Why We Continue

On July 27, Circuit Court Judge Robert Dierker, Jr. dismissed the Friends of the San Luis’ petition for injunctive relief.  The petition sought to stop demolition of the San Luis Apartments so that the Friends could file an appeal of the Preservation Board’s approval of the demolition.  Dierker not only dismissed the case, but did so on the basis that the Friends had no legal standing to bring forth a preservation appeal under the city’s preservation laws.

So, the building is gone and the case dismissed.  Why are the Friends of the San Luis still fighting?

If left unchallenged, Judge Dierker’s ruling could set case precedent that citizens and advocacy groups lack the right to appeal decisions of the Preservation Board.  Since the Preservation Board and its enabling laws govern the entire city, all citizens are affected by the decisions of the Board and deserve the right to appeal on procedural grounds.

Why would the Friends of the San Luis care about the right to appeal?  Didn’t you want to save one building?

True, our organization was formed to advocate for a specific building.  Yet our ability to do so was undercut by Dierker’s decision.  The members of the Friends of the San Luis are active in other preservation matters in which the right to appeal is essential.  If people have to go to court to prove our right to participate on every matter, concerned citizens won’t be able to actually fight for our city’s historic buildings.  We must legally clarify that right to protect citizen preservation advocacy.

Okay.  What’s next?

We will file an appeal of Dierker’s ruling to the Missouri Court of Appeals on the basis of his narrow definition of who has appeal rights.  That appeal must be filed within 30 days of the ruling.  Then, the Missouri Court of Appeals will schedule its hearing.

What if you lose at the Missouri Court of Appeals?

We could appeal further to the Missouri Supreme Court.  However, if the St. Louis preservation ordinance’s right to appeal is not clear enough to withstand appellant judicial review, then there is a bigger problem than one judge’s point of view.  Then we will know that the ordinance itself needs more clear language protecting citizen right to appeal.

DeVille Rally Next Week

Friends of the San Luis will be holding rallies weekly outside the San Luis until the building falls.   Expect further events related to this fiasco forthcoming.

Next Tuesday August 4th 2009 at 5:30 show your objection and support for our Preservation Ordinances.

We will continue to protest the demolition of the building and violation of city law, the illegal parking lot, and any attempts to suburbanize the Central West End through the creation of a SLU-like defensible space campus.

DeVille Demo and Rally

Via Friends of the San Luis Secretary Paul Hohmann.

Further Coverage of San Luis Debacle

Michael R. Allen, Ecology of Absence. Certainly This Will Be an Impressive Monument

Prior to the 1961 building code, large buildings were restrained by requirements that the majority of wall surface area meet a defined thickness. Materials like concrete panels and glass had to be employed within larger wall systems, and could not be used to clad an entire building. Before 1961, construction of a glass high-rise in St. Louis was not permitted by code. The removal of the old restrictions allowed St. Louis to embrace the building technologies that allowed for fully modern architectural expression.

Mayor Raymond Tucker was an enthusiast for the DeVille project. In a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article from 1961 (“$4,500,000 Hotel to Be Built at Corner of Lindell, Taylor,” September 30, 1961), the mayor raved: “Certainly, this will be an impressive monument to the perseverance of those far-sighted citizens who worked on our code for more than five years.”

Douglas C. Duckworth, West End Word Letter to EditorKrewson Should Have Opposed San Luis Plan

The reality is that a better deal could have arisen from this situation without the need for further action. She should have brokered a meeting whereby a developer, and those for preservation, could have established an outcome suitable for all concerned parties.

Alderwoman Krewson would have seemed the master politician resolving a conflict between two superficially opposed parties. She would have received praise from residents and activists for preserving the building while also easing the archdiocese’s alleged parking and land control concerns.

Instead Alderwoman Krewson ignored the Central West End Association’s compelling testimony. With her argument for demolition, Krewson co-opted the language and concerns of many in an intellectually insulting attempt to appear caught in an untenable situation — far from reality.

The DeVille, viewed by the State Historic Preservation Office as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, is considered qualifying and perhaps high merit under local ordinance. These buildings are not to be demolished.

The Platform Editorial Board, St. Louis Post DispatchCitizens should have central role in preservation fights

The San Luis was not to everyone’s taste. Then, again, neither were the row houses and Second Empire masterpieces surrounding Lafayette Park when more than 60 years ago, their demolition was sought because they were deemed “obsolete.” Now they are among the most sought-after homes in St. Louis. The fight to save the San Luis was compelling, advanced by savvy citizens. They told the San Luis story imaginatively, explaining its architectural importance.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation weighed in the building’s behalf, and even the circuit court concluded that the structure was eligible for listing on the National Registry of Historical Places.

The battle, though apparently lost, now has a more urgent dimension. The court, in dismissing the case, took an unreasonably narrow view of who, under St. Louis’ historic preservation ordinance, has legal “standing” to challenge decisions to demolish historically significant structures. Being a city resident is not enough, the court ruled.

That decision is at odds with the ordinance’s express purpose to promote preservation citywide; it grants right of appeal to all who are “aggrieved.” The ruling should be broadened on appeal and clarified with further legislation.

Rally for Preservation, true “Good Neighbors” Tonight

At the June 22nd Preservation Board Meeting, Architect and designer of the upcoming parking lot, Dan Jay indicated that the DeVille needed to come down because the Archdiocese is a “good neighbor.”

Come tonight and witness the denouement of their stewardship.

DeVille and John Paul II

DeVille and John Paul II

Rally Rescheduled for Tomorrow 5-8

Due to inclement weather, the rally for the San Luis and our Preservation Ordinances has been rescheduled for tomorrow.  We apologize for the late notice.

July 27th – Rally for the DeVille

Tomorrow, from 5-8 PM at 4483 Lindell Boulevard, we will continue to support Charles Colbert’s acclaimed San Luis Apartments — formerly the DeVille Motor Hotel.  Though on its deathbed, we will continue to advocate for this building and the integrity of our Preservation Ordinances — passed by our elected representatives  on the Board of Aldermen.  Participate tomorrow after work or stop by and look for the large sign.

Be wary and do not accidentially stumble onto the demolition site and fall into the pool.  Please also do not start any fires as the Fire Deparment cannot fit a firetruck on the site.  These are some of the newest reasons, espoused in Circut Court, why the building should come down.