Tag Archives: Preservation

Support Historic Preservation in St. Louis?

Friends of the San Luis Inc are hosting a second fund raiser in order to support our legal battle seeking to protect democratic control over the built environment. We appealed Judge Dierker’s decision to the Missouri Court of Appeals. This effort cannot succeed without your support — and it’s quite easy to participate.

Support the policy which brought about St. Louis’ recent economic resurgence.  You can do this on December 11th 2009 by paying only 10 dollars for unlimited drinking and fun.  Located in Old North St. Louis Restoration Group’s new office, attendees will promote historic preservation and witness the impact of nearly 30 years of community development.

DJ Darren Snow will provide acoustic entertainment. We will also have raffles for classy T-Shirts and other assorted things.

If you can’t attend we are accepting donations.  Any amount will help ensure your citizen-rights.

Anti-Wrecking Ball Holiday Party on December 11 to Raise Funds for Preservation Legal Effort

December 1, 2009

For immediate release.

Contact: Douglas Duckworth 566-3465

On Friday, December 11, local preservationists will host another Anti-Wrecking Ball to raise funds for ongoing legal efforts. Darren Snow, host of KDHX’s “Rocket 88” program, is the DJ for the party. Alll who attend will be entered into a raffle for prizes from STL Style, St. Louis Cinemas and other local businesses.

When: Friday, December 11
Where: Old North St. Louis Community Gallery, 2700 N. 14
th Street

Cost: $10 (includes beer)

The Anti-Wrecking Ball will raise funds for the ongoing appeal of this year’s ruling by St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Robert Dierker that citizens have no standing under city preservation law.

When the Preservation Board approved — by a close 3-2 vote — demolition of the modern San Luis Apartments in June, the Friends of the San Luis filed an injunction in court. Under city preservation law, the citizens who make up Friends of the San Luis have a right to appeal – but only after a demolition permit has been issued! The Friends sued to stop demolition so we could appeal the Preservation Board ruling.

However, Judge Dierker ruled against the Friends, and not because he thought their argument was wrong, but because he thinks that citizens who are not owners of property threatened with demolition should have no right to protest or appeal. The San Luis Apartments were demolished this summer, but the ruling left a bigger issue that affects all citizens regardless of what they think about that one particular building.

Unchallenged, Dierker’s ruling could impede citizen efforts to save community landmarks across the city. The Friends of the San Luis filed an appeal to the Missouri Court of Appeals in September to stand up for future preservation efforts. The Friends of the San Luis believe that citizen rights should not be demolished along with the San Luis Apartments.

Consequently, the Friends of the San Luis and other preservationists have organized the Anti-Wrecking Ball to raise funds to cover attorney’s fees. After the Friends wins its appeal, the Anti-Wrecking Ball movement will continue to raise money for legal costs associated with citizen preservation action.


Friends of the San Luis Seek Demolition Halt

For immediate release: Michael Allen, President, 314-920-5680

JULY 22, 2009                                                michael.ross.allen@sbcglobal.net


On July 17, the Friends of the San Luis, Inc. filed a petition in Circuit Court to obtain a temporary injunction that would prohibit the Archdiocese of St. Louis from proceeding with any demolition work at the San Luis Apartments until our organization has exhausted its legal appeal of the approval of the demolition permit.  While we do not have a final judgment, Judge Robert Dierker, Jr. has denied our motion for a temporary restraining order.  The Building Division issued a demolition permit on Monday, July 20, and preliminary demolition work is now underway.

Our mission is to preserve the San Luis Apartments, and at this eleventh hour we press onward with that basic mission but also a larger one.  After the Preservation Board granted preliminary approval to the demolition by a narrow vote, we intended to appeal that decision through our right under the city’s preservation ordinance.  We think that the Preservation Board’s action was made through incorrect application of the law.  Furthermore, we think that that the Cultural Resources Office report on the issue misled citizens and Preservation Board members through imprecise legal reasoning that made it unclear what laws were in play.  Since the Preservation Board acts only to enforce city ordinances, without clarity of which laws are being enforced there is no due process.

Under the preservation ordinance, however, we have only the right to appeal an approved demolition permit.  We filed the injunction petition to ensure that we were still fighting for an actual building rather than a rubble pile.  Unfortunately, Judge Dierker is not stopping demolition as well as challenging our legal standing to bring forth an appeal of the Preservation Board decision.  Thus begins our larger cause.

Our preservation ordinance allows an aggrieved party to bring forth an appeal.  The preservation ordinance was passed by the Board of Aldermen for the benefit of the entire city, and its stakeholders are all citizens who share the duty of protecting the city’s heritage.  The law enjoins us to become stewards of our architectural heritage, and the Friends of the San Luis gladly step forward to answer that call.

We contend that citizen right to appeal the decision of the Preservation Board is a fundamental part of due process and essential to the enforcement of the preservation review ordinance.  Without the right to appeal, citizen participation has severely limited impact.  Citizens must have the right to act when they feel that the preservation review ordinance has been violated by its own custodians.  The right to appeal is a basic legal principle, and it must be part of St. Louis’ preservation law.

While we hold out weary hope of preserving the San Luis, we must assert the right of the citizen to bring forth an appeal under preservation law.   We believe that future efforts will benefit from legal protection of that right, and that its fundamental sanctity is worth pursuing no matter what happens to the San Luis.


