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St. Louis Needs a Preservation Fund
Aired February 09, 2010
At the January meeting of the St. Louis Preservation Board, two houses in north St. Louis met different fates that illustrate a need in regional preservation efforts.
Two different outcomes show us where the need is.
Year Ends for the Better in Two North St. Louis Commercial Districts
Aired December 22, 2009
Commercial districts are barometers of neighborhood health. Once they die, a neighborhood may be gone forever. By all indications, Old North and the Wellston Loop have a lot of life left in them.
Near North Neighborhoods Standing Strong
Aired November 11, 2009
Anyone who has studied the history of development projects in the city knows that none on a massive scale has been successful. McKee has a long road ahead, and it won’t lead to the total development control he once sought. The redevelopment agreement expressly allows the city to enter into other redevelopment agreements within the McKee project area.
This is good news for Old North, St. Louis Place and JeffVanderLou. Those whose approach is sensitive and communitarian should not shy away from further investment.
Lindell's Modern Buildings Should be Protected
Aired September 29, 2009
Drug store giant CVS wishes to build a new store at the southwest corner of Lindell and Sarah avenues in the Central West End. There is a Walgreens store on the same block, but the most troubling part of the proposal is that CVS wants to demolish two historic buildings.
Those who travel the whole street know how the ensemble imparts a distinct character. Preserving that character wasn’t an issue until recently. Now it needs to be a priority.
Keep Your Buildings Standing to Keep Your Neighborhoods Strong
Aired August 18, 2009
One of the lessons we can learn from the controversial NorthSide plan offered by McEagle Properties is that historic neighborhoods greatly benefit when their historic houses stay standing.
Yes, the high level of vacant land in Old North, St. Louis Place and JeffVanderLou ought to be reclaimed through dense urban development, and its presence discourages investment. The accumulation of this vacant land, however, did not happen overnight. Neither will its solution.
Capping the Missouri Historic Rehab Tax Credit Would Benefit Wealthy Developers
Aired April 10, 2009
Recently, state Senator Brad Lager introduced an amendment to the Quality jobs bill that would cap the Missouri historic rehabilitation tax credit at $75 million. After 90 minutes of intense debate, the majority leadership pulled the bill from consideration to forge a compromise. Lager's amendment, however, needs to be completely scrapped.
Lager thinks that the tax credit is an "entitlement" to wealthy developers in St. Louis and Kansas City. Lager's ally, Senator Matt Bartle called beneficiaries of the historic rehab tax credit "tall hogs" who don't like to share at the trough. Strange then that the cap proposed by these legislators would actually be the biggest advantage the "tall hogs" would ever get.
SLPS Facilities Management Meetings Will Determine Future of a Proud Legacy
Aired January 30, 2009
We have less than one week to engage a process for planning the future of some of the greatest cultural wealth this city has - its magnificent public school buildings. City residents need to take the time to attend one of the public meetings or send comments to the District. The future of a proud legacy hinges on the week ahead of us.
Historic Preservation Should Be Part of St. Louis Public Schools Facilities Plan
Aired December 31, 2008
One of the first encounters a person has with her community's history is through a public school. Long before adulthood, or museum visits or lectures, comes the first day of school.
Currently, the St. Louis Public Schools is conducting a facilities management plan that will completed by the end of January 2009. This plan will include recommendations for closures and disposition of closed schools. This plan must provide for preservation of schools designed by William B. Ittner and other talented architects who revolutionized American educational architecture here in St. Louis. While the district needs to close schools, neighborhoods and citizens still need a sense of place and history.
More Time Needed for Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Planning
Aired November 14, 2008
I remain concerned about development at a National Historic Landmark. We have a wonderful Memorial surrounded by unsightly infrastructure. Meanwhile, on October 3, Congressman William Clay introduced a bill in Congress that would cede control of the Memorial to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Trust, a non-profit formed in June by the Danforth Foundation. The public comment period and the design competition need to be completed before we know what legislation is needed. Good things take time, and great things require a lot more of the same.
St. Louis' Market Recovery Starts With Historic Buildings
Aired October 10, 2008
In 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed into law a tax act that retroactively eliminated tax credits to investors in historic rehabilitation projects. The results were devastating to St. Louis.
Developers actually became the leaders of a successful effort to secure a state historic rehabilitation tax credit in Missouri that has become the best in the nation. Suddenly, time ran backwards and the optimism killed in 1986 was back.
Until 2008, when even the relatively bubble-free St. Louis market has lost much of its momentum. Lending for large projects in January 2008 was at 10% of the rate in January 2007. January 2009 may be worse.
Let's be smarter this time around.
Aired August 29, 2008
Since I moved to the Old North St. Louis neighborhood in 2005, the row of buildings at the corner of 14th and Wright Streets has always been quiet. Dead quiet. Years ago, a fire ended the last occupancy of the three-building row, leaving an elegant shell - and a big question mark.
I can see this row from the back windows of my house. The view out of a lot of windows here is changing for the better. The view isn't the only change.
Time to Revise Memorial Drive
Aired July 10, 2008
While the Danforth Foundation is talking about remaking the Arch grounds with a new museum and attractions, the fundamental flaw of the memorial is its isolation from downtown. Sure, we could add more elements to a park that's cut off from the city, but we'd be better off using our energy to improve the connection between downtown and the memorial.
Aired May 14, 2008
On the northeast corner of Tucker and Washington downtown sits the Washington Avenue Apartments. The sleek, modern facade uses polished red granite, shiny aluminum and lots of glass. The walls between the straight corners are angles like an accordian's bellows. The place looks brand new, and in fact construction is not yet complete. This must be the most modern building on Washington Avenue.
DeVille Still Shines
Aired April 18, 2008
During a bright sunset, the curved concrete walls of the former DeVille Motor Hotel sparkle at the corner of Taylor and Lindell in the Central West End. This detail is just one of the elegant features of the landmark motor hotel, better known now as the San Luis Apartments.
The Archiocese of St. Louis now owns the old hotel, and has used it for elderly apartments until early this year when it relocated the tenants. This move came after the Archdiocese announced that it was considering demolishing the building for a surface parking lot. Such a plan would erase a graceful and unique part of the Lindell Boulevard streetscape, replacing it with an empty spot.
Not Quite the Pinnacle
Aired December 14, 2007
The downtown skyline's latest addition is Lumiere Place, a casino and hotel complex just north of Laclede's Landing built by Pinnacle Casino.
The real attraction is the hotel tower, clad in two different shades of blue-green glass and marked by a projecting bent curve that runs up both the east and west sides and across the top of the hotel, (which) becomes a light at night. It's actually quite fun to watch.
Yet the design is hard to like, too.
Large-Scale Development in North St. Louis
Aired October 31, 2007
Developer Paul J. McKee, Jr. has generated plenty of controversy with his plan to assemble a large part of the near north side of St. Louis for development.
McKee’s plans are not the first questionable plans for that area.
Michael Allen is an architectural historian and historic preservation consultant working in private practice. Most recently he served as the Assistant Director of Landmarks Association of St. Louis, the region's historic preservation advocacy organization. He is also editor of Ecology of Absence, a website with accompanying blog that documents and analyzes changes in the built environments of St. Louis, Chicago and other Midwestern cities. His articles on architecture and policy have appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the St. Louis Beacon, St. Louis American, Arch City Chronicle and Omnitectural Forum. In addition to his professional work, Allen has been rehabilitating a house in the city's Old North St. Louis neighborhood for the past two years.