Tonight BMO Harris Bank in coordination with the Southwest Garden Neighborhood Association is hosting an open house at 7:00 pm to reveal its plans for a new Walgreens on the property of Southwest Bank at the intersection of Southwest Avenue and Kingshighway Boulevard. The event will be held at the bank building and due to space constraints, attendance is limited to 100 people. Please go to Eventbrite to register for a ticket. There will be a presentation followed by questions and an opportunity to express your opinions about the proposed plan.
Most St. Louisans are familiar with the historic bank building at the corner made famous by the movie The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery. BMO has already stated that they plan to keep the corner bank building and restore the structure. What remains to be seen is how much of the rest of the block face of historic structures along Kingshighway they plan to bulldoze for the new Walgreens.
The block is part of the Reber Place National Register Historic District. The map above is from the district nomination and shows the dates of construction of the five connected buildings along Kingshighway. The last portion, built in 1973 is considered non-contributing to the district due to its date of construction. The four contributing buildings would be eligible for both Missouri & Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits if rehabbed.
In the middle of the block stands this two story store building featuring decorative terra cotta in a Mediterranean style built in 1928 as a separate structure and later incorporated into the bank. The buildings 2nd floor windows have been bricked-in, but this facade is still an attractive composition. If the new Walgreens was to be located here, it would be an opportunity to incorporate this historic facade with windows and an entrance along Kingshighway.
At the corner of Botanical and Kingshighway, this Arts & Crafts style building was built in 1920 as a corner store likely with apartments above. While the beauty of this building has been muted by bad white paint, monotone grey trim, bad windows and garish blue awnings, this building is arguably as significant from a design standpoint as the corner building at Southwest. This building could easily be repurposed with commercial space for a restaurant or retail on the first floor and office space or apartments on the 2nd floor.
From an urban design perspective, the buildings presence at the corner is crucial to the historic nature of the intersection. Across Botanical is another corner mixed used building. While it has also had some unfortunate remuddling at the parapet, the composition of the intersection is fully intact. Losing the corner building on the Bank property would be highly detrimental to what is a very intact neighborhood and historic district. Hopefully BMO and the their architect will agree.