I think they have lousy food anyways and wish Colossus on Ivanhoe Ave would reopen.

Chris said...

I agree about the danger aspect of crossing McCausland. Don't the owners remember that elderly man who was run over and killed in a crosswalk while coming to their restaurant? Do now even more of the customers will have to take their lives into their hands? As far as the neighborhood is concerned, aren't they used to having people park along those streets for decades?

Matthew K said...

Long time reader, first time commenter.

These houses were not of note. They had no specific historical value? There are blocks and blocks of ordinary houses that haven't been torn down.

As such, I don't understand, but am willing to be explained to, the problem here.

Is not demolition the yang to construction's yang? Must not there be balance in all things?

At one time there was something there before those houses. Be it a business, another house, or some trees. Was it a tragedy when the houses were built in place of whatever existed before?

Then why is it a tragedy when they are themselves replaced?

I guess generally I'm trying to understand the

Matthew K said...

Sorry. I meant to say ying the second time instead of yang again...

Vanishing STL said...

Matthew K, I agree with you about the houses. To me this is more about having an urban environment. If someone wanted to build a pair of new larger homes more in scale with some of the other larger houses in the area or a row of townhouses w/ garages in back or even a larger condo building, I would say fine... that is part of the evolution of the neighborhood.

What we have in this instance is devolution of the neighborhood at the hands of someone who I would have hoped would care about the neighborhood where they are located.

Doug Duckworth said...
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Doug Duckworth said...
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Doug Duckworth said...

This bastardization removes legitimacy from any elected official.

Anyone who wants their own dedicated parking space, can't walk a block or two, when visiting a business in our dense City should remain in the County or leave. Those that do not want people parking in front of their home on a public street, when a local business happens to be doing a good job (as well as paying taxes), should move to the County. Get a gated community where you can't park on the street.

In this case, rarely I agree with Tiebout/Reagan, those that want suburban "luxury" should vote with their feet instead of destroying that which makes us a City. Maybe then we will retain enough "City" to compete for those that want it. With its current trajectory St. Louis' growth will remain stymied by mediocrity: erratic mixtures of fantastic urbanism and architecture spoiled by the proliferation of suburban banality. Besides Real Estate Row, the Century, and the Ambassador, the standalone survivor in the former Terra Cotta Row provides a wonderful example.

I also wonder if we should compete with suburbia, attracting county residents, etc., if they bring their preferences with them. Insofar as economic development in St. Louis City presupposes that we must construct a garage or lot every other block in order to cater to suburban preferences, sometimes I think it might be better to do nothing.

Does a re-opened Kiel outweigh the permanent damage another garage places upon our built environment? As promoting these suburban commuting patterns only undermines our alleged downtown residential agenda, shouldn't we wholly vote no on this project if they demand a garage?

At what point does the City stand up and shout "if you want to enjoy our City then you must be inconvenienced enough to walk at least double the length of a Wal-Mart parking lot, while enjoying the surrounding orgasm of architecture."

If people cannot park at Union Station, the Kiel Garage, the Tucker Garage, the Municipal Garage, the 18th and Chestnut Garage, or on the Mall, then we should not reopen the Opera House as our City and Region do not deserve it!

Here's a parking guide!

Anonymous said...

Doug,

It's always interesting to see the different ways you can apply the term "bastardization"!

Anonymous said...

RIpping down houses leaving gapping holes in the streetcape....come on, this is so 30 years ago! Today the knowledge as to what kind of architectural fabric makes up a successful streetcape ergo a successful neighborhood is no longer a mystery or a secret. This is just thoughtless, selfish, lazy, greed and power.