Preservation Board Testimony (Updated)

It’s unknown who saw what testimony.  We will find out.

Washington University Architecture and Urban Design Graduate Andrew J. Faulker has an excellent account of the meeting (with video).

Written and submitted testimony:

Gayle Van Dyke, Old North St. Louis Restoration Group

Douglas Duckworth, Citizen

ReVitalize St. Louis

More testimony will be added as you send it.  If you emailed the Preservation Board pass along your testimony to colbert@noparkinglotonlindell.com.  We can use that to verify if your testimony was submitted.

Don’t forget to read the letter of support from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which apparently none of the Preservation Board members had the ability to consider!

Finally, Toby Weiss from the prolific Built Environment in Layman’s Terms:

The Central West End is widely considered the most sophisticated borough in our city, and part of that reputation comes from their pride of place and how wisely they have worked to create and protect it.

Early on, the CWE recognized the worth of their residential architecture and worked together to protect and elevate what is now the iconic look of the area. And from the late 1950s through to the early 1970s, they made an overt push for new buildings to keep the area economically viable. Not only did they succeed at this endeavor, they turned the CWE into a glamorous destination, a reputation that remains intact to this day.

Their mid-century push to remain viable centered on erecting new buildings of the architectural style of that era. Mid-Century Modern architecture is the embodiment of a time after World War 2 when America was powerful, prosperous and optimistic about the future, and made new buildings to reflect this progressive mindset.

So, the CWE embraced this design movement, concentrating their efforts along Lindell Boulevard by replacing old homes with new office buildings, apartment towers, nightclubs and hotels. Mid-century CWE renewal was a high priority because they knew it was a good investment, and they planned wisely, maintaining the density and walkability of the neighborhood while also accommodating automobiles.

This plan was executed most successfully on the block of Lindell between Taylor and Newstead. Looking to the awe-inspiring Cathedral Basilica as the logical anchor, 6 new buildings went up on this block between 1960 -1966, and the Archdiocese was part of this modern renewal. They erected their exquisitely modern Chancery Office directly to the west of their Basilica, and right next door, they sold their land at the northeast corner of Lindell and Taylor and up went the DeVille Motor Hotel, the original name of the building currently under review.

Clearly, the Archdiocese was an enthusiastic and influential steward of the density, vibrancy and vitality of this Central West End neighborhood. Up to this very minute, every single building – original and replacement – on this block is still in use. Every building, except the one that is owned by the Archdiocese.

In the 1970s, the Archdiocese bought the hotel at 4483 Lindell and converted it to the San Luis Apartments, housing senior citizens until they chose to shut down the building in February 2007 to pursue their idea of demolishing the building for a surface parking lot.

Up to 2007, the Archdiocese was a steward of Central West End progress and community, which makes their current plans of erasure and exclusion of this property so confusing. I am asking the Preservation Board to currently deny demolition of this building so that there is time to explore the best and highest use of this property for both the Archdiocese and their fellow citizens of the Central West End, and the City of St. Louis.

During the time they have been the landlord of the only vacant building on this block, another mid-century hotel one block west of the San Luis has been brought back to life as a boutique hotel, which indicates the continued economic strength and desirability of the Central West End’s mid-century modern buildings. I ask the Board to recognize the project at 4630 Lindell as they consider the fate of the San Luis.

It should be noted that during a time of economic struggle for St. Louis City, a surface parking lot generates no revenue. Rather than willingly give up revenue, why not explore how to generate revenue – for both the Archdiocese and the City – with the building already standing there? I ask the Preservation Board to thoughtfully review the history of the 4400 block of Lindell, in general, and the San Luis, specifically, so as to understand how the strengths of the past inspire future potential. Please avoid the lingering mistake of a hasty decision by granting time for wise consideration.

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