Please Save St. Louis from its Leaders

Please Save St. Louis from its Leaders

The prolific controversy over the San Luis apartments in the Central West End symbolizes a far more fundamental problem in our city than merely land use. Of course, our urban sensibilities tell us that renovating and reusing a viable building is obviously preferable to tearing it down for a gigantic surface parking lot. Nevermind the obvious benefits that would result from a quality rehab of the San Luis, such as adding an attractive, revenue-producing structure to the city’s tax base, saving our environment from the pollution created by demolition, preservation of the aesthetic continuity, walkability and architectural diversity of Lindell Boulevard, or economic vitality and new job creation. None of that matters because the power brokers in this town have other plans… for a parking lot.

It’s not surprising, either, because common sense hasn’t prevailed in this city in half a century. Politics and backroom deals always win. Maybe this dangerous pattern of getting things done isn’t unique to St. Louis, but for some reason other cities seem to accomplish better things than parking lots and dead space in their most sought-after neighborhoods. Vibrant, desirable cities stopped tearing down buildings for parking lots twenty years ago, but for some reason St. Louis has been plagued by backwards approaches to “revitalization.” And what makes it all the more tragic is that St. Louis deserves so much better. This is a proud old city with a legacy of greatness and a built environment most cities would kill for, yet many of our elected and appointed leaders seem hellbent on paving it into a future of mediocrity.

At Monday night’s Preservation Board review, when more than forty supporters turned out and waited four hours to support the preservation of the San Luis, it seemed like a victory was inevitable for the building and for St. Louis. More than twenty passionate neighbors, architects, professors, historians, researchers and concerned citizens stood up to make a well-rounded case for the building’s significance. Some spoke about how the San Luis is a remarkable example of mid-century modern architecture, and how the structure is an integral part of the urban fabric in one of the city’s most vibrant and decidedly urban neighborhoods. Others cited specific provisions in the Central West End Historic District guidelines that expressly prohibit a parking lot at this location. The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the New Orleans chapter of the American Institute of Architects also submitted formal letters pleading for the preservation of the San Luis. Only four people testified in favor of the parking lot, and all of them were directly affiliated with the building’s owner, the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. The climax of the evening came when an accomplished Chicago-based developer, who has carried out numerous successful urban projects across the Midwest (including St. Louis), stood up to express his enthusiastic interest in opening a dialogue with the Archdiocese. He voiced his desire to explore the potential of a partnership that would save and rehabilitate the San Luis, while also meeting the suggested parking requirements set forth by the Archdiocese. It seemed like a win-win for all involved. But that would be too easy, too logical.

Instead of heeding the valid concerns, opinions and evidence presented by the overwhelmingly pro-preservation speakers and letter writers, the Preservation Board narrowly approved a plan that promises to help keep St. Louis the second-rate city it has sadly become in the past several decades. Apparently all it takes to sway far-reaching decisions in this town is to take the flawed, misguided and unpopular arguments of the respective ward’s alderman as gospel. Who wins when this happens? Nobody, because the continued suburbanization of our urban core is a detriment to the entire St. Louis metropolitan area. It’s about time we start electing people who understand that. Common sense isn’t rocket science.

Randy Vines

West End Word Guest Commentary

What makes Lindell Boulevard special? From Midtown’s handsome collection of cultural institutions, to the Central West End’s Cathedral Basilica and stately high-rises, to the graceful mansions that line the street north of Forest Park, Lindell reminds us that St. Louis is a place that matters; a real city, and one of America’s finest.

The variety of architecture along Lindell reflects the diversity that makes the Central West End one of the city’s most sought-after destinations. A drive or walk down this magnificent thoroughfare undeniably proclaims to residents and visitors that this city has not lost its swank.

Sadly, the last half-century has blurred the line between greatness and mediocrity in many parts of our city, as more and more of our cherished urban fabric has given way to unsightly parking lots and vacant land.

Read More!

KSDK Coverage

By Casey Nolen

KSDK — You might call it a Central West End love affair. Randy Vines is more than a little smitten with a mid-century high-rise at Lindell Boulevard and North Taylor Avenue.

“It’s got very clean lines,” said Vines. “It’s a perfect example of 1960s modernist architecture.”

The only problem is that Vines is in love with someone else’s building, and he doesn’t care for the way that relationship is playing out.

“I can’t even believe this is an issue. I can’t even believe we’re having this discussion,” said Vines.

Read More and Watch Video!

San Luis: This Was the Future

A wonderfully made short documentary produced by the Vines Brothers, along with co-producer Jon Swegle, regarding the San Luis, its history, and the groundwork for its preservation.

Ready for the National Register?

In November 2008 the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office gave a very promising response to an eligibility assessment submitted for the San Luis. These assessments are somewhat like mini-National Register nominations used to determine whether a building qualifies for listing or not. The San Luis could potentially be listed for significance in a number of areas, including transportation and architecture. The fact that the Bel-Air West, another mid-century modern motel a block east on Lindell (now being renovated by the Roberts Brothers into a Hotel Indigo), is likely headed for the National Register bodes well for the San Luis and sets a definite precedent in its favor. Should the Archdiocese allow the San Luis to be nominated, its successful listing would enable a given developer (or the for-profit real estate branch of the Church itself) to obtain state and federal historic tax credits for the building’s rehabilitation. This kind of financial relief makes the San Luis’ preservation and reuse entirely feasible – the forty-five percent’s worth of tax credits would completely negate claims that the building’s renovation is cost-prohibitive.